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The Triangle (North Carolina)

The Research Triangle, commonly referred to as "The Triangle", is a region in the Piedmont of North Carolina in the United States, anchored by the cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. The eight-county region, officially named the Raleigh-Durham-Cary CSA, comprises two Metropolitan and one Micropolitan Statistical Area: Raleigh-Cary and Durham metropolitan area. The region's population was 1,314,589 at the 2000 census. The research universities of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, and Duke University are located in this region. The "Triangle" name was cemented in the public consciousness in the 1950s with the creation of Research Triangle Park, home to numerous high-tech companies and enterprises. Although the name is now used to refer to the geographic region, "The Triangle" originally referred to the universities, whose research facilities, and the educated workforce they provide, have historically served as a major attraction for businesses located in the region. The Triangle's population is among the most educated in the United States, with one of the highest number of Ph.D.s per capita. The region should not be confused with "The Triad", which is the region directly west of the Triangle. Most of the Triangle is represented by, and closely associated with, the second, fourth and thirteenth congressional districts.



The Triangle region, as defined for statistical purposes as the Raleigh-Durham-Cary CSA, comprises 8 counties, although the U.S. Census Bureau divided the region into 2 metropolitan statistical areas and 1 micropolitan area in 2003. Some local television networks define the region as Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville. Although Fayetteville, North Carolina, is nearly 50 miles from Raleigh's city limits, it is in the designated market area.

Primary cities

Suburbs with more than 10,000 inhabitants

Suburbs with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants

  • Centerville
  • Cleveland
  • Coats
  • Corinth
  • Dunn
  • Efland
  • Erwin
  • Fearrington
  • Feltonville
  • Four Oaks
  • Franklinton
  • Friendship
  • Fuquay-Varina
  • Goldston
  • Gorman
  • Gulf
  • Haywood
  • Hillsborough
  • Holly Springs
  • Hurdle Mills
  • Kenly
  • Knightdale
  • Lillington
  • Lizard Lick
  • Louisburg
  • Mebane
  • Micro
  • Moncure
  • Morrisville
  • New Hill
  • Pine Level
  • Pittsboro
  • Princeton
  • Rolesville
  • Rougemont
  • Roxboro
  • Saxapahaw
  • Selma
  • Siler City
  • Silk Hope
  • Timberlake
  • Wendell
  • West Smithfield
  • Wilson's Mills
  • Youngsville
  • Zebulon
  • Education

    Public secondary education in the Triangle is similar to that of the majority of the state of North Carolina, in which there are county-wide school systems (the exception is Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools within but apart from Orange County). The Wake County Public School System, which includes the cities of Raleigh and Cary, is the largest school system in the region and the largest school system in the State of North Carolina, with enrollment reaching 134,002 on the 20th day of the 2006-07 school year. Other large systems in the region include Durham County (second largest), Orange County (third largest), and rapidly growing Johnston County.

    Institutions of higher education

    College sports

    With the significant number of universities and colleges in the area, NCAA sports are very popular. The Atlantic Coast Conference member University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tar Heels are situated in Chapel Hill, and fellow ACC rivals, the North Carolina State University Wolfpack, and the Duke University Blue Devils, are no more than a 30 minute drive away. In addition, Wake Forest University in nearby Winston-Salem brings the total number of ACC schools to four. The Pirates of East Carolina University reside 75 miles (121 km) away in Greenville, North Carolina. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill won the NCAA basketball championship in 1957, 1982, 1993, and 2005. North Carolina State won the NCAA basketball championship in 1974 and 1983. And Duke University won the NCAA basketball championship in 1991, 1992, and 2001. The arrival of head coach Everett Case at North Carolina State in 1946 is generally regarded as the beginning of rapid growth in the continuing popularity of basketball in North Carolina.

    The competition among North Carolina State, North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest University, located west of the Triangle region in Winston-Salem, is sometimes referred to as Tobacco Road by sportscasters. Three historically black colleges, including new Division I member North Carolina Central University and Division II members St. Augustine College and Shaw University also boost the popularity of college sports in the region.


