Wake County, North Carolina Wake County
is located in the U.S. state
of North Carolina
. As of July 1, 2019, the population was 1,111,761,
making it North Carolina's most populous county
as well as the most populous county in the Carolinas
. From July 2005 to July 2006, Wake County was the 9th fastest-growing county in the United States,
with the town of Cary and the city of Raleigh being the 8th and 15th fastest-growing cities, respectively.
Its county seat
which is also the state capital. Eleven other municipalities are in Wake County, the largest of which is Cary
, the third largest city of the Research Triangle
region and the seventh largest municipality in North Carolina.
Prior to English colonization, present-day Wake County was part of the Tuscarora
Wake County was formed in 1770 from parts of Cumberland County
, Johnston County
, and Orange County
. The first courthouse was built at a village originally called Wake Courthouse, now known as Bloomsbury. In 1771, the first elections and court were held, and the first militia units were organized.
Wake County lost some of its territory through the formation of other counties. Parts were included in Franklin County
in 1787, and in Durham County
in both 1881 and 1911.
During the colonial
period of North Carolina, the state capital was New Bern
. For several years during and after the Revolutionary War
there was no capital, and the General Assembly
met in various locations. Fayetteville
was the state capital in 1786, 1789, 1790, and 1793, when Raleigh became the permanent state capital in 1794.
In 1792, a commission was appointed to select a site to build a permanent state capital. The commission members favored land owned by Colonel John Hinton across the Neuse River
, but the night before the final vote the committee adjourned to the home of Joel Lane
for an evening of food and spirits. The next day, the vote went in Lane's favor.
The Battle at Morrisville Station was fought April 13–15, 1865 in Morrisville, North Carolina during the Carolinas Campaign of the American Civil War. It was the last official battle of the Civil War between the armies of Major General William T. Sherman and General Joseph E. Johnston. General Judson Kilpatrick, commanding officer of the Union cavalry advance, compelled Confederate forces under the command of Generals Wade Hampton III and Joseph Wheeler to withdraw in haste. They had been frantically trying to transport their remaining supplies and wounded by rail westward toward the final Confederate encampment in Greensboro, NC. Kilpatrick used artillery on the heights overlooking Morrisville Station and cavalry charges to push the Confederates out of the small village leaving many needed supplies behind. However, the trains were able to withdraw with wounded from the Battle of Bentonville and the Battle of Averasboro. Later, General Johnston sent a courier to the Federal encampments at Morrisville with a message for Major General Sherman requesting a conference to discuss an armistice. Several days later the two generals met at Bennett Place near Durham on April 17, 1865, to begin discussing the terms of what would become the largest surrender of the war.
In the 20th century, the average per capita income for the county was of $
54,988, and the median income for a family was of $67,149. In the same period, the per capita income decreased from $44,472 to $31,579, especially for women. About 7.80% of the population was below the federal poverty
In August 2014, the county population hit 1,000,000 people.
In November 2017, commissioners of Wake and Harnett
counties discussed the possibility of redrawing the line between the counties using the latest technology. This could affect 27 homeowners who would end up in a different county or have their property divided between the two.
Law and government
The county is governed by the Wake County Board of Commissioners
, a seven-member board of County Commissioners
, elected at large to serve four-year terms. Terms are staggered so that, every two years, three or four Commissioners are up for election. The commissioners enact policies such as the establishment of the property tax
rate, regulation of land use and zoning
outside municipal jurisdictions, and adoption of the annual budget. Commissioners meet on the first and third Mondays of each month.
Current members of the Wake County Board of Commissioners
are Gregory Ford (Chair), Vickie Adamson (Vice-Chair), Jessica Holmes, Matt Calabria, Susan Evans, Sig Hutchinson, and James West.
David Ellis is the County Manager.
