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Sanford, North Carolina
The Lee County Courthouse in Sanford
The Lee County Courthouse in Sanford
Brick City
Location of Sanford, North Carolina
Location of Sanford, North Carolina
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Lee
 • Total 29.32 sq mi (75.93 km2)
 • Land 29.06 sq mi (75.27 km2)
 • Water 0.26 sq mi (0.67 km2)
365 ft (108 m)
 • Total 30,261
 • Density 1,041.33/sq mi (402.03/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
Area code(s) 919
FIPS code 37-59280
GNIS feature ID 1022497

Sanford is a city in Lee County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 30,261 at the 2020 census. It is the county seat of Lee County.


Sanford is located at 35°28′33″N 79°10′32″W / 35.475881°N 79.175463°W / 35.475881; -79.175463 (35.475881, -79.175463).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.1 square miles (62 km2).24.1 square miles (62.3 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (0.33%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 236
1890 367 55.5%
1900 1,044 184.5%
1910 2,282 118.6%
1920 2,977 30.5%
1930 4,253 42.9%
1940 4,960 16.6%
1950 10,013 101.9%
1960 12,253 22.4%
1970 11,716 −4.4%
1980 14,773 26.1%
1990 14,475 −2.0%
2000 23,220 60.4%
2010 28,094 21.0%
2020 30,261 7.7%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Sanford racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 12,785 42.25%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 7,138 23.59%
Native American 96 0.32%
Asian 448 1.48%
Pacific Islander 26 0.09%
Other/Mixed 1,220 4.03%
Hispanic or Latino 8,548 28.25%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 30,261 people, 10,418 households, and 6,723 families residing in the city.


As of the census of 2009, there were 29,922 people, which was a 28.9% increase from 2000. The population density was 1243 people per square mile (372.5/km2). There were 9,223 housing units at an average density of 383.2 per square mile (147.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 55.87% White, 29.19% African American, 0.50% Native American, 1.06% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 11.93% from other races, and 1.41% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 19.03% of the population.

There were 8,550 households, out of which 34.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.0% were married couples living together, 17.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.0% were non-families. 26.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 people and the average family size was 3.15 people.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 27.1% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,804, and the median income for a family was $39,447. Males had a median income of $30,527 versus $23,393 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,038. About 14.8% of families and 17.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.4% of those under age 18 and 13.0% of those age 65 or over.


Sanford was named for C.O. Sanford, a railroad civil engineer instrumental in the building of the rail lines through the area that formed the foundation of what became the city of Sanford.

Sanford is located in Lee County, North Carolina, which was formed from parts of the surrounding three counties in 1907. On creation of the new county, both Sanford and Jonesboro were the major towns in the area. Rather than decide which would be the county seat, the decision was to place the county's new courthouse directly between the two towns. For decades, Lee County was the only county in the United States to have a courthouse with an RFD address. In the late 20th century Sanford had grown to such an extent that it eventually merged with Jonesboro. The town of Jonesboro became Jonesboro Heights, and the name of Sanford was kept for the town.

The general Sanford area played key roles in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, specifically regarding sites like the House in the Horseshoe and Endor Iron Furnace. Over the following decades, the Sanford area became an important source of coal, brownstone, and brick. In particular brownstone and subsequent brick production made Sanford a key provider of these building materials for areas throughout the United States.

For seven seasons, 1941-'42 and 1946-'50, Sanford fielded a professional minor league baseball team. In 1941-'42, the Sanford Spinners played in the Class D Bi-State League. After the war, a new Spinners team was a member of the Class D Tobacco State League from 1946-'50. Home games were played at Temple Park. Led by manager Zeb Harrington, the Spinners won the regular season pennant three times.

On April 16, 2011 a very large tornado ripped through Sanford demolishing a lowes hardware store, warehouse and destroying multiple homes and buildings before moving into wake county.

On October 21, 2014, Sanford established a formal sister city relationship with Yixing, China under the representation of Sanford Mayor Chet Mann.

The Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Cemeteries, Downtown Sanford Historic District, East Sanford Historic District, Euphronia Presbyterian Church, Farish-Lambeth House, Hawkins Avenue Historic District, Lee Avenue Historic District, Lee County Courthouse, Lee County Training School, John D. McIver Farm, Railroad House, Rosemount-McIver Park Historic District, Sanford High School, Former, Seaboard Milling Company, and Temple Theatre are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.




