Town of Carrboro, North Carolina
—  Town  —
The Carrboro Farmer's Market
Official seal of Town of Carrboro, North Carolina
Nickname(s): The Paris of the Piedmont
Location of Carrboro, North Carolina.
Coordinates: 35°55′14″N 79°5′2″W / 35.92056, -79.08389Coordinates: 35°55′14″N 79°5′2″W / 35.92056, -79.08389
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Orange
 • Mayor Mark Chilton
 • Total 4.48 sq mi (11.60 km2)
 • Land 4.47 sq mi (11.58 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.03 km2)
Elevation 460 ft (256 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 19,582
 • Density 3,753.7/sq mi (1,449.6/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 27510
Area code(s) 919
FIPS code 37-10620[1]
GNIS feature ID 1019538[2]

Carrboro is a town in Orange County in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The population was 19,582 at the 2010 census.[3] The town, which is part of the Durham-Chapel Hill metropolitan statistical area, was named after North Carolina industrialist Julian Shakespeare Carr.

Located near Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina, Carrboro has a reputation as one of the most liberal communities in the Southern United States. It was the first municipality in North Carolina to elect an openly gay mayor, Mike Nelson, in 1995 and the first municipality in the state to grant domestic-partner benefits to same-sex couples. In October 2002, Carrboro was among the first municipalities in the South to adopt resolutions opposing the Iraq War and the USA PATRIOT Act.


Known originally as West End because of its location west of Chapel Hill, Carrboro was settled in 1882 around the State University Railroad. The local merchants stipulated that the railroad station had to be at least two miles (3 km) outside of town in order to discourage students from leaving on the weekends and spending their money elsewhere.

Settlement in West End increased after Thomas F. Lloyd of Chapel Hill built the Alberta Cotton Mill next to the railroad depot in 1898.[4] Julian Shakespeare Carr bought this and other nearby buildings in 1909, adding them to the network of mills that became the Durham Hosiery Mills. West End was incorporated in 1911 and renamed Venable in honor of chemistry professor and UNC president Francis Preston Venable. Just two years later, the town was renamed Carrboro, after Carr began providing streets and electric power to the community and expanding the mill buildings.[4] The original mill changed hands several times over the succeeding decades.[4] The Carrboro Board of Aldermen intended to have it demolished in 1975 until a community petition and fund-raising effort provided for its restoration as Carr Mill Mall.[4] The railroad depot in Carrboro also served the local lumber industry, and Carrboro became a major hub in the hardwood cross-tie market.

Carrboro was home to the Melba Movie Theatre, built in the 1920s, and located at either 118 or 120 E. Main Street. Patrons viewed movies on cane bottom kitchen chairs. Films were accompanied by live piano music. Citizens also frequented Joe Sparrow's Pool located behind his home off Old Pittsboro Road. The large natural spring public pool was eventually closed because of tensions arising from race and gender segregation.

Some of the most distinctive architectural treasures of Carrboro are its approximately 150 mill houses constructed in the 1910s-30s. Many of these homes have been restored, yet numerous ones have been razed. The homes were originally built by Lloyd and Carr for their workers and their families.

Weaver Street market in Carrboro

In the early 1990s, a sizable influx of Latino immigrants began moving to Carrboro, attracted by jobs in the building and service trades. The Hispanic population of Carrboro increased by 936% between 1990 and 2003, to 12% of the Carrboro population.[5] As these immigrants settled in Carrboro, they brought the foods and cultures of their native countries to the town. Carrboro is now home to three Latino tiendas (grocery stores). Other businesses, including national grocery chains like Food Lion, adapted to the change in demographics by stocking a wider variety of Central and South American food products.


Carrboro's nickname, "The Paris of the Piedmont," stems from a sarcastic comment by John Martin, a reporter for the now-defunct Chapel Hill Weekly. In 1970, Nyle Frank, now a musician but then a graduate student in political science at the nearby University of North Carolina, organized an alternative "Invisible University," and announced plans to have himself crowned as the institution's new "King" in Carrboro. Martin commented, "I can see it now – The Paris of the Piedmont."[6]


Carrboro is located at 35°55′14″N 79°5′2″W / 35.92056, -79.08389 (35.920422, -79.083933).[7]

According to the US Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 4.48 square miles (11.6 km2), of which 4.47 square miles (11.6 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.026 km2) is water.

