Durham was formally established in 1869, but had a long and interesting history prior to that date. It has a population of 229,330. Durham is named for Dr. Bartlett Durham, who provided land for a railroad station to the area in 1849. Prior to this, between the Revolutionary War and Civil War, the area was known by several large plantations: Hardscrabble, Cameron, Leigh, and Stagville. It was from temporary headquarters near Durham that Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston rode out to surrender the largest of the Confederate armies to General Sherman in 1865. After the ceasefire in Durham, Yankee and Rebel troops celebrated together and discovered Brightleaf tobacco–with a taste that led to the ultimate success of Washington Duke (Duke University) and his family and spawned one of the world’s largest corporations (which included American Tobacco, Liggett & Meyers, R.J. Reynolds, and P. Lorillard). Tobacco soon inspired other Durham developments. The first mill to produce denim and the world’s largest hosiery maker were established in Durham during this time.

In 1887, Trinity College moved from Randolph County to Durham. Washington Duke and Julian Carr donated money and land to facilitate the move. Following a $40 million donation by Washington Duke’s son, James Buchanan Duke, Trinity College was renamed Duke University in 1924. In 1910, Dr. James E. Shepard founded North Carolina Central University, the nation’s first publicly supported liberal arts college for African-Americans.

In the 1950’s-60’s, what is now the world’s largest university-related research park and namesake for the vast Triangle region was carved from Durham pinelands as a special Durham County tax district. Research Triangle Park (RTP) is encompassed on three sides by the City of Durham, with a small portion now spilling into Wake County toward Cary and Morrisville. RTP scientists have developed everything from Astroturf® to AZT and won Nobel Prizes in the process. Now, nearly 140 major research and development companies, including Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, Underwriters Laboratories, and agencies such as the EPA, employ more than 45,000.

Durham is also the home to great restaurants, arts, and entertainment. It is the home of the Durham Bulls; The Durham Performing Arts Centers, which brings Broadway shows, concerts and dance performances to one of the most modern buildings in the Triangle region; some of the finest restaurants serving local foods in the area; home of the Golden Belt, showcasing local artists; and home of one of the largest shopping malls in the area.

Durham Links:

City of Durham

Durham County

Durham Chamber of Commerce

Duke University

North Carolina Central University

Durham Bulls

Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC)

American Tobacco Historic District

Golden Belt

The Streets at Southpoint