I think your best bet to understanding why they exist is to pick up a North Carolina History book and learn about the heritage and you will find about how each city had a part from the early settlers, civil war, and industrialization after World War 1
The area isnt as bland as you say it actually full of life. The terrain known as the Piedmont consists of rolling hills with beautiful green landscape throughout the year from decidiious to evergreens, various plants, and wildlife. Recreation that cost barely nothing to Broadway Plays.
Excellent place for a family to call home.
There is plenty of waterways near each of these areas, Yadkin River, Catawba River, Pee Dee, Cape Fear, Neuse, Uwharrie and the river baisns are all located within this region.
It takes more than scenery to attract people to an area. Many choose this location so they do not have to deal with the extremes of weather that living in Mountains or Coast can bring. This area floods less due to the rolling hills and no worreis of mountain slides.
In the 50's companies like alot of nation needed to supply power, water and other needs to the new demand of the economy and some rivers now consists of dams to make lakes to help continue the area to grow.
Again best bet is understanding the history but check out wikipedia synopsis of each of the cities you listed above.
Charlotte, North Carolina - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
you will see Charlotte part in the Revolutionary War, the influence of the building and developing of various churches, cotton processing center, railroad hub.
Greensboro, North Carolina - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Greensboro was part of large textile hub also the site in the 40's for Overseas depot for army corps. It also became a hub between Washington and Atlanta for mail and Sears setup a distribution warehouse.
In the 60's Greensboro was the site of social change of America when four black college students for A&T Greensboro started a sit in a all white Woolworth (building still exists and is being turn to a museum.)
1980, Greensboro was recognized as national center for insurance, textile manufacturing, higher education, and transportation. National headquarters in the city included United Guaranty, the nations second largest publicly owned mortgage insurer; Blue Bell, Cone Mills, and Burlington Industries, all international textile firms; Paul N. Howard Company, an international construction firm; Richardson-Vicks, maker of VapoRub, Vicks cough drops, and Nyquil; Southern Life Insurance Company; and Jefferson-Pilot Insurance, one of the twenty-five largest insurance companies in the country
I know from some of your previous posts you really are not fond of the area but next time your in Greensboro take notice of layout of the streets.
You will notice they have this kinda S
pattern research the history to find out why that is.
It knowlege I have of the heritage can be found in some books.
Raliegh is the capital so that explains itself, Lexington Thomasville growth came with Farming, Textiles, Furniture and Tobacco same for Durham and othe cities you mention above.
All these areas some slower than others have made smart moves in planning on the future and dealing with the needs of today's economy and dealt with the change from manufacturing to service oriented employment and gave incentives for buisness to relocate or start up here is why this area is appealing to many that have chose this state.
The lower taxes and cost of living is biggest drive to the Piedmont.
Charlotte Uptown and Raliegh Downtown are practically are having a makeover and will not even look like the same area within next 3 years.
Both cities have major sports, and still have the collegiate sports.
Winston Salem is changing its downtown and won the bid for a Dell Plant that open last year.
Greensboro Future home of FedEx hub, and Honda Jets but did a awesome effort in keeping its downtown the way it was but with life of today.
The history cannot be forgotten when trying to analyse a city to understand where it is and why it a good place to live for many people.