ASHEVILLE is a city in and the county seat of Buncombe County, North Carolina, United States. It is the largest city in Western North Carolina, and it continues to grow. The U.S. Census Bureau determined that Asheville's population in 2010 was 83,318. Asheville is a part of the four-county Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area, the population of which was estimated by the Census Bureau in 2010 to be 417,012.
Asheville pops up on national rankings for a variety of things: Modern Maturity named it one of "The 50 Most Alive Places To Be," AmericanStyle magazine called it one of "America's Top 25 Arts Destinations," Self magazine labeled it the "Happiest City for Women," it is one of AARP Magazine's "Best Places to Reinvent Your Life", and was proclaimed the "New Freak Capital of the U.S." by Rolling Stone. Asheville has also been called "a New Age Mecca" by CBS News' Eye On America, In August 2006 Asheville was named one the "Best Outside Towns" by Outside Magazine. In the 2008 book, The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner, Asheville was cited by the author as one of the happiest places in the United States.
In 2007, Asheville was named one of the top seven places to live in the U.S. by Frommer's Cities Ranked and Rated, and #23 of 200 metro areas for business and careers by Forbes. It was also named one of the world's top 12 must-see destinations for 2007 by Frommer's travel guides.
Asheville and the surrounding mountains are also popular in the autumn when fall foliage peaks in October. The scenic Blue Ridge Parkway runs through the Asheville area and near the Biltmore Estate.
Mayor Terry Bellamy, the city's first African-American female mayor, is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition. In 2005, Mayor Charles Worley signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, and in 2006 the City Council created the Sustainable Advisory Committee on Energy and the Environment. In 2007, the Council became the first city on the East Coast to commit to building all municipal buildings to LEED Gold Standards and to achieve 80% energy reduction of 2001 standards by 2040. In 2007, the Council signed an agreement with Warren Wilson College stating the intent of the city and college to work together toward climate partnership goals. In 2009, the election of city councilman Cecil Bothwell was challenged because the North Carolina Constitution does not allow for atheists to hold public office.
Asheville is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the confluence of the Swannanoa River and the French Broad River. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 41.3 square miles (107.0 km2), of which 40.9 square miles (105.9 km2) is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2) (0.94%) is water.
The climate of Asheville is a humid subtropical climate (Koppen Cfa), resembling the rest of the southeastern U.S., but with noticeably cooler temperatures due to the higher altitude. The area's summers in particular, though warm, are not as hot as summers in cities farther east in the state, as average highs peak at 85 °F (29.4 °C) in July. Winters are cool, with a January mean of 36.4 °F (2.4 °C). Snowfall is sporadic and usually light, with an average seasonal amount of 13.3 inches (34 cm). Freezing rain often occurs, accompanied by more significant disruption. Precipitation is relatively well-spread, though fall and early winter are the driest, and totals 37.3 inches (947.4 mm).
[ ] North, includes the neighborhoods of Albemarle Park, Beaverdam, Beaver Lake, Chestnut Hills, Colonial Heights, Grove Park, Kimberly, Montford, and Norwood Park. The Montford Area Historic District, Chestnut Hill Historic District, and Grove Park Historic District are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Montford and Albemarle Park have been named local historic districts by the Asheville City Council.
[ ] East, includes the neighborhoods of Beverly Hills, Chunn's Cove, Haw Creek, Oakley, Oteen, Reynolds, Riceville, and Town Mountain.
[ ] West, includes the neighborhoods of Camelot, Wilshire Park, Bear Creek, Deaverview Park, Emma, Hi-Alta Park, Lucerne Park, Malvern Hills, Sulphur Springs, Haywood Road, and West Asheville.
[ ] South, includes the neighborhoods of Ballantree, Biltmore Village, Biltmore Forest, Biltmore Park, Kenilworth, Oak Forest, Royal Pines, Shiloh, and Skyland. Biltmore Village has been named a local historic district by the Asheville City Council.
Asheville is the larger principal city of the Asheville-Brevard CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Asheville metropolitan area (Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, and Madison counties) and the Brevard micropolitan area (Transylvania County), which had a combined population of 398,505 at the 2000 census.
At the 2000 census, there were 68,889 people, 30,690 households and 16,726 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,683.4 per square mile (650.0/km²). There were 33,567 housing units at an average density of 820.3 per square mile (316.7/km²). The racial composition of the city was: 77.95% White, 17.61% Black or African American, 3.76% Hispanic or Latino American, 0.92% Asian American, 0.35% Native American, 0.06% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, 1.53% some other race, and 1.58% two or more races.
There were 30,690 households of which 22.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.1% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.5% were non-families. 36.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.81.
Age distribution was 19.6% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 23.1% from 45 to 64, and 18.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 87.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.9 males.
The median household income was $32,772, and the median family income was $44,029. Males had a median income of $30,463 versus $23,488 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,024. About 13% of families and 19% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.9% of those under age 18 and 10.1% of those age 65 or over.
