Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina and the seat of Wake County, actually began as a tiny crossroads hamlet named Bloomsbury. A planter named Joel Lane purchased several thousand acres in the area during the late 1760s, and constructed his home there. As a major land owner, Lane was naturally drawn into politics and soon found himself a part of the North Carolina General Assembly. And so, when the legislature decided in 1792 that the new state capital should be established within 10 miles of Isaac Hunter's tavern (a popular drinking spot), Lane was only too happy to sell them a thousand-acre plot in the recently formed Wake County. Named for Sir Walter Raleigh, the new capital was modeled after Philadelphia, the nation's capital at the time, and was financed by selling off lots for residences.
Raleigh's first capitol building, a simple State House, was destroyed by fire in 1831. The second state capitol was constructed in the Greek Revival style, including the dome that had been popularized by the U.S. Capitol. After Raleigh surrendered to General Sherman in 1865, at the end of the Civil War, a young Union army lieutenant climbed to the top of the capitol dome and sent the troops in and around Raleigh the signal message "Peace on earth, good will to men." The North Carolina General Assembly was dominated by "carpetbaggers and scalawags" during the Reconstruction period, and many claim that the dents and cracks in the capitol building's stone steps are from the endless procession of whiskey barrels being rolled up into the assembly hall.
Raleigh emerged from the Civil War relatively unscathed, but didn't actually begin to develop as a city until the 20th century. The agricultural change from cotton to tobacco sparked some early growth and brought the railroad to Raleigh, and the development of Research Triangle Park in the 1950s established the city as a center for research and development. There are currently over 50 companies operating in Research Triangle Park, including IBM and GlaxoSmithKline. North Carolina State University, founded in 1887, is considered the flagship science and technology campus for North Carolina and is recognized as one of the three anchors in the Research Triangle (along with Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).
Raleigh is also home to various arts, entertainment, and shopping. City Market, initially established in 1914 as a farmer's market, provides visitors with shopping and dining along cobblestone streets. Artspace, a popular spot in City Market, provides art exhibits and open art studios to the public.