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Asheville is a city in and the county seat of Buncombe Countymarker, North Carolinamarker, United Statesmarker. It is the largest city in Western North Carolina, and continues to grow. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Asheville's population as of 2008 was 78,543. Asheville is a part of the four-county Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area, the population of which was estimated by the Census Bureau in 2008 to be 408,436.



Before the arrival of Europeans, the land where Asheville now exists lay within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation. In 1540, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto came to the area, bringing the first European visitors in addition to European diseases which seriously depleted the native population. The area was used as an open hunting ground until the middle of the 19th century.

The history of Asheville, as a town, begins in 1784. In that year Colonel Samuel Davidson and his family settled in the Swannanoa Valley, redeeming a soldier's land grant from the state of North Carolina. Soon after building a log cabin at the bank of Christian Creek, Davidson was lured into the woods by a band of Cherokee hunters and killed. Davidson's wife, child and female slave fled on foot to Davidson's Fortmarker (named after Davidson's father General John Davidson) 16 miles away.

In response to the killing, Davidson's twin brother Major William Davidson and brother-in-law Colonel Daniel Smith formed an expedition to retrieve Samuel Davidson's body and avenge his murder. Months after the expedition, Major Davidson and other members of his extended family returned to the area and settled at the mouth of Bee Tree Creek.

The United States Census of 1790 counted 1,000 residents of the area, excluding the Cherokee. Buncombe Countymarker was officially formed in 1792. The county seat, named “Morristown” in 1793, was established on a plateau where two old Indian trails crossed. In 1797 Morristown was incorporated and renamed “Asheville” after North Carolina Governor Samuel Ashe.

The Civil War

Asheville, with a population of approximately 2,500 by 1861, remained relatively untouched by the Civil War, but contributed a number of companies to the Confederate States Army, and a substantially smaller number of soldiers to the Union. For a time an Enfield rifle manufacturing facility was located in the town. The war came to Asheville as an afterthought, when the "Battle of Asheville" was fought in early April 1865 at the present-day site of the University of North Carolina at Ashevillemarker, with Union forces withdrawing to Tennesseemarker after encountering resistance from a small group of Confederate senior and junior reserves and recuperating Confederate soldiers in prepared trench lines across the Buncombe Turnpike; orders had been given to the Union force to take Asheville only if this could be accomplished without significant losses.

An engagement was also fought later that month at Swannanoa Gap as part of the larger Stoneman's Raid, with Union forces retreating in the face of resistance from Brig. Gen. Martin, commander of Confederate troops in western North Carolina, but returning to the area via Howard's Gap and Henderson Countymarker. In late April 1865 troops under the overall command of Union Gen. Stoneman captured Asheville. After a negotiated departure, the troops nevertheless subsequently returned and plundered and burned a number of Confederate supporters' homes in the town. The years following the war were a time of economic and social hardship in Buncombe County, as throughout most of the defeated South.

1900s to present

While Asheville prospered in the 1910s and 1920s, the Great Depression hit Asheville quite hard. On November 20, 1930, eight local banks failed. Only Wachovia remained open with infusions of cash from Winston-Salemmarker. Because of the explosive growth of the previous decades, the 'per capita' debt held by the city (through municipal bonds) was the highest of any city in the nation. By 1929 both city and Buncombe Countymarker had incurred over $56 million in bonded debt to pay for a wide range of municipal and infrastructure improvements, including the courthouse and City Hall, paved streets, Beaucatcher Tunnel, school buildings and municipal parks. Rather than default, the city paid those debts over a period of 50 years. From the start of the Depression through the 1980s, economic growth in Asheville was slow. During this time of financial stagnation, most of the buildings in the downtown district remained unaltered. This resulted in one of the most impressive, comprehensive collections of Art Deco architecture in the United Statesmarker.

