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A Walk Around Downtown Durham

Updated on December 3, 2010
September 9, 2010
September 9, 2010

Today is a "walk around downtown" Durham.

It's a walk most people can do and should do.

Walk around your neighborhood, park, or downtown for exercise, adventure, education, beauty, and fun.

You might adopt this approach to spice up your routine.

Try a neighboring town or city.

Walk around downtown and be free!

I'm parking at the American Tobacco Historic District.

This is very easy to reach off of the 147 bypass.

The American Tobacco Company was a tobacco company founded in 1890 by J. B. Duke through a merger between a number of U.S. tobacco manufacturers including Allen and Ginter and Goodwin & Company. The company was one of the original 12 members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1896.

The American Tobacco Company dominated the industry by acquiring the Lucky Strike Company and over 200 other rival firms. Antitrust action begun in 1907 broke the company into several major companies in 1911.

The American Tobacco Company, which started acquiring a wide range of non-tobacco products during the 1970s and 1980s, renamed itself American Brands in 1986, and has since been renamed Fortune Brands. American Tobacco became a subsidiary of American Brands for the next ten years until the company shed its tobacco brands to competitors.

Durham- where great things happen!

In 1854 Dr. Bartlett Durham sold four acres of land to the North Carolina Railroad Company to build a new station between Hillsborough and Raleigh and before long a small settlement grew there which was to become the city of Durham. The first tobacco factory had opened in Durham in 1854 by R. F. Morris. Ten years later, In 1865 the armies of Union and Confederate forces gathered around Durham Station as General Joseph E. Johnston negotiated his surrender to General William T. Sherman at Bennett Place at the end of the Civil War.

It's easy parking and a pleasant walk through the American Tobacco Historic District.

This old cigarette manufacturing facility has been renovated to house restaurants and shops.

"Residential neighborhoods grew around these industries as workers filled the town to work for tobacco companies owned by men like Washington Duke. Duke had begun his tobacco empire from a small log cabin on the Duke Homestead where he was producing around 125,000 pounds of smoking tobacco annually. In April 1874, Duke purchased two acres near the railroad where he built a new factory marking the beginning of a large scale tobacco company which climbed rapidly to the top of the industry. Cigarette making had been by hand, a tedious job done by eastern European immigrants who could roll about 4 a minute. Duke took a chance on a new machine that had been developed in 1880 by eighteen year old James Bonsack that could make around 200 cigarettes an hour (when working properly). After some adjustments it was a success and Duke and his sons became major players in the world of tobacco. In 1890 they merged with their four largest competitors to form the American Tobacco Company and had a monopoly on tobacco products in the USA. When this trust was broken up by the US Supreme Court in 1911 four major companies emerged. They were Liggett and Myers, P. Lorillard, R. J. Reynolds and the American Tobacco Company."

Durham, NC History

It was all quite an engineering feat.

Man-made canals keep water flowing.

I love the different structures such as water towers and the manufacturing complex this once was.

All tables will fill toward mealtimes.

I may stop in at the Cuban Revolution for dinner later.

I made this pic a little "fuzzier". I love the old smokestacks.

North Carolina’s nationally recognized public radio station, WUNC, has a studio at American Tobacco, broadcasting popular programs The State of Things and The People’s Pharmacy live from that location.  From May to October, the American Tobacco Campus and North Carolina Public Radio present the popular Music on the Lawn series of free evening concerts open to the public.

Very often a band will set up right under the tower.

"Music on the Lawn, a near-sacred spring/summer Triangle tradition, is back and better than ever. American Tobacco teams with WUNC-FM and its popular Back Porch Music series to deliver ten great shows, all free, at A.T.'s amphitheater on select Fridays at 6pm kicking off April 30 with Chatham County Line and wrapping up Oct. 8 with an all-star blues showcase"

Easy and pretty walking with shade offered on the side.

Bike racks are in several spots for cyclists rolling in.

Close by is a 22 mile rails-to-trails project, the American Tobacco Trail!

The American Tobacco Trail, named for the company, is a multi-use rail-trail that begins just south of the Durham complex and runs 22 miles (35 km) towards Chatham and Wake counties. It follows the route of the railroad (Norfolk Southern Railway (former) Durham Branch) that once served the factories, but was later abandoned when these facilities were shut down.

Pizza from the "Mellow Mushroom"? Watch the calories! Maybe later.

How about a ball game with the historic Durham Bulls?!

