The central North Carolina city of Cary is made up of some 122,000 residents living on about 44 square miles. It serves primarily as a suburb for nearby Raleigh but retains a strong sense of individual identity, billing itself as the "Technology Town of North Carolina" due to the number of high tech companies within city limits, its proximity to Research Triangle Park, and the wide availability of internet access in the city. CNN Money magazine has twice recognized the city as one of the top ten best places to live in the country, in 2004 and again in 2006.
Cary has seen staggering growth in recent years; the 2000 census put the population at 95,000, a figure that had ballooned to 112,000 in 2006 and that appears to have continued increasing since. This rate of expansion makes Cary the fifth-fastest growing city in the U.S.
Cary's population is also unusual in that more than half of its residents were born elsewhere, due in part to a tripling of the town's Asian population in the 1990s.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
The economy of Cary is among the most solid in the nation as only about 2 percent of families in Cary live under the poverty line. Household incomes have risen over recent years and the city boasts a home-ownership rate of nearly 73 percent.
Much of Cary's sunny economic situation and population growth has been driven by an influx of technology and software companies in the 1980s and 1990s, many of which are housed in the nearby Research Triangle Park. Major Cary employers include:
- SAS Institute, the largest privately-held software company in the world
- IntelliScanner, a company specializing in barcode enabled organizational products
- LORD Corporation, a diversified technology company
- Dex One Corporation, a leading marketing services company
Other companies, including Cotton Incorporated, still serve as a link to the city's more traditional southern economic roots.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Neighborhoods and districts of Cary accommodate around 36,000 houses, out of which more than 34,000 are occupied. Of the occupied houses, more than two-thirds are owner-occupied while renters occupy the rest. The median home price in Cary is significantly higher than that of the state.
Some of the city's notable residential neighborhoods include:
- Lochmere: Located in east Cary, this popular neighborhood features lots of trees, as well as a community pool, lake, and tennis and volleyball courts. The Lochmere Golf Club also makes this a favorite neighborhood for golfers.
- Park Village: This family-friendly subdivision includes more than 600 newer homes.
- Amberly: A planned community, Amberly offers several residential areas, such as The Peninsula, Village Square, and Amberly Townhomes.
Cary is part of the Wake County public school system, and offers 13 elementary schools, four middle schools, two high schools, and five private schools.
Wake Technical Community College, a two year university based in Raleigh, has a campus in southern Cary.
Nearby Raleigh also offers a number of higher learning opportunities, including:
- North Carolina State University
- Peace College
- Meredith College
- St. Augustine's College
- Shaw University
- College of Veterinary Medicine
- Triangle Aquatics Center: The largest public aquatic facility in the state, Triangle Aquatics Center is made up of 72,000 square feet and three different pools, including a 50-meter competition pool and a 10-lane, 25-yard program pool. The center also features an exhibition seating area that accommodates about a thousand spectators, and offers a full program of lessons and events. Further expansions are also in the works.
- Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve: This natural recreation area is named for its significant array of Eastern Hemlock trees and features about three miles of hiking trails. The site's many scenic observation platforms and tree-laden environment help to make Hemlock Bluffs a popular destination for bird-watchers.
- Stevens Nature Center: Founded in part by a prominent local soil scientist and conservationist and operated in conjunction with the Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve, the Stevens Nature Center caters to visiting naturalists with a variety of exhibits and programs concerning the area's flora and fauna, its geological history, and related topics. Among other amenities, the center features a classroom for educational programs, an outdoor education shelter, and a native wildflower garden.
- Sk8-Cary Skate Park: Sk8-Cary Skate Park may be North Carolina's most popular destination for skateboarders, bikers, and the like. The center includes a 12,000 square foot outdoor course complete with everything a daredevil could desire, including rails, ramps, grind ledges, and half-pipes. During spring and fall, the park hosts a great number of trick contests and other competitions, and instructional programs are available for those who'd like to brush up a bit before hitting the course.
- Koka Booth Amphitheater: Located at Regency Park, Koka Booth Amphitheater serves as the venue for many performing arts programs and other events, ranging from classical concert series to running marathons.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
- Page-Walker Arts & History Center: This multi-purpose museum is itself of historical interest, as it is housed in what originally served as a hotel upon its construction in 1868; the restored building is listed with the National Register for Historic Places. Among other things, Page-Walker now hosts classes, performances, and other programs, and also includes a gallery with regular exhibitions by artists from across the region.
- Cary Heritage Museum: Focusing on the city's history in general and its artistic life in particular, Cary Heritage Museum serves as a venue for gallery exhibitions featuring the work of local artists, as well as classrooms for in-house educational programs, a historical archive, and even a smokehouse.
- Cary Diwali Celebration: With a significant number of the city's residents hailing from India, Cary has incorporated one of that culture's most prominent festivals into its own schedule of events. The annual festival tends to bring in prominent Hindu celebrities to serve as master of ceremonies, and revolves largely around Indian crafts, foods, cultural exhibits, and, of course, plenty of dancing.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Today's Cary began in 1750 as a settlement called Bradford's Ordinary.
- CNN Money magazine has twice recognized Cary as one of the top 10 best places to live in the country, in 2004 and again in 2006.
- Rumor has it that Rev. John White added a tower to Cary's Guess-White-Ogle House, which he bought in 1896, so he could look out over the town while he wrote his sermons.
- In North Carolina, cats that talk for money must pay income tax.
- When the so-called "horn-tootin' bill" was passed in 1943 by the General Assembly, North Carolina became the nation's first state to provide continuing financial support for an orchestra.