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Johnson City, Tennessee

Coordinates: 36°20′N 82°22′W / 36.333°N 82.367°W / 36.333; -82.367
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Johnson City
Downtown Johnson City
Downtown Johnson City
Flag of Johnson City
Official seal of Johnson City
Official logo of Johnson City
Location of Johnson City in Carter, Sullivan and Washington counties, Tennessee
Location of Johnson City in Carter, Sullivan and Washington counties, Tennessee
Johnson City is located in Tennessee
Johnson City
Johnson City
Johnson City is located in the United States
Johnson City
Johnson City
Coordinates: 36°20′N 82°22′W / 36.333°N 82.367°W / 36.333; -82.367
CountryUnited States
CountiesWashington, Carter, Sullivan
Founded byHenry Johnson
 • TypeCouncil-manager government
 • MayorDr. Todd Fowler
 • Vice MayorAaron T. Murphy
 • City ManagerCathy Ball
 • City CommissionersJenny Brock
Joe Wise
John Hunter
 • City43.75 sq mi (113.32 km2)
 • Land43.44 sq mi (112.52 km2)
 • Water0.31 sq mi (0.80 km2)
1,634 ft (498 m)
 • City71,046
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,635.38/sq mi (631.42/km2)
 • Urban
128,519 (US: 261st)[3]
 • Metro
207,285 (US: 215th)
 • CSA
514,899 (US: 87th)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
37601-37604, 37614, 37615 & 37684
Area code423
FIPS code47-38320[5]
GNIS feature ID1328579[6]

Johnson City is a city in Washington, Carter, and Sullivan counties in the U.S. state of Tennessee, mostly in Washington County. As of the 2020 United States census, the population was 71,046, making it the eighth largest city in Tennessee.[7] Johnson City is the principal city of the Johnson City Metropolitan Statistical Area, which consists of Carter, Unicoi, and Washington counties[8] and had a population of 207,285 as of 2020. The MSA is also a component of the Tri-Cities region. This CSA is the fifth-largest in Tennessee, with a population of 514,899 as of 2020.


William Bean, traditionally recognized as Tennessee's first white settler, built his cabin along Boone's Creek near Johnson City in 1769.[9] In the 1780s, Colonel John Tipton (1730–1813) established a farm (now the Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site) just outside what is now Johnson City. During the State of Franklin movement, Tipton was a leader of the loyalist faction, residents of the region who wanted to remain part of North Carolina rather than form a separate state. In February 1788, an armed engagement took place at Tipton's farm between Tipton and his men and the forces led by John Sevier, the leader of the Franklin faction.[10]

Founded in 1856 by Henry Johnson as a railroad station called "Johnson's Depot",[11] Johnson City became a major rail hub for the Southeast, as three railway lines crossed in the downtown area.[12]

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Johnson City served as headquarters for the narrow gauge East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (the ET&WNC, nicknamed "Tweetsie") and the standard gauge Clinchfield Railroad. Both rail systems featured excursion trips through scenic portions of the Blue Ridge Mountains and were engineering marvels of railway construction. The Southern Railway (now Norfolk Southern) also passes through the city.[13]

During the American Civil War, before it was formally incorporated in 1869, the name of the town was briefly changed to "Haynesville" in honor of Confederate Senator Landon Carter Haynes.[14]

Henry Johnson's name was quickly restored following the war, with Johnson elected as the city's first mayor on January 3, 1870. The town grew rapidly from 1870 until 1890 as railroad and mining interests flourished. However, the national depression of 1893, which caused many railway failures (including the Charleston, Cincinnati and Chicago Railroad or "3-Cs", a predecessor of the Clinchfield) and resulting financial panic, halted Johnson City's boom town momentum.[15]

In 1901, the Mountain Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (now the U.S. Veterans Affairs Medical Center and National Cemetery), Mountain Home, Tennessee[16][17] was created by an act of Congress introduced by Walter P. Brownlow. Construction on this 450-acre (1.8 km2) campus, which was designed to serve disabled Civil War veterans, was completed in 1903 at a cost of $3 million. Before the completion of this facility, the assessed value of the entire town was listed at $750,000. The East Tennessee State Normal School was authorized in 1911 and the new college campus directly across from the National Soldiers Home.[citation needed] Johnson City began growing rapidly and became the fifth-largest city in Tennessee by 1930.[18]

Together with neighboring Bristol, Johnson City was a hotbed for old-time music. It hosted noteworthy Columbia Records recording sessions in 1928 known as the Johnson City Sessions. Native son "Fiddlin' Charlie" Bowman became a national recording star via these sessions.[19] The Fountain Square area in downtown featured a host of local and traveling street entertainers including Blind Lemon Jefferson.

