Hickory, North Carolina
Union Square in Downtown Hickory
Union Square in Downtown Hickory
Flag of Hickory, North Carolina
Official seal of Hickory, North Carolina
"Life Well Crafted."
Location in North Carolina
Location in North Carolina
Coordinates: 35°44′26″N 81°19′20″W / 35.74056°N 81.32222°W / 35.74056; -81.32222
CountryUnited States
StateNorth Carolina
CountiesCatawba, Burke,
 • TypeCouncil–manager
 • MayorHank Guess
 • City managerWarren Wood
 • City31.14 sq mi (80.66 km2)
 • Land31.04 sq mi (80.40 km2)
 • Water0.10 sq mi (0.26 km2)
Elevation1,158 ft (362 m)
 • City44,084
 • Density1,401.05/sq mi (540.95/km2)
 • Urban
201,511 (US: 191st)[2]
 • Urban density1,731.6/sq mi (668.6/km2)
 • Metro
368,347 (US: 151st)
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code828
FIPS code37-31060[4]
GNIS feature ID2404693[3]

Hickory is a city in North Carolina primarily located in Catawba County and is the 25th most populous city in North Carolina. It is located approximately 60 miles (97 km) northwest of Charlotte. Hickory's population in the 2022 United States Census Bureau estimate was 44,084. Hickory is the main city of the Hickory–Lenoir–Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a population of 368,347 in the 2022 census.

In 2014, Reader's Digest named the Hickory metro area as the 10th best place to live and raise a family in the United States. Forbes named the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton MSA the third best MSA in the country for business cost in the same year.[5] The Hickory MSA was also identified by Smart Growth America in 2014 as being the country's most sprawling metro area.[6]


Hickory owes its name to the Hickory Tavern, a log structure built in the 1850s underneath a hickory tree.

Henry Link bought the first lot in the area for $45 in 1858. The house he built became The 1859 Cafe, a restaurant which closed in 2011.[7]

The first train operated near Hickory Tavern in 1859. In 1868, Dr. Jeremiah Ingold, pastor of Corinth Reformed Church (then German Reformed Grace Church), established the Free Academy, the first school in the area.[8] Hickory Tavern was incorporated as a town in 1870. Three years later, its name was officially changed to Hickory. In 1889, it became the City of Hickory.[9]

Hickory experienced rapid growth in the 1880s. Electric lights were installed in 1888. A year later, the Elliott Opera House opened. Decorated in French renaissance style with mythological motifs, the opera house auditorium sat 750 and the parquet balcony fit another 350. The opera house hosted touring out of town shows, the Hickory Amateurs (the city's first acting troupe) and The Hickory Symphony Band. A fire destroyed the entire building in 1902, and it was never rebuilt. A municipal auditorium was constructed across the street in 1921, now housing the Hickory Community Theatre.

In 1891, four Lutheran pastors founded Highland Academy, now Lenoir–Rhyne University, with 12 students.[10]

Hickory built a sewage system in 1904, and adopted the council-manager form of government in 1913.[11]

Hickory is home to one of the oldest furniture manufacturers in the United States that is still located and operated on the original site. Hickory White, formerly known as Hickory Manufacturing Company, was built in 1902 and has been in continuous operation ever since. During World War II, the factory made ammunition boxes for the U.S. military instead of furniture.

Hickory was known in the years after World War II for the "Miracle of Hickory". In 1944 the area around Hickory (the Catawba Valley) became the center of one of the worst outbreaks of polio ever recorded. Residents who were then children recall summers of not being allowed to play outside or visit friends for fear of contracting the disease. Since local facilities were inadequate to treat the victims, the citizens of Hickory and the March of Dimes decided to build a hospital to care for the children of the region. From the time the decision was made until equipment, doctors, and patients were in a new facility, took less than 54 hours. Several more buildings were quickly added. A Red Cross official on the scene praised the project "as the most outstanding example of cooperative effort he has ever seen."[12]

The city also came to national attention when the remains of Zahra Baker were found leading to a police investigation where Zahra's stepmother, Elise Baker, was found guilty of second-degree murder. The Zahra Baker All Children's playground, located in Kiwanis Park, is named in her honor.

