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Greenville, North Carolina
Downtown Greenville sunrise
Downtown Greenville sunrise
Official seal of Greenville, North Carolina
"Find Yourself in Good Company"
Location of Greenville shown within North Carolina
Location of Greenville shown within North Carolina
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Pitt
Settled 1771
Founded 1774 (Martinsborough)
Founded 1786 (Greenville)
Named for Nathanael Greene
 • Type Mayor/Council
 • City 36.38 sq mi (94.23 km2)
 • Land 35.63 sq mi (92.28 km2)
 • Water 0.75 sq mi (1.95 km2)  2.59%
 • Urban
36.7 sq mi (77.5 km2)
56 ft (17 m)
 • City 94,822
 • Density 2,456.39/sq mi (948.43/km2)
 • Metro
170,243 (US: 254th)
Demonym(s) Greenvillian
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
27833, 27834, 27835, 27836, 27858
Area code 252
FIPS code 37-28080
GNIS feature ID 1023721

Greenville is the county seat of and the most populous city in Pitt County, North Carolina, United States; the principal city of the Greenville metropolitan area; and the 11th-most populous city in North Carolina. Greenville is the health, entertainment, and educational hub of North Carolina's Tidewater and Coastal Plain. The city's official population as of the 2020 United States Census was 87,521 residents while the Greenville Metropolitan Area includes 170,243 people. In January 2008 and January 2010, Greenville was named one of the nation's "100 Best Communities for Young People" by the America's Promise Alliance. In June 2012, Greenville was ranked in the top ten of the nation's "Best Small Places For Business And Careers" by Forbes magazine. In 2010, Greenville was ranked twenty-fourth in mid-city business growth and development by Forbes Magazine.

Greenville is the home of East Carolina University, the fourth-largest university in the University of North Carolina system, and Vidant Medical Center, the flagship hospital for Vidant Health and the teaching hospital for the Brody School of Medicine. The city has the fifth-highest percentage of residents in North Carolina – almost 30 percent – who have obtained bachelor's degrees. At one point, the city became known as "BMX Pro Town USA" as it is home for many top professional BMX riders.



Greenville was founded in 1771 as "Martinsborough," after the Royal Governor Josiah Martin. In 1774 the town was moved to its present location on the south bank of the Tar River, three miles (5 km) west of its original site. In 1786, the name was changed to Greenesville in honor of General Nathanael Greene, the American Revolutionary War hero. It was later shortened to Greenville.

19th century

During Greenville's early years, the Tar River was a navigable waterway; and by the 1860s there were several established steamboat lines transporting passengers and goods on the river. Cotton was the leading agricultural crop, and Greenville became a major cotton export center. Before the turn of the century, however, tobacco surpassed cotton and became the leading money crop. Greenville became one of the state's leading tobacco marketing and warehouse centers.

20th century

For over a century, Greenville was recognized only as an important tobacco market and the home of a small state-supported college, charted by the Legislature in March 1907 and named East Carolina Teacher's Training College, a co-ed institution. By the mid 1960s, East Carolina College had become the third-largest state-supported college, and enrollment approached 8,000 students — twice the 1960 enrollment figure. In 1967, it became East Carolina University. ECU Medical School admitted its first four-year class in 1977. At the turn of the century, enrollment at ECU topped the 18,000 mark, and now exceeds 27,500 students.

Greenville's current economic development began in 1968 when Burroughs Wellcome, a major pharmaceutical research and manufacturing firm, located in the city. The site is now owned by Patheon, which employs approximately 1,200 people. The city and Pitt County have also become home to many other major industries and businesses including Harper Brush, NACCO Materials Handling Group, Grady-White Boats, and ASMO. Greenville is also home to The HammockSource, the world's largest hammock manufacturer.

