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Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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Chapel-Hill-Town-Flag.gif


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Chapel-Hill-Town-Seal.gif


City flag City seal
City nickname: "The Southern Part of Heaven"
Location of Chapel Hill, North Carolina
CountyOrange County
Mayor Kevin C. Foy
Area
 - Total
 - Water

51.3 km² (19.8 mi²)
0.2 km² (0.1 mi²) 0.35%
Population
 - City (2000)
 - Metropolitan
 - Density

48,715
1,079,873
952.4/km² (2,466.0/mi²)
Time zoneEastern: UTC-5
ci.chapel-hill.nc.us (http://www.ci.chapel-hill.nc.us)

Chapel Hill is a town located in North Carolina. It is the home of the University of North Carolina (UNC), the oldest state university in the United States. As of the 2000 census, it had a population of 48,715. It is located in the southeast corner of Orange County, with municipal boundaries extending slightly into Durham County to the east and Chatham County to the south.

Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh make up the three corners of the Research Triangle, so named in 1959 with the creation of the Research Triangle Park, a research park between Durham and Raleigh. Since the early 1980s, Cary, near Raleigh, has grown to be more than twice the size of Chapel Hill.

Contents

Geography

Chapel Hill is coterminous to the west with the town of Carrboro, and to the east with the city of Durham.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 51.3 km² (19.8 mi²). 51.2 km² (19.8 mi²) of it is land and 0.2 km² (0.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.35% water.

Demographics

As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 48,715 people, 17,808 households, and 8,138 families residing in the town. The population density is 952.4/km² (2,466.0/mi²). There are 18,976 housing units at an average density of 371.0/km² (960.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the town is 77.95% White, 11.42% Black or African American, 0.42% Native American, 7.18% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.16% from other races, and 1.85% from two or more races. 3.21% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 17,808 households out of which 22.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.2% are married couples living together, 7.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 54.3% are non-families. 31.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 6.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.22 and the average family size is 2.88.

In the town the population is spread out with 15.1% under the age of 18, 37.1% from 18 to 24, 24.5% from 25 to 44, 15.3% from 45 to 64, and 8.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 24 years. For every 100 females there are 82.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 78.5 males.

The median income for a household in the town is $39,140, and the median income for a family is $73,483. Males have a median income of $50,258 versus $32,917 for females. The per capita income for the town is $24,133. 21.6% of the population and 6.4% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 8.6% of those under the age of 18 and 5.6% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Culture

As is typical of college towns, Chapel Hill has historically tended to be politically liberal. It is recognized for the quality of its school system, which it shares with Carrboro.

There is a music scene, which the town again shares with Carrboro. The Squirrel Nut Zippers, Superchunk, Archers of Loaf and Ben Folds are among the notable musical acts whose careers began in Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill has also been a center for the modern revival of old-time music with such bands as the Hollow Rock String band, the Fuzzy Mountain String band and the acclaimed Red Clay Ramblers.

The Morehead Planetarium was, when it opened in 1949, one of only a handful of planetariums in the nation, and it has remained an important town landmark. During the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, astronauts were trained there.

Since the late 50s, UNC has been very successful at college basketball, and an obsession with the sport has been one of the most distinctive features of the town's culture, fueled by the rivalry among the area's three teams: Duke's Blue Devils, UNC's Tar Heels, and NC State's Wolfpack. More recently, the town has received regional notice as the site of a large, annual, impromptu Halloween street party, with an attendance regularly over 70,000.

Chapel Hill was originally home to the Carolina Courage team in the Women's United Soccer Association. The team moved to Cary shortly before WUSA rolled up it's carpets and went out of business in 2004.

The town has also become one of the largest centers of improvisational comedy in the country, behind Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles. Even younger groups such as Chapel Hill High School Improv have repeatedly succeeded in maintaining both a solid fan base and a reputation for keeping their creative integrity intact (i.e. - not making profanity or vulgarity the focus of their shows.)

History

Chapel Hill, or at least the town center, indeed sits atop a hill--originally called New Hope Chapel Hill after the chapel once located there. The Carolina Inn now occupies the site of the original chapel. The town was founded to serve the University of North Carolina and grew up around it.

In 1968, only a year after its schools became fully integrated, Chapel Hill became the first predominantly white municipality in the country to elect an African American mayor, Howard Lee. Lee served from 1969 until 1975 and, among other things, helped establish the town's bus system. Some 30 years later, in 2002, legislation was passed to make the local buses free of charge to residents and visitors alike. Free rides boosted ridership from roughly 4,000 to 25,000 daily passengers. The rationale for this was many fold:

  • ever-diminishing availability of downtown and university automobile parking due to a constant stream of building and an exploding student population,
  • more riders mean more federal transportation funds,
  • pollution control
  • increasing the fees for on-campus parking up to $1000 per year (for those making over $100,000), thus raising more money for university. This also makes it more desirable to use the bus service.

Fare-free bus funding came from a 2001 student fee increase of $16 per year, new federal funds made available to the town by pooling its funding with regional transportation services, and increased funding from the university for routes serving the university.

In the latter part of the 20th century, the town grew considerably and became wealthier, with a higher proportion of its residents working at jobs not related to the university.

External links

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