This is, indeed, home to the Durham Bulls!

Across the road is pleasant architecture and grounds.

Nearby attractions are the the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC), historic Brightleaf Square, the Carolina Theatre, downtown Durham, and Duke University.

I'll view the alleys and nooks and crannies!

I'm heading for tall buildings. I'll use the tall buildings to orient myself.

Most of the streets will have pedestrian "walk" signals for us.

Which way to go? Which way to go?

This is an adventure and I'm not familiar with the area.

I just choose left first. First thing, there is a sidewalk eatery. I love these.

This is the Durham municipal bus transportation facility.

There are old remembrances of tobacco all over Durham.

Well- there's a bicycle so I had to take a picture.


I tried, a little, to capture the bus, in the picture.

It's a beautiful church! I love all the points and corners.

Nice, inviting entrance!

I keep the recognizable structures and me oriented.

I can see a smokestack of American Tobacco Historic District to the right.

How about a draft from an Irish pub?

Ah! I can smell the money! Isn't this a gorgeous building?!

This building is sitting on a hill and is very tall so it is visible from many points.

This is what I want my next house to look like!

A neon view? Nice lines!

Another bicycle and this one is struggling with buckets. Great job Sir!

I quickly noticed the "walkways" here. One could do a little "stair" climbing.

The Carolina Theatre will entertain you well!

Here we go! A little challenge with gravity mixed into the mix!

i love the castle like sections of this building.


The Sun Trust building is easy to spot.


This is really a pristine spot for walking.

Yes, I love the small alleyways! Someone's secret garden?

Durham has many government buildings that are grand.

Parking deck, walkway, alleyway. It looks inviting down this alley.

Another government building is in the distance.

City Hall is kind of tall!

Here's another triangular square and the Sun Trust building is visible.

Interesting shape!

An old fire station?

I love it all! It has a steeple in the distance.

    Situated firmly in the center of Durham’s downtown district, are the remnants of what was once known around the nation as “Black Wall Street.” But these remnants are not your archetypal abandoned and dilapidated structures that exist as eyesores on the landscape for years. Rather they are reminders of a glorious past, vibrant present and promising future.

    Following the American Civil War, Durham’s tobacco industry really began to thrive. This not only bought about a great deal of wealth for tobacco company owners and farmers, but also set off a surge in African American entrepreneurship. This resulted in the establishment of numerous Black-owned businesses and an emerging and unprecedented Black middle class.

    The most notable of these new enterprises were Mechanics and Farmers Bank and North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company.  Mechanics and Farmers opened for business in 1908 under the tutelage of nine prominent African-American businessmen.  Still operating today, the bank holds the distinction of being the first lending institution in North Carolina to receive a Certificate of Authority from the Federal Housing Administration (1935).  North Carolina Mutual Life--founded in 1989--became, and is still today, the oldest and largest African American financial institution in the country. 

    These and the majority of the other Black owned businesses were located on Parish Street—a four block long street that African Americans could proudly call their own. And in the process earned the area the nickname of “Black Wall Street,” and Durham “the “City of Negro enterprise,” as termed by Booker T. Washington.

Of course today- this is prime real-estate!

A shady spot for a bus!

Another little oasis right here!

Now I'll take a left and make my walk longer.

More buildings and great walking!

More refreshments are on the corner. Watch the calories!

Maybe a water?

I'm still seeing things I've never seen.

Even in a car- things are not the same as if you are riding a bicycle.

Things are quite different walking.

Another pretty church!

The sidewalks, themselves, vary and create a little enthusiasm.

Yes! Another cyclist! The downtown area seems to be cycling-friendly.

Yes! A splash of color is what we often need!

This would make a wonderful bicycle shop. I could go bankrupt here.

The Sun Trust building is back in front now. I'm heading back.

The American Tobacco Historic District is beyond the buildings ahead.

There's so much to see and so little legs right now!

It's been a great walk and not tiring much at all.

I'll still marvel at the buildings as I return.

Yes, I love the old "Lucky Strike" smokestack.

Taking a picture of someone taking a picture is one of my pastimes.

This is a "burger" wagon.

Here are more structures I wish I knew more about.

Home again, home again, joggity jog.

So hungry? How about right here in the American Tobacco Historic District:

Tobacco Road Sports Cafe
Fresh, delicious food, exceptional service and, for the sports fan, all you could ask for! Tobacco Road boasts a creative range of dishes crafted lovingly by our professional chef. From salads to steaks, guests can enjoy an inventive array of items including down home regional classics (with our own special spin, of course), gourmet entrees and plenty of healthy alternatives beyond your usual salad choices.