During the 1920s and the Prohibition era, Johnson City's ties to the bootlegging activity of the Appalachian Mountains earned the city the nickname of "Little Chicago".[20] Stories persist that the town was one of several distribution centers for Chicago gang boss Al Capone during Prohibition. Capone had a well-organized distribution network within the southern United States for alcohol smuggling; it shipped his products from the mountain distillers to northern cities. Capone was, according to local lore, a part-time resident of Montrose Court, a luxury apartment complex now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[citation needed]

For many years, the city had a municipal "privilege tax" on carnival shows, in an attempt to dissuade traveling circuses and other transient entertainment businesses from doing business in town.[21] The use of drums by merchants to draw attention to their goods is prohibited. Title Six, Section 106 of the city's municipal code, the so-called "Barney Fife" ordinance, empowers the city's police force to draft into involuntary service as many of the town's citizens as necessary to aid police in making arrests and in preventing or quelling any riot, unlawful assembly or breach of peace.[22]


Midtown Johnson City

Johnson City is in northeastern Washington County,[23] with smaller parts extending north into Sullivan County and east into Carter County. Johnson City shares a contiguous southeastern border with Elizabethton. Johnson City also shares a small contiguous border with Kingsport to the far north along I-26 and a slightly longer one with Bluff City to the northeast along US 11E.[citation needed]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 43.3 square miles (112.1 km2), of which 42.9 square miles (111.2 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.8 km2), or 0.75 percent, is water.

Buffalo Mountain, a ridge over 2,700 feet (820 m) high, is a city park on the south side of town. The Watauga River arm of Boone Lake, a Tennessee Valley Authority reservoir, is partly within the city limits.[citation needed]


Johnson City has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), with warm summers and cool winters. Temperatures in Johnson City are moderated somewhat by its elevation and proximity to the Appalachian Mountains. Precipitation is abundant, with an average of 45.22 in (1,149 mm). Summer is typically the wettest part of the year, while early autumn is considerably drier. Snowfall is moderate and sporadic, with an average of 15.6 in (40 cm).

Climate data for Johnson City, Tennessee
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 78
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 45
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 25
Record low °F (°C) −21
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.42
Average snowfall inches (cm) 5.2
Average relative humidity (%) 59.0 71.5 69.0 67.0 69.5 73.0 75.0 76.5 76.5 74.0 68.5 69.5 74.0
Source 1: [24]
Source 2: [25]


Historical population
2022 (est.)73,337[26]3.2%

2020 census[edit]

Johnson City racial composition[27]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 55,950 78.75%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 4,809 6.77%
Native American 164 0.23%
Asian 1,710 2.41%
Pacific Islander 37 0.05%
Other/mixed 3,878 5.46%
Hispanic or Latino 4,498 6.33%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 71,046 people, 30,724 households, and 15,904 families residing in the city.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 55,469 people, 23,720 households, and 14,018 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,412.4 per square mile. There were 25,730 housing units at an average density of 655.1 per square mile (252.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.09 percent white, 6.40 percent African American, 0.26% Native American, 1.22 percent Asian, 0.02 percent Pacific Islander, 0.69 percent from other races, and 1.32 percent from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 1.89 percent of the population.

There were 23,720 households, out of which 25.0 percent had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.1 percent were married couples living together, 11.6 percent had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.9 percent were non-families. 33.9 percent of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.5 percent had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20, and the average family size was 2.82.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 19.8 percent under the age of 18, 13.7 percent from 18 to 24, 28.1 percent from 25 to 44, 22.5 percent from 45 to 64, and 15.9 percent who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,835, and the median income for a family was $40,977. Males had a median income of $31,326 versus $22,150 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,364. About 11.4 percent of families and 15.9 percent of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.9 percent of those under age 18 and 12.7 percent of those age 65 or over.


