STEELE CREEK NEWS
Just Where is Steele Creek?
2016) Steele Creek is a community in southwest Mecklenburg County,
North Carolina. It approximates the old Steele Creek Township, which
loses territory as Charlotte annexes into it. The Steele Creek
community has a
strong self identity based on its long history. But what are it's boundaries?
A web site about
the Steele Creek community needed to have a map showing where that
community was and what its boundaries were. The boundaries should also
follow census tabulation boundaries so that census counts could be
In 2002, when this
web site was created, the only guidance provided was that Steele
Creek was south of the airport and west of I-77.
Wylie) and southern (the state line) boundaries were easy, as was
I-77 to the southeast. On the northwest, it seemed appropriate to use
the Steele Creek township line from Lake Wylie east to Steele Creek
Road, but annexations had mostly erased the township line elsewhere. Byrum
Drive and Yorkmont Road were convenient boundaries on the northeast,
and Sugar Creek provided a nonresidential break between residential
areas along South Tryon Street south of Shopton Road and the apartment
neighborhoods further east along Tyvola Road. This boundary ensured
that Steele Creek Presbyterian Church, Steele Creek AME Zion Church,
and residences on the north side of Shopton Road were included.
The map below
shows the boundaries of Steele Creek that were chosen on 2002
(mostly) and continue to be used by this web site. Click
HERE to view a PDF of this map.
within this boundary is about 46 square miles. The area's Census 2000 population was 25,282,
but by 2010 the population had increased to 52,014 according to
2010 Census. The population in 2016 is probably
around 60,000. Most of Steele Creek and its population is within the Charlotte city limits.
But is this boundary an accurate depiction of Steele Creek? One
way to evaluate it is to look at specific locations that have
"Steele Creek" in their names, starting with the creek itself.
Steele Creek's source is in the Steele Creek Commerce Park industrial park
north of I-485 at Steele Creek Road. The creek flows through the
center of the community and into South Carolina, where it contines
Anne Springs Close Greenway and eventually
flows into Sugar Creek. Steele Creek Road (North Carolina Highway
160) is another prominent feature crossing through the center of the
The map below shows other key locations that include "Steele "Creek" in their names.
The first use of
the name after the creek likely was by the Steele Creek Presbyterian
Church, which was organized in 1760 and was one of the first seven
Presbyterian churches of Mecklenburg County. Central Steele Creek
Presbyterian Church was established in 1893 at its current location
with the merger of Blackstock Presbyterian Church (formerly Steele
Creek Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (1793)), located off
what is now Carowinds Blvd., and Little Steele Creek Associate
Reformed Presbyterian Church (1809), located on Sandy Porter Road.
Other current churches are Steele Creek AME Zion Church, Steele Creek Church
of Charlotte, and Steele Creek Baptist Church.
include Steele Creek American Legion, Steele Creek YMCA, Steele Creek Athletic
Association and Steele Creek Masonic Lodge. The Masonic Lodge formerly was
located further north until it was displaced by the Berewick Town Center.
include Steele Creek Volunteer Fire Departments 1 and 2, Steele
Creek Neighborhood Park, Steele Creek Elementary School, the office
of Steele Creek Division of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police
Department, Steele Creek Station of the United States Post Office,
and the Steele Creek Library. The current Steele Creek Library opened in
2004. Previously it had been located in Steele Creek Commons
Shopping Center at the corner of S Tryon Street and Sandy Porter
The purple dots
on the map represent neighborhoods (mostly apartment complexes but
including Steele Creek subdivision), shopping centers (Steele Creek
Commons and Steele Creek Crossing), and an industrial park (Steele
Creek Commerce Park). The black dots represent businesses or medical
facilities with "Steele Creek" in their names, including Carolinas
Medical Center Steele Creek. It does not include chains that include
a location in their name, such as Home Depot Steele Creek, which are
It is apparent
from the map that the name "Steele Creek" is used in place names
throughout the community boundaries, especially along main
thoroughfares of South Tryon Street/York Road and Steele Creek Road.