Asheville is the largest city located within the Asheville MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area). The MSA includes Buncombe County; Haywood County; Henderson County; and Madison County; with a combined population - as of the 2008 Census Bureau population estimate - of 408,436.
Apart from Asheville, the MSA includes Hendersonville and Waynesville, along with a number of smaller incorporated towns: Biltmore Forest, Black Mountain, Canton, Clyde, Flat Rock, Fletcher, Hot Springs, Laurel Park, Maggie Valley, Mars Hill, Marshall, Mills River, Montreat, Weaverville and Woodfin.
Several sizable unincorporated rural and suburban communities are also located nearby: Arden, Barnardsville (incorporated until 1970), Bent Creek, Candler, Enka, Fairview, Jupiter (incorporated until 1970), Leicester, Oteen, Skyland, and Swannanoa.
Public Asheville City Schools include Asheville High School (known as Lee H Edwards High School 1935-1969), School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville, Asheville Middle School, Claxton Elementary, Randolph Learning Center, Hall Fletcher Elementary, Isaac Dickson Elementary, Ira B. Jones Elementary and Vance Elementary. Asheville High has been ranked by Newsweek magazine as one of the top 100 high schools in the United States. The Buncombe County School System operates high schools, middle schools and elementary schools both inside and outside the city of Asheville. Clyde A. Erwin High School, T C Roberson High School and A. C. Reynolds High School are three Buncombe County schools located in Asheville.
Asheville has one of the only Sudbury schools in the Southeast, Katuah Sudbury School. It is also home to several charter schools, including Francine Delany New School for Children (one of the first charter schools in North Carolina) and Evergreen Community Charter School, an Outward Bound-Expeditionary Learning School, recognized as one of the most environmentally conscious schools in the country.
Two private residential high schools are located in the Asheville area: the all-male Christ School (located in Arden) and the co-educational Asheville School. Each offers a rigorous college preparatory curriculum and enrolls boarding students from around the world in addition to local day students. Several other private schools, including Rainbow Mountain Children's School, Asheville Christian Academy, Hanger Hall School for Girls, The New Classical Academy and Carolina Day School, enroll local day students. In addition, New City Christian School is a private school whose stated mission is to educate low-income students.
Asheville and its surrounding area have several institutions of higher education:
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (Asheville)
Black Mountain College (Black Mountain: 1933-1957)
Shaw University College of Adult and Professional Education or C.A.P.E.
Brevard College (Brevard)
Mars Hill College (Mars Hill)
Montreat College (Montreat)
University of North Carolina at Asheville (Asheville)
Warren Wilson College (Swannanoa)
Western Carolina University (Cullowhee)
Blue Ridge Community College (Flat Rock)
Music. Live music is a significant element in the tourism-based economy of Asheville and the surrounding area. Seasonal festivals and numerous nightclubs and performance venues offer opportunities for visitors and locals to attend a wide variety of live entertainment events.
An unorganized drum circle, held by residents in Pritchard Park and open to all, is a popular local activity. Pritchard Park is also host to a blues concert each October.
Asheville has a strong tradition of street performance, busking, and outdoor music, including festivals, such as Bele Chere and the Lexington Avenue Arts & Fun Festival (LAAFF). One event is "Shindig on the Green," which happens Saturday nights during July and August on City/County Plaza. By tradition, the Shindig starts "along about sundown" and features local bluegrass bands and dance teams on stage, and informal jam sessions under the trees surrounding the County Courthouse. Another popular outdoor music event is "Downtown After 5," a monthly concert series held from 5PM till 9PM that hosts popular touring musicians as well as local acts.
Asheville annually plays host to the Warren Haynes Christmas Jam annually. The event raises money for Habitat For Humanity, and attracts major touring acts; past performers include Dave Matthews, The Allman Brothers, Ani Difranco, Widespread Panic, and Phish. Other big acts that have played the Asheville area in recent years are bands such as Porcupine Tree, Broken Social Scene, Ween, The Avett Brothers, Gillian Welch, Cat Power, Ghost Mice, Loretta Lynn, The Disco Biscuits, STS9, Pretty Lights, Primus, M. Ward and The Mountain Goats. DJ music, as well as a small, but active, dance community are also components of the downtown musical landscape. The town is also home to the Asheville Symphony and the Asheville Lyric Opera and there are a number of bluegrass, country, and traditional mountain musicians in the Asheville area. A residency at local music establishment The Orange Peel by Smashing Pumpkins in 2007, along with Beastie Boys in 2009, brought national attention to Asheville. The Seattle based rock band, Band of Horses have also recorded their last two albums at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville.
Award-winning Christian vocal group The Kingsmen originates in Asheville.
