Cary, North Carolina
|Coordinates: Coordinates: |
|Incorporated||April 3, 1871|
|Named for||Samuel Fenton Cary|
|• Mayor||Harold Weinbrecht (Ind.)|
|• Total||59.94 sq mi (155.25 km2)|
|• Land||58.86 sq mi (152.44 km2)|
|• Water||1.08 sq mi (2.80 km2) 1.83%|
|Elevation||495 ft (151 m)|
|• Rank||150th in the United States|
7th in North Carolina
|• Density||2,900/sq mi (1,100/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
27511-27513, 27518, 27519
|Area code||919, 984|
Cary is a town in Wake County and Chatham County, North Carolina. Cary is part of the Raleigh-Cary, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2020 Census, the population of Cary was 174,721, making it Wake County's second-largest municipality, the seventh-largest in North Carolina, and the 150th largest in the United States.
Cary began as a railroad town, and became known as an educational center in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; Cary High School was the first state-funded public high school in North Carolina. The creation of the nearby Research Triangle Park in 1959, resulted in Cary's population doubling every decade from 1950 to 2000. Cary is now the location of technology and manufacturing companies, including the largest privately held software company in the world.
In Cary, 68.4% of adults hold a bachelor's degree or higher, which is higher than the state average. In 2021, Cary was identified as the safest mid-sized city in the United States, based on 2019 FBI data. Cary also has a median household income of $107,463, higher than the county average of $83,567 or the state average of $56,642 
Main article: History of Cary, North Carolina
Prior to the arrival of European settlers, the Tuscarora people lived in what is now called Cary. In the 1750s, John Bradford moved to the area and opened an ordinary or inn, giving Cary its first name—Bradford's Ordinary. However, most of the land remained in the hands of two men, both named Nathaniel Jones. Arriving around 1775, Jones of White Plains plantation owned 10,461 acres in eastern Cary, while Jones of Crabtree owned most of what is now western Cary. After the Revolutionary War, the community was conveniently on the road between the new capital in Raleigh and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. In the early 19th–century, Eli Yates added a gristmill and sawmill to the community, while Rufus Jones founded the first free school in the 1840s, along with Asbury Methodist, the community's first church.
In 1854, Bradford's Ordinary was linked to a major transportation route when the North Carolina Railroad came through the settlement, followed by the Chatham Railroad in 1868. The railroad tracks were laid mostly by enslaved people. Wake County farmer and lumberman Allison Francis "Frank" Page also arrived in 1854 and is credited with founding the town. For $2,000, Page purchased 300 acres (1.2 km2) surrounding the planned railroad junction and built his home Pages, a sawmill, and general store. Page also donated ten acres for a railroad depot.
The community was unofficially known as Page, Page's Siding, Page's Station, Page's Tavern, and Page's Turnout. In 1856, Page added a post office and became the town's first post master. Page named the community Cary because of his admiration for Samuel Fenton Cary, head of the Sons of Temperance in North America, who had recently delivered an oration in Raleigh two months prior.
The Civil War did not come to Cary until April 16, 1865—the same day Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered—when 5,000 Confederate troops under General Wade Hampton III encamped there. The next day, Raleigh surrendered to Union General William T. Sherman, and Major General Francis Preston Blair, Jr. led the XVII Corps (Union Army) into Cary and established headquarters at the Nancy Jones House, a tavern and stagecoach stop on the road between Raleigh and Chapel Hill. With Blair's arrival, Cary's enslaved population was emancipated; some went to Raleigh and joined the 135th U.S. Colored Troops. Blair remained until the surrender of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston on April 27, and apparently left Cary in relatively good condition.
Cary's population grew after the war with the completion of the Chatham Railroad junction. Around 1868, the town's first depot was built for the Chatham Railroad, and Page laid out streets, including Academy and Chatham Streets, and one acre residential lots. At the time, most of Cary's men worked for the railroads, but other businesses included a furniture factory, two shingle factories, a tannery, a shoe factory, a brick factory, and a window sash and blind factory. Page also built a Second Empire style hotel for railroad passengers, known today as the Page-Walker Hotel.
Page, Adolphus Jones, and Rufus Jones established Cary Academy, a private boarding school later known as the Female Institute and Cary Female Academy. The two-story school was built in 1870 on Page's land at the end of Academy Street with lumber milled on-site by Page. Other additions to the town included Page's tobacco warehouse, First Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, and the Cary Colored Christian Church on land donated by Page, along with two free schools for whites and two free schools for blacks.
