About the City
About Hickory, North Carolina
In the 1850’s, Henry Robinson built a tavern of logs beneath a huge hickory tree near a stagecoach junction. The inn was known as “Hickory Tavern.” The community of Hickory Tavern had its first Charter drawn on December 12, 1863, with the “Corporate limits to be one square mile, having its center the depot of Western North Carolina Railroad.” The Town of Hickory Tavern was established in January 1870 by Henry Robinson and "Dolph" Shuford. The name was changed to the Town of Hickory in 1873, and to the City of Hickory in 1889. Today, Hickory is home to over 43,000 residents and the regional hub of over 365,000 people for commerce and recreation.
Hickory’s beautiful location at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the shores of the Catawba River offers something for everyone. Ideally located along I-40 between Charlotte and Asheville, Hickory serves as the regional hub of the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area and offers everything residents and visitors need within a short drive. For those seeking extra adventure or a change of scenery, unique cities like Charlotte, Asheville, and Boone are just an hour away. Hickory strikes the perfect balance of small town charm and big city amenities.
Hickory’s educational system features one primary school, four elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school, one magnet school, three institutions for higher learning, and several private schools.
Hickory Public Schools is an award-winning school district that operates under the K-64 initiative and serves approximately 4,100 students. K-64 is a systematic approach to shaping future careers by actively engaging students in technology-rich environments and connecting students with employers throughout the educational curriculum.
Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) in Hickory ranks as one of the top community colleges in the nation and is widely recognized for its innovative programs and facilities. Offering more than 50 programs of study and enrolling 4,800 students, CVCC is a comprehensive learning community that provides a multitude of collegiate, industrial/vocational, and life-skills/personal enrichment experiences.
Hickory is also home to Lenoir-Rhyne University (LR), a flourishing private liberal arts institution with 50 undergraduate and 20 graduate degree programs. LR currently enrolls more than 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students.
In fall 2023, the Appalachian State University Hickory Campus opened to become the Hickory region's first public university campus. With more than 100 undergraduate majors available at the Hickory campus, App State Hickory offers the appeal of a small college with the prestige of the Southeast’s premier public undergraduate institution.
From delectable farm-to-table restaurants, outdoor adventures on Lake Hickory, and eclectic downtown shops, to a growing craft beer scene and an arts and cultural community to rival that of cities more than twice its size, Hickory offers a unique experience that enthralls residents and attracts visitors from all around.
The City of Hickory has six recreation centers and two senior centers where citizens are offered a wide variety of activities, such as community sports, fitness facilities, fitness and art classes, and more. Hickory boasts 26 city parks, which collectively feature two splash pads, tennis and basketball courts, walking and bike trails, lake access, pavilions, and playgrounds.
For the sports fans, Hickory is home to the Hickory Crawdads, a class A minor league baseball team. The Lenoir-Rhyne University football program is a Division II team and member of the South Atlantic Conference. Hickory also has rich history of stock car racing as the home of Hickory Motor Speedway, one of the country’s most famous short tracks, which is often referred to as the “Birthplace of NASCAR stars.”
Festivals and community events are abundant in Hickory! Check out the annual branding events.
Hickory is a three-time All-America City and was recognized in 2018 by National Geographic Travel as one of the Best Small Cities in America. Additionally, Hickory was recognized by Forbes magazine for being first in the nation for lowest business costs, at 25% below the U.S. average. For other accolades, check out the Hickory's Trending page.