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Durham is a city in the U.S. state of North Carolinamarker. It is the county seat of Durham Countymarker and also extends into Wakemarker county. It is the fifth largest city in the state by population, with 223,284 residents as of July 1, 2008. Durham County as of July 1, 2008 has 262,715 residents. It is the home of Duke Universitymarker and North Carolina Central Universitymarker, and is also one of the vertices of the Research Triangle area (home of the Research Triangle Parkmarker).

Durham is the core of the four-county Durham MSA, which has a population of 489,762 as of July 1, 2008. The US Office of Management and Budget also includes Durham as a part of the Raleighmarker-Durham-Carymarker Combined Statistical Area, which has a population of 1,578,527 as of July 1, 2008.


Native Americans

The Eno and the Occaneechi, related to the Sioux, and the Shakori – lived and farmed here. Durham is thought to be the site of an ancient Native American village named Adshusheer. The Great Indian Trading Path is traced through Durham, and Native Americans helped to mold Durham by establishing settlement sites and commercial transportation routes.


In 1701, Durham's beauty was chronicled by the explorer John Lawson, who called the area "the flower of the Carolinas." During the mid-1700's, Scots, Irish, and English colonists settled on land granted to John Carteret, Earl of Granville, by King Charles I (for whom the Carolinas are named). Early settlers built gristmills, such as West Pointmarker, and worked the land.

Revolutionary War

Prior to the American Revolution, frontiersmen in what is now Durham were involved in the "War of Regulators." According to legend, Loyalist militia cut Cornwallis Road through this area in 1771 to quell the rebellion. Later, William Johnston, a local shopkeeper and farmer, forged Revolutionary ammunition, served in the Provincial Capital Congress in 1775, and helped underwrite Daniel Boone's westward explorations.During the period between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, large plantations such as Hardscrabble, Cameron, and Leigh were established. By 1860, Stagville Plantationmarker lay at the center of one of the largest plantation holdings in the South. African slaves were brought to labor on these farms and plantations, and slave quarters became the hearth of distinctively Southern cultural traditions involving crafts, social relations, life rituals, music, and dance. There were free African-Americans in the area as well, including several who fought in the Revolutionary War.

The Civil War Era

Prior to the arrival of the railroad, the area now known as Durham was almost entirely agricultural, with a few businesses catering to travelers (particularly livestock drivers) along the Hillsborough Road. This road, eventually followed by US Route 70, was the major east-west route in North Carolina from colonial times until the construction of interstate highways.There was a search for a suitable railroad depot for the North Carolina Railroad between Raleighmarker and Hillsboroughmarker. The wood-burning steam locomotives of the time had to stop frequently to refuel, and depots supplying wood and water could not be more than 25–30 miles apart. A post office known as Herndon's existed in the area from 1827 and one at nearby Prattsburg was established in 1836. The landowners at Prattsburg refused to sell land to the railroad. Somewhat further to the northwest in what was then part of Orange County, a country physician named Bartlett S. Durham lived and practiced along the route. In 1849, Dr. Durham provided land for a railroad station. He donated land to the railroad, which named the subsequent depot Durham Station. The community of Durham Station grew slowly before the Civil War, but expanded rapidly following the war; the present city charter dates from 1869. Much of this growth can be attributed to the establishment of a thriving tobacco industry. Soldiers, both Union and Confederate, were encamped near Bennett Placemarker, just outside Durham Station, during surrender proceedings in April 1865. While on the battlefront, soldiers liberally helped themselves to the area's Brightleaf Tobacco, which purportedly had a milder flavor than other tobacco varieties. Veterans returned home after the war with an interest in acquiring more of the great tobacco they had sampled in North Carolina. Numerous orders were mailed to John Ruffin Green's tobacco company requesting more of the Durham tobacco. W.T. Blackwell partnered with Green and renamed the company as the "Bull Durham Tobacco Factorymarker". The name "Bull Durham" is said to have been taken from the bull on the British Colman's Mustard, which Mr. Blackwell (mistakenly) believed was manufactured in Durhammarker, Englandmarker.

20th century

Looking west along Parrish Street, toward SunTrust(former CCB) Building
The rapid growth and prosperity of the Bull Durham Tobacco Company, and Washington Duke's Duke & Sons Tobacco Company, resulted in the rapid growth of the city of Durham. While the tobacco industry dominated the city's economy initially, it was soon rivaled by the establishment of multiple textile mills, particularly in East and West Durham. Much of the early city architecture, both commercial and residential, dates from the period of 1890 - 1930.

