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Cary, North Carolina facts for kids

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Cary, North Carolina
Town Hall in Cary
Town Hall in Cary
Flag of Cary, North Carolina
Official seal of Cary, North Carolina
Location in Wake County and North Carolina
Location in Wake County and North Carolina
Country United States
State North Carolina
Counties Chatham, Wake
Founded 1750
Incorporated April 3, 1871
Named for Samuel Fenton Cary
 • Total 59.94 sq mi (155.25 km2)
 • Land 58.86 sq mi (152.44 km2)
 • Water 1.08 sq mi (2.80 km2)  1.83%
495 ft (151 m)
 • Total 174,721
 • Rank 150th in the United States
7th in North Carolina
 • Density 2,914.93/sq mi (1,125.42/km2)
Demonym(s) Caryite
Time zone UTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
27511-27513, 27518, 27519
Area code 919, 984
FIPS code 37-10740
GNIS ID 1019552

Cary is a town in Wake County and Chatham County, North Carolina. Cary is part of the Raleigh-Cary, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2020 Census, the population of Cary was 174,721, making it Wake County's second-largest municipality, the seventh-largest in North Carolina, and the 150th largest in the United States.

Cary began as a railroad town, and became known as an educational center in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; Cary High School was the first state-funded public high school in North Carolina. The creation of the nearby Research Triangle Park in 1959, resulted in Cary's population doubling every decade from 1950 to 2000. Cary is now the location of technology and manufacturing companies, including the largest privately-held software company in the world.

In Cary, 68.4% of adults hold a bachelor's degree or higher, which is higher than the state average. In 2021, Cary was identified as the safest mid-sized city in the United States, based on 2019 FBI data.


Located in the Piedmont region of the eastern United States, Cary is near North Carolina's Research Triangle. It is edged on the north and east by Raleigh, on the north and west by Research Triangle Park and Morrisville, on the south by Apex and Holly Springs, and on the west by the Jordan Lake area. The town is hilly, with much of the undeveloped land covered in dense woods. Several creeks and small lakes dot the area, most notably Lake Crabtree in the north.

Nearly all of Cary is in western Wake County, with neighborhood-sized sections in the northeast corner of Chatham County.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 43.5 square miles (112.6 km²). 42.1 square miles (109.0 km²) of it is land and 1.4 square miles (3.6 km²) of it (3.17%) is water. More recent Cary records show that as of 2010 the town has a total area of 55.34 mi².


Cary has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) under the Köppen climate classification system. It receives hot summers and mildly cold winters, with several months of pleasant weather each year. Temperature extremes here range from the negatives to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Hurricanes and tropical storms can affect Cary, usually after weakening substantially from being over land. Some, such as Hurricane Fran in 1996, have caused great damage in the area. Snow falls every year, averaging around 6 inches annually.

Climate data for Cary, North Carolina
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 80
Average high °F (°C) 50
Average low °F (°C) 30
Record low °F (°C) −9
Average precipitation inches (mm) 4.02


Cary is divided into distinct east and west sections. The eastern side, being older, contains the downtown area as well as the town's oldest neighborhoods. Several of the town's iconic buildings, such as the Ashworth Drug Store, Fidelity Building, and Page-Walker Hotel are found in the eastern part of town. The western side is much newer and is visibly the center of wealth in Cary. Almost completely suburbanized, the area features sprawling neighborhoods, parks, and lakes. Golf courses and mansions are commonplace, most notably those associated with the Preston community.

Cary, North Carolina. Cary, NC
The Cary Town Hall
The Fidelity Bank and Ashworth Drug Store
Downtown Cary, on Chatham Street


Page-Walker Hotel (now local history museum).

In 1750, Cary began as a settlement called Bradford's Ordinary. About 100 years later, the construction of the North Carolina Railroad between New Bern and Hillsborough went through the town, linking Bradford's Ordinary to a major transportation route.

Allison Francis "Frank" Page is credited with founding the town. Page was a Wake County farmer and lumberman. He and his wife, Catherine "Kate" Raboteau Page bought 300 acres (1.2 km2) surrounding the railroad junction in 1854 and named his development Cary, after Samuel Fenton Cary (a former Ohio congressman and prohibitionist he admired). Page became a railroad agent and a town developer. He laid out the first streets in Cary and built a sawmill, a general store and a post office (Page became the first Postmaster). In 1868, Page built a hotel to serve railroad passengers coming through Cary. Cary was incorporated on April 6, 1871, with Page becoming the first mayor. In 1879, the Raleigh and Augusta Air-Line Railroad (later the Seaboard, now CSX Transportation) arrived in Cary from the southwest, creating Fetner Junction just north of downtown and spurring further growth.