Mountain Dew traces its origins to the city.

Johnson City is an economic hub largely fueled by East Tennessee State University and the medical "Med-Tech" corridor,[14] anchored by the Johnson City Medical Center and Niswonger Children's Hospital, Franklin Woods Community Hospital, ETSU's Gatton College of Pharmacy, and ETSU's Quillen College of Medicine.

The popular citrus soda Mountain Dew traces its origins to Johnson City. In 2012, PepsiCo announced a new malt-flavored version of the drink named Mountain Dew Johnson City Gold in honor of the city.[28]

Johnson City and its metropolitan area had a gross metropolitan product of US$9.1 billion in 2019.[29]

Top employers in Johnson City (2008)[30]
Employer Number of
Ballad Health 3541
East Tennessee State University 1990
Washington County School System 1275
James H. Quillen VA Medical Center 1259
American Water Heater Company 1194
AT&T Mobility 1000

Major companies headquartered in Johnson City[edit]

  • American Water Heater Company (owned by A.O. Smith Corp.)
  • Advanced Call Center Technologies
  • Cantech Industries
  • General Shale Brick LLC
  • LPI, Inc.
  • Moody Dunbar, Inc.
  • Mullican Flooring
  • R.A. Colby, Inc.
  • TPI Corporation

Other companies[edit]

  • JD Squared, manufacturer of tube and pipe benders and other fabrication tools

Arts and culture[edit]

Monument of Chief Junaluska in Metro-Kiwanis Park, Johnson City

Public art[edit]

Public art includes 12 to 15 sculptures that change every two years.[31] Also, 24 bronze statuettes of animals indigenous to the Appalachian Highlands, cast by faculty and students at ETSU, are installed in various downtown locations; staff at the Johnson City Public Library created a list of clues to aid in the search for all the animals.[32] Other public art includes banners and art on light poles and traffic boxes, and quote stones along sidewalks and paths.[33][34] Two annual art events take place in the city.[35]


As a regional hub for a four-state area, Johnson City is home to a large variety of retail businesses, from well-known national chains to local boutiques and galleries.

The Mall at Johnson City is the city's only enclosed shopping mall. Much of the new retail development is in North Johnson City, along State of Franklin Road. Johnson City Crossings is the largest of these developments.

Points of interest[edit]

The Pavilion at Founder's Park hosts the local farmer's market.


Several Minor League Baseball teams have been based in Johnson City. Professional baseball was first played in the city by the Johnson City Soldiers in the Southeastern League in 1910.[38] The city's longest-running team was the Johnson City Cardinals, who played in the Appalachian League as the Rookie affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals from 1975 to 2020.[38] In conjunction with a contraction of Minor League Baseball beginning with the 2021 season, the Appalachian League was reorganized as a collegiate summer baseball league, and the Cardinals were replaced by the Johnson City Doughboys, a new franchise in the revamped league designed for rising college freshman and sophomores.[39][40]


In the United States House of Representatives, Johnson City is represented by Republican Diana Harshbarger of the 1st district.

Johnson City is run by a five-person board of commissioners.[41] The mayor is Todd Fowler, the vice mayor is Aaron Murphy, and the commissioners are Jenny Brock, Joe Wise, and John Hunter. The city manager is Cathy Ball.[42]


Colleges and universities[edit]

East Tennessee State University has around 16,000 students in addition to a K-12 University School, a laboratory school of about 540 students.[43] University School was the first laboratory school in the nation to adopt a year-round academic schedule.[44]

Milligan University is just outside the city limits in Carter County, and has about 1,200 students in undergraduate and graduate programs.

Northeast State Community College has renovated a building in downtown Johnson City for use as a new satellite teaching site.[45]

Tusculum College has a center on the north side of Johnson City in the Boones Creek area.

Johnson City School System[edit]

Elementary schools

  • Cherokee Elementary
  • Fairmont Elementary
  • Lake Ridge Elementary
  • Mt. View Elementary
  • North Side Elementary
  • South Side Elementary
  • Towne Acres Elementary
  • Woodland Elementary

Middle schools

  • Indian Trail Middle School
  • Liberty Bell Middle School

High schools

Private schools[edit]

  • Ashley Academy (PreK-8)
  • St. Mary's (K-8)
  • Providence Academy (K-12)
  • Tri-Cities Christian Schools (PreK-12)
  • University School (K-12) [46]



Transit center in downtown Johnson City

Johnson City is served by Tri-Cities Regional Airport (IATA Code TRI) and Johnson City Airport (0A4) in Watauga.


