Carrboro was first settled in 1882 around a University of North Carolina railroad spur. It was originally known as West End, due to its geographic location directly west of Chapel Hill. In 1911, the town was incorporated under the name Venable, for chemistry professor and University of North Carolina president Francis Preston Venable. It wasn’t until 1913 that the town made its final name change in honor of Julian Shakespeare Carr, owner of the local textile mill, after Carr expanded the mill and provided electricity to the community.
For the first fifty years after its incorporation, Carrboro remained a small mill town with a slow, steady pace of growth. In 1960, approximately 2,000 people lived in the town. In the late 1960s the town’s population began to increase stemming from the growth occurring at UNC-Chapel Hill and area businesses.
Also during the late 1960s, Carrboro began to become more progressive in its thinking. Today the town has a reputation as one of the most progressive communities in the South. Carrboro was the first municipality in North Carolina to elect an openly gay Mayor in 1995, and was also the first in the state to grant domestic-partner benefits to same-sex couples.
Growth has continued through the 1980s, 90s, and 2000s. This has resulted in the creation of a vibrant and diverse community. Carrboro Farmer’s Market, two venues that host national music acts (the ArtsCenter and Cat’s Cradle), and the DSI Community Theatre all call Carrboro home. The town also hosts annual events like the Carrboro Music Festival, Carrboro Film Festival, and the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival. Today, over 20,000 people are able to call Carrboro home.