Durham (/ˈdʌrəm/) is a city in and the county seat of Durham County in the U.S. state of North Carolina. Small portions of the Durham city limits extend into Orange County and Wake County. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city’s population to be 251,893 as of July 1, 2014, making it the 4th-most populous city in North Carolina, and the 79th-most populous city in the United States. The city is located in the east-central part of the Piedmont region along the Eno River. Durham is the core of the four-county Durham-Chapel Hill Metropolitan Area, which has a population of 542,710 as of U.S. Census 2014 Population Estimates. The US Office of Management and Budget also includes Durham as a part of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Combined Statistical Area, commonly known as the Research Triangle, which has a population of 2,037,430 as of U.S. Census 2014 Population Estimates.
A railway depot was established on land donated by Bartlett S. Durham in 1849, the namesake of the city. Following the American Civil War, the community of Durham Station expanded rapidly, in part due to the tobacco industry. The town was incorporated by act of the North Carolina General Assembly, on April 1869. The establishment of Durham County was ratified by the General Assembly 12 years later, in 1881. It became known as the founding place and headquarters of the American Tobacco Company. Textile and electric power industries also played an important role. While these industries have declined, Durham underwent revitalization and population growth to become an educational, medical, and research centre.
Durham is home to several recognized institutions of higher education, most notably Duke University and North Carolina Central University. Durham is also a national leader in health-related activities, which are focused on the Duke University Hospital and many private companies. Duke and its Duke University Health System, in fact, are the largest employers in the city. North Carolina Central University is a historically black university that is part of the University of North Carolina system. Together, the two universities make Durham one of the vertices of the Research Triangle area; central to this is the Research Triangle Park south of Durham, which encompasses an area of 11 square miles and is devoted to research facilities.