Bull City Suffering From Image Crisis
Posted August 28, 2002
DURHAM, N.C. — For decades, Durham was considered a blue-collar town. Today, it bills itself as high-tech and cutting edge.
Still, when many people think of Durham, they think crime and problems. Now, even that image is changing.
High crime rates, fiery school board meetings and city hall blunders are adding to Durham's image problem.
On the flip side, there is downtown revitalization, a minor league ball team, a major university and a wealth of fine dining.
Those are some of the reasons why Jim and Eileen Capel choose to stay in Durham.
"You've got to take the bad with the good as in any community," Eileen Capel said.
The Capels have lived in Trinity Park for the last decade and have adjusted their lifestyle to fit the community.
"I think I'm more careful about where I go, what I do and when I do it than I have been in other places," Eileen Capel said.
Durham must be doing something right. During the 1990s, it was the fastest growing big city in the state.
The Bull City manages to get a lot of positive publicity on a national level. For example, Black Entertainment Television is in town this week taping several shows at the Carolina Theater.
Still, a recent survey shows 20 percent of people living in the Triangle do not have a favorable view of Durham.
"You know, we can't change everyone's minds," said Reyn Bowman, of the
Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau
Bowman and others feel one of the biggest problems is that Durham does not get the credit it deserves.
"For example, you could live here for several years and not know Research Triangle Park is in Durham. Recently, a local newspaper wrote that Duke is in Chapel Hill, so we have some folks who are seriously geographically challenged in this region," Bowman said.
Combating Durham's negative image could be an uphill battle, but city leaders believe it is a matter of education that needs to start at home.
Many people said they choose to live in Durham because of its diversity. About half of the city's residents are Caucasian; the other half include African Americans, Asians, Indians and Hispanics.