    Anchored by leading technology firms, government and world-class universities and medical centers, the area's economy has performed exceptionally well. Significant increases in employment, earnings, personal income and retail sales are projected over the next 15 years.

    The region's growing high-technology community includes such companies as IBM, SAS Institute, Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks, NetApp and Credit Suisse First Boston. In addition to high-tech, the region is consistently ranked in the top 3 in the U.S. with concentration in life science companies. Some of these companies include GlaxoSmithKline, Biogen Idec, BASF, Merck & Co., Novo Nordisk, Novozymes, and Wyeth. Durham-based Research Triangle Park and North Carolina State University's Centennial Campus in Raleigh support innovation through R&D and technology transfer among the region's companies and research universities (including Duke University and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).

    Major employers

    Major hospitals and medical centers

    The Research Triangle region is served by the following hospitals and medical centers:

    • Hospitals of the Duke University Health System
      • Duke Ambulatory Surgery Center (Durham)
      • Duke Children's Hospital and Health Center (Durham)
      • Duke Raleigh Hospital (formerly Raleigh Community Hospital)
      • Duke University Medical Center (Durham)
      • Durham Regional Hospital (Durham)
      • Person Memorial Hospital (Roxboro)
    • Hospitals of the UNC Health Care system
      • Chatham Hospital (Siler City)
      • North Carolina Cancer Hospital (under development)
      • North Carolina Children's Hospital (Chapel Hill)
      • North Carolina Memorial Hospital (Chapel Hill)
      • North Carolina Neurosciences Hospital (Chapel Hill)
      • North Carolina Women's Hospital (Chapel Hill)
      • Rex Hospital (Raleigh)
    • Hospitals of the WakeMed system
      • WakeMed Raleigh Campus (formerly Wake Memorial Hospital and Wake Medical Center)
      • WakeMed Cary Hospital (formerly Western Wake Medical Center)
    • Other hospitals and medical centers


    Freeways and primary designated routes

    The Triangle is served by three major interstate highways: I-40, I-85, and I-95, their spurs: I-440 and I-540, and seven U.S. Routes: 1, 64, 70, 264, 401, and 15 and 501 which are multiplexed through much of the region as US 15/501.

    Two of the three interstates diverge from one another in Orange County with I-85 heading northeast through northern Durham County toward Virginia, while I-40 travels southeast through southern Durham, through the center of the region, and serves as the primary freeway through Raleigh. The related loop freeways I-440 and I-540 are primarily located in Wake County around Raleigh. I-440 begins at the interchange of US 1 and I-40 southwest of downtown Raleigh and arcs northward around downtown with the formal designation as the Cliff Benson/Raleigh Beltline (co-signed with US 1 on three-fourths of its route) and ends at its junction with I-40 in southeast Raleigh. I-540 only has a quarter of its route open, but is already popularly known as the Raleigh Outer Loop. The latest segment of the outer loop to open has been designated as a state route (NC 540) and not an interstate route, in anticipation of that segment eventually becoming a toll road. The freeway currently serves North Raleigh and city's nearby northern suburbs. I-95 serves the extreme eastern edge of the region, crossing south-to-north through suburban Johnston County.

    U.S. Routes 1, 15, and 64 primarily serve the region as limited-access freeways or multi-lane highways with access roads. US 1 enters the region from the southwest as the Claude E. Pope Memorial Highway and travels through suburban Apex where it merges with US 64 and continues northeast toward Raleigh. The two highways are co-designated for about 2 miles until US 1 joins I-440 and US 64 with I-40 along the Raleigh-Cary border. Capital Boulevard, which is designated US 1 for half of its route and US 401 the other, is a major thoroughfare through northeast Raleigh and into the northern downtown area.

    North Carolina Highway 147, also known as the Durham Freeway, is a limited-access freeway that connects I-85 with I-40 in southeastern Durham County. The four-lane route traverses downtown Durham and extends through Research Triangle Park. The freeway is often used as a detour alternate route for I-40 in the Chapel Hill area, in cases of traffic accident, congestion or road construction delays.

