Newcomer's Guide to Raleigh

Welcome to Raleigh, North Carolina! This Newcomer’s Guide to the City of Oaks is a resource for you to explore your new city, find important information on settling in, and a guide to help you acclimate to one of the top 10 cities with the highest quality of life.

Even after settling in, come back to the Newcomer’s Guide often to see Raleigh’s growth.


City of Raleigh
Photo: RaleighGov (Twitter)
  • Raleigh was founded in 1792 and named after Sir Walter Raleigh, an English explorer and writer who discovered a colony near Roanoke Island, which is now present-day North Carolina. He also attempted to establish the first English colony on the shores of the new world in the 1580s.
  • Why is Raleigh called the “City of Oaks”? It’s in the name. Raleigh’s streets are lined with oak trees.
  • John Haywood is named the first mayor January 21, 1795.
  • Shaw University is the first historically black university in North Carolina, which was founded in 1867.
  • Raleigh has more than 40 free historic attractions and museums.
  • President Andrew Johnson was born and raised in the city.
  • The first telephones in the state were installed in Raleigh in 1879.
  • May 1894, Rex Hospital opens. Its nursing school is the first in the state.
  • Raleigh adopts a flag in 1899.
  • The University of North Carolina operates its first medical school in Raleigh until 1910.
  • The first local transit bus and the last electric trolley roll in Raleigh March 1-14, 1933.
  • Clarence Lightner is Raleigh’s first mayor elected by popular vote. Also the first African American elected mayor of a major southern city in 1973.
  • 1999 Special Olympics World Summer Games hosted in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.
  • In 2000, The CIAA Championship Basketball Tournament is held for the first time in Raleigh at the Entertainment and Sports Arena.
  • January 24-25, 2000, Raleigh recieves its greatest snowfall from a single storm (20.3 inches)
  • March 2008, 2009 and 2011, Raleigh named no. 1 Best Place for Business and Careers by Forbes Magazine 




Garbage and recycling collection rules are very important and specific. If you don't know them, you may find yourself paying extra money for collection:

  • Standard garbage carts are 95-gallon.
  • Place the cart curbside no earlier than noon the day before your scheduled collection day, and no later than 7 a.m. on collection day.
  • The lid opening must be facing the street.
  • The cart must be retrieved from the curb no later than 7 p.m. on the day after your collection.
  • Cart must be at least five feet from mailboxes, utility poles, parked cars, recycling or yard waste containers or other items. Garbage left outside the container will not be collected.
  • To participate in the curbside program, simply place your recyclables in your blue roll cart and place on the curb, not in the street, no earlier than noon the day before your scheduled collection, and no later than 7 a.m. on your day of collection.

For more information on how to handle trash and recycling, click here.

Raleigh Police

If you need to reach emergency services, here are some resources for you:

Raleigh Police Department

  • Emergency: 911
  • Non-Emergency: 919-831-6311
  • General Police Information and Questions: 919-996-3335

Raleigh-Wake Emergency Communications Center

  • Emergency: 911
  • Non-Emergency: 919-829-1911
  • 919-996-3530

Raleigh Fire Department

  • Emergency: 911
  • Administration: 919-996-6115

Wake County EMS

  • Emergency: 911
  • Administration: 919-856-6020
Raleigh Fireworks
Photo: Downtown Raleigh fireworks (VisitRaleigh)

Looking for places to dine in and around Raleigh?

We've tried out dozens of Raleigh restaurants and have the scoop on some of the most popular ones! Check out our latest Eating N.C. stories below.

And view a list of Raleigh dining options here and here.