On January 31, 2006, the total area of the town increased by approximately 0.50 square miles (1.3 km2) to a total area of approximately 4.98 square miles (12.9 km2).[8]


Carrboro typically has a North American humid subtropical climate. Summer conditions are hot and humid, with daily average high temperatures of 85 °F (29 °C) and higher. Winter temperatures tend to remain above or well above freezing, though snowfall does happen and occasional snow and ice storms are not unusual. The average high temperature in July, the hottest month of the year, is 89 °F (32 °C), and the average high temperature in January, the coldest month, is 49 °F (9 °C). Average monthly precipitation ranges from 3.2 to 4.5 inches (8.1 to 11 cm), with the heaviest precipitation occurring during the summer months.

Climate data for Carrboro, North Carolina
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 49
Average low °F (°C) 26
Precipitation inches (cm) 3.7
Source: Weatherbase[9]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1990 12,134
2000 16,782 38.3%
2010 19,582 16.7%

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 16,782 people, 7,570 households, and 3,126 families residing in the town. The population density was 3,753.7 people per square mile (1,449.6/km²). There were 8,207 housing units at an average density of 1,835.7 per square mile (708.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 72.67% White, 13.54% African American, 0.36% Native American, 5.15% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 5.85% from other races, and 2.42% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 12.29% of the population.

There were 7,570 households out of which 23.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 29.3% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 58.7% were non-families. 37.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the town the population was spread out with 19.0% under the age of 18, 21.4% from 18 to 24, 40.3% from 25 to 44, 14.2% from 45 to 64, and 5.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 94.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.4 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $33,527, and the median income for a family was $47,330. Males had a median income of $30,099 versus $31,090 for females. The per capita income for the town was $21,429. About 11.0% of families and 19.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.1% of those under age 18 and 6.1% of those age 65 or over. As with neighboring Chapel Hill, affordable housing has become a pressing local issue.



One of Carrboro's attractions is the Carrboro Farmer's Market,[10] which features local organic produce, locally produced cheeses, baked goods, and handmade crafts. Created in 1977, the Market was one of the first in the area to link farmers directly with their customers. The Market requires that everything sold must be produced within a 50-mile (80 km) radius of Carrboro.

Millennium Fountain, Carrboro, North Carolina

Carrboro has a thriving arts scene. The town is known for the Carrboro Music Festival, an all-day event which celebrates local music with performances throughout the downtown area. The music festival began in 1998 as the Fête de la Musique, and was held on the summer solstice. In 2002, the name of the event was changed to the Carrboro Music Festival. In order to increase attendance, the event was moved to the fall, avoiding the summer heat. Carrboro is also home to the annual West End Poetry Festival, which draws in a great selection of local poets.[11]

Carrboro is home to two music venues that host national and regional acts. The Carrboro ArtsCenter features nationally known roots music acts, such as David Lindley, Leon Russell, and Dr. John as well as internationally known artists including Richard Thompson and k.d. lang. The ArtsCenter also holds art classes, dance classes, and art exhibitions. Not far away, the Cat's Cradle typically hosts more rock acts than the ArtsCenter, but a number of musicians have played both venues. The Reservoir and Open Eye Cafe also host bands on a semi-regular basis.

In June 2004, WCOM began broadcasting at 103.5 FM in Carrboro. WCOM is a low-power FM station featuring music, community affairs, and Spanish-language programming. The station is volunteer-run and all shows feature local radio talent.

The Carrboro Citizen is a locally-owned community newspaper based in Carrboro. Launched in March 2007, the Citizen is published weekly (on Thursdays) and is distributed free throughout town and the surrounding area.

Carrboro is also a favorite destination of UNC students for its relatively large number and diversity of restaurants. Anderson Park provides a host of outdoor athletic activities including a dog park.

Carrboro is home to some of the originators of the modern hooping movement. In 2001, Vivian Spiral[12] began hooping on the Weaver Street Market lawn during the weekly music events. Julia Hartsell[13] joined her for the 2002 music season. Jonathan Baxter[14], founder of the HoopPath, also lives and teaches hooping in Carrboro. The first annual HoopPath Retreat was held Carrboro in 2007 and still happens there every year. The Hoop Convergence[15], started in 2008, is also held annually in Carrboro and the surrounding area.

Food scene[]

Carrboro hosts an eclectic and notable food scene that is perfectly suited for foodies and "locavores" alike. In addition to the Carrboro Farmers Market, which features fresh locally-grown produce year round, the town eateries and specialty food shops have also garnered regional[16] and national[17] acclaim for their strong support of locally produced food and enterprising spirit.


