Below are responses to frequently asked questions about Durham. Visit the Durham Overview & Facts page to find general information about Durham such as population, geographic area, climate, and more.
Durham County is the 17th-smallest land unit in North Carolina at 286 square miles in area, but it contains the fourth-largest city in the state. Durham is 16 miles across, 25 miles long, and 28 miles from corner to corner. The county population is 288,133, with 245,475 living inside the city limits.
Durham is located 23 miles from the Virginia border in the northeast corner of North Carolina's central Piedmont, a geographic foothills region lying between the mountains and the area where the elevation drops off to Raleigh and the coastal plain. Durham is located 140 miles from the Appalachian highlands and 130 miles from the Atlantic coast, midway between Miami and Chicago and midway between and Atlanta and Philadelphia.
Durham was recognized in 1823 when it first was given a post office. Many date the community to 1853 when Dr. Bartlett Durham provided land for a railroad station here. Like most communities in the South, Durham was officially reincorporated in 1869 after the Civil War.
Durham is the most ethnically diverse of the major communities in the state, with roughly a 50/50 split between white residents and residents who are African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Native American, or other people of color. Durham County has a population that is 38.7% African American, 13.5% Hispanic/Latino, 4.8% Asian, and 1.0% Native American. The City of Durham has a greater makeup of minority groups than any of the five largest cities in North Carolina.
No, they are two separate mid-sized cities that share and co-own an airport (Raleigh-Durham International Airport, or RDU), similar to Baltimore and Washington DC, Greensboro and Winston-Salem, and Dallas and Fort Worth. They also are the core cities of two distinct metro areas - one four-county metro called Durham-Chapel Hill and another three-county metro called Raleigh-Cary. Over 75% of these regions' residents prefer to characterize where they live by the name of an individual town or city rather than as one big area, like Raleigh-Durham-Cary.
You can fly via one of the many air carriers serving RDU International Airport. (The airport is located just two miles from the Durham city limits and only 13 miles from Downtown Durham. Taxi, shuttle, and car rental service is available there.) You can travel via automobile or intercity bus, reaching Durham easily via Interstate 85 from the north or south and via Interstate 40 from the east or west. You also can travel via train; Downtown Durham's Amtrak station serves passengers traveling both the Piedmont (Charlotte to Durham to Raleigh) and Carolinian (Charlotte to Durham to New York City) routes. Find out more at the transportation and travel services page, and find directions at the Visitor Information Center page.
The community is very compact. While Durham is North Carolina's fourth-largest city, the county is the state's 17th-smallest land unit. Research Triangle Park is only four miles from Duke University and just two miles from Downtown Durham. Durham is served by taxi, rental car, and intracity public transit services. (One caution: Roads in the Southeast are rarely on a grid system, so a Durham map is a must.)
Durham is known as the City of Medicine because almost one in four Durham workers is employed in health care or a health-related industry. In addition, Durham is home to many leading technology companies like IBM, Cree, and others located in Research Triangle Park. Those companies not only continue Durham's history of technology and innovation, but they also carry forward its manufacturing heritage, which began with tobacco and textiles in the 19th century and remains a key component of Durham's economy today.
The Research Triangle Park (RTP) is in Durham, midway between Chapel Hill and Raleigh. Research Triangle Park, N.C. 27709 is a Durham postal substation, but not a city: it is a private, nonprofit technology park for research-related businesses and organizations. The majority of the park exists in a special Durham County tax district in which owners and tenants do not pay city taxes. A small portion of the park extends into nearby Wake County near Morrisville. The name comes from RTP's proximity to and relationship with three major research universities: Duke University in Durham, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
RTP is encompassed on three sides by the City of Durham. While a small part spills into Wake County, all of the hotels and restaurants convenient to the park are in Durham County, with thousands of lodging guest rooms available. The park is only four miles from Downtown Durham and its lodging as well. Search for options that suit your needs at the hotels and inns section.
It is located near Morrisville and I-40, midway between Downtown Durham and downtown Raleigh. Durham lodging properties are two miles from the airport. RDU is co-owned by the cities of Durham and Raleigh and Durham and Wake Counties. It is operated by an airport authority of representatives appointed by each municipality.
Durham is increasingly recognized for its colony of nationally acclaimed chefs. There are dozens of restaurants that have earned national or regional acclaim. Many specialize in the adaptation and evolution of regional neo-American (Southern) cooking, but Asian, French, German, Jamaican, and Mediterranean styles are represented as well.
Durham is also home to several restaurants well-known for North Carolina barbecue. In Durham, you can get both the Eastern North Carolina style (with chopped pork and a clear sauce of vinegar, pepper, and salt) and the Western North Carolina style (with chopped or sliced pork with a red sauce that includes ketchup and sugar, along with the other ingredients). Find out more in the restaurants section.
No, Durham has nearly 8,000 guest rooms. Use our comprehensive hotel search to find an ideal property by location, amenity, and more, and conveniently book online.
Check out the must-sees page to find a list of all of Durham's most acclaimed and talked about features.