Originally established in the 1700s, Wilson, North Carolina, is located on the state's coastal plains, roughly 45 miles east of Raleigh. The city is known for a large antique market, local historic districts, its mild climate and its ethnically diverse population. Encompassing more than 23 square miles, Wilson consistently ranks as one of North Carolina's most beautiful cities for its tree-lined streets and historic architecture. The city's population is nearly 48,000, which includes large African American and Hispanic communities.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Even though Wilson has a cost of living index well below the national average, the city also has a large percentage of its population living at or below the poverty level (around 20 percent).
Some of the city's notable areas include:
- Historic Downtown Wilson: A designated North Carolina Main Street Community, Historic Downtown Wilson has tree-lined streets and more than 25 historic buildings, as well as antique shops, specialty boutiques, and local restaurants and cafes.
- West Nash Historic District: This neighborhood contains nearly 100 residential properties built in the 1910s and 1920s. The majority of these homes reflect the Colonial Revival and Bungalow styles of that era.
- Broad-Kenan Historic District: This neighborhood includes 280 properties that represent Wilson's decades of expansion between 1890 and the Depression. Broad-Kenan offers a remarkably intact residential neighborhood; more than 60 percent of the structures are bungalows. Other properties are Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival houses.
- Shoppes at Brentwood is a popular shopping destination in Wilson that features more than 30 brand-name and independent restaurants, shops and services.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Originally a center for cotton production, and then tobacco after the Civil War, much of Wilson's economy today centers around agriculture, with the area's annual crops valuing some $100 million. Other major industries are educational services and health care, each of which employs roughly 20 percent of the population, and financial services, which accounts for another 15 percent of the workforce.
Wilson is home to Wilson Medical Center, which serves 170,000-plus patients every year. Other major employers include Bridgestone/Firestone, Branch Banking and Trust Company (BB&T), and S.T. Wooten Corp.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
- Art Gallery of the Arts Council of Wilson: Located in a 1903 bank building, the art gallery includes the Wilson Arts Center and the Edna Boykin Cultural Center, both of which host a number of art exhibits and educational programs, as well as workshops, lectures and events.
- North Carolina Baseball Museum: This museum features baseball memorabilia from players such as Catfish Hunter and Buck Leonard, as well as a "Walk of Fame" that highlights baseball throughout the state's history.
- Whirligigs: A popular landmark in Wilson, Whirligigs showcases more than 30 large, elaborate windmills-or "whirligigs"-that are the creation of local artist Vollis Simpson. Many of Simpson's windmills have been on display in museums throughout the Eastern United States.
- Southern Raceway Park Season: Lasting from April through October, the Southern National Speedway in Wilson attracts approximately 4,000 fans per day to the wide variety of races and events every season.
- Wilson Tobs Baseball: A Coastal Plain All Star Team, the Wilson Tobs annually play more than 20 home games in Wilson, drawing some 4,000 fans per game. The Tobs play in Wilson's Fleming Stadium.
- Dr. William S. Anderson House: Dating to the turn of the 20th century, the Dr. William S. Anderson House reflects Colonial Revival-style architecture, with a steeply pitched roof, distinctive Palladian windows and a columned, two-story porch.
- Imagination Station: Housed in the city's 1920s-era federal courthouse, the Imagination Station offers more than 200 interactive science and technology exhibits, with a Curiosity Corner for young children and daily live shows and demonstrations.
- Oliver Nestus Freeman Round House Museum: Celebrating African American culture and history in Wilson, the museum is housed in a 1940s, round house built by a well-known, local African American stone mason and made out of found materials, including bottles and string.
- Railroad Modelers Train: Housed in the Antique Barn and Train Shop, the Wilson Area Railroad Modelers Train runs on a double track that stretches along seven scaled miles. The train includes more than 2,000 engines and cars and winds through a wide variety of scenery.
- Wilson Botanical Gardens: Established in 1997, the Wilson Botanical Gardens feature a variety of plant and tree gardens, as well as a butterfly garden, with a total of more than 200 plant species and a rich diversity of perennial flowers.
- Wilson Rose Garden: Recognized as an All American Rose Selections Public Garden, the Wilson Rose Garden contains more than 150 varieties of roses.
Wilson is home to nationally recognized Barton College, a private, liberal arts college that grants a wide variety of undergraduate degrees, and to Wilson Community College, a two-year, junior college affiliated with the North Carolina Community College System.
Wilson is served by the Wilson Daily Times, which has been continuously published in the area since 1896. The city has four radio stations and two television stations, one of which is a public information cable channel featuring the city's calendar of events. Wilson also receives broadcast radio and television stations from a number of surrounding metropolitan markets, primarily Raleigh, Greenville and Rocky Mount.