(Editor’s Note: Each weekday in March we will be featuring a city in North Carolina in our “Marching Through North Carolina” series aimed at getting to know your state better from the mountains to the coast. In our firm, we serve all of North Carolina and enjoy learning about what makes us the same and different throughout the Tar Heel state. If you have any tidbits or suggestions about a featured city, please leave a comment on that city or town’s blog post.)
County: Orange County
The origin of the name “Chapel Hill” is two fold. The “Hill” is pretty self explanatory as the center of town is indeed on a hill, but what is the Chapel? In 1752, a chapel known as The New Hope Chapel was constructed in what is now home the The Carolina Inn. The area at the time was known as “New Hope Chapel Hill.” This was later shortened to what we know the town as today.
In 1793, the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees chose the area around New Hope Chapel as the site for the first State university. Shortly after, construction on the University of North Carolina began and lots were sold to residents who would begin populating the town 1795. Chapel Hill would not become an incorporated town until 1850.
In recent years Chapel Hill has seen a substantial population growth. From 37,000 in 1990 to the over 50,000 who call the town home today. The University, which the town was built around, and its sports programs serve as a big pull for the city to this day. A visit to Chapel Hill isn’t complete with out a walk on the campus and down lively Frankin Street.
Other attractions include the Carolina Basketball Museum, which is a 8,000 square foot museum which contains artifacts of the UNC Basketball program and the Morehead Planetarium which served as a training facility for astronauts between 1959 and 1975.
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