From 1828 to 1964, the county was a classic Solid South
county, with Democratic presidential candidates carrying it all but six times (John C. Breckinridge
in 1860, Ulysses S. Grant
in 1868 and 1872, Rutherford B. Hayes
in 1876, James A. Garfield
in 1880, and Benjamin Harrison
in 1888). From 1968 to 2004, the GOP won the county in every election but one, when Bill Clinton
carried it in 1992. However, the races were almost always close. In 1980, for instance, Ronald Reagan
won by a landslide both nationally and in North Carolina, but won Wake County by only 760 votes. Recently, Republican George W. Bush
won the county in 2000 with 53 percent of the vote and defeated John Kerry
in 2004 by a slim 51 to 49 percent.
In 2008, the county swung hard to Barack Obama
, who defeated John McCain
56 to 43 percent. Obama became the first Democrat since Lyndon Johnson
to win a majority of the county's vote. In 2012, Obama won Wake County again over Mitt Romney with 54 percent of the vote to Romney's 44 percent – the first time in almost half a century that a Democrat carried the county in consecutive elections. Obama's performance in Wake mirrored his strong showing along the I-85 Corridor
. In 2016, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won the county 57 percent to Donald Trump's 37 percent, and in 2020 Joe Biden won the county with 62 percent of the vote to Donald Trump's 36 percent, reflecting the nationwide shift towards Democrats in urban and suburban areas.
Biden's margin was the largest for a Democrat in the county since Franklin D. Roosevelt
's landslides, while Trump became the first Republican in over 60 years not to cross the 40 percent mark.
United States presidential election results for Wake County, North Carolina
Democrats fared well here in the 2008 election. In the 1998 Senate race, John Edwards
won in Wake County, which helped him defeat incumbent Republican Lauch Faircloth
. In 2000 Mike Easley
won the governor's race here with 55% of the vote. In 2004, Easley won again, winning with 59 percent to 40 percent for opponent Patrick Ballantine
. Democrat Beverly Perdue
won Wake County in the 2008 Governor's election by a 51 to 45 percent margin. In 2002, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Elizabeth Dole
defeated Democrat Erskine Bowles
with 55% of the vote in Wake County, and won by a large margin statewide. However, in 2004, Bowles won the county with 52 percent, despite losing statewide to Richard Burr
by the same margin. In 2008 Kay Hagan
defeated Dole 56 to 40 percent.
Democratic strength is concentrated primarily in Raleigh
. Republican strength is concentrated in the rural and exurban areas in the northern and western parts of the county. The outskirts of Raleigh, and the cities of Cary
are mostly home to swing voters.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau
, the county has a total area of 857 square miles (2,220 km2
), of which 835 square miles (2,160 km2
) is land and 22 square miles (57 km2
) (2.6%) is water.
Wake County is located in the northeast central region of North Carolina, where the North American Piedmont
and Atlantic Coastal Plain
regions meet. This area is known as the "fall line
" because it marks the elevation inland at which waterfalls begin to appear in creeks and rivers. As a result, most of Wake County features gently rolling hills that slope eastward toward the state's flat coastal plain. Its central Piedmont location situates the county about three hours west of Atlantic Beach, North Carolina
, by car and four hours east of the Great Smoky Mountains
Wake County enjoys a moderate subtropical climate
, with moderate temperatures in the spring, fall, and winter. Summers are typically hot with high humidity
. Winter highs generally range in the low 50s°F
(10 to 13 °C
) with lows in the low-to-mid 30s°F (−2 to 2 °C), although an occasional 60 °F (15 °C) or warmer winter day is not uncommon. Spring and fall days usually reach the low-to-mid 70s°F (low 20s°C), with lows at night in the lower 50s°F (10 to 14 °C). Summer daytime highs often reach the upper 80s to low 90s°F (29 to 35 °C). The rainiest months are July and August.