Tyler’s Restaurant & Taproom
Carrboro’s long-time favorite taproom is also in Durham!
Next to the Durham Bull’s Athletic Park, Tyler’s offers 60 of the finest craft and specialty import beers on tap. Serving business-paced lunches by day and casual dining at night, Tyler’s offers American comfort food with a seasonal twist. Outdoor dining is available, as well as a private room for all occasions.
After dinner, make your way to The Speakeasy to play some pool or watch your favorite team on one of three HD plasma TV’s.

Saladelia Cafe specializes in sandwiches, homemade salads, gourmet coffees, dessert , even vegan and vegetarian dishes —made from scratch with organic and local ingredients. Saladelia’s organic, fair trade, shade-grown coffees are locally roasted, and they offer whole leaf organic teas. The environment-friendly restaurant encourages sustainable practices and supports local farmers.

Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers
You are cordially invited to submerse yourselves into the psychedelic subculture that is Mellow Mushroom. Who are we? We are pizza. And each restaurant is a different doorway into the Mellow Mushroom world that beckons you to stop and Taste Life. Our restaurants evolved from Bohemian roots of the 60's and 70's and cosmically transcends you from then to now and beyond.

Cuban Revolution Restaurant & Bar
Cuban Revolution Restaurant & Bar is heading to the American Tobacco Campus this spring bringing their spicy mix of Cuban Tapas, as well as décor and music from the 60’s – back when the Rat Pack, Bardot and Marilyn were center stage and the promise of revolutionary Cuba filled the air..

I really walked an "out-and-back" route and added a loop around downtown.

You may walk this loop and just see something else that grabs you.

You'll be fine if you let your eyes take you.

So check out some "walking-hiking" opportunities near your home.

There's probably some wonderful, exiting, educational, beautiful, invigorating hiking right where you are.

Dave Connelly posted

It's a map for another "walk-around-downtown" Durham!

Wear some good shoes appropriate for walking.

You might bring water or prepare to stop at a watering hole.

Enjoy shops, eateries, and other interests along the way.

Keep your eyes on the towering buildings for orientation.

Stop somewhere.

Smell a flower.

Watch a bird.

Watch people.


Participate in life!

Be free!

Micky Dee

Then- try "A Walk Around Downtown Raleigh, NC"

Durham 1920
Durham 1920
Durham Bulls Athletic Park:
Durham Bulls Athletic Park, 409 Blackwell St, Durham, NC 27701-3972, USA

get directions

From I-85 (US 70):
Exit Downtown Durham (Mangum Street). Continue on Mangum through downtown, 2 miles. Follow parking signs to ballpark. The South Deck is just past the Stadium on the corner of Willard/Jackie Robinson and Carr Streets.

The North Deck parking lot is located at the corner of Carr & Pettigrew Streets. Once past the South Deck, make an immediate right onto Carr Street passing between the car dealership on your left and the back entrance to the Bays on your right. The North Deck entrance is straight ahead.

From I-40:
Take I-40 West to the Durham Freeway (Exit 279B) to the Mangum/Roxboro Street Exit (Exit 12B). Keep straight up the hill for about 2 blocks (Willard St./Jackie Robinson) Ballpark Stadium is on the right. South Parking Deck just past Stadium on right. Corner of Willard/Jackie Robinson and Carr.

The North Deck parking lot is located at the corner of Carr & Pettigrew Streets. Once past the South Deck, make an immediate right onto Carr Street passing between the car dealership on your left and the back entrance to the Bays on your right. The North Deck entrance is straight ahead.

From 15-501 North Bypass:
Exit Durham Freeway South. Exit Mangum/Roxboro Street (12). Cross Mangum Street. Go Left on Roxboro. Follow signs for Durham Freeway North (stay to right). Cross Mangum Street again. Ballpark is on the right. You will see the South Parking Deck on the corner of Willard/Jackie Robinson and Carr Streets.

The North Deck parking lot is located at the corner of Carr & Pettigrew Streets. Once past the South Deck, make an immediate right onto Carr Street passing between the car dealership on your left and the back entrance to the Bays on your right. The North Deck entrance is straight ahead.