Floyd Tar River Flooding
Tar River flooding homes after Hurricane Floyd

Hurricane Floyd

In September 1999, Hurricane Floyd made landfall in eastern North Carolina, dropping nearly 17 inches (430 mm) of rain during the hours of its passage. Many residents were not aware of the flooding until the water came into their homes. Most localized flooding happened overnight, and the Tar River suffered the worst flooding, exceeding 500-year flood levels along its lower stretches. An additional 20+ inches of rain had fallen prior in the month from the two passes of Hurricane Dennis.

Damages in Pitt County alone were estimated at $1.6 billion (1999 USD, $1.87 billion 2006 USD). Some residents in Greenville had to swim six feet underwater to reach the front doors of their homes and apartments. Due to the heavy flooding in downtown Greenville, the East Carolina Pirates were forced to relocate their football game against #9 Miami to N.C. State's Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, where they beat the Hurricanes 27-23.

National Register of Historic Places

The College View Historic District, Dickinson Avenue Historic District, E. B. Ficklen House, James L. Fleming House, Greenville Commercial Historic District, Greenville Tobacco Warehouse Historic District, Greenwreath, Robert Lee Humber House, Jones-Lee House, William H. Long House, Jesse R. Moye House, Oakmont, Pitt County Courthouse, Skinnerville-Greenville Heights Historic District, and U.S. Post Office are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Greenville is located at 35°36′6″N 77°22′21″W / 35.60167°N 77.37250°W / 35.60167; -77.37250 (35.601613, -77.372366).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 26.3 square miles (68 km2), of which, 25.6 square miles (66 km2) of it is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km2) of it (2.59%) is water. It is located in the Tidewater.

Like most of the state and all of its lower areas, Greenville has a humid subtropical climate.

Greenville is within the Middle Atlantic Coastal Forests ecoregion of the much larger Tropical and subtropical coniferous forest biome.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 1,893
1860 828 −56.3%
1870 601 −27.4%
1880 912 51.7%
1890 1,937 112.4%
1900 2,565 32.4%
1910 4,101 59.9%
1920 5,772 40.7%
1930 9,194 59.3%
1940 12,674 37.9%
1950 16,724 32.0%
1960 22,860 36.7%
1970 29,063 27.1%
1980 35,740 23.0%
1990 44,972 25.8%
2000 60,476 34.5%
2010 84,554 39.8%
2020 87,521 3.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
2018 Estimate

2020 census

Greenville racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 40,054 45.77%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 35,833 40.94%
Native American 256 0.29%
Asian 2,401 2.74%
Pacific Islander 50 0.06%
Other/Mixed 3,851 4.4%
Hispanic or Latino 5,076 5.8%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 87,521 people, 37,402 households, and 18,115 families residing in the city.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 174,263 residents in the Greenville MSA, 130,204 households, and 110,997 residents residing within five miles (8.0 km) of the city limit. The population density was 2,364.6 people per square mile (912.8/km2), making Greenville the densest city in Eastern North Carolina. There were 130,204 housing units at an average density of 1,100.4 per square mile (424.8/km2). The racial composition of the city was: 60.20% White, 32.14% African American, 5.06% Hispanic or Latino American, 1.82% Asian American, 0.80% Native American, 0.04% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, 1.01% some other race, and 1.29% two or more races.

There were 25,204 households, out of which 23.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 30.8% were married couples living together, 13.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 52.4% were non-families. 35.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the city, the age distribution of the population showed 18.8% under the age of 18, 28.7% from 18 to 24, 28.2% from 25 to 44, 15.5% from 45 to 64, and 8.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,648, and the median income for a family was $44,491. Males had a median income of $31,847 versus $26,324 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,476. About 15.6% of families and 26.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.1% of those under age 18 and 20.4% of those age 65 or over.


As with most of North Carolina, Greenville is predominately Protestant Christian, with large concentrations of Baptists, Episcopalians, Methodists, and various other evangelical groups. Presbyterians, and Disciples of Christ, also constitute a significant portion of the population.