The county, at the National Weather Service in Raleigh, receives on average 7 inches (180 mm) of snow in the winter. Freezing rain
occur most winters, and occasionally the area experiences a major damaging ice storm
As of the census
of 2018, there were 1,092,776 people, 421,265 households, and 276,363 families residing in the county. The population density was 1308.72 people per square mile (505.91/km2
). There were 458,953 housing units at an average density of 311 per square mile (120/km2
). The racial makeup of the county was 59.40% White
, 14.29% Black
or African American
, 9.24% Hispanic
of any race, 12.84% Asian
, 4.04% from other races
, 3.13% from two or more races, 0.16% Native American
, and 0.03% Pacific Islander
There were 242,040 households, out of which 34.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.50% were married couples living together, 9.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.40% were non-families. 25.70% of all households were made up of individuals, and 5.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 3.06.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 25.10% under the age of 18, 10.70% from 18 to 24, 36.50% from 25 to 44, 20.40% from 45 to 64, and 7.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.50 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $54,988, and the median income for a family was $67,149. Males had a median income of $44,472 versus $31,579 for females. The per capita income for the county was $27,004. About 4.90% of families and 7.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.60% of those under age 18 and 8.90% of those age 65 or over.
In Wake County, 29% of the population is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, 22% are affiliated with the Catholic Church, 17% are affiliated with the United Methodist Church, 6% are affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), and 27% are religiously affiliated with other denominations or religions, or are not religiously affiliated.
Wake County's economy is heavily influenced by the Research Triangle Park (RTP), located between Durham and Raleigh. RTP is the country's largest industrial park
and a primary center in the United States for high-tech
research, as well as textile development. The park is home to more than 160 companies employing over 50,000 people.
The largest employers in the Park include IBM
(11,000 employees), GlaxoSmithKline
(6,400 employees), and Cisco Systems
Wake County's industrial base includes electrical, medical, electronic and telecommunications equipment; clothing and apparel; food processing; paper products; and pharmaceuticals. The agriculture industry is visible in rural areas of the county, with tobacco, cotton, wheat, soybeans, and corn being the most common products grown.
, one of the largest privately held software companies in the world,
is located in Cary. Other major companies based in Wake County include Advance Auto Parts
, A10 Networks
, Cotton Incorporated
, Epic Games
, Lord Corporation
, Lenovo Group
(U.S. headquarters), Tekelec
, Red Hat
, Golden Corral
and Martin Marietta Materials
In 2007, Forbes
magazine listed Raleigh and Cary among the best cities to find jobs in the United States,
as well as being the area ranked as the best place for business and careers.
Also in 2007, CNN
ranked the region has the 3rd best area for job growth, the top region for technology workers,
and Bizjournals.com ranked it as the 4th best place for young adult job seekers.
On April 26, 2021, Apple Inc.
announced that they would build a $1 Billion hub in the Wake County portion of the Research Triangle Park
. It is expected to house a 1,000,000 square foot facility and hire more than 3,000 people with an minimum salary of $187,000 per year.
Primary and secondary education
in Wake County is administered by the Wake County Public School System
, the 15th largest public school district in the country with over 155,000 students.
There are 27 high schools, 33 middle schools, 104 elementary schools, and 8 specialized schools. In addition, nine charter schools
and 31 private schools are located in the county.
The Wake County Public Library
system operates 22 branches throughout the county. There are 11 facilities in Raleigh. Cary and Apex each have two facilities. Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Wake Forest, Zebulon, Knightdale and Wendell each have one library facility. The Wake County library system keeps books, periodicals, and audio books and has recently expanded the selection to include downloadable e-books.
The Walnut Creek Amphitheatre
hosts major international touring acts, along with the Red Hat Amphitheatre and the PNC Arena. The Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
complex houses the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, the Fletcher Opera Theater, the Kennedy Theatre, and the Meymandi Concert Hall. During the North Carolina State Fair
, Dorton Arena
hosts headline acts. Theater performances are also offered at the Raleigh Little Theatre
, Theatre in the Park and Stewart Theater at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Applause! Cary Youth Theatre, Cary Players Community Theatre, Sertoma Amphitheater at Bond Park, and Koka Booth Amphitheatre
are located in Cary. Other theaters and performing arts locations include The Halle Cultural Arts Center in Apex and Garner Historic Auditorium in Garner. Local colleges and universities add to the options available for viewing live performances.
Wake County is home to several professional arts organizations, including the North Carolina Symphony
, the Opera Company of North Carolina, the North Carolina Theatre, and Carolina Ballet.