Cary was incorporated on April 3, 1871, with Page serving as the first mayor. Its boundaries were established as one square mile, with the center being the Chatham Railroad warehouse. Because of Page's support of temperance, Cary's Act of Incorporation prohibited the sale of whiskey in the one square mile town and its surrounding two miles; an 1889 addition also banned "any vinous, spirituous or malt liquors, cider or peach brandies." Page left Cary in 1880, following lumber opportunities in Moore County. However, Cary's prohibition was in place until 1964, when it was superseded by state and county laws.
The Raleigh and Augusta Air-Line Railroad (later the Seaboard, now CSX Transportation) arrived in Cary in 1879, creating Fetner Junction just north of downtown and spurring further growth. Sixteen Cary residents purchased the academy in 1896 and converted it into the private boarding school, Cary High School, which had 248 students from across the state by 1900. When the N.C. legislature passed a law establishing a system of public high schools in 1907, Cary High School was transferred to the State for $2,750, giving Cary its claim of having the first public high school in North Carolina. Town bonds and the State funded a new brick school building in 1913; it was expanded in 1939 with WPA assistance. Today that structure survives as the Cary Arts Center.
In the 1920s, the paved Western Wake Highway (now Western Blvd.) connected Cary to Raleigh via automobile, followed by paved roads to Durham and Apex. This enabled Cary's residents to commute for work, and the town's population grew by 64% during the decade. Electricity came to Cary in 1921. For the first time, Cary had housing developments, along with a volunteer fire department and a municipal water and sewage system. During the Great Depression, the Bank of Cary failed and the town went bankrupt. Conditions were so challenging that Cary had four mayors in two years.
In the 1930s, a new North Carolina State University research farm supported Cary's farmers. One Cary garden club began growing gourds and showed their produce and related crafts at the N.C. State Fair. After the club's first annual Gourd Festival in 1944, they sent exhibits to the International Gourd Society Festival in Pasadena, CA and took many prizes This earned Cary the nickname "Gourd Capital of the World," a designation that was reflected in the official town seal. Once dubbed "Cary's longest running annual celebration," the now named North Carolina Gourd Festival moved to the N.C. State Fair grounds in 2000. The town seal lost its references to gourds in the 1970s.
After WWII, Cary began to attract industry, including the Taylor Biscuit Company (now Austin Foods/Kellogg's) which became the town's largest employer with some 200 employees. Cary expanded its original one square mile boundary in 1949. The town gained its first supermarket, Piggy Wiggly, in 1950, followed by the Cary Public Library in 1960, and a town-funded fire department in 1961. The population and number of development in Cary continued to increase in the 1960s and 1970s after the opening of the nearby Research Triangle Park (RTP) in 1959. This rapid growth was planned; the state built a four-lane road between Cary and the Research Triangle Park (RTP) as part of the agreement to attract RTP to North Carolina; apparently, "the sleepy town of Cary...was the ideal place for an emerging class of scientific and technical workers."
Initially, Cary adopted zoning and other ordinances on an ad-hoc basis to control growth and give the town structure, including its first subdivision regulations in 1961 and a zoning and land-use plan in 1963. In 1971, the town created Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning which allows a developer to plan an entire community before beginning construction, allowing future residents to know where churches, schools, commercial and industrial areas will be located in advance. Developed on the Pine State Creamery's former Kildaire Farm, the 967-acre (3.9 km2) Kildaire Farms development in Cary was North Carolina's first PUD.
In 1960, the population was only 3,356, but has grown to 94,536 in 2000. Concerned about 40 years of steady growth, in 2008 the Town Council commissioned the Cary Historic Preservation Master Plan to establish a coordinated approach to historic preservation. Cary now how three districts recognized by the National Register of Historic Places: the Carpenter Historic District, the Green Level Historic District, and the Cary Historic District.
Located in the Piedmont region of the eastern United States, most of Cary is in western Wake County, with neighborhood-sized sections in the northeast corner of Chatham County. According to the 2020 U.S. Census, Cary has a total area of 58.7 square miles. Cary is bordered on the north and east by Raleigh, generally toward the north by Research Triangle Park and Morrisville, on the south by Apex and Holly Springs, and on the west by the Jordan Lake area.