From I-540:
Take I-540 south to the I-40 exit. Take I-40 West until you reach the Durham Freeway (Exit 279B) to the Mangum/Roxboro Street Exit (Exit 12B). Keep straight up the hill for about 2 blocks (Willard St./Jackie Robinson) Ballpark Stadium is on the right and just past the Stadium is the South Parking Deck on the corner of Willard/Jackie Robinson and Carr Streets.

The North Deck parking lot is located at the corner of Carr & Pettigrew Streets. Once past the South Deck, make an immediate right onto Carr Street passing between the car dealership on your right. The North Deck entrance is straight ahead.


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    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      7 years ago

      Hey mysterylady. God bless you for stopping by. I'm so glad you had a good time. Those are nice memories!

    • mysterylady 89 profile image

      mysterylady 89 

      7 years ago from Florida

      I went to Duke my Freshman year but rarely got into the town. I do remember Duke-Durham Day when the merchants welcomed us and occasionally handed out free samples. I remember rain, much, much rain. I remember sliding down a snowy, icy hill on my butt to the Physics Lab. I remember having a picnic in beautiful Duke Forest.

      Thank you for taking me on a tour and giving me a history lesson on the importance of tobacco. I enjoyed!

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Thank you Peggy. I could write every street down and make this more distinct about what I did but I want to encourage simple walks that require no maps - at least occasionally. God bless Dear Peggy!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I absolutely love these walks around cities like you just portrayed in Durham and also the one you did in Raleigh. Since I have not been there you have given anyone reading this, including me, a great idea of what Durham looks like. Thanks!!! You could do a series...walking around every town and city in America! Great stuff!!! Lots of buttons...

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Wow Polly! 50 poems! You go Girl! Congrats on a great achievement!

    • Pollyannalana profile image


      8 years ago from US

      Buildings just don't impress me but I love beautiful churches, any size. Great hub. Just finished a book of 50 poems over 25,000 words. Whew! I love it though and wish I had time for 50 more. Maybe later.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Oh Chris Eddy!!! I have missed you so! I've often thought it would would be nice to be in you neck of the woods. Or around your neck or something! God bless Chris Eddy!!! One LOVE!

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Come on over akirchner. Chapel Hill is close. There's great stuff here! God bless!

    • Chris Eddy111 profile image

      Chris Eddy111 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Hey, Micky Dee, for a moment there I thought you were talking about my neck of the woods, lol. Great pics as always and I need to sit now please.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Wow - lots of great pics again - what a nice city it looks to be. My husband has relatives nearby - maybe we should go there for a visit someday!

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Thank you AE! Love and Peace!

    • profile image

      Always Exploring 

      8 years ago

      Another great tour, beautiful pictures. It sounds like you had a good time. I,m glad.

      Love and Peace

      Lots of Cheer

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Yo Dave- so cool! Your name is the URL- also -

      Cool beans!

    • profile image

      Dave Connelly 

      8 years ago

      Micky, What a great walking tour you had, and perfect weather too. Here (see URL) is another version of a Durham walk. Cheers.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      I have enjoyed one of those "music fests" at the Tobacco District. Great music and atmosphere.God bless Brother Man!

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Yo Bobbi! I didn't know there was a contest. I ignore most of the hubpages news bits. I just travel. I don't want to "compete" for any prizes. Whoever wins is more deserving. I like "walk-arounds". Charleston is a great "walk-around-town". God bless Bobbi!

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      8 years ago from Arizona

      Mic, a great tour guide in an interesting area, maybe I'll get to see it and feel the atmosphere on a Friday as the sun goes down and folks come out to play...thanks for an interesting view, dusty

    • BobbiRant profile image


      8 years ago from New York

      Are you doing this travel log stuff for the contest? Whatever reason I love the pictures and I learned something too. Great to look at and fun to read.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      God bless you Sa'ge Dear. I like that too.

    • Sa`ge profile image


      8 years ago from Barefoot Island

      Great shots nice tour, lived the spot of color shot the most. thanks for this tour MD!

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      It's a pretty nice place to be Coolmon! God bless you Dear!

    • Coolmon2009 profile image


      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      I enjoyed reading and viewing your pictures in this article on Durham, NC. Seems like a nice place to visit.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Hi Dim! Durham is so really nice nut this is a great area. God bless you Dim!

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 

      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Never mind the bus that you nearly got into your picture, the architecture on that building was so fantastic . I don´t think I´ve ever seen a city so CLEAN!!! Amazing. Thanks, Micky.


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