The Asheville area was subject to severe flooding from the remnants of a tropical storm on July 15-16, 1916, causing over $3 million in damage. Heavy rains from the remnants of Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Ivan caused major flooding in Asheville in September 2004, particularly at Biltmore Villagemarker.{[19246][19247]}

In 2003, Centennial Olympic Park bombermarker Eric Robert Rudolph was transported to Asheville from Murphy, North Carolinamarker for arraignment in federal court.[19248][19249]

General information

Asheville pops up on national rankings for a variety of things: Modern Maturity named it one of "The 50 Most Alive Places To Be," AmericanStyle magazine called it one of "America's Top 25 Arts Destinations," Self magazine labeled it the "Happiest City for Women," it is one of AARP Magazine's "Best Places to Reinvent Your Life," and was proclaimed the "New Freak Capital of the U.S." by Rolling Stone. Asheville has also been called "a New Age Mecca" by CBS News' Eye On America, and named the "most vegetarian-friendly" small city in America by PETA. In the 2008 book The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner, Asheville was cited by the author to be one of the happiest places in the United States.

In 2007, Asheville was named one of the top seven places to live in the U.S. by Frommer's Cities Ranked and Rated, and #23 of 200 metro areas for business and careers by Forbes. It was also named one of the world's top 12 must-see destinations for 2007 by Frommer's travel guides.

Asheville and the surrounding mountains are also popular in the autumn when fall foliage peaks in October. The scenic Blue Ridge Parkwaymarker runs through the Asheville area and near the Biltmore Estatemarker.

Downtown Asheville is a major attraction for tourists in the area

Mayor Terry Bellamy, the city's first African-American female mayor, is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, a bi-partisan group with a stated goal of "making the public safer by getting illegal guns off the streets." In 2005, Mayor Charles Worley signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, and in 2006 the City Council created the Sustainable Advisory Committee on Energy and the Environment. In 2007 Council became the first city on the East Coast to commit to building all municipal buildings to LEED Gold Standards and to achieve 80% energy reduction of 2001 standards by 2040. In 2007 Council signed an agreement with Warren Wilson College stating the intent of the city and college to work together toward climate partnership goals.


Asheville is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the confluence of the Swannanoa River and the French Broad River. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 41.3 square miles (107.0 km²), of which, 40.9 square miles (106.0 km²) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km²) of it is water. The total area is 0.94% water.


Asheville has a Humid subtropical climate that borders on a Subtropical highland climate. Its weather resembles the weather of the rest of the southeastern U.S., but with noticeably cooler temperatures due to the higher altitude. Asheville's summers in particular, though warm, are not as hot as summers in cities farther east in the state. The highest recorded temperature in Asheville was 100°F (37°C) in 1983, and the lowest recorded temperature was -16°F (-27°C) in 1985 . In winter, low temperatures regularly fall below freezing, and Asheville almost always receives snow and freezing rain a few times each year.


  • North - includes the neighborhoods of Albemarle Park, Beaverdam, Beaver Lake, Chestnut Hills, Colonial Heights, Grove Park, Kimberly, Montford, and Norwood Park. The Montford Area Historic Districtmarker, Chestnut Hill Historic District, and Grove Park Historic District are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Montford and Albemarle Park have been named local historic districts by the Asheville City Council.
  • East - includes the neighborhoods of Beverly Hills, Chunn's Cove, Haw Creek, Oakley, Oteen, Reynolds, and Town Mountain.
  • West - includes the neighborhoods of Wilshire Park, Bear Creek, Deaverview Park, Emma, Hi-Alta Park, Lucerne Park, Malvern Hills, Sulphur Springs, Haywood Road, and West Asheville.
  • South - includes the neighborhoods of Ballantree, Biltmore Villagemarker, Biltmore Park, Kenilworth, Oak Forest, Royal Pines, Shiloh, and Skyland. Biltmore Villagemarker has been named a local historic district by the Asheville City Council.


