Cary is a city located in Wake County North Carolina. With a 2023 population of 186,568, it is the 7th largest city in North Carolina and the 145th largest city in the United States.Cary is currently growing at a rate of 2.16% annually and its population has increased by 6.78% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 174,721 in 2020. Spanning over 60 miles, Cary has a population density of 3,177 people per square mile.
The average household income in Cary is $131,841 with a poverty rate of 5.95%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to - per month, and the median house value is -. The median age in Cary is 39.6 years, 38.5 years for males, and 40.6 years for females.
Cary is an incorporated town located mostly in Wake County with a small portion of the town in Chatham County, North Carolina. It's the third largest town in the Triangle of North Carolina, a region in the Piedmont of North Carolina, behind Raleigh and Durham. Interestingly, Cary is the country's second largest incorporated town after Gilbert, Arizona with a population 162,000 in 2019.
The foreign-born population of Cary is about 21%. Since 2010, the fastest growing demographic in North Carolina, including Greater Raleigh, has been Asian-Americans. North Carolina has one of the country's fastest growing Asian-American populations and the largest communities are in Charlotte and Raleigh, including suburbs like Cary. About 60% of the Asian-American population in North Carolina was born abroad and about half have become naturalized U.S. citizens.
Between 2006 and 2007, Cary was the country's 5th fastest growing municipality although its growth rate has declined since then. Between 2010 and 2017, the population of North Carolina as a whole increased by 738,000, 43% of which was in nine cities and towns like Cary, Raleigh, and Durham. The population of Wake County has experienced significant growth, growing by 171,000 people since 2010. Almost half of this growth has come from people aged 55 and older, many of whom moved to the region to retire, get a new job, or get closer to family.
Cary was originally settled in 1750 by Francis Page, a lumberman and farmer. The town was named for Samuel Fenton Cary, an Ohio prohibitionist and congressman. Due to the inspiration for the town's name, Cary was a dry town without alcohol. For much of its early history, Cary was a farming community growing crops like cotton and tobacco. The region was better known in its early days as Bradford's Ordinary, the name of a popular inn in the town.
The community wasn't linked to a major transportation route for another century when the North Carolina Railroad was constructed through the town. The railroad helped to finally spur growth in the area. By the early 20th century, Cary had one of North Carolina's first public high schools.
Cary modernized with electricity in 1921 and the construction of the Western Wake Highway that made it faster to travel to Raleigh. This gave rise to Cary's popularity as a commuter town. Many suburbs developed around the downtown area in the 1950s and the creation of the Research Triangle Park, a region anchored by North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke University, caused the population to double.