The only places outside the boundary are the Steele Creek American
Legion across from Steele Creek Presbyterian Church and Steele Creek
Printing and Design on Downs Road. To view a list of all 40 places on the map, click
According to Linda Blackwelder's History of Steele Creek (unpublished),
the Steele Creek area had been recognized by name since colonial
times, although the spelling left off the final "e" in Steele until the
early 1900's. Initially Steel Creek District consisted of a wedge of southwestern Mecklenburg County
spreading out from Charlotte. Its northern boundary was slightly
north of present-day Wilkinson Boulevard, and its eastern boundary
generally followed today's South Tryon Street, Camden Street, Nations
Ford Road, Kings Branch, and Sugar Creek. Steele Creek District
generally was replaced by Berryhill and Steel Creek Townships
where the state created townships following the adoption of the new North Carolina Constitution in
On the map below, a modern street map of Mecklenburg County has been superimposed on a map
published in 1911 showing Berry Hill and Steel Creek Townships. To
view the original map of Mecklenburg County North Carolina 1911 by
C. A. Spratt and J. B. Spratt, click
It is difficult to determine a precise boundary for
the original Steele Creek Township
since areas have been removed from the township as Charlotte has
annexed into it beginning in 1973, and the original boundaries have
not been maintained on modern maps. Roads and other features on
modern maps do not line up well with those on older maps because the
older maps are not as positionally accurate and contain fewer roads
to match with. The township boundary on the map below was derived
from the Charlotte West 7.5 minute topographic map dated 1949 and
the Charlotte 15 minute topographic map dated 1907. As
the map below shows, the township boundary extended east to Nations Ford
Road, but that area is not considered part of the Steele Creek
The Steele Creek
Station of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department sits on the
corner of South Tryon Street and Westinghouse Boulevard, at the
central point on Steele Creek's main thoroughfare. The boundaries of
Steele Creek Division extend eastward to Old Pineville Road and
Little Sugar Creek. The division also includes the Lake Wylie Lake
Patrol, which covers Lake Wylie all the way north to Mountain
Island Dam. It excludes city-owned property near the airport, which
is included in the Airport Division. However, the division boundaries were not chosen to
represent the Steele Creek community. The division boundaries
existed before the Police Departments selected names for its
divisions. The division actually covered a larger area, especially
to the north, before additional divisions were created.
Steeleberry Volunteer Fire Department was chartered in 1954 to serve Steele Creek and Berryhill Townships.
It became Steele Creek Volunteer Fire Department in 1959. Its first
station was built on Steele Creek Road between Shopton Road and
Shopton Road West. Steele Creek Station #2 is located on South Tryon
Street west of Steele Creek Road. It once had a third station on
Arrowood Road. The Volunteer Fire Department District has shrunk as
Charlotte has annexed into it, but it still covers unincorporated
areas of the old Steele Creek Township as well as part of Berryhill
At least three
schools have had the name Steel Creek or Steele Creek.
two-story Steel Creek High School opened in 1902 near the
corner of York Road (now South Tryon Street) and Sandy
Porter Road. It was one of ten schools serving the Steele
Creek community in the early 1900's. It operated until 1921 when the students began
attending the Observer School to the southwest. The school's
top story was removed, and the school was used as a
Community House until 2001 when the widening of South Tryon
Street threatened it. It was moved to the Steele Creek
Athletic Association athletic fields on Choate Circle where
it continues to be used as a meeting house today.
Steel Creek High
School opened in 1925 on York Road (now South Tryon Street) at Erwin
Road at the current site of Lions Gate Townhomes. At some point after
1931 area high school students began attending Berryhill High School
to the north. This school served white students from throughout
Steele Creek except for the northwestern part around the Shopton
community. Although this school was torn down after 1968, the
original school bell and the sign presented by the 1930 graduating
class were preserved. The bell is now in the bell tower in front of
the current Steele Creek Elementary School, and the sign was embedded in the
The current Steele
Creek Elementary School opened in 1968. Its attendance area
approximated that of the school it replaced but has become smaller
as Lake Wylie Elementary School and other schools have opened. Now
its attendance area includes the northeastern portion of the Steele
The Olympic High
School attendance area is almost identical to that of the Steele
Steele Creek Area Plan Concept Map
The Charlotte City
Council adopted the
Steele Creek Area Plan in 2012, which forms a
framework for future development. The area plan
boundaries exclude northern portions of the Steele Creek community.
including Berewick, Olde Whitehall, and other neighborhoods off South
Tryon Street north of Arrowood Road,
but the boundaries were not selected in an effort to define Steele Creek. Instead
the boundaries simply include area that had not been included in
previous, adjacent area plans. According to the plan's Executive
Summary, the area within its boundaries had a population of 35,000,
about 15,000 less than the 2010 census count of 52,014 for the area
within the boundary used by this web site.
