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Garner, North Carolina
Water tower over Main Street, Garner
Water tower over Main Street, Garner
A Great Place to Be
Location in Wake County and the state of North Carolina.
Location in Wake County and the state of North Carolina.
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Wake
Incorporated 1905
 • Type Council–Manager
 • Total 16.13 sq mi (41.79 km2)
 • Land 16.09 sq mi (41.68 km2)
 • Water 0.04 sq mi (0.11 km2)
434 ft (132 m)
 • Total 31,159
 • Density 1,936.2/sq mi (747.58/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 919
FIPS code 37-25480
GNIS feature ID 0985572

Garner is a town in Wake County, North Carolina, United States and a suburb of Raleigh. The population is 31,159 as of the 2020 Census. The city limits are entirely within Wake County, though portions of unincorporated Wake County, as well as the Cleveland community in northern Johnston County, have Garner mailing addresses. It is part of the Research Triangle region of North Carolina and serves as a bedroom community for the region.


Garner is located at 35°41′54″N 78°37′22″W / 35.69833°N 78.62278°W / 35.69833; -78.62278 (35.698243, -78.622865).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 14.8 square miles (38.3 km2), of which 14.7 square miles (38.2 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km2), or 0.34%, is water.

Garner is located entirely within Wake County. There are unincorporated areas of Wake County and Johnston County that have Garner postal addresses, including a portion of the unincorporated, but densely populated, Cleveland Community.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 284
1920 376 32.4%
1930 476 26.6%
1940 768 61.3%
1950 1,180 53.6%
1960 3,451 192.5%
1970 4,923 42.7%
1980 10,073 104.6%
1990 14,967 48.6%
2000 17,757 18.6%
2010 25,745 45.0%
2019 (est.) 31,407 22.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Garner racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 15,905 51.04%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 9,163 29.41%
Native American 132 0.42%
Asian 681 2.19%
Pacific Islander 17 0.05%
Other/Mixed 1,468 4.71%
Hispanic or Latino 3,793 12.17%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 31,159 people, 11,642 households, and 7,637 families residing in the town.


Garner got its start with the coming of the railroad through the area beginning in 1847. In that year, after a tie-breaker vote by the Speaker of the State House of Representatives, what is now Garner was chosen as the location of a station of the North Carolina Railroad between Goldsboro and Charlotte. "Garner's Station" was established with the construction of a post office in 1878, and the town of Garner's Station incorporated in 1883.

Garner is situated in St. Mary's Township, which got its name from a Church of England parish. It is known that there were settlers in the area before the Revolutionary War. There are documented records of a church south of Garner in the Panther Branch Township as far back as 1756. According to the late Parker Rand, a 3,000-acre (12 km2) tract of land was granted to his forefathers by King George in 1759. Part of this area later was to be the site of a community known as Rand's Mill. Rand's Mill Pond was later renamed Lake Benson. It was enlarged in 1951 and is now used as a reservoir. Garner has continued to grow and prosper since its beginnings. In 1891, the village of Garner's Station had its charter repealed, and in 1905 application was made and granted for its reinstatement as the Town of Garner. The first town officials in 1905 were J.B. Richardson, mayor; H.D. Rand, J.J. Bagwell, H. Bryan, M.C. Penny, and J.S. Buffaloe, all aldermen. These gentlemen were appointed to serve one year or until their successors were duly elected and qualified.

The late Parker Rand believed that Garner was named for a family that lived in the area and later moved to Texas. Others believe the town was named by Henry Fort, a black cabinetmaker and carpenter who owned some land along the railroad after the Civil War. William S. Powell stated that Garner was named for its founder, H.C. Garner. An article in The State also named H.C. Garner as its founder, but not much information has been found about the man.

Garner experienced actual combat in the closing days of the Civil War. Some skirmishes occurred in the area, as witnessed by the carefully preserved bullet holes in New Bethel Church and the “Garner” house, which is said to have been used as a hospital for wounded soldiers.

Times immediately after the close of the war must have been difficult, but by 1878 the little community had succeeded in getting a post office established. This was when the name "Garner's Station" originated. Thomas Bingham was the first postmaster.

An old map dated 1887 shows Garner connected with the city of Raleigh by a road, listed as Holloman's Road. This was a typical country road at the time, unpaved until about 1918. Its importance, aside from its serving as a link between the small Garner community and the state capital, lay in the fact that it was a small section of what was to become one of the oldest and longest traveled corridors in North Carolina, the Central Highway.

In about 1920, the road became known as North Carolina Highway 10, later also US 70. NC 10 was the first paved road to be built in the state and was financed by the first bonds sold by the state to build highways. The Central Highway from the mountains to the sea was started in 1911. The portion of the highway between Garner and Raleigh was paved around 1916 or 1917.