    Public transit

    A partnering system of multiple public transportation agencies currently serves the Triangle region. Raleigh is served by the Capital Area Transit (CAT) municipal transit system, while Durham has the Durham Area Transit Authority (DATA) system. Chapel Hill is served by Chapel Hill Transit, and Cary is also served by its own public transit systems. However, the Triangle Transit Authority (TTA) works in cooperation with all area transit systems by offering transfers between its own routes and those of the other systems. TTA also coordinates an extensive vanpool and rideshare program that serves the region's larger employers and commute destinations.

    There are plans to merge all of the area's municipal systems into the TTA, and the TTA also has proposed a regional rail system to connect downtown Durham and downtown Raleigh with multiple suburban stops as well as stops in the Research Triangle Park area. The agency's initial proposal was effectively cancelled in 2006, however, when the agency could not procure adequate federal funding. A committee of local business, transportation and government leaders currently are working with the TTA to develop a new transit blueprint for the region, with various modes of rail transit, as well as bus rapid transit, open as options for consideration.


    Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)

    , The General Assembly of North Carolina chartered the Raleigh-Durham Aeronautical Authority in 1939, which would be changed in 1945 to the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority. The first new terminal opened in 1955. Terminal A opened in 1981. American Airlines began service to RDU in 1985.

    RDU opened the 10,000 foot runway, 5L-23R, in 1986. American Airlines opened its North-South Hub operation at RDU in the new Terminal C in June 1987, greatly increasing the size of RDU's operations with a new terminal including a new apron and runway. American brought RDU its first international flights to Bermuda, Cancun, Paris and London.

    In 1996, American Airlines ceased its hub operations at RDU due to Pan Am and Eastern Airlines. Pan Am and Eastern were Miami's main tenants until 1991, when both carriers went bankrupt. Their hubs at MIA were taken over by United Airlines and American Airlines. This created a difficulty in North Carolina competing with US Airways' hub in Charlotte and Delta's hub in Atlanta for passengers traveling between smaller cities in the North and South. Midway Airlines gave it a try, starting service in 1995 with the then somewhat novel concept of 50 seat CRJs providing service from its RDU hub primarily along the east coast. Midway, incorporated in Chicago a few years prior, had some success after moving its operations to the midpoint of the eastern United States at RDU, however, the carrier ultimately couldn't overcome three weighty challenges: the arrival of Southwest Airlines, the refusal of American Airlines to renew the frequent flyer affiliation it had with Midway (thus dispatching numerous higher fare paying businesspeople to airlines with better reward destinations), and the final blow of 9-11. Midway Airlines filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy the very next day.

    In February 2000, RDU was ranked as the nation's second fastest growing major airport in the United States, by Airports Council International, based on 1999 statistics. Passenger growth hit 24% over the previous year, putting RDU second only to Washington Dulles International Airport. RDU opened Terminal A south concourse for use by Northwest and Continental Airlines in 2001 . The addition adds 46,000 square feet and 5 aircraft gates to the terminal. In 2003, RDU also dedicated a new general aviation (GA) terminal. RDU continues to keep pace with its growth by redeveloping Terminal C into a new state-of the-art terminal, scheduled to open in summer 2008.

    Noteworthy recent new carriers at the airport:

    Public general-aviation airports

    In addition to RDU, several smaller publicly-owned general-aviation airports also operate in the metropolitan region:

    Private airfields

    There are numerous licensed private general-aviation and agricultural airfields in the region's suburban areas and nearby rural communities:


    The following licensed heliports serve the Research Triangle region:

    • Betsy Johnson Memorial Hospital Heliport , Dunn—publicly owned; medical service
    • Duke University North Heliport , Durham—privately owned; public medical service
    • Garner Road Heliport , Raleigh—publicly owned; state government service
    • Holly Green Heliport , Durham—private
    • Sky-5 Heliport , Raleigh—private, owned by WRAL-TV
    • Sprint MidAtlantic Telecom Heliport , Youngsville—private; corporate service
    • Wake Medical Center Heliport , Raleigh—publicly owned; medical service
    • Western Wake Medical Center Heliport , Cary—publicly owned; medical service

    A number of helipads (i.e. marked landing sites not classified under the FAA LID system) also serve a variety of additional medical facilities (such as UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill), as well as private, corporate and governmental interests, throughout the region.


