Murfreesboro is a city in and the county seat of Rutherford County, Tennessee. The population was 108,755 according to the 2010 census, up from 68,816 residents certified during the 2000 census. The city is the center of population of Tennessee and is part of the Nashville metropolitan area, which includes thirteen counties and a population of 1,617,142 (2011). It is Tennessee’s fastest growing major city and one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Murfreesboro is also home to Middle Tennessee State University, the largest undergraduate university in the state of Tennessee, with an undergraduate population of 22,299 and 25,188 total students as of 2009. In 2006, Murfreesboro was ranked by Money as the 84th best place to live in the United States, out of 745 cities with a population over 50,000.
In 1811, the Tennessee State Legislature established a county seat for Rutherford County. The town was first named “Cannonsburgh” in honor of Tennessee politician Newton Cannon, but was soon renamed “Murfreesboro” for Revolutionary War hero Colonel Hardy Murfree, later the great-grandfather of author Mary Noailles Murfree.
As Tennessee grew westward, it became clear that having the state capital in Knoxville would be a burden to those who had to travel from the western end of the state. In 1818, Murfreesboro became the capital of Tennessee until 1826, when Nashville became the state capital.
Post Civil War
Murfreesboro had begun as a mainly agricultural community, but by 1853 the area was home to several colleges and academies, earning it the nickname “Athens of Tennessee”. Despite the trauma of the Civil War, by the early 1900s its growth began to regain momentum, in contrast to large areas of the South. In 1911, the state created Middle Tennessee State Normal School, a two-year school for training teachers. There was a subsequent merger with the Tennessee College for Women. In 1925 the school was expanded to a four-year institution. During and following World War II, it grew and evolved to become Middle Tennessee State University in 1965. MTSU now has the highest undergraduate enrollment in the state.
World War II resulted in Murfreesboro beginning to move away from an agriculture-based economy and diversify economically with industry, manufacturing, and education contributing significantly. Since the end of World War II, growth has been steady giving rise to a stable economy. Murfreesboro has enjoyed substantial residential and commercial growth, with its population increasing 123.9% between 1990 and 2010, from 44,922 to 100,575.
As of the 2000 census, there were 68,816 people, 26,511 households, and 15,747 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,764.9 inhabitants per square mile (681.4 /km2). There were 28,815 housing units at an average density of 739.0 per square mile (285.3 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 79.85% White, 13.89% African American, 0.28% Native American, 2.69% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.88% from other races, and 1.38% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.53% of the population.
There were 26,511 households out of which 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.8% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.6% were non-families. 28.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.02.
In the city the population was spread out with 22.7% under the age of 18, 20.5% from 18 to 24, 30.8% from 25 to 44, 17.3% from 45 to 64, and 8.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 98.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $39,705, and the median income for a family was $52,654. Males had a median income of $36,078 versus $26,531 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,219. About 8.2% of families and 14.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.0% of those under the age of 18 and 11.1% of those 65 and older.
Special census estimates in 2005 indicated 81,393 residents, and in 2006 the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey estimated a population of 92,559, with 35,842 households and 20,979 families in the city. Murfreesboro’s 2008 special census reported that the population had reached 100,575, while preliminary information from the 2010 U.S. Census indicates a population of 108,755.
Murfreesboro hosts several music-oriented events annually, including the Main Street Jazzfest, which is presented by MTSU’s School of Music. For over 30 years, Uncle Dave Macon Days has celebrated the musical tradition of Uncle Dave Macon. This annual July event includes national competitions for old-time music and dancing. Because of MTSU’s large music program, the city has fostered a number of bands and songwriters, including: The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, A Plea for Purging, Self, Fluid Ounces, The Katies, Count Bass D, Destroy Destroy Destroy, The Features and Pro.
Murfreesboro contains a Center for the Arts close to the Square, which entertains with a variety of exhibits, theatre arts, concerts, dances, and magic shows. Murfreesboro Little Theatre has provided the community with popular and alternative forms of theatre arts since 1962. New organizations including Youth Empowerment through Arts and Humanities (YEAH!) and the Murfreesboro Youth Orchestra offer music- and art-based programming for young people.
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