Biltmore Estate today
Notable architecture in Asheville includes its Art Deco city hall, and other unique buildings in the downtown area, such as the Battery Park Hotel, the Neo-Gothic Jackson Building, Grove Arcade and the Basilica of St. Lawrence. The S&W Cafeteria Building is also a fine example of Art Deco architecture in Asheville. The Grove Park Innmarker is an important example of architecture and design of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Inside dome of the Basilica of St. Lawrence, and final resting place of Raphael Guastavino (d.
1908) in Asheville.
The Montford neighborhood and other central areas are considered historic districts and include Victorian houses. On the other hand, Biltmore Villagemarker, located at the entrance to the famous estate, showcases unique architectural features that are found only in the Asheville area. It was here that workers stayed during the construction of George Vanderbilt's estate. Today, however, as with many of Asheville's historical districts, it has been transformed into a district home to quaint, trendy shops and interesting boutiques. The YMI Cultural Center, founded in 1892 by George Vanderbilt in the heart of downtown, is one of the nation's oldest African-American cultural centers.


[[Image:Asheville-Brevard CSA.png|thumb|right|300px|Location of the Asheville-Brevard CSA and its components:]]

Asheville is the larger principal city of the Asheville-Brevard CSAmarker, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Asheville metropolitan area (Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, and Madison counties) and the Brevard micropolitan areamarker (Transylvania Countymarker), which had a combined population of 398,505 at the 2000 census.

As of the census of 2000, there were 68,889 people,30,690 households, and 16,726 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,683.4 people per square mile (650.0/km²). There were 33,567 housing units at an average density of 820.3/sq mi (316.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 77.95% White, 17.61% African American, 0.35% Native American, 0.92% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 1.53% from other races, and 1.58% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.76% of the population.

There were 30,690 households out of which 22.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.1% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.5% were non-families. 36.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.81.

In the city the population was spread out with 19.6% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 23.1% from 45 to 64, and 18.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 87.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,772, and the median income for a family was $44,029. Males had a median income of $30,463 versus $23,488 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,024. About 10.3% of families and 15.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.9% of those under age 18 and 10.1% of those age 65 or over.

Metropolitan area

Asheville is the largest city located within the Asheville MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area). The MSA includes Buncombe Countymarker; Haywood Countymarker; Henderson Countymarker; and Madison Countymarker; with a combined population - as of the 2008 Census Bureau population estimate - of 408,436.

Apart from Asheville, the MSA includes Hendersonvillemarker and Waynesvillemarker, along with a number of smaller incorporated towns: Biltmore Forestmarker, Black Mountainmarker, Cantonmarker, Clydemarker, Flat Rockmarker, Fletchermarker, Hot Springsmarker, Laurel Parkmarker, Maggie Valleymarker, Mars Hillmarker, Marshallmarker, Mills Rivermarker, Montreatmarker, Weavervillemarker, and Woodfinmarker.

Several sizable unincorporated rural and suburban communities are also located nearby: Ardenmarker, Barnardsvillemarker (incorporated until 1970), Bent Creek, Candlermarker, Enkamarker, Fairviewmarker, Jupitermarker (incorporated until 1970), Leicester, Oteen, Skylandmarker, and Swannanoamarker.


Asheville High School Main Entrance
Public Asheville City Schools include Asheville High Schoolmarker, Asheville Middle School, Claxton Elementary, Randolph Learning Center, Hall Fletcher Elementary, Isaac Dickson Elementary, Ira B. Jones Elementary, and Vance Elementary. Asheville High has been ranked by Newsweek magazine as one of the top 100 high schools in the United States. The Buncombe County School System operates high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools both inside and outside the city of Asheville.

Asheville has one of the only Sudbury schools in the Southeast, Katuah Sudbury School. It is also home to several charter schools, including Francine Delany New School for Children, one of the first charter schools in North Carolina and Evergreen Community Charter School, an Outward Bound-Expeditionary Learning School, recognized as one of the most environmentally conscious schools in the country.

Two private residential high schools are located in the Asheville area: the all-male Christ School (located in Ardenmarker) and the coeducational Asheville Schoolmarker. Each offers a rigorous college preparatory curriculum and enrolls boarding students from around the world in addition to local day students. Several other private schools, including Rainbow Mountain Children's School, Asheville Christian Academy, Hanger Hall School for Girls, The New Classical Academy and Carolina Day School, enroll local day students. In addition, New City Christian School is a private school whose stated mission is to educate low-income students.


