Not Only is Durham, North Carolina a Dynamic place to live today, it also has a fascinating history!

Indian trading between two Native American tribes related to the Sioux Indians (the Eno and the Occaneechi) was active on the Great Indian Trading Path which has been traced through Durham.  These Native Americans were instrumental in establishing the earliest transportation routes.

Settlers in the mid-1700's built grist mills on rivers, such as the Eno River in Durham, and worked the land.  These earliest settlers came from Scotland, Ireland and England.  When European explorer, John Lawson, traveled through the area in 1701, he called Durham "the flower of the Carolinas", clearly not knowing exactly how true this would be in later years.

Prior to the Civil War, some of the largest plantations in the south, such as Stragville Plantation, were located in Durham.  Run by African slave labor, these plantations were culturally rich and full of rituals, music, dance and food.  During this time, Dr. Bartlett Durham, for whom the city is named, provided land for the first railroad station.

North Carolina was the last state to secede from the Union leading up to the Civil War.  The end of this devastating war occurred at Bennet Place, when Union General Sherman and Confederate General Johnston negotiated the surrender of Confederate troops.

In 1869, when Durham was established, the sweet smell of tobacco filled the air as Washington Duke built his tobacco empire after his cotton crop failed and the golden leaf resigned.  Other industries were born as a result of the trickle down affect of the tobacco industry.  American Tobacco, Liggett & Meyers, R. J. Reynolds and P Lorillard were a direct result of the tobacco empires originating in Durham.

Education has always played a role in Durham.  Duke University, a private college, and North Carolina Central University, a liberal arts college for African Americans, call Durham home.  Duke University came to Durham as a result of Washington Duke and industrialist Julian Carr, donating land and money, and Washington Duke's son donating $40 million to move Trinity College from Randolph County to Durham.  Trinity College was renamed in 1924 in honor of Washington Duke.  During this timeframe, John Merrick established the North Carolina Mutual Life insurance Company and the Mechanics & Farmers Bank was established, both strong African American institutions, causing the Durham area to be known across the country as "Black Wall Street."

The Research Triangle Park, a place of land formed between Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State University, is a 7,000 acre research park created in the 1950's and 1960's.  The Research Triangle Park is home to many high tech, biotech, pharmaceutical and research firms.

Today, Durham is the 4th largest city in the State of North Carolina and is home to over 218,000 people.  The Community is culturally diverse and strong and is proud to offer sports (Durham Bulls, Carolina Hurricanes and a multitude of college sports), the opportunity to explore historic sites (Duke Homestead, Bennett Place, Stagville Plantation), the ability to visit gardens and museums (Sarah P Duke Gardens, Museum of Life and Science, Nasher Museum of Art) and many other opportunities.  The Carolina Theatre and Durham Performing Arts Center are alive with activity!  It's no wonder recent accolades for Durham include:

  • Raleigh-Durham Area is the #1 City where People are Relocated, Forbes, March 26, 2009.
  • Durham Ranked the #11th Best Major Metropolitan Area in the US for John Creation in 2009, Triangle Business Journal, February 2, 2009.
  • Durham the 3rd Best Place for Business & Careers, Forbes, March 25, 2009.
  • Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau received nine Destination Marketing Achievement Awards, Destination Marketing, March 2009.
  • Duke #10 on list of Best Colleges for 2010, US News & World Report, August 2009.
  • NC Central University 10th Among Historically Black Colleges and Universities Nationwide, US News & World Report, August 2009.
  • Duke University Hospital ranked #10 on annual Best Hospital List, US News & World Report, July 2009.
  • Duke Gardens named #6 best public gardens, Southern Living, January 2009.
  • #3 Best City to Ride out a Recession, Business Week, October 2008. 


Check out these great Durham locations!


Durham Schools

City Overview

Population: 217,847
Population growth since 2000: 11.75%
Median home cost: $166,190
Cost of living: 6.23% lower than U.S. average
Public Schools spending per student: $6,298
Unemployment rate: 7.50%

Durham weather facts

  • On average, the warmest month if July.
  • The highest recorded temperature was 105 degrees in 1954.
  • On average, the coolest month is January.
  • The lowest recorded temperature was 0 degrees in 1994.
  • The maximum average precipitation occurs in March.

Tax Rates

Town - $.5385 
Wake County - $.534/$100
Total - $1.0725

Wake County - 2% 
State - 4%
NC Prepared Food - 1% 

Median Age Median Household Income Population
31 $41,160 187,035

* Based on 2000 US Census.

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