National Register of Historic Places

The Claremont High School Historic District, Elliott–Carnegie Library, First Presbyterian Church, Dr. Glenn R. Frye House, Clement Geitner House, Lee & Helen George House, Harris Arcade, Hickory Municipal Building, Hickory Southwest Downtown Historic District, Highland School, Hollar Hosiery Mills-Knit Sox Knitting Mills, Houck's Chapel, Kenworth Historic District, John A. Lentz House, Lyerly Full Fashioned Mill, John Alfred Moretz House, Oakwood Historic District, Piedmont Wagon Company, Propst House, Ridgeview Public Library, Shuford House, and Whisnant Hosiery Mills are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[13][14][15][16][17]


Hickory is located in western Catawba County and extends westward into Burke County and Caldwell County. Interstate 40 passes through the southern part of the city, leading east 68 miles (109 km) to Winston-Salem and west 75 miles (121 km) to Asheville. U.S. Route 70 (Conover Boulevard) is an older east–west route through the city. U.S. Route 321 passes through the western part of the city, leading northwest 43 miles (69 km) to Boone and south 36 miles (58 km) to Gastonia.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 29.8 square miles (77.2 km2), of which 29.7 square miles (76.9 km2) is land and 0.08 square miles (0.2 km2), or 0.31%, is water.

Lake Hickory

Lake Hickory was created on the Catawba River in 1927 with the completion of the Oxford Dam 11 miles (18 km) northeast of Hickory. The dam parallels the NC Highway 16 bridge over the Catawba River between Interstate 40 and Taylorsville. It is 122 feet (37 m) high, with an overall length of 1,200 feet (370 m). The spillway section of the dam is 550 feet (170 m) long.

Lake Hickory was named after the City of Hickory and runs along its northern edge. The lake covers almost 4,223 acres (17.09 km2) with 105 miles (169 km) of shoreline. Full pond elevation is 935 feet (285 m). Lake Hickory is a reliable source of water for the Cities of Hickory and Conover and the Town of Long View, while also functioning as a recreation hub for boating, fishing, and other water based activities.

Duke Energy provides five public access areas on the lake in cooperation with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

Metropolitan area

Hickory is the largest city within the Hickory–Lenoir–Morganton metropolitan area. The Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) includes Catawba County, Burke County, Caldwell County, and Alexander County, with a combined population – as of the 2020 Census – of 365,276.[18]

In addition to Hickory, the MSA includes the cities of Lenoir, Morganton, Conover, and Newton, along with a number of smaller incorporated towns and cities.

Several unincorporated rural and suburban communities located nearby include Bethlehem, Mountain View, and St. Stephens.


According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Hickory has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps. The hottest temperature recorded in Hickory was 105 °F (40.6 °C) on July 28–29, 1952, while the coldest temperature recorded was −8 °F (−22.2 °C) on January 21, 1985.[19]

Climate data for Hickory, North Carolina (Hickory Regional Airport), 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1949–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 80
Mean maximum °F (°C) 68.8
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 49.1
Daily mean °F (°C) 39.7
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 30.2
Mean minimum °F (°C) 13.7
Record low °F (°C) −8
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.81
Average snowfall inches (cm) 4.2
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.4 9.1 11.0 10.0 10.9 11.6 12.1 10.7 8.6 7.6 8.4 9.0 118.4
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 0.9 0.7 0.3 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 2.3
Source 1: NOAA (snow/snow days 1981–2010)[20][21]
Source 2: National Weather Service[19]



The Hickory Regional Airport is located in the western portion of the city and provides general aviation services. The airport is not serviced by a commercial airline given the proximity of larger airports, particularly Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and Piedmont Triad International Airport.

Public transportation

Greenway Public Transportation operates six fixed bus routes around Hickory, Conover and Newton. Greenway also provides paratransit services to these cities and surrounding areas. Greenway Public Transportation provides over 250,000 trips each year to residents living in the Hickory region.



Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[22]

2020 census

Hickory racial composition[23]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 28,099 64.61%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 5,920 13.61%
Native American 100 0.23%
Asian 1,659 3.81%
Pacific Islander 35 0.08%
Other/Mixed 2,104 4.84%
Hispanic or Latino 5,573 12.81%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 43,490 people, 16,690 households, and 9,834 families residing in the city.