Cary is seated on the boundary between the Durham Basin with its softer sedimentary rocks and the Piedmont with its harder metamorphic rocks. Both geologic provinces have igneous rock intrusions. The landscape is typically gentle to moderate sloping hills separated by narrow v-shaped valleys. However, there are areas with steeper slopes and broader, u-shaped valleys in west Cary, roughly along NC 55 near the Research Triangle Park and north of Green Hope School Road. Cary's average elevation is 495 feet (151 meters).
The Cary drainage basin includes three main creeks—the Crabtree, the Swift and the Walnut—which are all tributaries of the Neuse River. Most streams in the area have narrow floodplains. However, larger creeks do have broader floodplains, including the Crabtree, Middle, Swift, and White Oak Creeks. Riverine wetlands are common within the floodplains throughout the area. Several small lakes dot the area, most notably Lake Crabtree which was created for flood control of Crabtree Creek. Lake Jordan, a large reservoir, flood control, and recreational facility, abuts part of western Cary.
Suburbanization is the typical land use in Cary, but there are still areas devoted to agriculture and forests. The primary agricultural areas are west of NC 55 in Green Level, Upper Middle Creek and the Carpenter community. Local forests include a mixture of conifers and broadleaf trees, and can be found in parks, undeveloped land, and strips between developed lots. Mature trees are more common in Cary's older subdivisions such as Farmington Woods, Greenwood Forest, and Kildaire Farms because tree preservation was a key design element. However, newer construction in Cary, both residential and commercial, shows "less regard" for trees.
Cary has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) under the Köppen climate classification system. It receives hot summers and mildly cold winters, with several months of pleasant weather each year. Temperature extremes here range from the negatives to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Tropical cyclones can affect Cary, usually after weakening substantially from being over land. Some, such as Hurricane Fran in 1996, have caused great damage in the area. Snow falls every year, averaging approximately six inches annually.
|Climate data for Cary, North Carolina (1991–2020 normals, extremes 2000–present)|
|Record high °F (°C)||80
|Average high °F (°C)||50.2
|Daily mean °F (°C)||40.7
|Average low °F (°C)||31.2
|Record low °F (°C)||6
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.54
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the 2020 United States Census, there were 174,721 residents of Cary, residing in 62,789 households. The population density of Cary is 3,014 people per square mile, versus 1078.8 for Wake County and 196.1 for North Carolina.
The Census reports that 68.4% of adults in Cary age 25 years or older have a bachelor's degree or higher. In addition, 97.9% of Cary's households have a computer, and 95.2% have broadband.
|Black or African American (non-Hispanic)||13,506||7.73%|
|Hispanic or Latino||14,376||8.23%|
During the 1970s and 1980s, the high number of non-native-born North Carolinians moving to the town for employment in the Research Triangle Park, led native-born North Carolinians to refer to Cary derisively as "Containment Area for Relocated Yankees." As of the 2020 Census, 28.97% of Cary's population was born in North Carolina, 77.87% were born in the United States, and 22.13% were foreign born.
According to the 2020 Census, the median income in Cary is $106,304 or $57,341 per capita. The percentage of Cary's residents living in poverty is 4.4%, and just 6.3% of its population under the age of 65 lacked health insurance. Between 2015 and 2019, the median value of owner-occupied houses in Cary was $356,400. The home ownership rate (owner-occupied housing units to total units) is 68.4%. However, there are growing concerns about Cary's lack of affordable housing. Over the past twenty years, Cary has added 10,000 jobs earning $35,000 or less; however, the cost of housing has increased significantly. The Town of Cary says that less than 20% of its own employees can afford to live in the town. The median rental costs in Cary is $1,246 per month.
The cost of living in Cary is rated at 115, with 100 being the national average.
Notable technology companies located in Cary include ABB, Epic Games, Garmin, HCL Technologies, IntelliScanner Corporation, Lockheed Martin 3D Solutions, SAS Institute, and Xerox.
Manufacturers located in Cary include Austin Foods/Kellogg's which makes snack foods, and Lord Corporation which makes adhesives, coatings, and motion management devices for aerospace and automobiles. Cotton Incorporated is a non-profit located in Cary which conducts worldwide research and promotes the use of cotton.
According to the Cary's 2021 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the town are:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|6||Town of Cary||1,152|
|8||Global Knowledge Training||1,000|
|9||American Airlines Reservation Center||964|
|10||Austin Quality Foods/Kellogg's||900|
Cary's public art collection includes more than forty works displayed in public spaces throughout the town. Many of the town's facilities include art gallery spaces with changing exhibits, including the Bond Park Community Center, the Cary Arts Center, the Cary Senior Center, the Herbert C. Young Community Center, and the Page Walker Arts & History Center.