The North Carolina Museum of Art, occupying a large suburban campus on Blue Ridge Road near the State Fairgrounds, houses one of the premier public art collections between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta
. In addition to collections of American art
, European art
, African Art
, and ancient art
the museum recently has hosted major exhibitions featuring Auguste Rodin
(in 2000) and Claude Monet
(in 2006–07), each attracting more than 200,000 visitors.
The museum is currently hosting a special exhibition of contemporary installation art called You Are Here: Light, Color, and Sound Experiences
Unlike most public museums, the North Carolina Museum of Art acquired a large number of the works in its permanent collection through purchases with public funds. The museum's outdoor park is one of the largest such art parks
in the country.
The National Hockey League
's Carolina Hurricanes
franchise moved to Raleigh in 1999 from their temporary home of Greensboro
, after having departed Hartford, Connecticut
, in 1997. Their home arena, the PNC Arena
, also hosts concerts and other public events. The Hurricanes are the only major league (NFL
) professional sports team in North Carolina to have won a championship, winning the Stanley Cup
in 2006, over the Edmonton Oilers
Because of the area's many billiards rooms, Raleigh is home to one of the largest amateur league franchises for playing pool
, the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill American Poolplayers Association
. There are leagues available in eight-ball
, and Masters formats for players of any skill level.
The USA Baseball
National Training Complex is located in Cary.
Also featured in Raleigh/Durham is the Carolina Phoenix, Women's Professional Tackle Football team.
- I-40 is the only major Interstate Highway that runs through the county. It offers direct access to RDU International Airport, Morrisville, Cary, Raleigh and Garner. It has two auxiliary routes in Wake County:
- I-440 is the northern, western and eastern portion of the "Beltline" that encircles most of central Raleigh. The southern portion of the Beltline is I-40.
- I-540 / NC 540 is a 66-mile (106 km) partially-completed loop that currently connects the satellite towns of Knightdale, Cary, Morrisville, Apex and Holly Springs. The completed portion in northern Wake County is called the Northern Wake Expressway (I-540). It continues as a non-Interstate route, NC 540, in western Wake County, almost all of which is a toll road. The remaining segments to be constructed will also be designated as NC 540 and will be tolled with an approximate cost of $2.2 billion.
- I-87 will eventually connect I-40 to Norfolk, Virginia. Its Wake County section is concurrent with U.S. 64. The highway is currently signed as I-87 only where it already meets Interstate standards: along the Raleigh Beltline (where its southern terminus is at I-440's Exit 16 and I-40's Exit 301) and along the Knightdale Bypass, which runs from I-440 to the Business 64 exit between Knightdale and Wendell. East of this point, the road is a controlled-access freeway but does not meet interstate standards, so it is marked with "Future" I-87 signs. The "future" designation will be removed as the road is eventually upgraded by improving the road's shoulders, which are currently too narrow to qualify for an Interstate Highway designation. There is no timetable for these improvements. Interstate 87 will run along the same routing, and will eventually will be extended along US 64, US 17 and other roads (some yet to be built) to Norfolk.
Parks and recreation
Wake County is home to three state parks: Falls Lake State Recreation Area
, William B. Umstead State Park
, and the Jordan Lake State Recreation Area
. Falls Lake Park is located in northern Wake County and contains the 12,000-acre (49 km2
) Falls Lake
and 26,000 acres (110 km2
) of woodlands.
Umstead Park is situated between Raleigh and Cary near RDU. Located right off I-40, it is divided into two sections, Crabtree Creek
and Reedy Creek, and contains 5,579 acres (22.58 km2
) of woodlands.
Jordan Lake Park, which is partially located in Wake County near Apex, contains 13,940-acre (56.4 km2
) Jordan Lake and 46,768 acres (189.26 km2
) of woodlands. This park is known for being home to bald eagles
County parks and recreation centers
In addition to WakeMed's primary facility, the hospital also operates eight satellite locations throughout the county. These locations include North Raleigh, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Wake Forest, Apex, Wake Forest Road, and Brier Creek.
Map of Wake County, North Carolina with municipal and township labels
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Last edited on 27 April 2021, at 05:47
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