We live in a work / play city. Our competitive cost of living, world-class health care, and wealth of recreational and cultural resources combined with quality schools, top-notch colleges and universities, extraordinary dining and shopping opportunities all contribute to the exceptional quality of life that Durham residents enjoy.
Durham is home to the world-renowned Research Triangle Park (RTP), home of more than 170 high tech companies, as well as a thriving entrepreneurial community, making it a great place to pursue employment.
We are a community of individuals from all over the world and all walks of life. We’re diverse in every way and we love it. Our citizens like to challenge and be challenged.
Durham is distinguished by it’s high rate of educational attainment. In Durham County, 44.7% of adults over 25 years of age have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree.
In this section:
From Railroads and Tobacco to Research and Technology
Named for Dr. Bartlett Durham, Durham originated in 1853 as a railroad depot. Durham was incorporated in 1869 and soon became known for its tobacco and textiles. The tobacco manufacturing industry focused worldwide attention on the area after the Civil War. Bull Durham Tobacco and American Tobacco Trust combined to produce a majority of US cigarettes and smoking tobacco. As a result of that thriving business, Durham grew and prospered tremendously.
The tobacco industry dominated the city. Durham quickly developed a vibrant community. Although the center of the African-American community was an area known as ‘Hayti’ (pronounced HAY-Tie), members of the African-American community established some of the most prominent and successful African-American-owned businesses in the country during the early 20th century. These businesses, the best known of which are North Carolina Mutual Insurance Co., and Mechanics & Farmers’ Bank, were centered on Parrish St. in downtown Durham, which would come to be known as “Black Wall Street”.
In the 1950s,Durham took on a new venture with the development
of Research Triangle Park. The region benefited significantly from this establishment, bringing several large businesses and industries to the area. Due to this development, the tobacco industry began to experience the effects. A new era in economic development was ushered in and the economic base in Durham began its transformation.
Durham’s growth began to rekindle during the 1980s, with the construction of multiple housing developments, and the beginnings of downtown revitalization. Today, Durham is a vibrant, unique community that continues to grow and prosper with new industry and amenities for all.
Learn how our growing and dynamic home is a welcoming place for all!
Quick Facts about Durham County Demographics:
- 2013 Population Estimate: 288,133 people
- Land Area: 285.98 sq. miles
- Median Value of Owner-Occupied Housing Units, 2008-2012: $179,800
- Total Number of Private Non-farm Establishments, 2007: 6,713
- Mean Travel Time to Work, Workers 16+, 2008-2012: 21.4 minutes
For more in-depth information, check out our Economic Profile.
Durham is Recognized in Top 10 Best Places to Live
Durham Hotel Recognized as “A Hotel with a Sense of Place and Midcentury Style”
Durham is recognized No. 2 as “Best Value Southern Gaycation”
Durham is recognized in “Top 10 American Cities for Working Moms”
Durham recognized as “Most Educated City in the State”
Durham is recognized as one of the “Top Ten Cities for Creatives”
Cocoa Cinnamon is #7 on “24 US Coffee Shops You Have to Visit Before You Die”
Durham is deemed the 9th Coziest City in America
Raleigh-Durham International Airport recognized as 9th Best Airport in 2014
Durham is a Top 50 Best Place to Travel in the World!
Durham is 1 of 11 Southern Towns You’re Forgetting But Shouldn’t
Top 10 Most Educated City in the US
Durham ranked top 10 most affordable and desirable cities to live in
Durham County was recognized as the 13th most affordable county for rental properties in the United States in 2014.
A list of most-cited scientists for 2014 features 32 researchers affiliated with Duke University
The Parlour ice cream shop was recognized among “The Country’s Coolest New Ice Cream Shops”
Monuts Donuts was recognized as one of “The 21 Best Donut Shops in America”
Mateo bar de Tapas was named among the “100 Best Bars in the South.”
DPAC, Durham Performing Arts Center was ranked the #4 most attended theater in the United States in 2013
Durham was recognized (along with Raleigh) as part of “10 Up and Coming Cities for Entrepreneurs”
Durham’s American Underground was selected by Google to become one of seven Entrepreneur Tech Hubs in the United States and Canada
Durham No. 10 on list for “Best Places for Business and Careers 2013″
Durham Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Durham Inc.’s “World’s Smallest Office” or Smoffice, won “Best Unconventional Project”
Durham named “Tastiest Town in the South”
Durham No. 6 in “America’s Top 10 Cities for Small Business”
Durham No. 2 Best City for Mid-Career Professionals
Durham No. 1 Among America’s Leading Creative Class Metros
Durham No. 1 in Top 10 Large-Sized Fourth Economy Communities
Durham named No. 1 “Large County Best Positioned for Growth”
Durham ranked highest paying in the South
Durham, NC was No. 10 on the list Where Americans Spend the Most
Durham tied for No. 11 on the list of the “Best Cities” for Business
Durham listed as one of America’s Up and Coming cities
Listed as one of the 20 Cities Surviving the Recession
Durham ranked No. 1 Best Place to Retire
Durham Ranked No. 4 Best City for Gollege Grads
Durham Listed Among 41 Places to Go
Durham ranked as having the No. 1 Housing Market in the U.S.
Durham MSA ranked No. 2 on the list of America’s Brainiest Cities
Durham ranked No. 4 Brainiest Bastion in America
Durham ranked seventh among the 2010 Most Livable Bargain Markets
Durham MSA projected to have the ninth-highest Creative Class Job Growth in the country
Durham ranked No. 1 among the Best Mid-Sized Cities for Jobs
Durham named the fourth Most Affordable City in America
NBC Today Show – March 2010
Durham ranked No. 5 among Top-Eating Cities
Bundle – May 2010
Duke University ranked the fifth best College in the South
Durham MSA named the Sixth Healthiest Housing Market in the U.S.
Hanley Wood Market Intelligence – February 2010
Durham MSA ranked seventh among the Best Places for College Students to Live
Duke University named the No. 9 College That Brings the Highest Paycheck
Duke University tied for the ninth on the 2011 list of America’s Best Colleges
Duke University Hospital ranked No. 10 among America’s Best Hospitals, 2010-2011