Durham quickly developed a vibrant Black community, the center of which was an area known as 'Hayti' (pronounced HAY-tie), just south of the center of town, where some of the most prominent and successful black-owned businesses in the country during the early 20th century were established. These businesses — the best known of which are North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company and Mechanics & Farmers' Bank — were centered on Parrish St., which would come to be known as "Black Wall Street." In 1910,Dr. James E. Shepard founded North Carolina Central Universitymarker, the nation's first publicly supported liberal arts college for African-Americans.

In 1924 James Buchanan Duke established a philanthropic foundation in honor of his father Washington Duke to support Trinity College in Durham. The college changed its name to Duke Universitymarker and built a large campus and hospital a mile west of Trinity College (the original site of Trinity College is now known as the Duke East Campus).

Durham's manufacturing fortunes declined during the mid-20th century. Textile mills began to close during the 1930s. Competition from other tobacco companies (as well as a decrease in smoking after the 1960s) reduced revenues from Durham's tobacco industry. Although the region benefited significantly from the establishment of Research Triangle Parkmarker in 1958, Durham did not experience the same early increases in housing development as neighboring Raleigh and Cary. Suburban flight also contributed to the slow but progressive decline of downtown Durham as a retail and economic center.

Civil Rights

With a strong African-American community, a strong Civil Rights movement developed in Durham. Multiple sit-ins were held, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited the city during the struggle for equal rights. The Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, organized in 1935 by C.C. Spaulding and Dr. James E. Shepard, has been cited nationally for its role in the sit-in movements of the 1950's-60's. The committee also has used its voting strength to pursue social and economic rights for African-Americans and other ethnic groups. In the late 1950's, Reverend Douglas Moore, minister of Durham's Asbury Temple Methodist Church, along with other religious and community leaders, pioneered sit-ins throughout North Carolina to protest discrimination at lunch counters that served only whites. A sit-in at a Woolworth's counter in Greensboro, NC, captured the nation's attention. Within days, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. met Reverend Moore in Durham, where Dr. King coined his famous rallying cry "Fill up the jails," during a speech at White Rock Baptist Church. Advocating non-violent confrontation with segregation laws for the first time, Dr. King said, "Let us not fear going to jail. If the officials threaten to arrest us for standing up for our rights, we must answer by saying that we are willing and prepared to fill up the jails of the South."This strong community was not enough to prevent the demolition of portions of the Hayti district for the construction of the Durham Freeway during the late 1960s. The freeway construction resulted in losses to other historic neighborhoods, including Morehead Hills, West End, and West Durham. Combined with large-scale demolition using Urban Renewal funds, Durham suffered significant losses to its historic architectural base.

Five Points in downtown Durham

1970's - present

Durham's growth began to rekindle during the 1970s and 1980s, with the construction of multiple housing developments in the southern part of the city, nearest Research Triangle Parkmarker, and the beginnings of downtown revitalization. In 1975, the St. Joseph's Historical Foundation at the Hayti Heritage Center was incorporated to "preserve the heritage of the old Hayti community, and to promote the understanding of and appreciation for the African American experience and African Americans' contributions to world culture." A new downtown baseball stadium was constructed for the Durham Bulls in 1994. A large-scale renovation of the historic American Tobacco Companymarker (formerly Bull Durham) complex commenced in 2003.

Major employers in Durham are Duke University (39,000 employees, 13,000 students), about 2 miles west of the original downtown area, and companies in the Research Triangle Park (49,000 employees), about 10 miles southeast. These centers are connected by the Durham Freeway (NC 147).


Colleges and universities

Public education in Durham is provided by Durham Public Schools. Durham owns 45 schools, including a school for hospitalized children. Durham also is home to the state-run residential high school North Carolina School of Science and Mathematicsmarker.

In December 2007, ranked Durham as one of the "Top 20 Places to Educate Your Child;" Durham was the only MSA from North Carolina to make the list.