The Cary History Museum is located in the Page-Walker Arts and History Center and features a time line exhibit of local history. The Stevens Nature Center is located at the Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve and has interactive nature and history exhibits. The BIG Pictures Museum Without Walls is the town's traveling outdoor exhibit.
Town owned performance venues include the Cary Arts Center, Koka Booth Amphitheatre, and Sertoma Amphitheatre at Bond Park  The town also operates a multi-use cultural facility with a focus on digital arts in a renovated movie theater called The Cary.
The Cary community supports a wide variety of public events throughout the year. An annual tradition since 1959, Cary Band Day brings bands from across the southeast to compete in one of the oldest and best-known regional competitions. Cary supports artists with two festivals: Spring Daze Arts & Crafts Festival and Lazy Daze Arts & Crafts Festival. For the latter, the town closes the main downtown roads for two days, a tradition since 1976.
Numerous multi-cultural events showcase the diversity of Cary. The annual Diwali Celebration, the Indian Festival of Light, features an exhibition of Indian art and culture with music, dance, a handicrafts, and food. Presented by Asian Focus and the town, the Greater Triangle Area Dragon Boat Festival includes displays, food, performances, and dragon boat races between club and community teams. Founded in 2004, the Ritmo Latino Festival showcases music, art, dance and food from the Hispanic world. One of the newest annual events in Cary, the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival is quickly becoming a town favorite with its illuminating nighttime celebration of the Chinese New Year with more than 2,500 handcrafted silk lanterns.
The oldest structures in Cary, the c. 1803 Nancy Jones House and the c. 1820 Utley-Council House, are both examples of a regional Federal architecture. The c. 1868 Page-Walker Hotel was built in Empire style; the former hotel is now open to the public as a museum.
The Cary Historic District is located two-blocks south of downtown and includes a variety of 19th and 20th–century structures of note. Architectural styles that were popular in the 19th century are represented by the Gothic revival Ivey-Ellington House built around 1870, the simple Victorian style of the Marcus Baxter Dry House built around 1900, and the Queen Anne style of the Sam–Jones cottage built around 1890 and the Captain Harrison P. Guess House (aka the Guess–White–Ogle House) built in 1830 and 1900. Other structures in the Cary Historic District represent early 20th-style architecture such as the circa 1940 Henry Adams House in Tudor Revival style, the circa 1935 Dr. Frank W. House in Colonial Revival style, and the circa 1925 Dr. John Pullen Hunter House in brick bungalow style. The district also includes the former Cary High School which is a substantial Neo Classical structure that was designed and built in 1939 by the Works Progress Administration, and the related Pasmore House, dating from around 1900, which was a boarding house for the former high school. The former school is open to the public as the Cary Arts Center.
Located in western Cary, the 210 acre Carpenter Historic District is a former rural crossroads that features late Victorian and Colonial Revival buildings, dating from 1895 to 1933. The primary structure in the district is the c. 1895/1916 brick Carpenter Farm Supply Company which has been described as "the most substantial early twentieth-century store building in rural Wake County." Other contributing buildings to the historic district include houses, an assemblage of farming structures, and other commercial structures. The most prominent house is the William Henry Carpenter Boarding House which features a simple Victorian porch and gable ornamentation and was used as a residence railroad workers.
Cary's Green Level Historic District is located in western Cary, just east of the Chatham County line in the White Oak township. Its 75 acres includes a late 19th to early 20th–century crossroads centered around the intersection of Green Level Church Road and Green Level West Road and a railroad spur. The majority of historic structures in the district are along Green Level Church Road, including community buildings, farms, houses, and stores. The 1907 Green Level Baptist Church is one of the best examples of rural church architecture in Wake County. This Gothic Revival church was the "visual and social focal point of the community." The A.M. and Vallaria Council Farm is a good example of a late 19th–century tobacco farm, with its related tobacco barns and other secondary buildings dating to the 1900s through the 1930s. The circa 1916 Alious H. and Daisey Mills farmhouse is the largest building in the historic district and features hip roof and slender Doric columns on its porch. it is located across the road and east of the church, on property that includes other historic houses, including a store and farm buildings ranging from a potato shed to a wellhouse. The two-story Alious Mills Store was built around 1916 and expanded in the 1930s. The one-story Vick and Mattie Council House was built in the 19th century and features Victorian detailing such as patterned shingles and decorative vents. The one-story Kenneth and Reba Mills House is an example of 1930s Tudor Revival.