Raleigh Executive Jetport (ICAO: KTTA, FAA LID: TTA), formerly known as Sanford-Lee County Airport, is located 8 miles (13 km) northeast of Sanford via U.S. 1. The airport opened in 2000, replacing the Sanford Lee County Brick Field, and provides both recreational and corporate services.

Designated routes and highways

Main Street, Sanford (Jonesboro)
Main Street (N.C. Route 78) passing through Jonesboro Heights
  • United States Highways:
    • U.S. 1, known also in parts as Jefferson Davis Hwy and Hawkins Avenue (U.S. Bus 1)
    • U.S. Route 15
    • U.S. Route 421, known as Horner Boulevard
    • U.S. Route 501
  • North Carolina Highways:
    • N.C. Route 42
    • N.C. Route 78
    • N.C. Route 87

Commercial rail service

  • CSX Transportation
  • Norfolk Southern Railway
  • Atlantic and Western Railway short line.
  • Atlantic and Yadkin Railway

Public transit

The County of Lee Transit System (COLTS) is a coordinated transit system that provides transportation services in Sanford and Lee County.

Bicycle and pedestrian

  • The Maine-to-Florida U.S. Bicycle Route 1 passes through downtown Sanford and Lee County.
  • A half-mile greenway trail is located in the Kiwanis Family Park with additional mileage under development.



  • Railroad House Museum

Performing arts

  • Temple Theatre
  • Lee County Community Orchestra
  • Heart of Carolina Jazz Society


Sanford is geologically located above the meeting of white beach sand and Piedmont clay, enabling the city to be a producer of clay bricks. In 1959, Sanford produced 10 percent of the bricks in the United States and was named "Brick Capital of the USA". Brick production continues by manufacturers such as General Shale and Lee Brick and Tile.

Sanford produces textiles, and a Wyeth vaccine facility became the area's largest employer in 2006.


The Lee County campus of Central Carolina Community College CCCC is located in Sanford. CCCC awards degrees, diplomas and certifications in a variety of programs.

Three high schools are located in Sanford: Lee County High School, Lee Early College on CCCC's campus, and Southern Lee High School. Southern Lee High School and Lee Early College both opened during the 2005–2006 school year.

There are three middle schools: West Lee Middle School, East Lee Middle School and SanLee Middle School. SanLee Middle School opened in the 2008–2009 school year. An alternative school, Bragg Street Academy, serves students in grades 6 through 12.

The Lee county school system has seven traditional elementary schools: B.T. Bullock Elementary, Broadway Elementary, Deep River Elementary, Greenwood Elementary, J. Glenn Edwards Elementary, J.R. Ingram, Jr, and W.B. Wicker. Elementary. Lee County is also the location of an optional year round elementary school: Tramway Elementary.

Montessori school, and Griffin Academy, are private elementary schools. There are two private Christian schools, serving preschool through 12th grade: Grace Christian and Lee Christian as well as a charter school, Provisions Academy.

Notable people

  • Hardy Boyz, WWE wrestlers (older brother Matt was born in a Sanford hospital, and both lived there for a few months)
  • Bill Briggs, NFL defensive end
  • Britton Buchanan, runner-up on the fourteenth season of The Voice
  • Floyd Council, blues musician
  • Lita (Amy Dumas), former WWE Diva; now resides in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Bill Harrington, MLB pitcher
  • J. D. McDuffie, NASCAR driver
  • Wayne Judd, Celebrity Chef, star of CookItUp! With Chef Wayne television, former principal trumpet Lee County Community Orchestra, former youth pastor Abundant Life Christian Center
  • Jack Pittman, illustrator and cartoonist
  • ACHES (Patrick Price), professional eSports player, best known for playing Call of Duty
  • Robert T. Reives II, member of the North Carolina House of Representatives
  • Akeem Richmond, professional basketball player
  • Herb Thomas, NASCAR driver
  • Dennis Wicker, former lieutenant governor; partner at Nelson Mullins Law Firm; board member of Coca-Cola Consolidated and First Bank

Images for kids

See also

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

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