The Roman Catholic community in Greenville has seen steady growth over the years with the migration of Hispanic workers to the area along with significant numbers of people from the Mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States who work for East Carolina University, the Vidant Health, and other employers. St. Peter's Catholic Church in Greenville supports a day school for grades K-8. Pope John Paul II Catholic High School supports grades 9 - 12.

Over the years, Greenville's Jewish community has seen continued growth. Congregation Bayt Shalom, a congregation affiliated with both Reform Judaism and Conservative Judaism, has around 80 member families and was previously led by the first African-American female rabbi in the United States, Alysa Stanton.

The growth and diverse nature of the city's population has also resulted in the addition of an Islamic Mosque and Hindu Temple within the last decade.


Joyner Library
J.Y. Joyner Library clock tower

Greenville is home to a wide range of cultural events on and off the East Carolina University campus. East Carolina University offers musical concerts, theatrical and dance productions, travel films, and lectures. The Greenville Museum of Art contains local art, as well as rotating exhibitions. Annually over 3,000 children participate in programs offered by the Museum and over 12,000 people visit the museum.

Theater is beginning to emerge in Greenville as well. Local groups such as the Greenville Theater Project and the Magnolia Arts Center offer outlets for both performers and audiences alike. Smiles and Frowns Playhouse produces children's theatre. Additionally, student groups such as SWASH Improv offer entertainment at the university and local establishments.

Aficcionados of sacred organ and choral music have a major outlet in the city of Greenville in the form of the East Carolina Musical Arts Education Foundation, a non-profit organization centered on the Perkins & Wells Memorial Organ, C.B. Fisk, Opus 126 housed at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. The Foundation offers numerous organ and choral concerts annually, plus educational initiatives. The impressive Fisk organ at St. Paul's Episcopal Church is also the primary teaching and performing instrument for East Carolina University, with which St. Paul's and ECMAEF make up a strategic alliance.

Along with Theater, Dance is becoming prominent in Greenville. The Greenville Civic Ballet and the North Carolina Academy of Dance Arts are the main contributors of dance to the community. The Greenville Civic Ballet, owned by Kimberly Gray Saad, holds performances showcasing different dance backgrounds and styles. They hold biannual performances including Cinderella, Peter and the Wolf, Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker Suites. Greenville Civic offers a diverse dance culture. The North Carolina Academy of Dance Arts is owned by Sherryl Tipton and collaborates with ECU's dance major program. NCADA does an annual Nutcracker performance in winter and in spring does a studio showcase. NCADA keeps a traditional dance culture in Greenville's community. Pared with the innovation of Greenville Civic's performances, the community is thriving with dance.

Many restaurants and nightclubs offer live entertainment on the weekends. In the old Five Points area (in the newly renovated parking lot at Evans and Fifth Streets) every Wednesday in warm months, an Umbrella Market features local growers and producers plus crafts people. This is also the venue for "Freeboot Friday" on Fridays in the fall when there is a Saturday ECU home football game. It is an "Alive-At-Five" style pep-rally with live music, ECU cheerleaders, exhibits, children's activities, food samplings, and a beer and wine garden. The Downtown area is known for its large annual Halloween street party and live music bars. Considering the size of the city, Greenville has a large number of bars and nightclubs located downtown, due in large part to the location of ECU's campus which is immediately adjacent to downtown.

Downtown Greenville has seen a huge resurgence since the recession. The area has been renamed to Uptown Greenville and has become the arts and entertainment hub of the area. Currently, Uptown Greenville houses over 20 restaurants and over 25 retail stores. It hosts several events throughout the year such as Sunday in the Park, The Umbrella Market, Freeboot Fridays and the Uptown Art Walk.


