Prior to the mid-1850s, Cary was an open agricultural community with little growth and very little trade. When the North Carolina Railroad built a line through Cary, however, the town began to see real growth as trade and activity increased. This growth spurt was quickly cut off, though, with the outbreak of the American Civil War.
After the war, the town began to look ahead to its future once again. It is estimated that when Cary was incorporated in 1871, the population was less than 150. Interest in Cary soon started to rise, however, and local businesses began to open their doors. Manufacturing was the largest sector until the 1920s, when retail businesses cropped up to serve the needs of travelers. During this time, Cary established its infrastructure. Schools and churches grew, the fire station was opened and water and sewer systems were built.
Since its early days, Cary's population has grown from a few thousand to more than 100,000. The town is now one of the state's largest communities. Cary's proximity to Research Triangle Park and Raleigh has contributed greatly to its popularity, as have its outstanding public services. The Emergency Medical Services and police and fire departments are nationally accredited. Local government is proactive about a variety of issues to preserve Cary's high quality of living, including the improvement of education, water conservation and land conservation.
Residents and visitors can celebrate the town's history at the Page-Walker Arts and History Center. Built in 1868 in the center of downtown, the building was originally a hotel. Now fully restored, the facility functions as an arts and history center, hosting classes, performances, meetings, exhibitions and other events.
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve and Fred G. Bond Metro Park, Cary's large, local park facilities. Hemlock Bluffs consists of about 150 acres of land, inclusive of two miles of trails. Canada Hemlock trees typically thrive in much colder regions and are unusual this far south. Scientists believe that the vegetation here is a remnant of many years ago, before a warming trend caused most of the local hemlock to die out. Cary's hemlock trees are protected by north-facing bluffs, which create a cool, moist environment.
Fred G. Bond Metro Park is 310 acres of recreational land located in the middle of the city. Facilities include athletic fields, picnic areas, walking trails, an amphitheater, playground equipment, and a community and senior center on site. There is also a lake, boathouse and a D.A.R.E ropes course for visitors to enjoy.
A high emphasis is placed on education in Cary. The Wake County Public School System is known for its high academic standards and fine schools. The majority of adult residents hold college degrees and parents enjoy Cary's proximity to several major universities. Duke, North Carolina State and the University of North Carolina are all within 30 minutes away.
High Standard of Living
Cary residents and officials pride themselves on the high standard of living they are able to maintain. This standard is expressed in the town's cleanliness and well-planned growth as it evolves into a large, respected community.