Durham, NC in Durham County, is home to Duke University, North Carolina Central University, the Research Triangle Park. and over 218,000 people. Durham is know as a creative, “artsy” community with ample opportunity to find your niche in this historic community. Easy access to Raleigh-Durham International Airport and world renowned programs at both Duke University and North Carolina Central University have led Forbes.com to put Durham in the top ten list of the America’s Smartest Cities.
Durham county has deep historic ties to the tobacco industry. But over the last 50 years, the tobacco fields have been replaced with the headquarters of some of the most leading technology and bio-technology companies in the world. Durham County’s beauty was chronicled by the English explorer John Lawson in 1701, who called the area “the flower of the Carolinas.” During the mid-1700s, Scots, Irish, and English colonists settled on land granted to George Carteret by King Charles I (for whom the Carolinas are named). Early settlers built gristmills, such as West Point, and worked the land. The success of the tobacco industry in the late 19th and early 20th century encouraged the then-growing textile industry to locate just outside of Durham. The early electrification of Durham was also a large incentive. Drawing a labor force from the economic demise of single family farms in the region at the time, these textile mills doubled the population of Durham. These areas were known as East Durham and West Durham until they were eventually annexed by the City of Durham.
Prior to the American Revolution, frontiersmen in what is now Durham were involved in the Regulator movement. According to legend, Loyalist militia cut Cornwallis Road through this area in 1771 to quell the rebellion. Later, William Johnston, a local shopkeeper and farmer, made Revolutionaries’ munitions, served in the Provincial Capital Congress in 1775, and helped underwrite Daniel Boone’s westward explorations.
In a far-sighted move in the late 1950s, Duke University, along with the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University in Raleigh, persuaded the North Carolina Legislature to purchase a large tract of sparsely settled land in southern Durham County and create the nation’s first “science park” for industry. Cheap land and a steady supply of trained workers from the local universities made the Research Triangle Park an enormous success which, along with the expansion resulting from the clinical and scientific advances of Duke Medical Center and Duke University, more than made up for the decline of Durham’s tobacco and textile industries.