In the early years Cary adopted zoning and other ordinances on an ad-hoc basis to control growth and give the town structure. Beginning in 1971, the town created Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning to accommodate population growth related to the growth of Research Triangle Park nearby. A PUD allows a developer to plan an entire community before beginning development, thus allowing future residents to be aware of where churches, schools, commercial and industrial areas will be located well before such use begins. Kildaire Farms, a 967-acre (3.9 km2) Planned Unit Development in Cary, was North Carolina's first PUD. It was developed on the Pine State Dairy Farm by Thomas F. Adams, Jr. Adams named a section of Kildaire Farms "Farmington Woods" in their honor. The local government has placed a high value on creating an aesthetically pleasing town.

In addition to the Page-Walker Hotel, the Carpenter Historic District, Cary Historic District, Green Level Historic District, Ivey-Ellington House, and Nancy Jones House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 316
1890 423 33.9%
1900 333 −21.3%
1910 383 15.0%
1920 645 68.4%
1930 909 40.9%
1940 1,141 25.5%
1950 1,446 26.7%
1960 3,356 132.1%
1970 7,686 129.0%
1980 21,763 183.2%
1990 43,858 101.5%
2000 94,536 115.6%
2010 135,234 43.1%
2020 174,721 29.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the 2020 United States Census, there were 174,721 residents of Cary, residing in 62,789 households. The population density of Cary is 3,014 people per square mile, versus 1078.8 for Wake County and 196.1 for North Carolina.

The Census reports that 68.4% of adults in Cary age 25 years or older have a bachelor's degree or higher. In addition, 97.9% of Cary's households have a computer, and 95.2% have broadband.

Cary's racial composition as of 2020
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 99,357 67.%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 13,506 7.73%
Native American 302 0.17%
Asian 39,035 22.34%
Pacific Islander 76 0.04%
Other/Mixed 8,069 4.62%
Hispanic or Latino 14,376 8.23%

During the 1970s and 1980s, the high number of non-native-born North Carolinians moving to the town for employment in the Research Triangle Park, led native-born North Carolinians to refer to Cary derisively as "Containment Area for Relocated Yankees." As of the 2020 Census, 28.97% of Cary's population was born in North Carolina, 77.87% were born in the United States, and 22.13% were foreign born.



GoCary bus
Cary NC Amtrak Station
Amtrak Station
Cary greenway - panoramio
Cary Greenway

Public transit

Public transit within the town is provided by GoCary, with six fixed-routes. There is a door-to-door service for the senior citizens (60+) and riders with disabilities. GoTriangle operates fixed-route buses that serve the Wake County and connect to Go transit systems in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. All GoCary buses are fare-free through June 2022 as part the CARES Act.

Intercity rail

Amtrak's Silver Star, Carolinian, and Piedmont passenger trains stop at the Cary Station, providing service to Charlotte, New York City, Miami, and intermediate points. Built in 1995 and expanded in 2011, the station includes 130 free parking spaces.


In 2010, the League of American Bicyclists designated Cary as one of the fourteen recipients of the first Bicycle-Friendly Community awards for "providing safe accommodation and facilities for bicyclists and encouraging residents to bike for transportation and recreation." Cary maintains over 200 miles of bike-friendly road and greenways facilities. In addition, U.S. Bicycle Route 1 (Carolina Connector) and N.C. Bicycle Route #2, (Mountains to Sea), both pass through suburban Cary.


Cary maintains a network of 80 mi (130 km) of greenways, sidewalks, and trails that connect neighborhoods and parks throughout the town. There are requirements on environmental conditions of greenways to preserve a park-like atmosphere. Standard sidewalks and paths exist throughout the town. The 23 mi (37 km) American Tobacco Trail, built on a retired section of railroad, passes through parts of Cary.

Air transit

The Raleigh-Durham International Airport is north of Cary, and covers more than 35 nonstop destinations with twelve carriers. RDU served nearly 8.8 million passengers in 2021. This is down from pre-COVID 14.2 million passengers a year in 2019.

Freeways and primary routes

Cary is linked to areas both in and out of N.C. via the east–west running Interstate 40, the north–south running U.S. 1, and the east–west running U.S. 64. State highways in Cary include NC 54, NC 55. NC 147. NC 540, and NC 751. A primary road within the town is Cary Parkway.


Duke Energy provides electricity for Cary. Dominion Energy has provided natural gas to Cary since 2019, when it acquired the Public Service Company of North Carolina. Cary's primary water source is Jordan Lake, which is treated at the Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility. The North Carolina Division of Water Resources oversees the allocation of water to Cary. When demand exceeds capacity, Cary purchases water from Durham. Water and sewage accounts are overseen by the Town of Cary. Cary also provides curbside recycling.