Asheville and its surrounding area are home to several institutions of higher education:


Asheville is served by Asheville Regional Airportmarker in nearby Fletcher, North Carolinamarker, and by Interstate 40, Interstate 240, and Interstate 26. A milestone was achieved in 2003 when Interstate 26 was extended from Mars Hillmarker (north of Asheville) to Johnson City, Tennesseemarker completing a 20-year half-billion dollar construction project through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Work continues to improve Interstate 26 from Mars Hill to Interstate 40 by improving U.S. Route 19 and U.S. Route 23 and the western part of Interstate 240. This construction will include a multi-million dollar bridge to cross the French Broad River and is not slated to start until after 2008.

The city operates the Asheville Transit System, which consists of several bus lines connecting parts of the city and surrounding areas.

The Norfolk Southern Railway passes through the city, though passenger service is currently not available in the area.

Public services and utilities


Drinking water in Asheville is provided by the Asheville water department. The water system consists of three water treatment plants, more than of water lines, 30 pumping stations and 27 storage reservoirs. Until recently the direction of the water agency was shared between Buncombe County and the City of Asheville. The two governments are presently seeking agreement on water that could restore the previous intergovermental agency. The public drinking water supply in most areas of Asheville is presently fluoridated by the addition of hydrofluorosilic acid, at a rate of 0.9 to 1.1 parts per million (See also: Water fluoridation controversy)

The original water system in Asheville dates from the 1880s when Asheville constructed a reservoir on Beaucatcher Mountain, collecting water from various springs and branches. Pipes were laid and unfiltered water distributed by gravity flowed down into the town.


Sewer services are provided by the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County.


Power is provided by Progress Energy Inc.

Natural gas

Natural gas is provided by PSNC Energy.

Local culture


Live music is a significant element in the tourism-based economy of Asheville and the surrounding area. Seasonal festivals and numerous nightclubs and performance venues offer opportunities for visitors and locals to attend a wide variety of live entertainment events.

A popular activity in Asheville is the Drum Circle, an unorganized event that is held by local residents in Prichard Park, that is open to anyone.

In particular, Asheville has a very strong street performer ("busking") community. Outdoor festivals, such as Bele Chere and the Lexington Avenue Arts & Fun Festival, known as LAAFF, feature local music. One event is "Shindig on the Green," which happens Saturday nights during July and August on City/County Plaza. By tradition, the Shindig starts "along about sundown" and features local bluegrass bands and dance teams on stage, and informal jam sessions under the trees surrounding the County Courthouse. Another event is "Downtown After 5". This is a monthly concert series held from 5PM till 9PM that hosts popular touring musical acts as well as local acts.

Asheville also hosts the Warren Haynes Christmas Jam annually. The event raises money for Habitat For Humanity and attracts several major touring acts each year, with past performers including Dave Matthews, Widespread Panic, The Allman Brothers Band, Blues Traveler, and members of the Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin.

DJ music, as well as a small, but active, dance community are also components of the downtown musical landscape. The town is also home to the Asheville Symphony and the Asheville Lyric Opera and there are a number of bluegrass, country, and traditional mountain musicians in the Asheville area. A residency at local music establishment The Orange Peel by Smashing Pumpkins in 2007, along with Beastie Boys in 2009, brought national attention to Asheville.


Current teams

Asheville Tourists

Name Sport Founded League Venue
Baseball 1897 South Atlantic McCormick Fieldmarker
?? NAFL Memorial Stadium

Previous teams

Asheville Smoke

Asheville Aces

Asheville Altitude

Name Sport Founded League Venue Years in Asheville
Ice hockey 1991 United Hockey League Asheville Civic Centermarker 1998 - 2002
Ice hockey 2004 Southern Professional Hockey League Asheville Civic Centermarker 2004
Basketball 2001 NBA Development League Asheville Civic Centermarker 2001 - 2005

Other sports

Area colleges and universities, such as the University of North Carolina at Ashevillemarker, compete in sports. UNCA's sports teams are known as the Bulldogs and play in the Big South Conference. The Fighting Owls of Warren Wilson College participate in mountain biking and ultimate sports teams. The College is also home of the Hooter Dome, where the Owls play their home basketball games.

