Raleigh/Durham: Two southern cities that are incredibly midwestern
As I was arriving at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, I was simply blown away but what was awaiting me. My plane was greeted by an explosion of color from the fall foliage. The sights were simply breathtaking as I peered out of the window on my flight. I was eager to hit the ground running once we landed at the airport, and I was not disappointed by what I found in the area referred to as the "research triangle."
Durham is a city that is teeming with history at every corner. Many know the city for its role in American tobacco, but it also was home of a famous Martin Luther King quote given in a speech in the 1960s. "Fill up the jails" was the motto of his movement as he promoted peaceful demonstrations against segregation laws. Durham has also seen a revitilization as many of the old tobacco warehouses and factories have been converted into shops, restaurants and luxury apartments. Durham has seen a cultural renaissance with the construction of the Durham Performing Arts Center. DPAC was ranked as the #1 theater with a capacity of 4,000 or less and it was ranked as the #4 theater amongst all theaters.
If you decide to visit Durham, one must check out the warehouse district. This area is incredibly unique as it boasts several different attractions and businesses. You can find the studios of WUNC, restaurants, and the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The "Bulls" put the bull in "Bull City." They are the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays and they showcase an impressive ballpark. The franchise has seen the likes of legends Chipper Jones, David Justice, Joe Morgan, and Bob Boone. Some of my personal "cult" favorites like Brandon Guyer and Grant Balfour have also made their way through the Durham Bulls program.
Even though I arrived during the offseason, the Bulls staff could not possibly be anymore friendly. We were allowed to tour through the ballpark and even were granted access to the team shop as they were preparing for Black Friday. In talking with the staff, I learned that the fans in Durham are incredibly supportive of their franchise. In 2015, the Bulls set a single-season attendance record with 554,788 fans that visited DBAP. They battled with the likes of the Buffalo Bisons, Columbus Clippers, and Charlotte Knights is attendance figures.
Taking a twenty minute ride down I-40 you will find yourself in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is the 2nd city in the research triangle and often operates in conjunction with Durham as the cities share a lot of assets with one another. Raleigh is home to North Carolina State University, The Carolina Hurricanes, and was the birthplace of Andrew Jackson. Raleigh was spared in the closing days of the Civil War, but it not from the economic hardships that followed.
Shaw University also calls Raleigh home as it is the south's first historically black university. Raleigh is known for being the "City of Oaks" and the trees in the area certainly do not disappoint. As previously stated, it was one of the main things that I focused on upon arriving into the Raleigh-Durham area. People in the region are some of the most down-to-earth individuals that you will have the privilege of knowing. Also, almost everyone I came into contact with was not from the area originally. Rather, they came to Raleigh or Durham by way of their job or just looking for a change. They all seemed to hail from the midwest as well and their incredible hospitality had shown through almost immediately.