Several major U.S. and state highways serve the area to provide easy access to the interstate highway system. Major highways that run through the area include US 264 (Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway), NC 11 (Memorial Drive), US 13 (Dickinson Avenue), NC 33, NC 43 (5th Street, Charles Blvd), and NC 903. US 264 has been designated as Future Interstate 587, and will make Greenville directly served by an interstate, connecting Interstate 95, which is located 29 miles (47 km) to the west of the city. Greenville's busiest roads are along Memorial Dr., Greenville Blvd., Arlington Blvd., 10th St., Evans St., and Fire Tower Rd. With 2,364.6 people per square mile, Greenville is the most congested city in Eastern NC. NCDOT is expected to begin property acquisition for the southwest bypass in 2015. It will stem from the 264 intersection on Statonsburg Road, bypass Winterville, and terminate approximately 11 mi (18 km) later in Ayden. A new project called the 10th St Connector Project is also underway to connect existing 10th St to Stantonsburg Rd.

Greenville is also served by freight railroads. CSX Transportation moves the northern and southern parts of Greenville, Norfolk Southern Railway serves the eastern and western parts of Greenville. In 2012, Southeastern Tours, Inc started operating an AMTRAK shuttle bus service, which began taking passengers to and from Wilson, North Carolina, a stop on the AMTRAK Carolinian Route.

Air service is available through the Pitt-Greenville Airport with scheduled flights daily to Charlotte/Douglas International Airport via American Eagle regional partners Piedmont Airlines and PSA Airlines.

The City of Greenville operates a mass transit bus system called Greenville Area Transit or GREAT that serves the greater Greenville area. ECU also maintains a comprehensive bus system, providing 2.5 million rides annually. This service is free of charge for all students, staff, and faculty.

Greenville is in the process of building a more comprehensive system of greenways for bicycle and pedestrian transportation. The first section of the South Tar River Greenway opened in late 2009; the second section, linking a small and large dog run park with East Greenville was completed and dedicated in June 2011. The third section, uniting the Town Common (Downtown Greenville area) with the East Carolina University Schools of Allied Health, Dentistry, Medicine and Nursing, plus the Vidant hospital complex is now in the paid for and planning stage.


Biggest employers by headcount
# Employer Product Employment
1 Vidant Health Healthcare 6,760
2 East Carolina University Education 5,672
3 Pitt County Public Schools Education 3,699
4 Hyster-Yale Lift trucks 1,226
5 Thermo-Fisher Scientific Pharmaceuticals 1,261
6 City of Greenville Government 1,132
7 Pitt Community College Education 1,100
8 County of Pitt Government 1,000
9 DENSO (formerly ASMO) Small electric motors 722
10 Walmart Department store 673
11 Mayne Pharma Pharmaceuticals 629
12 Physicians East Healthcare 615
13 Greenville Utilities Commission Public utilities 460
14 DSM Dyneema, LLC Chemicals 425
15 Attends Healthcare Products Paper products 400
16 Grady-White Fiberglass boats 349

Companies with headquarters in Greenville include Vidant Health, NMHG Americas, Grady White, Metrics, and Attends Health Care Products. The city's industry historically was centered on the sale and processing of tobacco, but today the major industries are health care, education and manufacturing. The largest employer is Vidant (formerly Pitt Memorial Hospital) and the second largest is East Carolina University with specialized manufacturing and scientific industries augmenting the employment portfolio. Vidant Health is also home to the robotic heart surgery training center founded by Dr. Randolph Chitwood who holds several patents related to the daVinci surgical robot.


ECU's sports teams, nicknamed the Pirates, compete in NCAA Division I FBS as a full-member of the American Athletic Conference. Facilities include the 50,000 seat Dowdy–Ficklen Stadium for football, the 8,000-seat Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum for men's and women's basketball, and the Clark-LeClair Stadium, with a seating capacity of 3,000 (max capacity of 6,000+ when including outfield "Jungle" areas) for baseball. In 2010 a state of the art, Lady Pirates softball stadium with a seating capacity of 1,500 has been completed, neighboring a new ECU track and field facility and soccer stadium plus an Olympic sports coach's offices and team rooms facility are in varying stages of completion all along Charles Boulevard, the main entry way for all Pirate sports.