US Post Office Steele Creek Station serves ZIP codes 28273 and
28278. ZIP code 28273 had been served by the Arrowood Station on
Granite Street before that station was closed. Portions of Steele
Creek also are covered by ZIP code 28217 (Starmount).
Steele Creek Township boundary is difficult to pin down. The map
below shows the northwest portion of the township boundary (in
violet) superimposed over the Charlotte West topographic map from
1949. The current roads (in red) align well with the historic roads
on the 1949 map. The township line in violet was created for use in
maps on this web site by tracing the dashed township line on the
boundaries used by the United States Census Bureau for the 2000 and
2010 censuses do not line up with the boundary on the 1949
topographic map. For the 2000 census, the boundary was further
north. When the Steele Creek boundary was selected for use on this
web site in 2002, it followed this 2000 census boundary (in red). Before the 2010
census, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department provided a
corrected boundary to the Census Bureau, so the boundary on 2010
census maps is in a more accurate location to the south (in green).
Steele Creek Township Shrinks, and Shrinks Some More.) Since one
objective of this web site is to use a boundary that can be used to
tabulate census counts, it uses the township boundary on 2010 census
maps as the
community boundary connecting Lake Wylie to Steele Creek Road.
Note that boundary
between North Carolina Senate Districts 37 and 38 adopted by the
North Carolina General Assembly in 2011 follows the old, 2000 census
boundary rather than the 2010 census boundary that was available on
census maps at the time redistricting occurred. See
North Carolina Senate Map. Also note that the township name in census
publications was "Township 3, Steel Creek" up through the 2000
census but corrected to "Township 3, Steele Creek" for the 2010 census.
provides an erroneous boundary for Steele Creek, as shown below and
Some years ago the City of Charlotte,
Mecklenburg County, and The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute delineated
neighborhood statistical areas for use in their
Quality of Life
study and for other planning purposes. Although the NSAs were
identified by numbers, the city decided to give them names.
Unfortunately, many of the names were poor choices for the NSAs they
identified. One of these was "Steele Creek," which was the name
given to one part at the edge of the community. The Quality of Life
Explorer no longer uses the NSAs or their names (they use census
block groups), but unfortunately the damage had been done. Google
Maps picked up the named neighborhoods and added them to their maps.
Now if you search for Steele Creek in Google Maps, you get a map
that misrepresents the actual Steele Creek community. See
"Misleading Neighborhood Names" in the Steele Creek Forum.
When news events
happen in Steele Creek,
Charlotte Observer and other media outlets sometimes give
the location as "Steele Creek" but often say the event
took place in "Southwest Charlotte" or even "South Charlotte."
They've even used "Southwest Charlotte" when events have
the unincorporated areas of Steele Creek. South Charlotte would seem
to refer to the Providence Road corridor and other areas on the
other side of Pineville. Southwest Charlotte could be anywhere south
and west of the Square at Trade and Tryon Streets. Steele Creek is a large
enough area with a strong enough identity not to be lumped in with
other parts of Charlotte.
- Steele Creek generally is the area of southwestern
Mecklenburg County that is south of the airport and west of I-77.
- In order to calculate census counts, this web site uses
census tabulation block boundaries in delineating the community.
- The geographic extent of government facilities, churches,
businesses, and other places that have "Steele Creek" in their
names corresponds well to the area that this web site includes
within its Steele Creek boundaries. These places are a good
indictor of the Steele Creek local identity.
- The Steele Creek community generally corresponds to the old
Steele Creek Township as it existed before Charlotte began
annexing into it and removing territory from it in 1973. One major
exception is that areas along Nations Ford Road are not considered
part of the current Steele Creek community.
To comment on this
story, please visit the
Steele Creek Forum.
to share this story to your Facebook page,
or click below to visit the Steele Creek Residents Association