Johnson City, Tennessee
Johnson City, Tennessee
|City of Johnson City|
Downtown Johnson City
Location of Johnson City in Carter, Sullivan and Washington Counties, Tennessee.
|Founded by||Henry Johnson|
|• Type||Council-manager government|
|• Mayor||Joe Wise (I)|
|• Vice Mayor||Dr. Todd Fowler|
|• City Manager||M. Denis "Pete" Peterson|
|• City Commissioners||Jenny Brock|
Aaron T. Murphy
|• City||43.60 sq mi (112.93 km2)|
|• Land||43.28 sq mi (112.10 km2)|
|• Water||0.32 sq mi (0.83 km2)|
|Elevation||1,634 ft (498 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||1,545.78/sq mi (596.82/km2)|
|• CSA||508,260 (88th)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
37601-37604, 37614, 37615 & 37684
|GNIS feature ID||1328579|
Johnson City is a city in Washington, Carter, and Sullivan counties in the U.S. state of Tennessee, with most of the city being in Washington County. As of the 2010 census, the population of Johnson City was 63,152, and by 2019 the estimated population was 66,906, making it the ninth-largest city in the state. In 2019, Johnson City was reported to have a daytime population of 202,700.
Johnson City is ranked as the No. 65 "Best Small Place for Business and Careers" in the US by Forbes, and No. 5 in Kiplinger's list of "The 10 Least-Expensive Cities For Living in the U.S.A." stating the low cost of living is attributed to affordable homes and below-average utility, transportation and health-care costs.
Johnson City is the principal city of the Johnson City Metropolitan Statistical Area, which covers Carter, Unicoi, and Washington counties and had a combined population of 200,966 as of 2013. The MSA is also a component of the Johnson City–Kingsport–Bristol, Tennessee–Virginia Combined Statistical Area – commonly known as the "Tri-Cities" region. This CSA is the fifth-largest in Tennessee with an estimated 500,538 people in residence.
William Bean, traditionally recognized as Tennessee's first settler, built his cabin along Boone's Creek near Johnson City in 1769. 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.
Founded in 1856 by Henry Johnson as a railroad station called "Johnson's Depot", Johnson City became a major rail hub for the Southeast, as three railway lines crossed in the downtown area. 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.
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. 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 a resulting financial panic, halted Johnson City's boom town momentum.
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 was created by an act of Congress introduced by Walter P. Brownlow.  Johnson City began growing rapidly and became the fifth-largest city in Tennessee by 1930.
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. The Fountain Square area in downtown featured a host of local and traveling street entertainers including Blind Lemon Jefferson.
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. 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.
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.
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|
|Record high °F (°C)||78
|Average high °F (°C)||45
|Average low °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: |
|Source 2: |
As of the census 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 (253.0/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 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.
Johnson City is an economic hub largely fueled by East Tennessee State University and the medical "Med-Tech" corridor, anchored by the Johnson City Medical Center, Franklin Woods Community Hospital, ETSU's Gatton College of Pharmacy and ETSU's Quillen College of Medicine.
Johnson City is ranked #35 "Best Small Place for Business and Careers" in the USA. Due to its climate, high-quality health care, and affordable housing, it is ranked #8 "Best Place for African Americans to Retire" by Black Enterprise magazine. Kiplinger ranked Johnson City #5 in "The 10 Least-Expensive Cities For Living in the U.S.A.", stating the low cost of living is attributed to affordable homes and below-average utility, transportation and health-care costs.
The popular citrus soda Mountain Dew traces its origins to Johnson City. In July 2012, PepsiCo announced a new malt-flavored version of the drink named Mountain Dew Johnson City Gold in honor of the city. The drink was test marketed in the Chicago metropolitan area, Denver, and Charlotte, beginning in late August.
Major companies headquartered in Johnson City
- American Water Heater Company (owned by A.O. Smith Corp.)
- Advanced Call Center Technologies
- Cantech Industries
- General Shale Brick LLC
- LPI, Inc.
- Mayes Brothers Tool Mfg
- Moody Dunbar, Inc.
- Mullican Flooring
- R.A. Colby, Inc.
- TPI Corporation
- JD Squared, manufacturer of tube and pipe benders and other fabrication tools
|Top employers in Johnson City|
|Ballad Health (formerly Mountain States Health Alliance)||3541|
|East Tennessee State University||1990|
|Citi Commerce Solutions||1700|
|Washington County School System||1275|
|James H. Quillen VA Medical Center||1259|
|American Water Heater Company||1194|
|AT&T Mobility (formerly Cingular)||1000|
Arts and culture
As a regional hub for a four-state area, Johnson City is home to a large variety of retail business, from well-known national chains to local boutiques and galleries.
The Mall at Johnson City is the city's only enclosed shopping mall. California-based Forever 21 opened an XXI Forever flagship store on the mall's upper level, and Express opened in late 2010. The nearby Target Center houses Target, T.J.Maxx, Books-A-Million, and Pier One.
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 and houses Michael's, Ross, Old Navy, Bed Bath and Beyond, Shoe Carnival, and more. On the other side of the highway are retailers Kohl's, Lowe's, Sam's Club and Barnes & Noble.
Points of interest
- Boone Lake
- Buffalo Mountain Park
- East Tennessee State University Arboretum
- ETSU/Mountain States Health Alliance Athletic Center
- Freedom Hall Civic Center
- Gray Fossil Site
- Johnson City STOLport
- Rocky Mount State Historic Site
- Thomas Stadium, baseball venue
- Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site
- Tri-Cities Regional Airport, 16 miles (26 km) north of downtown
- Watauga River
- Wheatland (Knob Creek, Washington County, Tennessee)
- William B. Greene Jr. Stadium
- Yee Haw Brewing Co.
