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Memory Lane

Since printing its first college catalog, the university has talked up the fact that it’s located on a major thoroughfare.

Prospective students for the inaugural class of 1889 learned that the one-building campus was “situated on a commanding eminence on the Hillsboro road, one of the principal highways into Raleigh.”

Now known as Hillsborough Street, the road has evolved to fit the times, from dirt road to modern streetscape.

Digging up the Past

A $9.9 million overhaul of Hillsborough Street, completed in time for the fall semester, provided some clues to the area’s storied history.

Construction crews found evidence of trolley tracks and decades-old sidewalks along the eight-block stretch from Oberlin west to Gardner as they installed underground utilities, wide brick sidewalks and center medians for pedestrians. The two-lane makeover includes two roundabouts for smoother traffic flow, added parking, better lighting, fresh landscaping and a brand-new NC State entrance near the Belltower.

Hillsborough Street’s history goes back to 1792, when it was included on the original plans for the city. The dirt lane suitable for a college cross country race in 1910 became a bustling street. Mule teams and streetcars gave way to tens of thousands of vehicles whizzing by each day.

Care to take a walk down memory lane? Check out our gallery of Hillsborough Street, past and present.