Sylva, North Carolina
Sylva, North Carolina
Location in North Carolina
|• Mayor||Lynda Sossamon|
|• Total||3.17 sq mi (8.21 km2)|
|• Land||3.17 sq mi (8.21 km2)|
|• Water||0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2) 0%|
|Elevation||2,036 ft (839 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||863.18/sq mi (333.32/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0995798|
|Website||Town of Sylva, NC|
Sylva is an incorporated town located in central Jackson County, in the Plott Balsam Mountains of Western North Carolina, United States of America. As of the 2010 census, the town had a total population of 2,588. It is the county seat, having taken over from nearby Webster in 1913.
According to popular accounts, Sylva is named for William D. Sylva, a Danish handyman who spent a month in the home of General E. R. Hampton, who owned much of the land later developed as downtown Sylva. When the town applied for a post office, Hampton asked his young daughter Mae what the town's name should be. She liked the handyman so much she said, "Sylva." This account is disputed: according to a 21st-century investigation, the handyman William D. Sylva was not Danish, and it is likely that his surname was not Sylva. His last name was "Selvey;" the letter that he wrote to the town was likely in Spanish, not Danish; and he was probably from the Little Canada Community. His daughter's maiden last name was Selvey according to genealogical archives. Her daughter (who recently came to the town) said that her grandfather's surname was "Selvey" instead.
The town became the county seat in 1913 after the county voted to move the seat from Webster to Sylva, which gained a railroad station. Subsequently, Webster declined, as the railroad had not established a stop in that town. Many businesses followed the court and railroad to Sylva. The majestic Jackson County Courthouse was constructed in 1914 and is sited dramatically on a hill at the end of Main Street in downtown Sylva. (The building no longer serves as the official courthouse; the Justice Center was constructed in 1994, a few blocks away.) Since 2011, the Jackson County Courthouse has been the site of the Jackson County Public Library.
The town has the main county high school, Smoky Mountain High School; the county library, county hospital, Justice Center, and two K-8 elementary schools: Scotts Creek east of town, and Fairview located behind the high school. The local newspaper is The Sylva Herald, founded in 1926.
Sylva claims that it once had Dills Falls, a 249 foot waterfall, making it the only town in the US that had a waterfall in town limits, until it was destroyed to build the Sylva bypass. However, the waterfall was only around 40 feet tall, and was never destroyed. There are also many towns in the US, and even North Carolina, to have waterfalls in their town limits. The town had the first municipally owned swimming pool west of Asheville. The stone and concrete pool was built in 1938 by the WPA during the Great Depression; it was demolished in 1969 to be replaced by the current pool. Thomas Edison and Franklin D. Roosevelt both traveled through Sylva: Edison in 1911 and FDR in 1936 during his presidency.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 3.2 square miles (8.3 km2), all of it land.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,435 people, 1,137 households, and 608 families residing in the town. The population density was 759.7 people per square mile (292.9/km2). There were 1,283 housing units at an average density of 400.3 per square mile (154.3/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 89.16% White, 4.68% African American, 1.60% Native American, 1.31% Asian, 0.82% from other races, and 2.42% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.51% of the population.
There were 1,137 households out of which 21.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.1% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.5% were non-families. 39.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.04 and the average family size was 2.74.
In the town, the population was spread out with 18.4% under the age of 18, 12.0% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 22.6% from 45 to 64, and 20.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.1 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $26,432, and the median income for a family was $36,711. Males had a median income of $25,526 versus $22,401 for females. The per capita income for the town was $17,348. About 13.9% of families and 19.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.9% of those under age 18 and 18.6% of those age 65 or over.
Colleges and universities
Sylva is home to the Jackson Campus of Southwestern Community College and is the closest town of size to nearby Western Carolina University (6 miles (9.7 km) away), one of the seventeen schools of the University of North Carolina system.
Greening Up The Mountains Festival takes place on the fourth Saturday in April, a family-friendly downtown street festival that draws more than 10,000 people for arts, old time Appalachian crafts, local music, ethnic and locally inspired cuisine, tastings from local craft breweries, and many child-friendly activities.
The Hook, Line & Drinker Festival takes place in May, celebrating the designation of the area as a popular spot for fishing, and features fly fishing guides, fishing industry vendors, craft beer vendors, children's activities and bands at Bridge Park.
Concerts on The Creek is an event that takes place every Friday night from Memorial Day to Labor Day at Sylva Bridge Park.
In popular culture
Several movies have been filmed in Sylva, including the 1972 movie Deliverance (along Mill Street) and the 1993 blockbuster The Fugitive (at Harris Regional Hospital, a scene where the town is seen from Sylvan Heights right after the train wreck, and along Scotts Creek where it crosses West Main Street). The train wreck scene in The Fugitive was filmed 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Sylva in the town of Dillsboro. The scene of Harrison Ford walking on railroad tracks in an old tunnel was also close by in Cowee Tunnel. The town was also the site of filming for the 2017 film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
- Zeb Alley, lawyer, lobbyist, politician
- Michael Bingham, 2008 Olympic medalist in the 400m relay
- Sean Bridgers, actor in Deadwood, Get Shorty, Rectify
- David McKee Hall, Representative from North Carolina
- Johnny Oates, baseball player and manager
- Nick Searcy, actor in Cast Away, also played a sheriff in The Fugitive (which filmed partially in Sylva)
- Matt Stillwell, country music
- Frank Huguelet, Professional wrestler, reality tv star
- Smoky Mountain High School
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Jackson County, North Carolina
- Jackson County, North Carolina
- Jackson County Courthouse (Sylva, North Carolina)
- "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
- "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
- "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Race, Hispanic or Latino, Age, and Housing Occupancy: 2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File (QT-PL), Sylva town, North Carolina". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Bob Terrell, "Photographs Bring to Life the History of Scenic, Storied Sylva," Asheville Citizen-Times, 11 September 2008.
- Hotaling, Lynn (January 20, 2011). "Ruralite Cafe". The Sylva Herald.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
- "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 9/01/14 through 9/05/14. National Park Service. 2014-09-12.
- "Census of Population and Housing". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- North Carolina Legislative Manual 1971, Biographical Sketch of Zebulon Doyle Alley, p. 621
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