Durham is a city in North Carolina that serves as the county seat for Durham County. The city is the fourth most populous in the state with a population of 263,016 according to recent estimates. Durham is most-known for its role within the “Research Triangle” of North Carolina, which also includes the cities of Raleigh and Chapel Hill. The city is home to Duke University and is a diverse city that is known for its cultural events, schools and institutions, sports, music and the arts.
Durham was incorporated as a city in 1869, but its history began long before that. The Eno and the Occoneechi were believed to have first lived in the area and it is thought that there was once a village named Adshusheer located where Durham currently stands. In its early history, before the development of the region’s railroad, Durham was an agricultural center. The development of Hillsborough Road, which served as a major route through the state, led to population growth. A railroad depot was constructed before the Civil War. While growth was slow before the war, the end of the Civil War brought about much more rapid population growth. This was primarily because of the city’s thriving tobacco industry.
Durham was incorporated as a city in 1869. The early 1900s saw continued population growth because of the tobacco industry. Washington Duke's W. Duke & Sons Tobacco Company was a prosperous company that brought wealth to the city. However, antitrust laws broke up what was a monopoly, allowing the family to retain American Tobacco. The Dukes went on to become involved in the generation of electric power, establishing Duke Power, which is now known as Duke Energy and provided electricity to residents in North Carolina before eventually expanded to other states.
The city faced some troubles in 1914 when a fire destroyed much of the downtown business district. This led to the establishment of a city water system. Durham in its earliest years also became known its black community, with an area known as Hayti becoming home to some of the most successful black-owned businesses in the 20th century. The first publicly supported liberal arts college for blacks was also founded here in 1910. This university – North Carolina Central University – wasn’t the only institution the city became known for. Later, Trinity College became Duke University and is one of the most renowned colleges in the country.
Today, Duke University and Duke Medical Center are two of the city’s largest employers. City officials have also tackled a revitalization of the downtown area, including the construction of the $80 million “City Center Tower.” Other projects are currently underway, including the development of a boutique hotel, upscale restaurants, and a contemporary art museum.
Durham Population and Diversity
The city of Durham has an estimated population of over 263,000 residents. The city has a land area of over 108 square miles, with a population density of 2,100 people per square mile. Over 22% of the population is under the age of 18. Over 33% are in the 25 to 44 age range, while just 8.9% are aged 65 or older. The median age for the city is 32.1 years. There is a higher ratio of females to males living in Durham, with 86.9 males for every 100 females.
Population estimates according to 2014 data show that Durham is the second fastest-growing city in North Carolina. It is the 46th fastest-growing in the country. A total of 18.6% of the population lives below the federal poverty line. Over 34,000 people are employed by Duke University and the Duke University Health System. Other major employers include IBM, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of NC, and the City of Durham, to name a few.
Durham Population Growth
The city of Durham has seen rapid population growth throughout its history. Most recently, the population has grown over 15% between the 2010 census and estimates taken in 2016. Before that, the polls between 2000 and 2010 recorded over 22% growth. A thriving economy, jobs at major companies, and educational opportunities will keep the city of Durham’s population on the upswing far into the future.