Olympic gold medalist Mark Lenzi coached the East Carolina University Pirate Men's and Women's diving teams until his death in 2012.

Little League Baseball at Elm Street Park
Stallings Stadium at Elm Street Park

Greenville has a strong tradition in Little League Baseball. Greenville Little Leagues was founded in 1951 and has two leagues; North State and Tar Heel. In 1998, a team from Greenville represented the South Region in the Little League World Series. They made it to the semi-finals, where they lost to eventual champion, Toms River, New Jersey. In 2017, Greenville again represented the Southeast region in the Little League World Series. In this run, the pitchers threw a combined perfect game, followed by a no-hitter, the first US team to throw back-to-back no hitters. They made it to the United States Championship Game, where they were eliminated by Lufkin, Texas.

Stallings Stadium at Elm Street Park is home to Little League baseball in Greenville. Along with Little League success, Greenville teams have also won multiple Babe Ruth Baseball titles. Since 2006, Greenville has sent Babe Ruth baseball teams to Southeast Regional competition each year in two different age groups, with two teams reaching the Babe Ruth World Series; the '06 15 yr. old team, and the '08 13 yr. old team. The 2006 team became the first Greenville Babe Ruth team to reach the World Series in 30 years, along with becoming the first Babe Ruth team to ever win a World Series game, defeating Clifton Park, New York 12–0. In 2012, the 13u Greenville All-Stars advanced to the Babe Ruth League World Series. The 2012 squad advanced to the championship game, falling to Bryant, Arkansas 4–3.

Greenville was home to minor league baseball. The Greenville Greenies was the primary moniker of the Greenville teams. Greenville played as members of the Eastern Carolina League (1928–1929) and Coastal Plain League (1934–1941, 1946–1951). The Greenville Greenies were an affiliate of the Washington Senators in 1939. The teams played at Guy Smith Stadium beginning in 1941. Previously, they played at Elm Street Park and Third Street Park.

Greenville is home to two major running groups, GoRun (Greenville Organization of Runners) and Greenville Running group. In addition a large bicycling group, EC Velo, tours the city and Pitt County weekly.

Sports Tourism is a huge economic driver for Greenville and Pitt County, with the effort being spearheaded by the Greenville-Pitt County Sports Commission (Play Greenville, NC Sports). The Sports Commission has helped secure such national events as NCAA Championships, and starting in 2021, Greenville is the home of the Little League Softball World Series


All Greenville schools fall under the Pitt County Schools (PCS) administration. PCS formed in 1985 when Pitt County Schools and Greenville City Schools merged. The 9-member Board of Education oversees all Greenville and Pitt County schools. In July 2013, Dr. Ethan Lenker was named Pitt County Schools Superintendent. There are currently 13 elementary schools, five middle schools, six traditional high schools, two early college high schools, and the Health Sciences Academy in Pitt County. There are also ten private schools.

Elementary schools

  • Ayden Elementary School (K–5)
  • Belvoir Elementary School (K–5)
  • Bethel School (K-8)
  • Chicod Elementary School (PreK–5)
  • Creekside Elementary School (K–5)
  • Eastern Elementary School (K–5)
  • Elmhurst Elementary School (K–5)
  • Falkland Elementary School (K–5)
  • G.R. Whitfield School (K–8)
  • Grifton School (K–8)
  • H.B Sugg Elementary School (Previous (k-12) now (pk-2))
  • Lakeforest Elementary School (K–5)
  • Northwest Elementary School (K–5)
  • Pactolus Elementary School (K–8)
  • Ridgewood Elementary School (K–5)
  • Sam D. Bundy Elementary School (3-5)
  • South Greenville Elementary School (K–5)
  • Stokes Elementary School (K–8)
  • Wahl-Coates Elementary School (K–5)
  • W.H. Robinson Elementary School (K–5)
  • Wintergreen Primary School (K–2)
  • Wintergreen Intermediate School (3–5)