Sam Mitchiner recalls going to World War I by way of the muddy dirt road and returning to find it paved. This section of the highway today is known as Old Garner Road.

Farming was the chief source of income for the early settlers of Garner and nearby areas, with cotton the principal crop. Before the turn of the century, some small businesses were beginning to be developed. The first business in Garner is said to have been a wood shop owned by Henry Fort. Fort was said to have been a fine cabinetmaker and carpenter, making wardrobes, bureaus, and other pieces of wood furniture still being used by some Garner residents today. One of the first grocery stores in town was owned by Thomas Bennett. Other early businesses included a mercantile business owned by H.D. Rand, a drug store operated by George Montague, and several general stores operated by people such as C.H. Dupree, Jr., R. Garner, J.B. Hobby, and J.R. Williams. In addition to general stores and cotton gins in the area, other businesses such as blacksmith, repair shops, barber shops, livery stables, and boarding houses existed. The first bank was established in Garner in 1910. H.D. Rand was president and J.A. Weathers was the cashier. In 1912, telephone service came to Garner. In a short while, there were as many as 10 subscribers. The first switchboard was operated in the home of Vera Jones. The telephone service closed after two years and then returned in 1924. The business and residential life of Garner continued to grow steadily throughout the years, with more rapid growth in recent times.

With the increased population and residential growth, Garner has burgeoned in business and service establishments, both within the corporation limits and the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the town. Town officials predict the town will continue to grow at a rapid rate. An explosion and partial roof collapse of a ConAgra Foods plant on June 9, 2009, killed four and injured some 40 workers.

The Downtown Garner Historic District, Edenwood, and Meadowbrook Country Club are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.



Several major roads and highways serve Garner:

  • Interstate 40 passes by the north and east sides of Garner. The town can be accessed via South Saunders Street (Exit 298-A), Hammond Road (Exit 299), Jones Sausage Road (Exit 303), or US 70 (Exit 306-B).
  • U.S. 70 serves as the main east–west highway through Garner. Most of the businesses and shopping centers lie on U.S. 70.
  • U.S. 401 splits from U.S. 70 at the town's northwestern corner and runs to the west of the town.
  • N.C. 50 enters the town with U.S. 401 and U.S. 70 at the northwestern corner, then splits from U.S. 70 at Benson Road, serving as a major north–south arterial through Garner, and paralleling I-40 into Johnston County.
  • N.C. 42 is an east–west highway south of Garner. Though outside of the town limits proper, it serves many addresses in unincorporated parts of Wake and Johnston counties with Garner addresses.
  • Timber Drive is an extension of Hammond Road that serves as a major arterial to connect residential areas of Garner with U.S. 70 and I-40.
  • Garner Road is a former alignment of U.S. 70 that parallels it along the town's northern edge.

Public transportation

Garner is served by the GoRaleigh bus routes 7 and 40x, both serving the shopping centers around Garner Station. In October 2019, GoRaleigh bus route 20 replaced the rush-hour-only service of GoTriangle bus route 102 with all-day service. Route 20 connects Downtown Garner with Downtown Raleigh as well as the shopping centers at White Oak, Timber Crossing, and Forest Hills, the Garner Town Hall, the Southeast Regional Library, and the Garner Police Station.

Addition service is provided to seniors and those with disabilities through GoWake Access. This service provides door-to-door service to eligible residents that may have difficulties using traditional public transportation.


Amtrak passes through Garner but does not have a scheduled stop. The nearest station is in Raleigh.


The nearest commercial airport with regular passenger service is Raleigh-Durham International Airport. General aviation services can also be found at the Triple W Airport in Fuquay-Varina or the Raleigh East Airport in Knightdale.


The following schools serve students in and around Garner. Most, but not all, are located within the town limits of Garner. With few exceptions, school districts in North Carolina are organized at the county level, and students are often assigned to schools without regard to which municipality they live in.

Wake County public schools:

  • Aversboro Elementary School
  • Bryan Road Elementary School
  • Creech Road Elementary School
  • East Garner Elementary School
  • Rand Road Elementary School
  • Smith Magnet Elementary School
  • Timber Drive Elementary School
  • Vandora Springs Elementary School
  • Vance Elementary School
  • East Garner Middle School
  • North Garner Middle School
  • Garner Magnet High School
  • South Garner High School

Johnston County public schools:

  • Polenta Elementary School
  • West View Elementary School
  • Cleveland Middle School

The original campus of the Governor Morehead School, a state-operated school for blind white students and blind and deaf black students, was in Garner. In 1923 white blind students were moved to Raleigh. The desegregation plan in the 1960s called for all deaf students to be moved to North Carolina School for the Deaf and Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf, while blind students were moved to Raleigh.

Notable people

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