Sports and Entertainment

Durham's most famous professional sports team is the Durham Bulls International League baseball team. A movie involving the franchise, Bull Durham, was produced in 1988. The Bulls play in the Durham Bulls Athletic Parkmarker, on the southern end of downtown, constructed in 1994. Designed by HOK-Sport, the designers of Oriole Park at Camden Yardsmarker in Baltimoremarker, the stadium has 10,000 seats and is fronted by an office building, Diamond View I, built by the owner of the team, Raleigh'smarker Capital Broadcasting. Construction of a second Diamond View office building and parking deck is now complete. Now with one of the newest and most impressive stadiums in the minor leagues, the Bulls usually generate an annual attendance of around 500,000. Previously the Durham Athletic Parkmarker, located on the northern end of downtown, had served as the team's homebase. It has been preserved for the use of other minor league baseball teams as well as for concerts sponsored by the City of Durham and other events. The Durham Dragons, a women's fast pitch softball team, played in the Durham Athletic Park from 1998-2000. The DAP is currently undergoing a $5 million renovation.

NCAA Sports

Duke Universitymarker offers 26 NCAA Division I sporting teams and competes in the ACC. Duke has won 3 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championships, and is third in NCAA Final Four appearances in Men's Basketball with 14.

North Carolina Central Universitymarker offers NCAA Division I sporting teams and currently in transition to compete in the MEAC.

NCCU has won CIAA championships in football, volleyball, and cross country for two consecutive years. NCCU won the 1989 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship.

Amateur sports

The Carolina ANZACs cricket and social group is based in this area and participate in many invited tournaments all around the country and are part of the Mid Atlantic Cricket Conference, a member league of the USACA.

The Carolina ANZACs actively promote kids cricket in collaboration with other cricket clubs in the area and hold annual cricket camps for enthusiastic youngsters.

Points of interest


Carolina Theatre.

Events include jazz festivals, blues festivals, symphony concerts, art exhibitions, and a multitude of cultural expositions, including the American Dance Festivalmarker and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. A center of Durham's culture is its Carolina Theatermarker, which shows both live performances and films, primarily independent releases. Notable dining establishments are primarily concentrated in the Ninth Street, Brightleaf, and University Drive areas. There is a resurgence of restaurants in and around the downtown area, including several new restaurants in the American Tobacco District. The Nasher Museum of Artmarker opened in October 2005 and has produced nationally-recognized traveling exhibitions of leading-edge global, contemporary art.

The Durham Association for Downtown Arts (DADA) is a non-profit arts organization located in the downtown area. It was founded in 1998 and then incorporated in 2000. The organization's mission is a commitment to the development, presentation and fiscal sponsorship of original art and performance in Durham. DADA strives to support local artists working in a diversity of artistic media. Emphasizing community, DADA helps local residents gain access to these artists by providing free or low-cost venue admission.

Notable movies filmed in Durham

Famous natives and residents

Born in Durham

Residents of Durham

Associated with Durham


The area is predominantly Democratic, and has voted for the Democratic Party's presidential candidate in every election since the city's founding in 1869. Durham is an activist community and politics are lively, visible, and often contentious, and like many communities, often dealing with issues of race and class. The shifting alliances of the area's political action committees since the 1980s has led to a very active local political scene. Notable groups include the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, the Durham People's Alliance, the Friends of Durham, and Traction. Compared to other similarly sized Southern cities, Durham has a larger than average population of middle class African-Americans and white liberals. Working together in coalition, these two groups have dominated city and county politics since the early 1980s.

Key political issues have been the redevelopment of Downtown Durham and revival of other historic neighborhoods and commercial districts, a 45% reduction of crime, a 10 year plan to end homelessness, initiatives to reduce truancy, issues related growth and development. Naturally, a merger of Durham City Schools (several inner city neighborhoods) and Durham County Schools in the early 1990s has not been without controversy.

Recent issues

Duke Lacrosse Rape Case

In 2006, racial and community tensions were stirred following false allegations of a sexual assault by three white members of the Duke University lacrosse team in what is now known as the 2006 Duke University lacrosse casemarker. The allegations were made by Crystal Gail Mangum a young African- American woman, student, stripper and mother of two young children. She and another young woman had been hired to dance at a party that the team held in an off-campus house. In 2007, all charges in the case were dropped and the players were declared innocent. Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong was dismissed from his job and disbarred from legal practice for his criminal misconduct handling of the case including withholding of exculpatory evidence. There have been several other results from the case, including lawsuits against both city and Duke Universitymarker officials.

Immigration policy

Since 2003 the city has had a policy to prohibit police from inquiring into the citizenship status of persons unless they have otherwise been arrested or charged with a crime. A city council resolution mandates that police officers "...may not request specific documents for the sole purpose of determining a person's civil immigration status, and may not initiate police action based solely on a person's civil immigration status ..."

Passenger transportation

Durham Area Transit Authority bus with the customary bicycle rack.