- Founders Park
- Tweetsie Trail
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. 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. 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.
Johnson City is run by a five-person board of commissioners:
- Mayor: Joe Wise
- Vice Mayor: Todd Fowler
- Commissioner: Jenny Brock
- Commissioner: Aaron T. Murphy
- Commissioner: John Hunter
The city manager is M. Denis "Pete" Peterson.
Colleges and universities
East Tennessee State University has around 16,000 students in addition to a K-12 University School, a laboratory school of about 540 students. University School was the first laboratory school in the nation to adopt a year-round academic schedule.
Milligan College (which changed its named to Milligan University in June, 2020) is just outside the city limits in Carter County, and has about 1,200 students in undergraduate and graduate programs.
Johnson City School System
- Indian Trail Intermediate (formerly Middle) School
- Liberty Bell Middle School
- Ashley Academy (PreK-8)
- St. Mary's (K-8)
- Providence Academy (K-12)
- Tri-Cities Christian Schools (PreK-12)
- University School (K-12) 
Johnson City is bisected by Interstate 26, which connects the city to Kingsport to the north and Asheville, North Carolina, and Spartanburg, South Carolina, to the south. Interstate 81 intersects I-26 a 16 miles (26 km) northwest of the city center and carries drivers to Knoxville to the southwest and Bristol to the northeast.
Major federal and state routes
- U.S. Route 19W runs through the city, signed partially on I-26, before joining 19E near Bluff City en route to Bristol.
- U.S. Route 11E connects Johnson City to Jonesborough and Greeneville to the southwest, and reunites with 11W to the northeast in Bristol before continuing on to Roanoke, Virginia. In Johnson City, route 11E forms a concurrency with North Roan Street, a major artery in the city.
- U.S. Route 321, also partially on the 11E route, connects Johnson City to Elizabethton (forming a high-speed, limited-access freeway) before continuing on to Hickory and Gastonia, North Carolina.
- U.S. Route 23 is concurrent with I-26 from North Carolina, through Johnson City, and north to the I-26 terminus in Kingsport.
Johnson City Transit (JCT) operates a system of buses inside the city limits, including a route every fifteen minutes along Roan Street. Main transit routes operate 6:15 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. on Saturdays. JCT also has an evening route that operates weeknights between 6:15 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. The Johnson City Transit Center, downtown on West Market Street, also serves as the transfer point for Greyhound lines running through the city. JCT operates the BucShot, a system serving the greater ETSU campus.
Johnson City serves as a regional medical center for northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia, along with parts of western North Carolina and southeastern Kentucky.
The Johnson City Medical Center, designated a Level 1 Trauma Center by the State of Tennessee, is one of Ballad Health's three tertiary hospitals. Also affiliated with the center are the Niswonger Children's Hospital, a domestic affiliate of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and Woodridge Hospital, a mental health and chemical dependency facility.
Franklin Woods Community Hospital is a LEED-certified facility in North Johnson City. The "green" hospital (opened July 12, 2010) encloses approximately 240,000 square feet (22,000 m2) on a 25-acre (100,000 m2) lot adjacent to The Wellness Center inside MedTech Park. The hospital has 80 licensed beds and a 22-room Emergency Department. Of the licensed beds, 20 are dedicated to Women's and Children's Services.
The James H. & Cecile C. Quillen Rehabilitation Hospital, also in North Johnson City, serves patients who have suffered debilitating trauma, including stroke and brain-spine injuries.
Additionally, the James H. Quillen Veterans Affairs Medical Center, in the Mountain Home community in Johnson City's southside, serves veterans in the four-state region. The center is closely involved with the East Tennessee State University James H. Quillen College of Medicine.
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- Sam Bettens, lead singer of rock band K's Choice; Johnson City firefighter for a year
- Jerry Blevins, Major League Baseball pitcher (New York Mets)
- Ernie Bowman, Major League Baseball (San Francisco Giants, 1961–63)
- Joe Bowman, bootmaker and marksman; guardian of western culture
- Mike Brown, American Motorcyclist Association rider
- Jo Carson, playwright and author
- George Lafayette Carter, entrepreneur
- David Cash, professional wrestler
- David Cole, founding member of C+C Music Factory
- Patrick J. Cronin, television and film actor, a professor in English and Theater at ETSU
- Matt Czuchry, actor (Gilmore Girls), attended Science Hill High School
- David Davis, Tennessee state senator; U.S. congressman 2007-2009
- Lindsay Ellis, American film critic, YouTuber, cinematographer, and author
- Ray Flynn, miler with 89 sub-four-minute miles; graduated ETSU, president/CEO of Flynn Sports Management
- Aubrayo Franklin, defensive tackle, San Francisco 49ers
- Wyck Godfrey, film producer and studio executive
- Jake Grove, born in Johnson City; played center for Virginia Tech, won the Rimington Trophy, played for the Miami Dolphins
- Del Harris, NBA coach, attended Milligan College
- Holly Herndon, electronic musician
- Mark Herring, Attorney General of Virginia
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- Steven James, novelist, attended ETSU
- Drew Johnson, political commentator and columnist, and founder of the Beacon Center of Tennessee
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Johnson City, Tennessee.|
- Official website
- Johnson City, Tennessee travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Washington County, TN Economic Development Council
- Johnson City Development Authority