    Notable shopping centers and malls:

    Notable locally based or independent retailer:


    Film Festivals and Events:

    Notable Performing Arts and Music Venues:

    Theatre and Dance Events:



    Numerous newspapers and periodicals serve the Triangle market.

    Paid and subscription

    • The News & Observer, the major daily Raleigh newspaper and the region's largest, with a significant regional and statewide readership (especially to the east of the Triangle).
    • The Herald-Sun, the major daily Durham newspaper.
    • The Durham News, a weekly community newspaper serving Durham County.
    • The Cary News, a weekly community newspaper serving suburban Cary and western Wake County.
    • Garner News, the weekly community newspaper for suburban Garner in southern Wake County.
    • The Apex Herald, the weekly community newspaper for suburban Apex in western Wake County.
    • Holly Springs Sun, the weekly community newspaper for suburban Holly Springs in southwestern Wake County.
    • Cleveland Post, the weekly community newspaper for suburban Cleveland and nearby northwestern Johnston and southern Wake counties.
    • Fuquay-Varina Independent, the weekly community newspaper for suburban Fuquay-Varina in southwestern Wake County.
    • The Wake Weekly, a weekly community newspaper serving suburban Wake Forest, northern Wake County and southern Franklin County.
    • The Chapel Hill News, a biweekly community newspaper serving Chapel Hill, suburban Orange County and northeastern Chatham County
    • The Chatham Journal, the weekly community newspaper for suburban Pittsboro and surrounding Chatham County.
    • The Clayton News-Star, a weekly community newspaper for suburban Clayton and western Johnston County.
    • The Daily Record, the daily community newspaper for suburban Dunn and surrounding Harnett County.
    • The Courier-Times, the biweekly community newspaper for suburban Roxboro and Person County.
    • The Triangle Business Journal, a weekly regional economic journal.
    • Chapel Hill Magazine, a local bi-monthly magazine that serves 12,500 households and 1,600 businesses of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough and northern Chatham County.


    • The Independent Weekly, a free weekly regional independent journal published in Durham.
    • The Carolina Journal, a monthly free regional newspaper published in Raleigh.
    • The Raleigh Downtowner, a free monthly magazine for downtown Raleigh and environs.
    • The Raleigh Hatchet, a free monthly magazine.
    • The Daily Tar Heel, the free weekday (during the regular academic year) student newspaper at UNC-Chapel Hill.
    • The Technician, the free weekday (during the regular academic year) student newspaper at NC State University in Raleigh.
    • The Chronicle, a free daily newspaper for (but independent of) Duke University and its surrounding community in Durham.
    • The Blotter, a free monthly regional literary journal.
    • Fifteen-501, a free magazine for the Durham-Chapel Hill area (named for nearby U.S. Route 15-501).
    • Acento Latino, a free Spanish-language weekly regional newspaper published in Raleigh.

    Online only



    The Triangle is part of the Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville Designated Market Area for broadcast television, which currently is home to the following television stations:


    Raleigh is home to the Research Triangle Region bureau of the regional cable news channel News 14 Carolina.


    The Triangle region hosted North Carolina's first online television station, RTP-TV (Research Triangle Park Television), which broadcast news and programs of regional interest over the Internet from its Research Triangle Park location until ceasing operations in 2006.