Public transport[edit]

Johnson City Transit operates a system of buses inside the city limits,[47] including BucShot, a system serving the greater ETSU campus.

The Southern Railway used to serve Johnson City with several trains: the Birmingham Special (ended 1970), the Pelican (ended 1970) and the Tennessean (ended 1968).[48]


Johnson City serves as a regional medical center for northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia, along with parts of western North Carolina and southeastern Kentucky.[citation needed]

Johnson City Medical Center includes a level 1 trauma center,[49] the Niswonger Children's Hospital, and Woodridge Hospital, an inpatient psychiatric hospital.

Franklin Woods Community Hospital is an 80-bed hospital with emergency services.[50]

James H. and Cecile C. Quillen Rehabilitation Hospital serves patients who have suffered debilitating trauma, including stroke and brain-spine injuries.[citation needed]

Notable people[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

Johnson City's sister cities are:[65][66]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tennessee Blue Book, 2005-2006, pp. 618-625.
  2. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 15, 2022.
  3. ^ "List of 2020 Census Urban Areas". census.gov. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 7, 2023.
  4. ^ a b "Census Population API". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 15, 2022.
  5. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  6. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  7. ^ "Johnson City city, Tennessee". quickfacts.census.gov. United States Census Bureau.
  8. ^ METROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREAS AND COMPONENTS Archived May 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Office of Management and Budget, May 11, 2007. Accessed July 30, 2008.
  9. ^ Paul Hellman, Historical Gazetteer of the United States (Taylor and Francis, 2005), p. 1016.
  10. ^ A civil and political history of the state of Tennessee"; by John Haywood
  11. ^ http://www.stateoffranklin.net/johnsons/henry.pdf [bare URL PDF]
  12. ^ Graybeal, Johhny, "Riding the Rails: The Storied History of the ET&WNC Line" Archived June 19, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Johnson City Press, April 18, 2005
  13. ^ "The East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad". American-Rails.com. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  14. ^ a b Haskell, Jean. Johnson City. Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Accessed: December 25, 2009.
  15. ^ "Johnson City is a Typical American City Archived December 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine", The Sunday Chronicle (Johnson City), 1922.
  16. ^ Center, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Deputy Under Secretary for Operations and Management, Veterans Integrated Service Network 9, James H. Quillen VA Medical. "Mountain Home VA Healthcare System". www.mountainhome.va.gov.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  17. ^ "Mountain Home National Cemetery". www.cem.va.gov. National Cemetery Administration.
  18. ^ Fifteenth Census of the United States – 1930 – Population: Volume III, Part 2: Montana-Wyoming, p890
  19. ^ "Old-Time Music Heritage", Johnson's Depot Website
  20. ^ "Little Chicago", Johnson's Depot Website
  21. ^ "The Day They Hanged an Elephant in East Tennessee" Archived January 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Blue Ridge Country, February 13, 2009
  22. ^ "Code of Ordinance for Johnson City". www.mtas.utk.edu. Archived from the original on March 20, 2014. Retrieved December 21, 2009.
  23. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  24. ^ "Average Weather for Johnson City, TN". Weather.com. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  25. ^ "Climate Information for Bristol - Johnson City - Tennessee". climate-zone.com. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  26. ^ "City and Town Population Totals: 2020-2023". United States Census Bureau. May 16, 2024. Retrieved May 16, 2024.
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  30. ^ "2030 Long Range Transportation Plan" (PDF). Johnson City Metropolitan Transport Planning Organization. pp. 3–9. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 18, 2011. Retrieved July 3, 2009.
