Where We Started
About a decade and a half before America achieved its independence, an inn, Bradford’s Ordinary, opened in Wake County. The business was the first in what is now the Town of Cary, and marked the beginning of more than two centuries of growth.
Railroads brought prosperity in the mid-19th century. Tobacco was king in the 1920s, and the town became a hub of innovators following the establishment of Research Triangle Park in the 1950s.
Today, Cary measures about 60 square miles and is home to about 168,000. More than 60 nationalities are represented within its borders. It was ranked the ninth-safest city in America by personal finance company SmartAsset; the third-most internet connected municipality in the country by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance; and the best city in North Carolina for income equality by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
The heart of Cary remains its historic downtown. Still standing adjacent to the railroad tracks is the Second Empire-style Page-Walker Arts & History Center, which was built in 1869, and started as a hotel for train passengers. Nearby are more than two dozen historic structures, including the Cary Pink House, also known as the Guess-Ogle House with portions that date to the 1830s; the old Masonic Lodge, which now houses Ashworth Drugs and its soda fountain; and the art deco Cary Theater, which still screens movies and hosts live performances.
And it’s an area that remains vibrant, with craft breweries, bicycle paths, ethnic festivals.
Plan your day in Downtown Cary with this business directory.
Eager to get out? The Town of Cary posts a weekly roundup of downtown events on the Downtown Cary NC blog.
Get in touch with the Town of Cary and let them know what you’d like to hear about, if a business needs to be updated in the directory, or if you have any questions about Downtown Cary.
Connected to the Heart of Downtown Cary since 1997
Our Mission is to inform, engage, support and empower merchants, organizations, and residents of Downtown Cary.
We do it by hosting membership meetings that feature speakers, announcements on current events in downtown and a meal. We also host events that bring people to downtown Cary and political forums. Members are encouraged to become involved through committees and by serving on the Board of Directors.
The Heart of Cary Association is governed by a Board of Directors. The Board oversees all committees. We have recently formed a merchants’ committee. Soon we will also form committees for nonprofits and residents. These committees will represent our three main stakeholders, and will meet to ensure that their interests are being taken into account within the Heart of Cary Association.