Chapel Hill is a city located in Orange County, North Carolina. With a 2020 population of 59,606, it is the 16th largest city in North Carolina and the 644th largest city in the United States. Chapel Hill is currently declining at a rate of -1.15% annually but its population has increased by 4.15% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 57,233 in 2010. Chapel Hill reached it's highest population of 60,988 in 2018. Spanning over 22 miles, Chapel Hill has a population density of 2,769 people per square mile.
The average household income in Chapel Hill is $118,806 with a poverty rate of 18.93%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to $1,172 per month, and the median house value is $409,200. The median age in Chapel Hill is 26.2 years, 26.2 years for males, and 26.2 years for females. For every 100 females there are 86.0 males.
Chapel Hill Population, Age, and Gender Statistics
Not surprisingly, Chapel Hill is North Carolina’s most educated city, with 77% of residents at least 25 years old holding at least an associate’s degree.
Chapel Hill Population Growth
Chapel Hill’s population has been on the rise since 1880. The most significant growth occurred between 1940 and 1950, then again between 1960 and 1970. The city’s population at the time of the 2010 census had risen to over 50,000 residents, with this census showing an official count of 57,233 people. The city’s population has increased by 3.5% since the last census, indicating that growth has slowed, but Chapel Hill is continuing to add new residents.
One of Chapel Hill’s earliest settlers was William Barbee, a man from Virginia. Barbee owned a grant of 585 acres in the area that is now Chapel Hill. In 1793, the first cornerstone was laid for the University of North Carolina. In 1819, the town was founded around the University of North Carolina. It received its charter in 1851.
During the Civil War, the area was occupied by Union troops, and though the university remained open throughout the war, the after-effects of the war forced it to shut down. In reopened in 1875.
In the 1920s, the university was expanded, and the city grew along with it. The Great Depression during the next decade had little effect of Chapel Hill. However, New Deal programs allowed the city to construct paved streets, sewer lines and hire new employees. New residential housing was constructed as many veterans moved to the area following the war. After World War II, UNC Medical School expanded with new classrooms, dorms, libraries, and other buildings. The city also continued to grow in terms of population.
The opening of the Research Triangle Park led to further growth. The technologies that were being developed in the area attracted major corporations, leading to more residents coming to the area for the educational and employment opportunities that were available. However, despite its growth, the people of Chapel Hill have worked hard in retaining small town charm and a sense of community.
Today, the city is a mixture of businesses old and new. The city has many restaurants, shops, and other attractions that appeal to residents and visitors, as well as annual events and festivals.