Hillsborough Street

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Hillsborough Street

Hillsborough Street is a business and cultural thoroughfare through Raleigh, North Carolina, United States. The street serves as a center for social life among North Carolina State University and Meredith College students.

Bars, restaurants, coffee shops, convenience stores and banks are located along a strip of Hillsborough Street that borders the university. The road is also a busy transport corridor, linking the town of Cary with downtown Raleigh. Additionally, the road passes by the North Carolina State Veterinarian School, North Carolina State University Centennial Biomedical Campus, the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, Sacred Heart Cathedral, and Raleigh's Pullen Park.

Hillsborough Street in Raleigh

Geography and history[edit]

The Hillsborough Street is one of the four streets that radiate outward in the cardinal directions from Capital Square, each leading to one of the former State Capital cities. A modern alternate route to Hillsborough Street in Raleigh is Western Boulevard, which parallels the street to the south. Wade Avenue is an alternate route to Hillsborough Street to the north. Hillsborough Street terminates in the east at the North Carolina State Capitol at Salisbury Street. The street's western terminus is at the Cary town limits, where the roadway continues as East Chatham Street after crossing Interstate 40. North Carolina Highway 54 begins on Hillsborough Street at the Interstate 440 Beltline interchange and travels west for one mile (1.6 km) before forking onto Chapel Hill Road.

NCSU's Bell Tower is visible at the street's intersection with Pullen Road. Hillsborough Street takes its name from the city Hillsborough, a former capital city of North Carolina. Like many downtown Raleigh streets, the street's name is derived from a city of the same name in the state; though, initially the street was named Hillsboro Road and was a country road many people used to drive to Hillsborough.[1] The street was first constructed in 1792 as part of the capital city's initial layout.[2]

The land comprising Hillsborough Street was once the site of the plantation of David Cameron. Cameron established St. Mary's College on Hillsborough Street; the school later became a private girls' school, St. Mary's School.[1] A streetcar traversing Hillsborough Street connected North Carolina State University to Raleigh shortly after the college was built.[1]

The street was the site of North Carolina's largest anti-Vietnam War marches, with 10,000 people, including UNC and Duke students, protesting the war.[1]

Places of worship[edit]

Hillsborough Street historic churches include:

Special events[edit]

Basketball and football victories[edit]

Following every football and basketball win the NCSU Bell Tower is illuminated red and students are encouraged to "Storm the Bell Tower" and show their WolfPack pride. After the NC State basketball team won the national championship in 1983, students converged on Hillsborough Street to celebrate, with at least one injury to a police officer.[1] Subsequently, the police department cracked down on problem bars on Hillsborough Street, which resulted in many bar closures. The closures included seven bars located at Hillsborough Square.[1]

Paint the Town Red and NCSU Homecoming[edit]

As part of NCSU's homecoming week since 2006, many businesses along Hillsborough Street agree to have groups of NCSU students paint their windows red, the main athletic color of the NC State Wolfpack.[3] The spectacle was deemed "Paint the Town Red". Each year, alumni, students, faculty and staff as well as Wolfpack faithful fill the NC State Campus and surrounding areas painting the town red. Onlookers congregate on Hillsborough Street for the annual Homecoming Parade and watch as dozens of school floats make their way towards the Bell Tower.

WRAL-TV Raleigh Christmas Parade[edit]

A Christmas parade is held along Hillsborough Street among other Raleigh streets every November. The event, sponsored by WRAL-TV attracts Raleighites, NCSU students, and visitors.[4]

Krispy Kreme Challenge[edit]

The Krispy Kreme Challenge, a race invented and organized by NC State Park Scholars with a majority of runners attending NC State, is a new NC State tradition which attracted over 7,500 runners in 2010. Part of Hillsborough Street is closed in order for runners to make their way from the NC State Bell Tower to the Krispy Kreme on Peace Street. The objective is to run to the Krispy Kreme, eat one dozen doughnuts, and run back to the Bell Tower in under one hour. The event raises money to support the North Carolina Children's Hospital, and in 2010 raised $122,000,000.

City of Oaks Marathon[edit]

The Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon and Rex Healthcare Half Marathon annually attracts thousands of athletes to the capital city. The course is revered for the diversity of the landscape, showcasing the Triangle’s natural areas and the capital’s history.