2010 census

As of the census[4] of 2010, there were 40,093 people, 18,719 households, and 9,952 families residing in the city. There were 18,719 housing units at an average density of 640.4 per square mile (247.3/km2). The racial composition of the city was: 74.9% White, 14.3% Black or African American, 11.4% Hispanic or Latino American, 3.2% Asian American, 0.19% Native American, 0.06% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, 3.08% some other race, and 1.46% two or more races.

There were 18,719 households, out of which 27.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 12.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.1% were non-families. 32.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 23.3% under the age of 18, 11.2% from 18 to 24, 30.7% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,236, and the median income for a family was $47,522. Males had a median income of $31,486 versus $23,666 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,263. About 8.4% of families and 11.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.8% of those under age 18 and 7.0% of those age 65 or over.

364,759 people live within 25 miles (40 km) of Hickory; 1.8 million people live within 50 miles (80 km) of Hickory.[24]


In 1913, Hickory became the first city in North Carolina to adopt the council-manager form of municipal government, which combines the leadership of elected officials and the administrative experience of a city manager. The mayor and city council set policy and hire a non-partisan manager to oversee city operations, advise council, and implement adopted policies and ordinances.

Hickory City Council is composed of a mayor and six council members, each representing one of the city's six wards. For current listing of council members, see here.


Lenoir–Rhyne University

Elementary schools

Middle schools

High schools

Private schools

Colleges and universities


Intersection of 1st Avenue NE and NC 127 near Downtown Hickory

Early industries such as wagon-making, as well as proximity to expansive forests and excellent transportation via two intersecting railroads, provided fertile ground for the emergence of the furniture industry.[26] Likewise experience with textile manufacturing and easy access to power drove new industries in both fiber-optic cable[26] and pressure-sensitive tape.[27] Forty percent of the world's fiber optic cable is made in the Hickory area.[28]

Adhesive tape manufacturer Shurtape Technologies and Fortune 500 network infrastructure provider CommScope are based in Hickory.[29]

The furniture industry in Hickory is not as strong as in previous decades, but is still a primary component in the area economy. HSM (company) (formerly Hickory Springs, founded 1944) is a leading manufacturer of mattress coils. It is estimated 60% of the nation's furniture used to be produced within a 200-mile (320 km) radius of Hickory.

The Hickory area is marketed as a data-center corridor[30] and is home to large data centers operated by Apple and Google. Apple's billion-dollar data center campus just south of Hickory is one of the world's largest.[31]

Hickory is home to the corporate headquarters of third-party logistics provider Transportation Insight, a member of North Carolina's top revenue tier of privately held businesses.[32] In 2015, the company relocated its headquarters to the historic Lyerly Full Fashioned Mill in downtown Hickory.[33][34]

Major Industries

Major employers


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L.P. Frans Stadium, home of the Hickory Crawdads

Hickory is home to the Hickory Crawdads, a Class High-A High-A East minor-league baseball affiliate of the Texas Rangers. The Crawdads play in L.P. Frans Stadium, located in the western portion of the city, near the Hickory Regional Airport.

Hickory is also home to the Hickory Motor Speedway. The speedway was opened in 1951 and features a 1/2-mile track with seating for approximately 5,000 spectators.

Lenoir-Rhyne University, whose teams have the nickname "Bears", participates within NCAA Division II athletics in the South Atlantic Conference. The university's athletics program includes teams in baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, triathlon, and volleyball.[35]

Hickory Aviation Museum

Hickory Aviation Museum is an aerospace museum at the Hickory Regional Airport. The museum originated from the Sabre Society co-founded by Kyle and Kregg Kirby, when an FJ-3 Fury, the Naval version of the North American F-86 Sabre was recovered and became the first aircraft of the museum. It features a museum located in the former airport terminal with artifacts, a hangar with aircraft and outdoor exhibits of aircraft on the former airport ramp.

Arts and Culture

Hickory Museum of Art

Hickory is home to the second oldest art museum in North Carolina. Hickory Museum of Art was established in 1944 by Founding Director, Paul Whitener. The museum is housed at the SALT Block, overseen by the SALT Block Foundation, along with the Catawba Science Center, Hickory Choral Society, United Arts Council and Western Piedmont Symphony. Hickory Museum of Art (HMA) holds exhibitions, events, and public educational programs based on a permanent collection of 19th through 21st century American art. The museum also features a long-term exhibition of Southern contemporary folk art, showcasing the work of self-taught artists from around the region.