  31. ^ Roberts, Jonathan (February 20, 2023). "New public art sculptures set to come to Johnson City". Johnson City Press. Retrieved June 2, 2023.
  32. ^ khackney@johnsoncitypress.com, Kayla Hackney Press Staff Writer (March 15, 2021). "Downtown visitors go wild for Wildabout Walkabout scavenger hunt". Johnson City Press. Retrieved June 2, 2023.
  33. ^ Digital, WCYB (December 30, 2021). "New artistic wraps installed on traffic control boxes in Johnson City". WCYB. Retrieved June 2, 2023.
  34. ^ "New lamppost banners in Founders Park feature local artwork". www.johnsoncitytn.org. Retrieved June 2, 2023.
  35. ^ Staff reports (April 14, 2023). "Johnson City Public Art to host Art·Struck Festival". Johnson City Press. Retrieved June 2, 2023.
  36. ^ Visit Johnson City, Buffalo Mountain Park November 14, 2019, https://visitjohnsoncitytn.com/place/buffalo-mountain-park/
  37. ^ "Founders Park". Johnson City Convention & Visitors Bureau. Retrieved June 22, 2021.
  38. ^ a b "Johnson City, Tennessee Encyclopedia". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
  39. ^ "MLB, USA Baseball Announce New Format for Appalachian League". Major League Baseball. September 29, 2020. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  40. ^ "Johnson City's Appy League Team to Be Known as the Doughboys". WJHL. February 2, 2021. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  41. ^ [1] Retrieved October 18, 2022.
  42. ^ [2], Retrieved October 18, 2022.
  43. ^ "History". Archived from the original on May 26, 2009. Retrieved October 5, 2009.
  44. ^ "About the School". Archived from the original on August 28, 2009. Retrieved October 5, 2009.
  45. ^ Casey, Tony (August 23, 2015). "Class is now in session at downtown Johnson City's Northeast State campus". Johnson City Press.
  46. ^ "About Us".
  47. ^ "Johnson City Transit, General Information". Retrieved June 11, 2016.
  48. ^ Southern Timetable, 1966, p. 6 http://streamlinermemories.info/South/SRR66-10TT.pdf
  49. ^ "Emergency Services Johnson City Medical Center".
  50. ^ "Franklin Woods Community Hospital". Ballad Health. Retrieved July 2, 2023.
  51. ^ "Counselor To The King". The New York Times. September 24, 1989.
  52. ^ "Johnson City Fire Department welcomes rookie firefighters", Johnson City News and Neighbor, June 23, 2012, p1.
  53. ^ William Grimes, "Joe Bowman, Sharpshooter, Dies at 84", The New York Times, July 6, 2009.
  54. ^ Barber, Rex (September 21, 2011). "Jo Carson, ETSU grad and nationally known writer, storyteller dies at 64". Johnson City Press. Archived from the original on September 24, 2011. Retrieved February 8, 2013.
  55. ^ "Patrick Cronin". IMDb.
  56. ^ "Sports Management - Flynn sports management". www.flynnsportsmanagement.com.
  57. ^ "Aubrayo Franklin". NFL.com.
  58. ^ "SHHS alum Wyck Godfrey named new president of Paramount Motion Pictures Group". WJHL.com. September 12, 2017. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  59. ^ "Jake Grove". NFL.com.
  60. ^ "NBA.com Del Harris". www.nba.com. Archived from the original on November 19, 2017. Retrieved March 14, 2007.
  61. ^ "Drew Johnson named as Free Press opinion page editor". June 9, 2012.
  62. ^ Ronson, Jon (November 30, 2012). "Bryan Saunders: portrait of the artist on crystal meth". The Guardian. London.
  63. ^ "marker again". www.waymarking.com.
  64. ^ "Driver Brad Teague Career Statistics - Racing-Reference.info". www.racing-reference.info.
  65. ^ "Johnson City Parks and Recreation Department". johnsoncitytn.org. City of Johnson City. Retrieved May 2, 2021.
  66. ^ "Our German Sister City with Medieval roots". johnsoncitypress.com. Johnson City Press. September 19, 2016. Retrieved May 2, 2021.
  • Greater Johnson City, by Ray Stahl, 1986.
  • A History of Johnson City, Tennessee and its Environs, by Samuel Cole Williams, 1940.
  • History of Washington County, Tennessee, by Joyce and Gene Cox, Editors, 2001.
  • Fiddlin' Charlie Bowman, by Bob L. Cox, University of Tennessee Press, 2007.
  • The Railroads of Johnson City, by Johnny Graybeal, Tar Heel Press, 2007.

External links[edit]