Durham is a city located in Durham County North Carolina. With a 2020 population of 287,865, it is the 4th largest city in North Carolina (after Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro) and the 71st largest city in the United States . Durham is currently growing at a rate of 1.57% annually and its population has increased by 26.07% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 228,330 in 2010. Durham reached it's highest population of 287,865 in 2021. Spanning over 113 miles, Durham has a population density of 2,565 people per square mile.
The average household income in Durham is $82,573 with a poverty rate of 15.88%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to $1,058 per month, and the median house value is $224,100. The median age in Durham is 33.9 years, 32.6 years for males, and 34.9 years for females.
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. 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.
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.