Living in Asheville: Things to Do and See in Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville—Higher Country Hideaway

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Nestled in a thermal valley of North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, locals call Asheville—“Land of the Sky.” Poised at the confluence of the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers—not far from where the Blue Ridge meet the Smoky Mountains—this verdant paradise is home to the oldest mountain range in the world. At an elevation of 2,500 feet, the moderate climate and four distinct seasons make this mountain paradise the perfect place to enjoy, year-round.

Once part of the Cherokee Nation, the first Europeans came to the area in 1540, but it was not until 1784 that the history of Asheville as a town began. A century later, at the height of the Gilded Age, George Vanderbilt's vision brought the renowned talents of architect Richard Morris Hunt and landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmsted to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Together, Hunt and Olmsted transformed the rugged terrain along the French Broad River and created Biltmore House, America’s largest home. Today, the 250-room château continues to attract guests to the area from around the world, just as it did when it was first opened to Vanderbilt’s guests on Christmas Day in 1895

In 1889, Asheville was the first city in North Carolina with electric-rail streetcars. From the 1910s through to the Roaring Twenties, Asheville grew to the third largest city in the state, but that growth quickly halted with the crash of the stock market in 1929. At the time, Asheville had the largest municipal debt from infrastructure projects of any city in the U.S. It was not until the 1980s, when that debt was finally repaid, that Asheville began to grow again. While slow to recover, the prior epoch ensured that the most complete collection of Art Deco buildings in North Carolina remained intact—the impetus for its future revival.

Where “A Tale of Two Cities” meets “Tales of the City,” the area boasts a literary history of triumph and tragedy as home to poet Charles Sandburg, birthplace of novelist Thomas Wolfe, and where F. Scott Fitzgerald retreated to the legendary Grove Park Inn to write in seclusion. While Armistead Maupin could easily have written any number of stories in Asheville's progressive atmosphere, and Charles Dickens could have found inspiration in the Cotswold-esque Biltmore Village—the original township adjacent to the estate built to support the large workforce required to realize Vanderbilt's grand endeavor—Wolfe never could have imagined the cultural jewel that Asheville would become.

Asheville continues to express the beauty and free spirit of Fitzgerald's legendary wife, Zelda Fitzgerald, through the art, food and cultural renaissance that has been transforming this sleepy hamlet for the past two decades. Since 1999, Asheville has worn practically every “best of” moniker it could garner. From the most active place to live, eat, and brew, to the best place to retire—Asheville has something for everyone.

How Many People Live in Asheville?

Population: 87,236

What Languages Are Spoken in Asheville?

Language: English

What is the Currency in Asheville?

Currency: USD

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