Living in Cary

Cary is a large town in Wake County, adjacent to Raleigh. It’s a town of classy living, with elegant homes, family-friendly neighborhoods, and safe, quiet cul-de-sacs, with just the right amount of classic Southern charm.

Money Magazine in 2006 named Cary the #5 best place to live in the entire country. It’s easy to see why: the highest median income in North Carolina; the highest percentage of Ph.D.’s in the United States for towns greater than 75,000; a quick commute to work in one of the 6,000 businesses right in town, or to nearby Raleigh, Durham, or Research Triangle Park. Why stop there? You can access the entire globe with RDU International Airport being literally just a few minutes drive on I-40. It’s no surprise that Cary is referred to as “The Technology Town of North Carolina,” being the home of pioneering, high-tech businesses like SAS Institute, the world’s largest privately held software company – IBM, Lucent Technologies, MCI WorldCom, and Siemens.

Only 30 years ago, Cary was a small, unassuming Southern town with a population of 21,000. The growth of the Research Triangle Park, accompanied by the influx of newcomers exploded the population today to 126,826. And the population expansion is not ordinary growth. Two thirds of the adult citizenry hold college degrees, and overall, Cary has one of the highest household income levels in North Carolina.

Cary began in 1750 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 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. 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 (now CSX Transportation) arrived in Cary from the southwest, creating Fetner Junction just north of downtown and spurring further growth.

Beginning in 1971, Cary adopted zoning and other ordinances on an ad-hoc basis to control growth and give the town structure. 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 Planned Unit Development in Cary, was North Carolina’s first PUD. Local Cary government has placed a high value on creating an aesthetically pleasing town.


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