SAS Institute has led the way in bringing modern high-rise architecture to Cary, but has placed its some 25 buildings in a 900-acre parklike setting away from the historic core of town. SAS's Building A is a ten stories tall with 990 offices and a several two-story atria. One writer notes, "The design of its headquarters reflects both its status as a tech giant and its original academic routes." For example, that are eight solar installations that power part of the SAS campus. Building Q is a six-story 22,000 square foot LEED Gold certified office building that is not only sustainable with features such as a green roof, but is also "light-filled, comfortable, and functional." Building Q also has artwork on every floor; the SAS art collection includes some 4,600 works.
Cary is also home to the Sri Venkateswara Temple which has an 87-foot-tall Rajagopuram, or monumental entrance tower, making it the tallest structure of its kind in the United States. This Hindu temple is modeled after the famous Sri Venkateswara Temple in Tirupathi in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. Bhaskar Venepalli, a trustee of the temple, says, "This is an iconic structure, not only for Cary, but for the whole United States."
Cary is home to two professional sports teams: North Carolina FC (USL League One) and North Carolina Courage (National Women's Soccer League). USL League One is the third tier of the American Soccer Pyramid. Both teams play their home games at WakeMed Soccer Park, also known as Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
|North Carolina FC||Soccer||2006||USL League One||WakeMed Soccer Park|
|North Carolina Courage||Soccer||2009||NWSL||WakeMed Soccer Park|
WakeMed Soccer Park has been the host site for NCAA Men's Division 1 Soccer championships.
As of 2007, Cary is also home of the USA Baseball National Training Complex, located within the 221-acre town's Thomas Brooks Park Beginning in 2009, the complex was selected to host the NCAA Division II College World Series.
Cary has more than thirty public parks and natural areas. Notable parks include the Fred G. Bond Metro Park, Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve, and William B. Umstead State Park
The 24 acre Cary Tennis Park is one of the largest public tennis facilities in the southeast United States, and features 32 courts, including a championship stadium. In 2019, the facility was one of 25 locations in the United States recognized for "excellence in the construction" by the United States Tennis Association.
Cary is still classified a town because that is how it was incorporated with the state. Cary has a council-manager government; the mayor and council members serve a four-year term, with half of the council seats being up for election each odd-numbered year. Four of the six council seats are elected by single-member districts; the remaining two seats are elected as at-large representatives, meaning they must attract a majority of votes across the whole town.
The current (as of June 2021[update]) town council consists of Mayor Harold Weinbrecht and Representatives Jennifer Robinson (District A), Don Frantz (District B), Jack W. Smith (District C), Ya Liu (District D), Lori Bush (at-large), and Ed Yerha (at-large). On October 9, 2007, Harold Weinbrecht defeated incumbent Mayor Ernie McAlister in the 2007 mayoral election. Citizen concerns that rapid growth was adversely affecting infrastructure and environment over the effect rapid growth was having on the town, especially on roads, schools, and the environment, led to McAlister's ouster.
On December 26, 2009, The Nation reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had secret prisons in the United States, where it held suspected illegal immigrants indefinitely before deportation. It reported that at least one of these secret federal prisons is allegedly located in an office building in Cary. Part of the federal government's Department of Homeland Security, ICE has leased an office in Cary for more than ten years. The town says that no detainees are kept at this location overnight. Other than protesters of punitive ICE policies picketing the facility, the town does not acknowledge any issues associated with the Cary ICE office.
Notable mayors include Fred Bond Jr. (1971–1983), Glen Lang (1999–2003), and Harold Weinbrecht (2007–present).
Headquartered in Cary, the Wake County Public School System is the largest public school system in North Carolina. Cary has five public high schools: Cary High School, Green Hope High School, Green Level High School, Middle Creek High School, and Panther Creek High School. Cary has seven middle schools and nineteen elementary schools that are part of the Wake County system.
Cary has three charter schools: the K–8 grade Cardinal Charter Academy, the K–7 grade Peak Charter Academy, and the K–11 grade Triangle Math and Science Academy.
Wake Technical Community College's Western Wake Campus is located on Kildaire Farm Road in Cary.
Public transit within the town is provided by GoCary, with six fixed-routes. There is a door-to-door service for the senior citizens (60+) and riders with disabilities. GoTriangle operates fixed-route buses that serve the Wake County and connect to Go transit systems in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. All GoCary buses are fare-free through June 2022 as part the CARES Act.