Western Piedmont Symphony

The symphony hosts several series of concerts, including their free Foothills Pops concerts held annually in Downtown Hickory.


Notable people

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Other notables

Sister city

Hickory has one sister city:[47]

See also


  1. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  2. ^ "List of 2020 Census Urban Areas". census.gov. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  3. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Hickory, North Carolina
  4. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  5. ^ "Economic Development". City of Hickory, North Carolina. Archived from the original on March 18, 2014. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
  6. ^ "Measuring Sprawl 2014" (PDF). smartgrowthamerica.org]. Retrieved May 2, 2014.
  7. ^ "Article". wsoctv.com. Archived from the original on February 3, 2016. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  8. ^ "Our History – Corinth Reformed Church". corinthtoday.org.
  9. ^ Hickory 150th Celebration. hickorync.gov. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  10. ^ "Lenoir–Rhyne University History". Archived from the original on October 16, 2007. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  11. ^ "Data" (PDF). hickorygov.com. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  12. ^ Hickory Daily Record, June 30, 1944
  13. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  14. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 5/09/11 through 5/13/11. National Park Service. May 20, 2011.
  15. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 4/23/12 through 4/27/12. National Park Service. May 4, 2012.
  16. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 12/26/12 through 12/28/12. National Park Service. January 4, 2013.
  17. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 8/23/13 through 8/30/13. National Park Service. September 6, 2013.
  18. ^ GEO. "Directory Browsing is Not Allowed". www.census.gov.
  19. ^ a b "NOAA Online Weather Data – NWS Greenville". National Weather Service. Retrieved November 13, 2023.
  20. ^ "U.S. Climate Normals Quick Access – Station: Hickory FAA AP, NC (1991–2020)". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved November 13, 2023.
  21. ^ "U.S. Climate Normals Quick Access – Station: Hickory FAA Airport, NC (1981–2010)". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved November 13, 2023.
  22. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  23. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 21, 2021.
  24. ^ "hickorygov.com". www.hickorygov.com. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  25. ^ University, Appalachian State. "App State at Hickory Campus | Building Physical Infrastructure | Appalachian's Future". www.appstate.edu. Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  26. ^ a b "Catawba County: An Introduction | UNC Charlotte Urban Institute". Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
  27. ^ "Company History". www.shurtape.com. Archived from the original on January 12, 2014. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  28. ^ Hickory's Regional Role As Leader from hickorygov.com
  29. ^ CommScope Holding Company Profile. Fortune. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  30. ^ "datacentersites". datacentersites. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  31. ^ "North Carolina Emerges as Data Center Hub – Data Center Knowledge". November 17, 2010. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  32. ^ "Article". grantthornton.com.
  33. ^ "Paul Thompson « Hickory Well Crafted-Work". www.hickorywellcrafted.com. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  34. ^ "Landmark info" (PDF). hickorylandmarks.org.
  35. ^ Lenoir-Rhyne University Athletics. lrbears.com. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  36. ^ "Welcome to Focus Newspaper Online!". www.focusnewspaper.com. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  37. ^ http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/profile.asp?ID=8476. The Baseball Cube. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  38. ^ "Rick Barnes Bio". UTSPORTS.COM – University of Tennessee Athletics. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  39. ^ http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/profile.asp?ID=9452. The Baseball Cube. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  40. ^ https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/C/ClayOz20.htm. Pro Football Reference. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  41. ^ https://www.pro-football-reference.com/schools/high_schools.cgi?id=93bbbf40. Pro Football Reference. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  42. ^ http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/profile.asp?ID=11628. The Baseball Cube. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  43. ^ http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/profile.asp?ID=14772. The Baseball Cube. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  44. ^ https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/w/warlibo01.html. Basketball Reference. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  45. ^ Griffin, Kevin (May 1, 2017). "President Trump nominates Hickory resident Brock Long to lead FEMA pending Senate confirmation". Hickory Daily Record.
  46. ^ Barnes, Bart. (September 4, 2019). Douglas Moore, proactive presence in civil rights and D.C. politics, dies at 91. The Washington Post. Retrieved December 31, 2020.
  47. ^ Griffin, Kevin. (June 1, 2016). Sister city delegation from Germany visits Hickory for cultural exchange. Hickory Daily Record. Retrieved July 21, 2020.