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The Research Triangle

The Research Triangle: From Tobacco Road to Global Prominence

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    The Research Triangle
    Book Description:

    Over the past three decades, the economy of North Carolina's Research Triangle-defined by the cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill-has been transformed from one dependent on agriculture and textiles to one driven by knowledge-based jobs in technology, telecommunications, and pharmaceuticals. Now home to roughly 1.7 million people, the Research Triangle has attracted an influx of new residents from across the country and around the world while continuing to win praise for its high quality of life. At the region's center is the 7,000-acre Research Triangle Park, one of the nation's largest and most prominent research and development campuses. Founded in 1959 through a partnership of local governments, universities, and business leaders, Research Triangle Park has catalyzed the region's rapid growth and hastened its coalescence into a single metropolitan area.

    The Research Triangle: From Tobacco Road to Global Prominencedescribes the history, current challenges, and future prospects of this fascinating metropolitan area. Focusing on the personalities and perspectives of key actors in the development of the region, William M. Rohe traces the emergence of the Research Triangle Park and its role in the region's economic transformation. He also addresses some of the downsides of development, illustrating the strains that explosive population growth has placed on the region's school systems, natural resources, transportation infrastructure, and social cohesion. As Rohe shows, the Research Triangle is not a city in the traditional sense but a sprawling conurbation whose rapid, low-density growth and attendant problems are indicative of metropolitan life in much of America today. Although the Triangle's short-term prospects are bright, Rohe warns that troubling issues loom-the region is expected to add nearly a million residents over the next two decades-and will need to be addressed through improvements in governmental cooperation, regional planning, and civic leadership. Finally, the author outlines key lessons that other metropolitan areas can learn from the Research Triangle's dramatic rise to prominence.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0751-4
    Subjects: Sociology, Population Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    The Research Triangle area, defined here as the seven counties that form the Raleigh-Cary and Durham–Chapel Hill metropolitan statistical areas in North Carolina, offers an intriguing metropolitan growth case study. First, it is a relatively new metro, having largely developed over the past fifty years. So its growth represents more contemporary, rather than historical, circumstances and actions. Second, over the past two decades the Research Triangle has been one of the fastest growing areas in the United States: in 1960 the combined population of the Raleigh and Durham metropolitan statistical areas was 238,000; by 2009 it was almost 1.7...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Early History
    (pp. 11-60)

    To truly understand the contemporary challenges facing the Research Triangle metropolitan area, one must understand its fascinating geological and human history. As noted by Sam Bass Warner, Jr.: “City building is always a process of bit by bit additions so that the lineage of the past continues to assert themselves directly or indirectly.”¹ That history helps to answer questions such as: Why are the towns and cities located where they are? Why was the area so slow to urbanize? Why has the area been developed at such a low density? What accounts for the economic, population, and personality differences among...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Birth of the Research Triangle Metropolitan Area
    (pp. 61-92)

    A metropolitan area is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as “a core area with a large nucleus, together with adjacent communities that have a high degree of economic and social integration with that core.”¹ In 1950, when the first metropolitan areas were designated, Raleigh and surrounding Wake County were included in one area, while Durham and Durham County in another. In 1971 Chapel Hill and Orange County were added to the Durham metro area and in 1981 the two areas were combined into one, until further growth led to their being separated again in 2005. This chapter describes the...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Population Growth and Its Impact
    (pp. 93-138)

    The creation of the Research Triangle Park and the transportation infrastructure to serve it set the stage for a half century of rapid growth in the Triangle area. The success of the RTP put the Triangle on the map for businesses looking to expand or relocate, and for people looking for jobs. But the area’s quality of life, including such elements as the temperate climate, open space, and cultural activities, has also attracted businesses and people to the area. This chapter addresses population changes in the Triangle over the past fifty years and the challenges those changes have posed to...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Evolving Research Triangle Economy
    (pp. 139-176)

    Changes in the national economy since the 1960s are well known. Among them are increased international competition due to liberalized trade rules, manufacturing migrating to lower-wage areas of the world, and the growing importance of service industries. North Carolina, like other states, has been profoundly affected by these changes, losing jobs in traditional industries like agriculture and manufacturing while gaining jobs in the emerging areas of professional, scientific, and technical services. As an important part of the region, the Research Triangle metropolitan area has been affected by these larger state trends.

    In the 1960s, three industries dominated the North Carolina...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Urban Development and Planning
    (pp. 177-234)

    The Research Triangle metro area has two distinct physical characteristics. First, most metro areas have at their cores high-rise office and residential towers, public buildings such as courthouses and city halls, major theaters, and retail shopping opportunities. The core of the Research Triangle metro, however, is mostly open space. It is made up of a state park, an airport, and a collection of low-rise office buildings inhabited by research and development firms, hidden behind trees on large campuses. This low-density, monoculture of uses in the heart of the metro has its advantages but it also poses significant challenges in terms...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Where Are We Headed?
    (pp. 235-248)

    The short-term prospects for the Research Triangle metropolitan area look bright. There is little doubt that the area’s three major research universities will continue to develop new knowledge and products that will continue to fuel the area’s economic growth. Moreover, those universities, along with the smaller universities and colleges, will continue to recruit and develop the human capital needed to support start-up companies and attract existing companies. In addition, although the region has grown very rapidly over the past several decades its quality of life is still relatively high. A recently released Brookings Institution report indicates that the Raleigh-Cary MSA...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 249-280)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 281-298)