A History of Transformation – A City on the Move
Whether you know of Durham as the "City of Medicine" or the "Bull City" it's easy to see why so many residents and businesses call Durham home.
Located halfway between the Great Smoky Mountains and the beaches of the Atlantic, Durham is a community that is home to over 300 restaurants, more than 40 annual festivals, Duke and North Carolina Central universities, Durham Bulls Triple-A baseball, art and science museums, and world-class medical facilities just to name a few. With more than 5.2 million visitors annually, Durham is the top destination of arrivals at RDU International Airport.
It doesn't take long for visitors to the City to notice the changing face of Durham, but the current exciting transformation is just one of many transitions the City has gone through as it has shaped a vibrant history over the last 180 years to become the world-class City it is today.
Durham was nicknamed the "Bull City" in the late 1800s when the Blackwell Tobacco Company named its product "Bull" Durham Tobacco. By the time James B. Duke of the American Tobacco Company purchased the Blackwell Tobacco Company in 1898, Bull Durham was the most famous trademark in the world.
The "Bull City" prospered as a manufacturing hub for the tobacco industry and textiles for many decades, but has since transformed itself into a place where shopping thrives and high-tech industry flourishes with upscale housing in the same classic buildings where tobacco giants American Tobacco and Liggett-Meyers once made this City their industrial home.
Technology and Medicine
With the birth of the Research Triangle Park (RTP) in the 1950s, Durham began to take on a new look that has evolved into a global center for information technology, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and medicine. The City of Durham is known as the "City of Medicine," with healthcare as a major industry including more than 300 medical and health-related companies and medical practices with a combined payroll exceeding $1.5 billion annually.
Since its founding in 1924, Duke University has grown into one of the most prestigious private universities in the world and its medical center ranks annually among the top in the nation. The university is the largest employer in Durham, providing jobs for more than 18,000 residents. The City is also home to North Carolina Central University (NCCU), which has recently embarked on an ambitious plan for growth, particularly in the area of biotechnology research. Durham Technical Community College rounds out the community’s post-secondary educational institutions and offers traditional academic and vocational training as well as customized programs to meet changing industry needs.