Local Area

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Local Area


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4 College Sophomore

Local Area: Durham isn't exactly known for its Town-Gown relations, but that's largely the students' fault in my opinion. Students who do go out into the community, either as consumers or for service, often find that it's a very enriching part of their Duke experience. Durham has such an interesting history that I find going to school here a big plus. The Triangle is a fabulous pocket of liberal intellectuals. I could see myself living in Durham for the rest of my life.

3 people found this useful Report
3 College Freshman

Local Area: Not much to do, but there is always DPAC which has events and some festivals, plus a lot of good restaurants. Can feel somewhat unsafe at times though.

1 person found this useful Report
4 College Freshman

Local Area: There is a great community but many students do not take advantage of it

4 people found this useful Report
4 College Sophomore

Local Area: Decent locally. It's a small town so you can't expect too much.

1 person found this useful Report
4 College Junior

Local Area: Durham and Duke have made a concerted effort to bridge the gulf between their respective communities. A city-wide transportation system is available to all students, and it stops at all of the city's major attractions. The American Tobacco Campus, Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC), Durham Art Guild, historic Carolina Theatre, and numerous other attractions have transformed downtown Durham a vibrant destination that rivals Raleigh's cultural appeal and Chapel Hill's college town charm. DPAC, for example, now hosts all of the touring Broadway shows and many of the major concert acts that visit the Triangle region. Disregard the literature Duke publishes about not needing a car on campus: as much as I admire and respect environmental efforts, my car is often the only means of transportation between the university and anything beyond Durham proper, such as the city's swanky Southpoint Mall complex.

5 people found this useful Report

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Student Author OverviewWhat's this?

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As much as the students love Duke, there are some shortcomings that simply cannot be overlooked. A local, college-town atmosphere definitely makes that list. While East Campus is not situated near the nicest part of Durham, there are a few nice, quiet, little residential areas around East Campus, as well as some adequate shopping centers and nice restaurants within driving distance. Ninth Street and Brightleaf Square, just off of East Campus (within a short walking distance), are where most students choose to go for off-campus restaurants and some shops. West Campus is much more isolated from Durham, so students won’t really sense the Durham atmosphere, unless they go looking for it.

If you’re looking for a college town, Chapel Hill lives up to that description quite nicely and is no more than 20 minutes away. Duke and UNC provide a free bus back and forth every day, which many students take advantage of. 

Facts & Statistics

Fun Local Trivia
  1. Durham is not named for its sister city, Durham, England, but rather for Dr. Bartlett Durham, who donated the four acres of land to build a railroad station around which the city developed.
  2. Durham has several interesting sister cities: Toyama City, Japan; Kostroma, Russia; Arusha, Tanzania; and Durham, England.
  3. Durham was named one of the "foodiest" small cities in the country, with an abundance of world-class restaurants that utilize locally-grown and organic ingredients.
  4. Durham used to be known as the "Bull City," but is now known as the "City of Medicine" and is part of the Research Triangle.
  5. The Triangle area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the surrounding cities) has one of the highest concentrations of PhDs in the world.
  6. North Carolina was the site of man's first mechanical flight by the Wright Brothers. This event is commemorated on North Carolina's license plates, which reads "First in Flight."
Notable Natives
  • Julian Abele - architect of Duke Chapel
  • Ernie Barnes - world-renowned artist
  • Shirley Caesar - gospel vocalist
  • John H. Franklin - historian and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner
  • Neena Freelon - jazz vocalist
  • Blind Boy Fuller - Piedmont Blues vocalist
  • Dr. Charles Johnson - president of the National Medical Association
  • Sam Jones - first African American drafted by NBA in the first round
  • Branford Marsalis - Grammy-winning saxophonist and film score composer
  • Coach John McClendon - basketball strategist still emulated today
  • Floyd McKissick Sr. - civil rights leader and father of a congressman
  • Clyde McPhatter - R&B vocalist for the Drifters
  • Rev. Douglas Moore - pioneer of sit-ins in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Grady Tate - renowned jazz drummer
Points of Interest
  • American Tobacco District
  • Brightleaf Square
  • Duke Quarry
  • Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC)
Shopping Centers
  • Northgate Mall
  • Southpoint Mall
Movie Theaters
Carmike Wynnsong 15
1807 Martin Luther King Pkwy
(919) 489-9505
Movie Theaters
Northgate Stadium 10
1058 West Club Blvd.
(919) 286-1001
Movie Theaters
Southpoint Cinemas
8030 Renaissance Pkwy
(919) 313-6627
Major Sports Teams
  • Carolina Hurricanes : NHL
  • Carolina Mudcats : Minor league baseball
  • Carolina Panthers: NFL
  • Carolina RailHawks : United Soccer League
  • Durham Bulls: Minor league baseball
Distances to Nearest Major Cities
  • Charlotte: NC: 2 hours, 30 minutes
  • Greensboro: NC: 1 hour
  • Raleigh: NC: 30 minutes

Student Polls

Rate the local atmosphere on the following topics    Based on 57 responses

Very poor
  • Cost of living
  • Dining
  • Friendliness of locals toward students
  • Museums/cultural attractions
  • Nightlife
  • Parking
  • Parks and recreation
  • Professional sports
  • Safety
  • Scenery
  • Shopping
  • Transportation

What is the local atmosphere like at your school?    Based on 58 responses

  • 10% City living at its finest. There's always something fun and interesting going on.
  • 31% Vibrant college town. There's no big city, but there are plenty of things to do off campus.
  • 26% Small town with plenty of charm.
  • 24% In or near a big city, but there's not much to do off campus.
  • 9% Painfully remote.

What is the proximity to other universities? Is there much interaction?    Based on 58 responses

  • 59% There are nearby schools that students often interact with.
  • 41% There are nearby schools, but students do NOT interact much.
  • 0% There aren't any nearby schools.

Can you see yourself living here after graduation?    Based on 57 responses

  • 12% Totally.
  • 58% Maybe, if I could find a good job.
  • 30% No way.



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