Hickory City, North Carolina

Just when you thought that Hickory is an exclusive term used for a certain tree or the flavor or your favorite barbeque, there is a city in North Carolina that is named the same. Located in Bruke, Caldwell, and Catwaba counties, the city of Hickory is the 162nd largest urban area in the United States at 28.1 square miles and has a population of 37, 222 according to the 2000 census. Hickory has been a recipient of the All-America City Award by the National Civic League three times, elevating itself to the Hall of Fame. The award is given to cities that have notable citizens who have been fostering cooperation that leads to the betterment of the community. The city was also recognized by Money Magazine as one of “the most livable to live” in 1998.

Hickory’s history goes back in 1870 when it was formally incorporated but its name was lifted from the Hickory Tavern, which was built in the northwest section of Catawba County in 1790. Educational institutional like Free Academy and the Lenoir-Rhyne College was founded in the 1800s, with the former established by Dr. Jeremiah Ingold in 1868 and the latter by Lutheran pastors in 1891. Adding up Hickory’s symbol of antiquity is Hickory White, which is the oldest manufacturer of furniture in the United States. This company originally named Hickory Manufacturing Company was built in 1902 and has been operating ever since.

Aside from furniture, Hickory is also a leading manufacturer of fiber optic cable. Statistics say that 60% of the United States’ furniture is produced within Hickory, while 40% of fiber optic cables are made in Hickory. Going back to Lenoir-Rhyne College, this is a private liberal arts college that is connected with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is one of America’s Best Colleges according to the 2007 US News and World Report.¬†Among its degree offerings include Communication, Business Administration, Music, Education, English, Theatre and more. Another institution of higher learning is a public institution, the Catawba Valley Community College, established in 1958.

This is part of the North Carolina Community College System which offers associate degree and short-term academic programs. Among Hickory’s historic sites are the Hickory Museum of Art, Catawba Science Center, and the Catawba Valley Furniture Museum. The Hickory Furniture Mart, which has been an interior decorator’s paradise remains one of the most visited attractions. The city also has a center for performing arts which are embodied by the Western Piedmont Symphony. Famous people from Hickory include Astrophysicist Scott Talbert, actor-comedian Jon Reep and Pauletta Pearson Washington, Denzel Washington’s wife.