About Durham, NC


Downtown Durham Top 15 Up-and-Coming Neighborhoods ~ Businessweek

Whether you know of Durham as the “City of Medicine” or the “Bull City” it’s easy to see why so many residents and businesses call Durham home.

Located halfway between the Great Smoky Mountains and the beaches of the Atlantic, Durham is a community that is home to over 300 restaurants, more than 40 annual festivals, Duke and North Carolina Central universities, Durham Bulls Triple-A baseball, art and science museums, and world-class medical facilities just to name a few. With more than 5.2 million visitors annually, Durham is the top destination of arrivals at RDU International Airport.

Durham was nicknamed the “Bull City” in the late 1800s when the Blackwell Tobacco Company named its product “Bull” Durham Tobacco. By the time James B. Duke of the American Tobacco Company purchased the Blackwell Tobacco Company in 1898, Bull Durham was the most famous trademark in the world.

The “Bull City” prospered as a manufacturing hub for the tobacco industry and textiles for many decades, but has since transformed itself into a place where shopping thrives and high-tech industry flourishes with upscale housing in the same classic buildings where tobacco giants American Tobacco and Liggett-Meyers once made this City their industrial home.

Museum of Durham History - Durham History Hub

The Durham History Hub uses stories about people, places and things to foster curiosity, encourage further inquiry, and promote an understanding of diverse historical perspectives about the Durham community. The Museum is putting its mission into action through a personal approach to history that sets this Museum apart: an innovative, community model that engages with history through stories—the personal memories, experiences and family lore of our shared heritage.

A Brief History

Native Americans

Native Americans

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, two Native American tribes - the Eno and the Occaneechi, both related to the Sioux, lived and farmed here. Durham is believed to be the location of an ancient Native American village named Adshusheer.

    Civil War

    Civil War

    The Civil War was a pivotal moment for the United States, and few places played as important a role as Durham, NC. The area was the site of civil strife prior to the war and essential during it. Additionally, Durham was vital to the wars' end with a ceasefire being declared between General Joseph E. Johnston surrendering to Union General William T. Sherman at Bennett Place.



      Upon the close of the Civil War, both Union and Confederate troops discovered bright leaf tobacco, one of the few remaining crops growing on Washington Duke’s farm upon his return from the war. Duke’s move from rural Durham, NC to the city initiated the tobacco business in Durham, ultimately coming one of the largest world corporations. Thriving under Washington’s son, James Buchanan Duke, American Tobacco was one of the original 12 industrials at the creation of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

        Research Triangle Park

        Research Triangle Park

        The Research Triangle Park (RTP) is one of the most prominent high-tech research and development centers in the United States. It was created in 1959 by state and local governments, nearby universities, and local business interests. The park covers 7,000 acres (2,833 ha) situated in a pine forest with 22,500,000 square feet (2,090,318 m2) of built space. Now the world's largest university-related research park is encompassed on three sides by the City of Durham, with a small portion now spilling into Wake County toward Cary and Morrisville. Now, over 170 major research and development companies, including Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, Underwriters Laboratories, and agencies such as the EPA, employ more than 39,000 full-time employees.

          Black Wallstreet

          Black Wall Street was the hub of African American financial activity in Durham, North Carolina during the late 1800s and early 1900s. It is located on Parrish Street. It was home to Mechanics and Farmers Bank and North Carolina Mutual.

          Black Wall Street History


          In addition to Duke and NCCU, Durham is home to North Carolina School of Science & Math, Durham Technical Community College, many private schools, and Durham Public Schools, the eighth largest school district in the state.

          #5 America's Top 20 Geekiest Cities ~ Forbes

          Duke University

          NC Central University

          NC Science and Math

          Research, Innovation and Technology

          #12 Top Places to Launch Your Own Business ~ Fortune Small Business

          The cities of Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh, known as the Triangle, are a nucleus for many start ups and a vibrant hub for innovation and technology. Groups like InnovateCarolina, the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED) and events like Triangle Entrepreneurship Week and the Duke Start-Up Challenge provide resources and opportunities business ideas. Located between these three is the Research Triangle Park (RTP) is one of the most prominent high-tech research and development centers in the U.S. housing operations such as GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, Cisco and SAS. RTP currently employs 39,000 employees in 22,000,000 square feet of office space with plans for an additional 62,000,000 square feet.

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