Triangle Transit bus
Triangle Transit (known formerly as the Triangle Transit Authority, or TTA). Triangle Transit offers scheduled, fixed-route regional and commuter bus service between Raleigh and the region's other principal cities of Durham, Cary and Chapel Hillmarker, as well as to and from the Raleigh-Durham International Airportmarker, Research Triangle Parkmarker and several of the region's larger suburban communities. TT also coordinates an extensive vanpool and rideshare program that serves the region's larger employers and commute destinations.

Duke Universitymarker also maintains its own transit system, Duke Transit operates more than 30 buses with routes throughout the campus and health system. Duke campus buses and vans have alternate schedules or do not operate during breaks and holidays.

Government agencies throughout the Raleigh-Durham metropolitan area have struggled with determining the best means of providing fixed-rail transit service for the region.

From 1995 the cornerstone of Triangle Transit's long-term plan was a 28-mile rail corridor from northeast Raleighmarker, through downtown Raleigh, Carymarker, and Research Triangle Parkmarker, to Durham using DMU technology. There were proposals to extend this corridor 7 miles to Chapel Hillmarker with light rail technology. However, in 2006 Triangle Transit deferred implementation indefinitely when the Federal Transit Administration declined to fund the program.

The region's two metropolitan planning organizations appointed a group of local citizens in 2007 to reexamine options for future transit development in light of Triangle Transit's problems. The Special Transit Advisory Commission (STAC) retained many of the provisions of Triangle Transit's original plan, but recommended adding new bus services and raising additional revenues by adding a new local half-cent sales tax to fund the project.

  • Trails: The American Tobacco Trailmarker's northern terminus is in downtown Durham.
  • Bicycle: All public buses are equipped with bicycle racks.


Print media

There are several newspapers and periodicals that serve the Durham market:

Broadcast television

Durham is part of the Raleigh-Durham-Fayettevillemarker Designated Market Area, the 27th largest broadcast television market in the United States. The following stations are licensed to Durham and/or have significant operations in the city:


Durham and a large part of the Triangle area is Arbitron radio market #43. The following stations are licensed to Durham and/or have significant operations in the city:

Public and listener-supported


  • WDCGmarker (105.1, Top 40)
  • WFXCmarker (107.1, Urban AC)
  • WDNCmarker (620, Sports)
  • WTIKmarker (1310, Spanish)
  • WRJD (1410, Gospel)
  • WDURmarker (1490, Spanish)

Law and government

Durham County Court House

Durham operates under a council-manager government. The current mayor is William V. "Bill" Bell (2001-present).

As of the November 2007 elections, the City Council members are: Cora Cole-McFadden (Ward 1; Mayor Pro Tem), Howard Clement, III (Ward 2), Mike Woodard (Ward 3), and at-large members Farad Ali, Eugene A. Brown and Diane Catotti.

The City Manager, Tom Bonfield is appointed by City Council and oversees the day-to-day functions of the city, ranging from budgetary decisions to departmental oversight.


Durham is located at (35.988644, -78.907167).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 94.9 square miles (245.8 km²), of which, 94.6 square miles (245.1 km²) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.7 km²) of it (0.29%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 187,035 people, 74,981 households, and 43,563 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,976.4 people per square mile (763.1/km²). There were 80,797 housing units at an average density of 853.8/sq mi (329.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 45.50% White, 43.81% African American, 0.31% Native American, 3.64% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 4.75% from other races, and 1.94% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.56% of the population.

There were 74,981 households out of which 28.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.2% were married couples living together, 15.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.9% were non-families. 31.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37, and the average family size was 3.01.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.9% under the age of 18, 14.1% from 18 to 24, 35.6% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 9.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 92.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $41,160, and the median income for a family was $51,162. Males had a median income of $35,202 versus $30,359 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,526. About 11.3% of families and 15.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.4% of those under age 18 and 13.2% of those age 65 or over.

Sister Cities

See also


  1. St. Joseph's Historical Foundation at Hayti Heritage Center.
  2. In Pictures: Top 20 Places To Educate Your Child Retrieved 26 December, 2007.
  3. "Where To Educate Your Children" Retrieved 26 December, 2007.
  4. Carolina ANZACs Cricket Club
  6. Prosecutor in Duke Case Wins Election - New York Times
  7. Matt Dies, "Durham may tweak checks for immigrants," "News and Observer" September 6, 2007
  8. [1]
  9. Retrieved 6 December 2007.
  10. Retrieved 6 December 2007.

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