End of US highway 521

View a map showing this route.

Additional research and/or photo credits: Mark Clifton; Justin Cozart; Chris Curley; Andy Field; Karin and Martin Karner; Alex Nitzman; Chris Patriarca; Adam Prince

Approx. time period North terminus South terminus
1933-1975 Pineville, NC Georgetown, SC
1975-1980 Charlotte, NC (US 74) Georgetown, SC
1980-2004 Charlotte, NC (I-85) Georgetown, SC
2004-present Charlotte, NC (I-485) Georgetown, SC

The south end of US 521 has always been in Georgetown SC. The photos below were taken looking east on Highmarket Street:

left: Prince, Oct. 2000 - right: Karners, Apr. 2014

US 521 ends at its junction with US 17, which is the intersection ahead (Fraser Street). This junction used to be signed properly (left photo); I'm not sure why the more recent replacement (right) was changed to "TO US 17", when Fraser is US 17... as the signage ahead attests:

Karners, Apr. 2014

But that's not the only signage failure, as we'll see below. The photo below is from northbound Fraser/US 17:

left: Cozart/Nitzman, Nov. 2006 - right:
Karners, Apr. 2014

That assembly shown on the left replaced a structurally-identical one that was there at least through 2000. (Incidentally, about one block ahead, you can barely make out the overhead signage for the south beginning of US 701.) But for some reason, a more recent replacement (right) indicates that Highmarket is actually US 17A, leading TO US 521. But the truth is, about two blocks to the left, US 17A comes in via Exchange Street, and joins US 521 along Highmarket. The first confirming marker is just past that junction:

Karners, Apr. 2014

The two routes are co-signed for about 10 miles, where they diverge at Sampit.

In 1933, its first year of commissioning, the north end of US 521 was in Pineville NC (just south of Charlotte). I'm guessing northbound US 21 came in from the west on Main Street, or modern NC hwy. 51, and then went north along Polk Street (which soon becomes South Boulevard). The shot below is looking north on Polk:

Google Maps Street View, 2008

That shows the original north terminus of US 521 - straight ahead was northbound US 21, while southbound was to the left on Main.

(Regarding former endpoints in Charlotte, Richard Cuff wrote with the following):

"Your speculation is correct; when I-77 was first built around Charlotte, it was only signed as US 21, as I believe I-77 was initially to end at I-40 in Statesville, and then later I-85 north of Charlotte. When we first started traveling that route in 1971, I-77 simply died into a two-lane road near Mooresville, just south of Lake Norman. US 21 initially came through Charlotte along Statesville Avenue and exited downtown along South Boulevard to Pineville before turning west and multiplexing with NC-51. As the freeway was built, US 21 was shifted over to it, and that became the beginning of US 521 - for example, the intersection of Woodlawn Rd and South Blvd. The interchange with Woodlawn and I-77 became the north terminus for US 521 for several years until the BG Parkway was built."

(Brian Miller adds the following):

"From the time that I-77 was finished in Charlotte (circa 1975), US 521 was routed north from Pineville via South Boulevard to end at US 74 (Independence Blvd, now the John Belk Freeway). Around 1980, when the Billy Graham Parkway was finished and opened, US 521 was moved onto there. When the I-485 loop was finished through the area and a new four-lane connector road was built, 521 was multiplexed with 485 to the connector road, bypassing Pineville and a large segment of the original road. In 2004, when the west loop of 485 was completed (joining 77 and 85), US 521 was truncated to its interchange with I-485."

The shot below is from I-277/US 74:

Field/Nitzman, Oct. 2001

Exit 1E (to South Blvd) was a former north beginning of US 521. The photos below were taken back when US 521 was routed along Billy Graham Parkway, ending at I-85's interchange 33. This first one was looking north on BGP:

Curley, 2001

There was no "End" sign. Well, at least not for the end of US 521...

Patriarca, summer 2003

The photo below was from northbound I-85...

Patriarca, summer 2003

...and the shot below was from southbound:

Patriarca, summer 2003

If you were to exit there, the first southbound sign looked like this:

Field/Nitzman, Oct. 2001

In 2004, the north end of US 521 was truncated to its interchange with I-485 (exit 61). The photo below shows the spot...

Nitzman, May 2005

...although at that time the sign still reflected US 521's former multiplex with westbound I-485. Just ahead, an "End" sign is now posted:

Clifton, Feb. 2012

The photo below shows the beginning of US 521 as seen from eastbound I-485:

Nitzman, May 2005

Heading south on Johnston, this sign is posted at the I-485 interchange...

Clifton, Mar. 2010

...and continuing ahead, the first southbound sign is posted at the point where I-485 traffic merges in:

Nitzman, May 2005