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure[edit]

The Komen NC Triangle Race for the Cure, hosted at Meredith College, raises funds and awareness for the fight against breast cancer, celebrates breast cancer survivorship, and honors those who have lost their battle with the disease. All net funds from the Komen Race for the Cure go to research, education, screening and treatment programs.

9/11 Memorial Service[edit]

On the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001 NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson lead the campus and community in a memorial service at the Bell Tower honoring all those who perished in the events of 9/11. The service paid tribute to all NCSU alumni who have served in the military. To coincide with this event, the Hillsborough Street Community Service Corporation enlisted the help of over 35 NCSU student groups and organizations to decorate the store-fronts on Hillsborough Street with patriotic imagery. These groups volunteered their time to show their support for, and appreciation of, all the first responders and citizens who lost their lives on that day in 2001. They also thanked all the troops who have served and continue to serve the USA in the armed services.

Art to Wear[edit]

Art to Wear is an annual fashion show featuring the creations of NC State students. The NCSU College of Design and College of Textiles team together to showcase the young talent that can be found at NC State as well as its connectivity to the clothing design merchants found around Raleigh, NC. The event is normally followed by an after event which fills the local establishments with customers long into the night.

Notable businesses[edit]

One notable business on Hillsborough Street is Players' Retreat, a saloon that opened more than 50 years ago.[1] The bar encompasses a former restaurant, the Morning Room, which served as the unofficial headquarters of Hargrove Bowles' 1972 gubernatorial campaign against Jim Holshauser. It was also a hangout of the Wolfpack basketball players, of Norman Sloan, in the 1970s.[1] Mitch's Tavern was used for scenes in the film Bull Durham in the 1980s.[1] The publishing company Lulu is headquartered on Hillsborough Street.[1]

Education institutions[edit]

There are four major education institutions located on Hillsborough Street. The first, and largest, of these is North Carolina State University, with over 34,000 students, and 6,000 faculty and staff. Meredith College is located on the street, with approximately 2,200 female students and 138 faculty members, Meredith College has grown to become one of the largest independent private women’s college in the United States. The third education institution is the all-girls boarding and day school St. Mary’s School for grades 9-12. Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law of Campbell University lies near the eastern terminus of the street.

Hillsborough Street Community Service Corporation[edit]

The Hillsborough Street Community Service Corporation is an independent, not for profit, business improvement district created by a partnership between the City of Raleigh, NC State University and the property owners and businesses on Hillsborough Street in the fall of 2009. The HSCSC territory is about 2.5 miles long running on both sides of Hillsborough Street from St. Mary’s School to the beltline (including Morgan St. and a few side streets) and includes a collection of businesses, organizations, institutions and residential options.

The corporation’s mission is to make the Hillsborough Street community a destination in Raleigh by providing services and programs that improve the economic sustainability of the businesses, and increases the market value of the properties.


After a study in 2002, the city of Raleigh proceeded with efforts to revitalize and redesign Hillsborough Street and the surrounding area. The project was intended to rejuvenate the area, improve traffic flow, and increase pedestrian safety. City council members, however, were unable to come to a consensus on how best to accomplish this project until early 2007, when a plan to replace two traffic signals with roundabouts was approved. Construction was to be completed in 2008, but $9.9 million in funding was not approved until March 2009.[5] NC State student Joseph Carnevale gained international attention after his arrest, in June 2009, for creating a monster out of construction barrels at the Hillsborough Street construction site.[6] Meanwhile, officials and planners continue to disagree on where to designate customer parking, so that local businesses can increase their sales revenue.[7][8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Geary, Bob (2009-05-27). "Keep Hillsborough Street funky". Independent Weekly. Retrieved 2009-06-12.
  2. ^ City of Raleigh - Hillsborough Street Redesign
  3. ^ Technician Online - Hillsborough Street is seeing red (10-30-2006)
  4. ^ WRAL-TV Raleigh Christmas Parade 2005
  5. ^ Bracken, David (2009-03-20). "About those Hillsborough roundabouts ..." News & Observer blog. Retrieved 2009-06-12.
  6. ^ Ovaska, Sarah (2009-06-19). "Barrel Monster's renown spreads". Raleigh News & Observer. Archived from the original on 2009-06-21. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  7. ^ City of Raleigh - Hillsborough Street Redesign Plan (Feb 7, 2007)
  8. ^ WRAL reports on the approved Hillsborough Street plan (Feb 20, 2007)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°47′41″N 78°41′28″W / 35.7947482°N 78.6911352°W / 35.7947482; -78.6911352