Smart city technology

In 2016, Cary created its Simulated Smart City Program which allows the town to test and evaluate Internet of Things (IoT) and smart city technologies in its town hall campus. Technologies already tested and expanded into the community include in sensors for public parking that reveal available spots, smart street lights that dim when not needed, smart trash and recycling containers that message when they are full, and free outdoor Wi-Fi via beacons. The first town-wide IoT project was a smart water monitoring system with analytics from SAS which can detect leaks; this system is projected to save $10 million over the cost of its installation. The National Recreation and Park Association noted, "These technologies offer more than just cost savings for the city of Cary. They also provide convenient quality-of-life improvements for citizens, and in many cases help lower environmental waste." Cary and SAS also collaborated on a IoT stormwater flood alert system, winning the 2020 IDC Smart Cities North American Awards (Smart Water Category) and the 2020 Government Innovation Award (Leveraging IoT for Increased Flood Protection).

In 2021, Cary installed IoT and smart city technologies that give emergency vehicles faster access though pedestrian crossings, railroad crossings, school zones, and traffic lights. This is the first citywide system like this in North Carolina. Paid for by the town with a matching grant from the U.S Department of Transportation, this project involved fifteen pedestrian crossings, 100 school safety beacons, 205 traffic signals, and railroad crossings. Residents can also take advantage of this technology by adding the pre-existing TravelSafely® app to their smartphone, providing connections to the town's traffic control devices and other users such as pedestrians or cyclists.

In late 2021, Cary announced a new tech-focused Center of Excellence that brings together the town, SAS, and Semtech Corporation to create new community services and expand the digital infrastructure. Connected World says, "In the quest for developing smarter cities across the country, …the town of Cary, N.C., is one of the smartest towns in the United States…."

Public recreation

Cary Tennis Park


  • Cary Tennis Park
  • Recreation Club of Lochmere


  • Lochmere Golf Club
  • Prestonwood Country Club
  • MacGregor Downs Country Club
  • SAS Championship



  • Lazy Daze Arts & Crafts Festival
  • Spring Daze Arts & Crafts Festival
  • Cary Diwali Celebration - Festival of Light
  • Ritmo Latino Music, Art and Dance Festival
  • NC Eid Festival
  • Cary Band Day


  • 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2013, and 2015 NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship
  • 2009-2014 NCAA Division II Baseball Championship
  • 2011 NCAA Division III Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships
  • 2012 NCAA Division III Men's and Women's Tennis Championships
  • Home to North Carolina FC of the North American Soccer League

Honors and designations

  • Money Magazine Best Place to Live #5 in the Nation in 2006.

Sister cities


According to the 2020 Census, the median income in Cary is $106,304 or $57,341 per capita. The percentage of Cary's residents living in poverty is 4.4%, and just 6.3% of its population under the age of 65 lacked health insurance. Between 2015 and 2019, the median value of owner-occupied houses in Cary was $356,400. The home ownership rate (owner-occupied housing units to total units) is 68.4%. However, there are growing concerns about Cary's lack of affordable housing. Over the past twenty years, Cary has added 10,000 jobs earning $35,000 or less; however, the cost of housing has increased significantly. The Town of Cary says that less than 20% of its own employees can afford to live in the town. The median rental costs in Cary is $1,246 per month.

The cost of living in Cary is rated at 115, with 100 being the national average.

Notable businesses

View on the statue. Epic Games HQ, Cary
Epic Games's giant slide
Global Knowledge's headquarters
Global Knowledge headquarters

Notable technology companies located in Cary include ABB, Epic Games, Garmin, HCL Technologies, IntelliScanner Corporation, Lockheed Martin 3D Solutions, SAS Institute, and Xerox.

Manufacturers located in Cary include Austin Foods/Kellogg's which makes snack foods, and Lord Corporation which makes adhesives, coatings, and motion management devices for aerospace and automobiles. Cotton Incorporated is a non-profit located in Cary which conducts worldwide research and promotes the use of cotton.

Top employers

According to the Cary's 2021 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the town are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 SAS Institute 5,567
2 MetLife 3,100
3 Verizon 2,000
4 Siemens Healthineers 1,600
5 HCL Technologies 1,500
6 Town of Cary 1,152
7 Precision Walls 1,015
8 Global Knowledge Training 1,000
9 American Airlines Reservation Center 964
10 ABB 900
10 Austin Quality Foods/Kellogg's 900


Railhawks 2014
Carolina Railhawks vs. F.C. Dallas in a 2014 U.S. Open Cup match in WakeMed Soccer Park

Cary is home to two professional sports teams: North Carolina FC (USL League One) and North Carolina Courage (National Women's Soccer League). USL League One is the third tier of the American Soccer Pyramid. Both teams play their home games at WakeMed Soccer Park, also known as Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.