Middle schools

  • A.G. Cox Middle School (6–8)
  • Ayden Middle School (6–8)
  • Chicod Middle School
  • C.M. Eppes Middle School (6–8)
  • E.B. Aycock Middle School (6–8)
  • Farmville Middle School (6–8)
  • Hope Middle School (6–8)
  • Wellcome Middle School (6–8)

Public High schools

  • Ayden-Grifton High School (9–12)
  • D. H. Conley High School (9–12)
  • Farmville Central High School (9–12)
  • Junius H. Rose High School (9–12)
  • North Pitt High School (9–12)
  • South Central High School (9–12)

Higher learning

Private schools

  • Brookhaven Christian School (K–8)
  • Calvary Christian Academy (K–12)
  • Christ Covenant School (K–12)
  • Community Christian Academy (K–6)
  • Faith Christian Academy (PK–5)
  • Greenville Christian Academy (PK–12)
  • Greenville Montessori School (PK–6)
  • Montessori Today Inc. (PK)
  • Pope John Paul II Catholic High School (9–12)
  • St. Peter's Catholic School (PK–8)
  • The Oakwood School (PK–12)
  • Trinity Christian School (K–12)
  • Victoria Christian Academy Christian Academy (K–12)

Notable people

  • Jamie Brewington – MLB pitcher
  • Fred Brooks – computer scientist
  • Andre Brown – former NFL running back with the New York Giants
  • Brian Brown – politician
  • Sandra Bullock – actor and producer (ECU graduate)
  • Derek Cox – NFL cornerback
  • Alge Crumpler – NFL tight end
  • Carlester Crumpler – NFL tight end
  • Bernard Edwards – Chic bass player and producer
  • William J. Hadden – church minister, city councilman
  • Garth Risk Hallberg – novelist
  • Josh Harrington – BMX rider
  • Wilbur Hardee – Founder of Hardee's
  • Whit Haydn – magician
  • Al Hunter – NFL player
  • Mike Laird – BMX rider
  • Erica Lindbeck – voice actress
  • Ma Haide (George Hatem) – physician to Mao
  • Rico Hines (Rico Hines) – college basketball player, Basketball Asst Coach
  • Will MacKenzie – PGA Tour golfer
  • Daniel Dhers – BMX rider
  • Dave Mirra – BMX rider
  • MrBeast (Jimmy Donaldson) – YouTuber and philanthropist
  • Greg Murphy – physician and politician
  • Lee Norris – film and television actor
  • Ryan Nyquist – BMX rider
  • Mary H. Odom – North Carolina state legislator and politician
  • Edward Cobb Outlaw – Rear admiral in the U.S. Navy
  • Petey Pablo – Rapper
  • Bronswell Patrick – MLB player for the Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants
  • Tommy Paul – professional tennis player
  • Lauren Perdue – 2012 U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist in Women's Swimming
  • Cornell Powell – NFL player
  • Rodney Purvis – NBA Player
  • Ricky Racks – Hip hop artist
  • Ashley Sheppard – NFL player
  • Jessamine Shumate – artist, painter, cartographer
  • Caroline Shaw – Pulitzer-prize-winning composer
  • Tom Smith – musician, inductee into Jazz Education Hall of Fame
  • Kentavius Street – NFL player
  • Supastition — Hip hop artist
  • Absalom Tatom – U.S. Congressman from North Carolina 1795 to 1796
  • Billy Taylor – jazz musician, founder of Jazzmobile, CBS television personality
  • Whitney Way Thore – Reality TV personality and dance instructor
  • Lawrence Tyson – World War I general and U.S. Senator
  • James Harvey Ward – actor
  • Katharine Whalen – musician, singer, and songwriter
  • Joe West – MLB umpire
  • Alex White – MLB pitcher
  • Jermaine Williams – NFL football player

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