    The Triangle is home to North Carolina Public Radio, a public radio station/NPR provider that brings in listeners around the country. Raleigh and a large part of the Triangle area is Arbitron radio market #43. Stations include:

    FM stations:

    • 88.1 FM WKNC (NCSU) College Radio from N.C. State University
    • 88.5 FM WRTP (RTN) Christian ("His Radio WRTP")
    • 88.7 FM WXDU (DU) College Radio from Duke University
    • 88.9 FM WSHA (SU) NPR/Jazz from Shaw University
    • 89.3 FM WXYC (UNC) College Radio from UNC-Chapel Hill
    • 89.7 FM WCPE Classical & Opera Music
    • 90.7 FM WNCU (NCCU) NPR/Jazz from N.C. Central University
    • 91.1 FM W216BN (RTN) Christian ("His Radio WRTP")
    • 91.5 FM WUNC (UNC) NPR affiliate from UNC-Chapel Hill
    • 92.5 FM WYFL (BBN) Christian Programs from Bible Broadcasting Network
    • 93.9 FM WKSL (CC) Rhythmic Adult Contemporary ("93.9, Kiss FM")
    • 94.7 FM WQDR (CMG) Country ("94.7 QDR")
    • 96.1 FM WBBB (CMG) Rock ("96 Rock")
    • 96.7 FM WKRX Country (WKRX, Roxboro)
    • 96.9 FM WYMY (CMG) Spanish ("La Ley 96.9")
    • 97.5 FM WQOK (R1) Hip Hop ("K-97.5")
    • 98.9 FM W255AM (RTN) Christian ("His Radio WRTP")
    • 99.9 FM WCMC (CBC) Sports ("99.9 The Fan")
    • 100.7 FM WRVA (CC) Classic Rock ("100.7, The River")
    • 101.5 FM WRAL (CBC) Adult Contemporary ("Mix 101.5")
    • 102.5 FM WKXU (NCM) Country ("Kicks 102.5")
    • 102.9 FM WWMY (CMG) Oldies ("Y-102.9")
    • 103.3 FM WAKG (PB) Country ("103.3 WAKG")
    • 103.9 FM WNNL (R1) Urban Gospel ("103.9, The Light")
    • 104.3 FM WFXK (R1) Urban Adult Contemporary ("Foxy 104")
    • 105.1 FM WDCG (CC) Pop and Contemporary Hits ("G-105")
    • 106.1 FM WRDU (CC) Country ("Rooster Country")
    • 106.7 FM WKVE (EMF) Contemporary Christian
    • 107.1 FM WFXC (R1) Urban Adult Contemporary ("Foxy 107")
    • 107.7 FM W299AQ (RTN) Christian ("His Radio WRTP")
    • 107.9 FM WVDJ-LP Community Radio
    • 107.9 FM W300AR (RTN) Christian ("His Radio WRTP")

    AM stations:

    • 540 AM WETC Spanish
    • 570 AM WDOX Talk, Sports & Music ("570 WDOX")
    • 620 AM WDNC Sports; ESPN Radio affiliate ("620, The Bull")
    • 680 AM WPTF News, Talk & Sports ("News/Talk 680, WPTF")
    • 750 AM WAUG Urban Programming from St. Augustine's College
    • 850 AM WRBZ Sports ("850, The Buzz")
    • 1030 AM WDRU Christian ("The Truth, 1030")
    • 1240 AM WPJL Christian
    • 1310 AM WTIK Spanish
    • 1360 AM WCHL News, Talk & Sports
    • 1410 AM WRJD Urban Gospel
    • 1490 AM WDUR Spanish
    • 1530 AM WLLQ Spanish
    • 1550 AM WCLY Urban Gospel
    • 1590 AM WHPY Christian

    Map of the Triangle

    Primary cities and towns
    A - Raleigh
    B - Durham
    C - Chapel Hill
    D - Cary
    E - Morrisville
    F - Apex
    G - Holly Springs
    H - Fuquay-Varina
    I - Garner
    J - Knightdale
    K - Wendell
    L - Zebulon
    M - Rolesville
    N - Wake Forest
    O - Hillsborough
    P - Carrboro
    Q - Pittsboro
    R - Clayton
    S - Youngsville
    T - Franklinton
    U - Creedmoor
    V - Stem
    W - Butner

    1 - Wake
    2 - Durham
    3 - Orange
    4 - Chatham
    5 - Harnett
    6 - Johnston
    7 - Franklin
    8 - Granville

