Winston-Salem is a city located in the state of North Carolina. It is located in Forsyth County, where it serves as the county seat. It is part of the Piedmont Triad region. The city has a long and fascinating history that has led to such nicknames as “Camel City” for its connection with the tobacco industry and “City of Arts and Innovation.” Winston-Salem is the fifth most populous city in the state with recent estimates showing a population of 242,203 people.
Winston-Salem has an unusual name as the result of a merger between the towns of Salem and Winston. Salem was initially founded in 1753 and was incorporated as a town in 1856. A new city was formed in 1849 that was named Winston. Unlike Salem, Winston was a small town that saw little growth in its earliest years. However, growth soon picked up with the connection through the North Carolina Railroad and the establishment of a tobacco warehouse. By the end of the 1880s, the town had a total of nearly 40 tobacco factories.
The post office referred to the neighboring towns as Winston-Salem, which led to the establishment of a separate post office in the late 19th century. In 1913, the municipalities were merged and incorporated as Winston-Salem. In the 1920s, Winston-Salem’s population had grown so large that it was the largest city in the state.
After the merger, tobacco continued to play a significant role in the area. The Reynolds family operated R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, which employed many of the town’s workers. The Reynolds Building, which served as headquarters for the company, was the tallest building in the country at the time it was built in 1929. The company also purchased land to build 180 houses that it turned around and sold to its workers. Today, the city still remains one of the primary manufacturing centers for Reynolds brand cigarettes.
The city only continued to grow in the years that followed. In the 1930s, the first Krispy Kreme was opened in Winston-Salem, and the city remains home to the company’s corporate headquarters today. Other businesses have made their way into Winston-Salem, which is the location of corporate headquarters for companies including Lowes Foods, Hanesbrands and Blue Rhino. Though the city’s economy was formerly centered on textiles and tobacco, more recently nanotech, biotech and high-tech fields have grown in population. Medical research is also a growing industry, with the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center growing to become the largest employer in the city.
Winston-Salem Population and Religion Statistics
Winston-Salem’s estimated population currently reports 244,000. Its last official population count was 229,617 and was recorded during the 2010 census. The city is spread out across 133.7 square miles and has a population density of 1,700 people per square mile.
Approximately 53% of the residents of the city are female, and women own almost 28% of companies. Over 20% of Winston-Salem’s population lives below the federal poverty line.
This city is known for being one of the most religious in the state. Over 54% of residents are affiliated with a religion. The largest religious group is Baptists, which make up almost 16% of the total religious population. Other religions observed in Winston-Salem include Methodist, Catholicism, and Lutheran, to name a few. There are also a minority of residents that follow Eastern religions.
The city’s economy is primarily centered on the health care industry. The Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is Winston-Salem’s biggest employer, providing jobs to over 11,000 people. Novant Health, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, the city and county governments, and Reynolds American are also top employers, providing jobs to thousands of people throughout Winston-Salem.
Winston-Salem Population Growth
Winston-Salem has continuously seen growth in its population at almost every 10-year census. The city reached over 100,000 residents at the time of the 1960 census and continued to reflect steady growth before surpassing 200,000 residents by the time of the 2010 census. Though growth has slowed a bit, recent estimates show that the population is up 5.5% since the last census, indicating that the city will soon hit its next milestone of 250,000 residents.