News for Newcomers - What's Durham's Nickname?

Staff WriterSeptember 10, 2007 

Q. I've heard Durham called the "Bull City" and the "City of Medicine." Which one is right?

A. Actually, both are right. Durham was nicknamed the "Bull City" in the late 1800s when the Blackwell Tobacco Co. named its product "Bull" Durham Tobacco. By the time James B. Duke (yes, the namesake of Duke University) of the American Tobacco Co. purchased Blackwell in 1898, Bull Durham was the most famous trademark in the world.

Durham prospered as a manufacturing center for the tobacco industry for many decades, but with the birth of Research Triangle Park in the 1950s, the city began to transform itself into a global center for information technology, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medicine; hence, the more recent designation the "City of Medicine."

The importance of the health care industry in Durham can be seen in the more than 300 medical and health-related companies and medical practices with a combined payroll exceeding $1.5 billion annually. While tobacco and medicine have been vital to the shaping of the city, other entities have also contributed to the city's world-class status, including Duke and N.C. Central universities, a myriad of annual festivals and the Durham Bulls Triple-A baseball team, just to name a few.

To learn more about what Durham has to offer, visit the city's Web site at

(Have a question or a tip for newcomers? Go to and click on "news for newcomers." Lamara Williams-Hackett can be reached at 829-4543, or 215 S. McDowell St., Raleigh, NC 27602.)

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service