Carrboro is also home to two branches of the Orange County Public Library System: the Carrboro Branch Library and the Carrboro Cybrary. Carrboro Branch Library is located in McDougle Elementary and Middle School. Services include a medium sized circulating collection of books, audiobooks, movies on DVD and VHS, and music CDs; computer and Internet access; magazines; and local and national newspapers. Carrboro Cybrary is located in the Century Center in the heart of downtown Carrboro. Services include a small circulating collection of contemporary fiction, nonfiction, audiobooks, and Spanish and English language learning materials; computer, Internet, and wireless access; magazines; and local and national newspapers. Orange County residents may access these services free of charge, and nonresidents may access the computers free of charge. In the most recent Orange County budget presented to the county board in March 2009 by the Orange County Manager, the Cybrary and McDougle branch library are asked to be closed to save $250,000 due to the opening of a new library in Hillsborough.[18]

Parks and recreation[]

Carrboro has 10 parks, from large community parks to small neighborhood parks and play areas. The 55-acre (223,000 m2) 'Henry Anderson Community Park (aka, "The Hank") contains multiple lighted baseball fields, basketball courts, and tennis courts and other recreational facilities. The Adams Tract is a 27-acre (109,000 m2) urban forest area near the center of town that contains 1.25 miles (2.01 km) of trails for walking and hiking. Several neighborhood parks and other facilities provide multipurpose fields and playground equipment.[19]

Law and government[]

The Carrboro town hall sign, surrounded by tulips in April 2000.

Carrboro operates under a council-manager form of government. The governing body of the town, the Board of Aldermen, consists of a mayor and six aldermen. The mayor, who is elected every two years, presides at all meetings of the Board of Aldermen and votes on all issues to the same extent as any other member of the board. The aldermen are elected for staggered terms of four years. All elections are at-large and nonpartisan and are decided by a simple plurality. City operations are managed by the city manager, who is chosen by the Board of Aldermen.

Carrboro is in the 4th Congressional district of North Carolina and is represented by Rep. David Price. At the state level, Carrboro is in Senate district 23 (represented by Sen. Ellie Kinnaird), House district 50 (represented by Rep. Bill Faison), House district 54 (represented by Rep. Joe Hackney), and House district 56 (represented by Rep. Verla Insko).


The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools manages public primary and secondary education for more than 11,000 students in and around Carrboro and Chapel Hill.[20] The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public Schools consistently rank as number one in North Carolina in terms of graduation rate, test scores and percentage of college-bound seniors. Elementary school students in Carrboro attend Carrboro Elementary School, McDougle Elementary School, Morris Grove Elementary School, Frank Porter Graham Elementary School, or Seawell Elementary School. Middle school students in Carrboro attend Culbreth Middle School, McDougle Middle School, or Smith Middle School. High school students living in Carrboro attend Carrboro High School (opened in 2007) or Chapel Hill High School.[21]


The metro area has TV broadcasting stations that serve the Raleigh-Durham Designated Market Area (DMA) as defined by Nielsen Media Research.

Sister cities[]


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ [1] U.S. Census Bureau. Accessed March 2nd, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d Pope, Kristen (2007-01-24). "From Mill to Mall". Carrboro Commons. 
  5. ^ Childs, Erica (2003-05-08). "The Latino Community of Carrboro Orange County, NC" (pdf). UNC-Chapel Hill. Retrieved 2009-06-19. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  8. ^ [2] Town of Carrboro, NC. Service Report for Northeast Annexation Areas "A" & "B." Accessed July 15, 2007.
  9. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Carrboro, North Carolina, United States of America". Weatherbase. 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  10. ^ "Farmers markets feed the 100-mile diet". CNN. 2007-09-04. Retrieved 2007-09-13. 
  11. ^ [3]
  12. ^ [4]
  13. ^ [5]
  14. ^ [6]
  15. ^ [7]
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Wardle, Sam (2009-04-01). "Carrboro Cybrary funding threatened". Independent Weekly. Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  19. ^ [8] Town of Carrboro, NC. Recreation & Parks: Parks. Accessed May 5, 2009.
  20. ^ [9] Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. Accessed May 4, 2009.
  21. ^ [10] Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. Accessed May 4, 2009.

External links[]

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