Asheville is a major hub of whitewater recreation, particularly whitewater kayaking, in the eastern US. Many kayak manufacturers have their bases of operation in the Asheville area. Some of the most distinguished whitewater kayakers live in or around Asheville. In its July/August 2006 journal, the group American Whitewater named Asheville one of the top five US whitewater cities. Asheville is also home to numerous Disc Golf courses. Soccer is a huge recreational sport in Asheville as well. Many games are held at Azalea Park. HFC is the local soccer club in Asheville. The Asheville Hockey League provides opportunities for youth and adult inline hockey at an outdoor rink at Carrier Park. The rink is open to the public and pick-up hockey is also available. The Asheville Civic Center has held recreational ice hockey leagues in the past. And, when it comes to the full-contact mind sport, Scrabble, Asheville has the most active club in all of the Carolinas, the Asheville Tile Slingers.
The Asheville Community Theatre was founded in 1946, producing the first amateur production of the Appalachian drama, Dark of the Moon. Soon after, the young actors Charlton Heston and wife Lydia Clarke would take over the small theatre. The current ACT building has two performance spaces - the Mainstage Auditorium, which seats 399 patrons (and named the Heston Auditorium for its most famous alumni); and the more intimate black box performance space 35 Below, seating 40 patrons.
The North Carolina Stage Company is the only resident professional theatre in the downtown area.
The Asheville Lyric Opera celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2009 with a concert featuring Angela Brown, David Malis, and Tonio Di Paolo, veterans of the Metropolitan Opera. The ALO has typically performed three fully-staged professional operas for the community in addition to its vibrant educational program.
Asheville Vaudeville, Asheville's only monthly vaudeville variety show, performs new material each month from local magicians, jugglers, comedians, musicians, stilt-walkers, knife-throwers and more.
In 2004, the Asheville Arts Center opened. It is a theatre, dance and music studio designed for arts education. The Grand Hall of the Arts Center is a regular venue for local bands as well as the Asheville Movement Collective.
The Asheville capoeira performance movement was solidified with the arrival of world renowned Mestre Pe de Chumbo Mestre Pe de Chumbo to the area in 2006. The capoeira group continues to give performances in the streets, on the stage and during festivals. Due to this group's cumulative efforts in the art of capoeira and in developing community, the Asheville Culture Project (ACP) was established in 2010. The ACP is a community arts initiative that offers a space for the integration of cultural performing arts, community and social justice. The cultural center offers the community performances, classes and outreach.
Film and television
Although the area has had a long history with the entertainment industry, recent developments are cementing Asheville as a potential growth area for both film and TV. The Asheville Film Festival has completed its sixth year. However the City of Asheville, which funds the festival, has announced that it will no longer fund the festival. The festival's future is in doubt. The city is also an annual participant in the 48-Hour Film Project. The city's Public-access television cable TV station URTV began broadcasting programs in spring 2006. Films made at least partially in the area include A Breed Apart, Searching for Angela Shelton, Last of the Mohicans, Being There, My Fellow Americans, Loggerheads, The Fugitive, All the Real Girls, Richie Rich, Thunder Road, Hannibal, Songcatcher, Patch Adams, Nell, Forrest Gump, Mr. Destiny, Dirty Dancing, Bull Durham, The Private Eyes, The Swan, The Clearing and 28 Days. Locally produced films include Golden Throats of the 20th Century and Anywhere, USA, a winning film at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. And Asheville hosts the ActionFest Film Festival, the only festival in the world devoted to action film. The 2010 inaugural edition included Chuck Norris, who was honored as the first ActionFest "man of action."
Asheville is in the "Greenville-Spartanburg-Asheville-Anderson" television DMA and the "Asheville" radio ADI for the city's radio stations.
The primary television station in Asheville is ABC affiliate WLOS-TV Channel 13, with studios in Biltmore Park and a transmitter on Mount Pisgah. Other stations licensed to Asheville include WUNF, PBS station on Channel 33 and The CW affiliate WYCW on Channel 62. Asheville is also served by the Upstate South Carolina stations of WYFF Channel 4 (NBC), WSPA-TV Channel 7 (CBS), WHNS-TV Channel 21 (FOX), MyNetworkTV station WMYA Channel 40 and 3ABN station Channel 41. SCETV PBS affiliates from the Upstate of South Carolina are generally not carried on cable systems in the North Carolina portion of the DMA.
The Asheville Citizen-Times is Asheville's daily newspaper which covers most of Western North Carolina. The Mountain Xpress is the largest weekly in the area, covering arts and politics in the region.
Friends of Community Radio created Asheville FM, a volunteer-based, grassroots community radio station. It has been broadcasting since 2009 via the World Wide Web at www.AshevilleFM.org. The station is licensed under the "Free Form" format. There is a also variety of broadcasts dedicated to Poetry, Interviews, Selected Topics, Children's Radio, and Comedy. The staff have remote broad-casted many local concerts including (but not limited too) Monotonix from Israel, JEFF the Brotherhood from Nashville, Screaming Females from New Jersey, and the local act Soft Opening.