Amtrak's Silver Star, Carolinian, and Piedmont passenger trains stop at the Cary Station, providing service to Charlotte, New York City, Miami, and intermediate points. Built in 1995 and expanded in 2011, the station includes 130 free parking spaces.
In 2010, the League of American Bicyclists designated Cary as one of the fourteen recipients of the first Bicycle-Friendly Community awards for "providing safe accommodation and facilities for bicyclists and encouraging residents to bike for transportation and recreation." Cary maintains over 200 miles of bike-friendly road and greenways facilities. In addition, U.S. Bicycle Route 1 (Carolina Connector) and N.C. Bicycle Route #2, (Mountains to Sea), both pass through suburban Cary.
Cary maintains a network of 80 mi (130 km) of greenways, sidewalks, and trails that connect neighborhoods and parks throughout the town. There are requirements on environmental conditions of greenways to preserve a park-like atmosphere. Standard sidewalks and paths exist throughout the town. The 23 mi (37 km) American Tobacco Trail, built on a retired section of railroad, passes through parts of Cary.
The Raleigh-Durham International Airport is north of Cary, and covers more than 35 nonstop destinations with twelve carriers. RDU served nearly 8.8 million passengers in 2021. This is down from pre-COVID 14.2 million passengers a year in 2019.
Main article: North Carolina Highway System
Cary is linked to areas both in and out of N.C. via the east–west running Interstate 40, the north–south running U.S. 1, and the east–west running U.S. 64. State highways in Cary include NC 54, NC 55. NC 147. NC 540, and NC 751. A primary road within the town is Cary Parkway.
Cary has many choices for primary care physicians, from alternative medicine to practices that are connected to Duke University Health System, UNC Medical Center, UNC Rex Healthcare, and WakeMed. WakeMed Cary Hospital, a full-service hospital with 208 acute care beds, in also located in Cary.
Duke Energy provides electricity for Cary. Dominion Energy has provided natural gas to Cary since 2019, when it acquired the Public Service Company of North Carolina. Cary's primary water source is Jordan Lake, which is treated at the Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility. The North Carolina Division of Water Resources oversees the allocation of water to Cary. When demand exceeds capacity, Cary purchases water from Durham. Water and sewage accounts are overseen by the Town of Cary. Cary also provides curbside recycling.
In 2016, Cary created its Simulated Smart City Program which allows the town to test and evaluate Internet of Things (IoT) and smart city technologies in its town hall campus. Technologies already tested and expanded into the community include in sensors for public parking that reveal available spots, smart street lights that dim when not needed, smart trash and recycling containers that message when they are full, and free outdoor Wi-Fi via beacons. The first town-wide IoT project was a smart water monitoring system with analytics from SAS which can detect leaks; this system is projected to save $10 million over the cost of its installation. The National Recreation and Park Association noted, "These technologies offer more than just cost savings for the city of Cary. They also provide convenient quality-of-life improvements for citizens, and in many cases help lower environmental waste." Cary and SAS also collaborated on an IoT stormwater flood alert system, winning the 2020 IDC Smart Cities North American Awards (Smart Water Category) and the 2020 Government Innovation Award (Leveraging IoT for Increased Flood Protection).
In 2021, Cary installed IoT and smart city technologies that give emergency vehicles faster access though pedestrian crossings, railroad crossings, school zones, and traffic lights. This is the first citywide system like this in North Carolina. Paid for by the town with a matching grant from the U.S Department of Transportation, this project involved fifteen pedestrian crossings, 100 school safety beacons, 205 traffic signals, and railroad crossings. Residents can also take advantage of this technology by adding the pre-existing TravelSafely® app to their smartphone, providing connections to the town's traffic control devices and other users such as pedestrians or cyclists.
In late 2021, Cary announced a new tech-focused Center of Excellence that brings together the town, SAS, and Semtech Corporation to create new community services and expand the digital infrastructure. Connected World says, "In the quest for developing smarter cities across the country, …the town of Cary, N.C., is one of the smartest towns in the United States…."
The Sister Cities Association of Cary has created long-term relationships with four sister cities: Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, France in 1992; Hsinhu, Taiwan in 1993; County Meath, Ireland in 2001; and Markham, Canada in 2002 Cary councilman Ken George says, "This all-volunteer group has overseen a wealth of activities and events that contribute to our community's richness. Through our Sister Cities Association, the Town actively promotes global understanding by encouraging relationships between our citizens and those in cities worldwide."