    Parks and bodies of water

    a - Research Triangle Park
    b - Umstead State Park
    c - Jordan Lake
    d - Haw River
    e - Harris Lake
    f - Lake Wheeler
    g - Lake Benson
    h - Falls Lake

    Interstate highways

    1 - I-40/I-85
    2 - I-85
    3 - I-40
    4 - I-440
    5 - I-540

    Other major highways

    1 - US 15
    2 - U.S. 1
    3 - US 401
    4 - US 64
    5 - US 70
    6 - US 401
    7 - U.S. 1
    8 - US 15-501
    9 - US 64
    10 - US 70
    11 - US 501
    12 - NC 147
    13 - US 64-264
    14 - US 64 Business


    • 1 High Tech Region (Raleigh-Durham) -- "Daring To Compete: A Region-to-Region Reality Check," Silicon Valley Leadership Group, September 16, 2005
    • Top 10 Utility Company (Duke Power) - Site Selection, September 2005
    • 12 Top Real Estate Market (Raleigh-Durham) -- Expansion Management, August 2005
    • 10 Top Venture Capital State (North Carolina) -- Moran Stahl & Boyer LLC, Site Selection, July 2005
    • 2 of the Top Business Opportunity Metros (Durham MSA, Raleigh-Cary MSA) -- 2005 Mayor's Challenge "Top Business Opportunity Metros", Expansion Management, July 11, 2005
    • 1 City (Greater Raleigh-Durham) for Biotechnology -- "The Greater Philadelphia Life Sciences Cluster", Milken Institute, June 2005
      • 2 City (Greater Raleigh-Durham) for Life Sciences Human Capital -- "The Greater Philadelphia Life Sciences Cluster", Milken Institute, June 2005
      • 4 City (Greater Raleigh-Durham) for Life Sciences Workforce -- "The Greater Philadelphia Life Sciences Cluster", Milken Institute, June 2005
    • 17 Best Running City in America (Raleigh) -- Runner's World, MSN, June, 2005
    • 5 U.S. Life Sciences Clusters (Greater Raleigh-Durham) -- Milken Institute, June 2005
    • 1 South's State of the Year (North Carolina) -- Southern Business & Development, June 20, 2005
    • One of Top 10 University Markets that Has Its Act Together (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) -- Southern Business & Development, Summer 2005
    • 2 Best Place (Raleigh-Durham) for Business & Careers -- Forbes, May 5, 2005
    • 5 Best Knowledge Worker Metro (Raleigh-Cary MSA) -- "Knowledge Worker Quotient", Expansion Management, May 2005
    • 8 Most Unwired City (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) -- Intel's 3rd Annual "Most Unwired Cities" survey, May 2005
    • 9 Top State (North Carolina) in Nanotechnology -- Small Times, March 2005
    • 9 Top Business State (North Carolina) -- 2004 Governor's Cup, Site Selection, March 2005
    • Top Small Business Towns in the U.S. (Dunn, #82) -- Site Selection, March 2005
    • 8 Hottest Labor Market (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) -- American City Business Journal, TBJ, March 11, 2005
    • 1 Best Place to Work (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, RTP), # 4 (NIEHS) and # 1 Academic Institution (UNC-Chapel Hill) for Postdocs -- "Best Places to Work for Postdocs: 2005", The Scientist, February 14, 2005
    • 4 Top Pro-Business State (North Carolina) -- "Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States for 2005: Keeping Jobs in America", Pollina Corporate Real Estate, Inc., 2005
    • 4 Best State (North Carolina) in Health Care and Availability -- "Health Care Cost Quotient", Expansion Management, February, 2005
    • 34 Top Metro (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) for Job Growth & High Tech Output -- Outlook, February, 2005
    • 17 America's Hottest Cities (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) -- Expansion Management, November 2004
    • 1 of America's Most Entrepreneurial Campuses (UNC-Chapel Hill) -- Forbes, October 22, 2004
    • 3 Best Places to Live in America -- Forbes, 2003

    See also


    External links

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