Club Sport Founded League Venue
North Carolina FC Soccer 2006 USL League One WakeMed Soccer Park
North Carolina Courage Soccer 2009 NWSL WakeMed Soccer Park

WakeMed Soccer Park has been the host site for NCAA Men's Division 1 Soccer championships.

As of 2007, Cary is also home of the USA Baseball National Training Complex, located within the 221-acre town's Thomas Brooks Park Beginning in 2009, the complex was selected to host the NCAA Division II College World Series.


Green Level
Green Level High School
Cary Academy main quad
Cary Academy

Public schools

Headquartered in Cary, the Wake County Public School System is the largest public school system in North Carolina. Cary has five public high schools: Cary High School, Green Hope High School, Green Level High School, Middle Creek High School, and Panther Creek High School. Cary has seven middle schools and nineteen elementary schools that are part of the Wake County system.

Cary has three charter schools: the K–8 grade Cardinal Charter Academy, the K–7 grade Peak Charter Academy, and the K–11 grade Triangle Math and Science Academy.

Private schools

  • Cary Academy, 6—12 grade
  • Cary Christian School, K—12 grade
  • Chesterbrook Academy, K—5 grade
  • Grace Christian School Upper Campus, 7—12 grade
  • Heartwood Montessori School, K—12 grade
  • Hopewell Academy, 6—12 grade
  • Resurrection Lutheran School, K—8th grade
  • Saint Michael the Archangel Catholic School, PK—8 grade

Higher education

Wake Technical Community College's Western Wake Campus is located on Kildaire Farm Road in Cary.

Notable people

  • Nida Allam, politician and political analyst
  • Vernetta Alston, politician and attorney
  • John Altschuler, television and film writer and producer
  • Debbie Antonelli, sports commentator
  • Reggie Barnes, former pro-skateboarder and founder/owner of Eastern Skateboard Supply
  • Fred Bond Jr., tobacco industry representative and politician
  • Marshall Brain, television host and author
  • Chucky Brown, former professional basketball player
  • Miguel Campanerta, ballet dancer and choreographer
  • Chris Castor, former professional football player
  • Casey Cole, American Franciscan friar, writer, and blogger
  • Héctor Cotto, Olympic track and field athlete
  • Claire Curzan, Olympic swimmer
  • John Custer, record producer and musician
  • Anoop Desai, singer-songwriter and contestant on American Idol
  • Spright Dowell, former president of Alabama Polytechnic Institute, now Auburn University
  • Tim Downs, author and comic strip artist of Downstown
  • Chris Flemmings, professional basketball player
  • Kendall Fletcher, professional soccer player
  • James Goodnight, co-founder and CEO of SAS Institute
  • Chris Hubert, professional football player
  • Andrew Hubner, author
  • Justin Jedlica, model and businessman
  • Greg Jones, professional baseball player
  • Isaiah Johnson, professional football player
  • U. Alexis Johnson, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan and Czechoslovakia
  • Alfred Daniel Jones, former U.S. Consul General in Shanghai
  • Scott Kooistra, professional football player
  • Glen Lang, CEO of Capitol Broadband and politician
  • Luke Maye, professional basketball player
  • Wiley Nickel, member of the N.C. Senate
  • Matt Oberst, musician
  • Robert N. Page, politician
  • Walter Hines Page, journalist and U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain during WWII
  • Emile Pandolfi, pianist
  • Hilda Pinnix-Ragland, business executive and philanthropist
  • Max Povse, professional baseball player
  • Bevin Prince, actress
  • Morgan Reid, professional soccer player
  • Justin Ress, competitive swimmer
  • Saiyan (Ryan Danford), former professional esports player
  • John Sall, co-founder of SAS Institute
  • Mark Scalf, baseball coach
  • Zack Schilawski, former pro soccer player and assistant coach at UNC Wilmington
  • Ainsley Seiger, actress
  • Ryan Spaulding, professional soccer player
  • Azurá Stevens, professional basketball player
  • Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of Epic Games
  • Rysa Walker, author
  • Aaron Ward, former professional hockey player
  • Curtis Waters, recording artist
  • Harold Weinbrecht, politician and programmer for SAS
  • Jennifer Weiss, former member of the N.C. General Assembly
  • Kay Yow, former head coach of women's basketball at North Carolina State University
  • Katie Zaferes, professional triathlete

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Cary (Carolina del Norte) para niños

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