Recreational sports

Asheville is a major hub of whitewater recreation, particularly whitewater kayaking, in the eastern US. Many kayak manufacturers have their bases of operation in the Asheville area. Some of the most distinguished whitewater kayakers live in or around Asheville. In its July/August 2006 journal, the group American Whitewater named Asheville one of the top five US whitewater cities. Asheville is also home to numerous Disc Golf courses. Soccer is a huge recreational sport in Asheville as well. Many games are held at Asalea Park. HFC is the local soccer club in Asheville.

Performing arts

The Asheville Community Theatre was founded in 1946, producing the first amateur production of the Appalachian drama, Dark of the Moon. Soon after, the young actors Charlton Heston and wife Lydia Clarke would take over the small theatre. The current ACT building has two performance spaces - the Mainstage Auditorium, which seats 399 patrons (and named the Heston Auditorium for its most famous alumni); and the more intimate black box performance space 35 Below, seating 40 patrons.

The North Carolina Stage Company is the only resident professional theatre in the downtown area.

The Asheville Lyric Opera recently celebrated its 10th anniversary by featuring a concert by Angela Brown, David Malis, and Tonio Di Paolo, veterans of the Metropolitan Opera. The ALO has typically performed three fully-staged professional operas for the community in addition to its vibrant educational program.

In 2004, the Asheville Arts Center opened. It is a theatre, dance, and music studio designed for arts education. The Grand Hall of the Arts Center also is a regular venue for local bands as well as the Asheville Movement Collective.

Places of worship

Places of worship in Asheville include the Catholic Basilica of St. Lawrence, the Episcopal St. Luke's Churchmarker, and Conservative Jewish Beth Israel Synagoguemarker.

Film and TV

Although the area has had a long history with the entertainment industry, recent developments are cementing Asheville as a potential growth area for both film and TV. The Asheville Film Festival has completed its sixth year, and the city is an annual participant in the 48-Hour Film Project. The city's public access cable station URTV began airing programs in the spring of 2006. Films made at least partially in the area include A Breed Apart, Searching for Angela Shelton, Last of the Mohicans, Being There, My Fellow Americans, The Fugitive, All the Real Girls, Richie Rich, Thunder Road, Hannibal, Songcatcher, Patch Adams, Nell, Forrest Gump, Mr. Destiny, Dirty Dancing, Bull Durham, The Private Eyes, The Swan, The Clearing, and 28 Days. Locally produced films include Golden Throats of the 20th Century and Anywhere, USA, a winning film at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.


Asheville is in the "Greenville-Spartanburg-Asheville-Anderson" television DMA and the "Asheville" radio ADI for the city's .

The primary television station in Asheville is ABC affiliate WLOS-TVmarker Channel 13, with studios in Biltmore Park and a transmitter on Mount Pisgah. Other stations licensed to Asheville include WUNF, PBS station on Channel 33 and The CW affiliate WYCWmarker on Channel 62. Asheville is also served by the Upstate South Carolinamarker stations of WYFFmarker Channel 4 (NBC), WSPA-TVmarker Channel 7 (CBS), WHNS-TVmarker Channel 21 (FOX), and MyNetworkTV station WMYAmarker Channel 40. SCETV PBS affiliates from the Upstate of South Carolina are generally not carried on cable systems in the North Carolina portion of the DMA.

The Asheville Citizen-Times is Asheville's daily newspaper which covers most of Western North Carolina. The Mountain Xpress is the largest weekly in the area, covering arts and politics in the region.

Famous residents



Points of interest

Sister cities

Asheville has six sister cities:


External links

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