About Winston-Salem

To perhaps understand and appreciate the Winston-Salem story, it might be easier to liken it to a classic American novel, with each page rich in history with lots of chapters full of intrigue, excitement not to mention it's colorful cast of characters.

And from the first chapter -- written even a decade before the signing of the Declaration of Independence -- to the ones being written today, Winston-Salem is a page-turner. 

 The community dates back to 1753 when the first Moravians in North Carolina settled on 100,000 acres known as the Wachovia Tract.  These German-speaking Protestants established the first colonial town in the Carolina Piedmont in an area known today as Historic Bethabara Park.  In 1766, the Moravians established Salem, which means "peace", a congregational town and trading center founded to house professional Moravian craftsmen.  Their vision of creating a self-sufficient community made Salem a haven for entrepreneurs. Within a few years, the town included a pottery, tannery, brickyard, flour mill, bakery, slaughterhouse, brewery, iron works and cloth, and furniture makers.

Twentieth-century businesses, such as R. J. Reynolds Tobacco and the Hanes companies, also shaped Winston-Salem by bringing remarkable wealth to the city and endowing it with an impressive list of institutions and foundations.  Their rise to prominence only furthered the spirit of entrepreneurship that has characterized the city since its earliest days, and which remains in evidence today as the city’s economy shifts from manufacturing to finance, medicine and technology.

Winston-Salem has grown to be an area known for its diversity of business and community.  With a strong and unwavering commitment to the arts, excellence in healthcare research and technology, and opportunities for specialized and advanced education. Winston-Salem truly is the City of Arts and Innovation.


  • County: Forsyth
  • North Carolina state sales tax: 6.75%
  • Forsyth County occupancy tax: 6%
  • Population: Metropolitan Winston-Salem/Forsyth County – 365,298 (as per 2014 census estimate - http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/37/37067.html)
  • Square Miles: Approximately 130 square miles
  • Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time
  • Elevation: 963 feet above sea level

Winston-Salem is conveniently located in the center of the state, also known as the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina, between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.  

Surrounding cities:

  • Greensboro: 32 miles east
  • Charlotte: 84 miles southwest
  • Raleigh: 110 miles east
  • Asheville: 145 miles southwest
  • Wilmington: 237 miles southeast


  • Major Highways: Interstate 40, Salem Parkway (former Business 40), Interstate 77, Interstate 85 and U.S. Highway 52 (the new I-74/73 corridor)
  • Airports:
  • Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO), located 20 miles from downtown Winston-Salem
  • Smith Reynolds Airport, located 3 miles from downtown Winston-Salem
  • Rail: Amtrak (GRO), located 25 miles from downtown Winston-Salem
  • Bus: Greyhound-Trailways Bus Terminal, located in downtown Winston-Salem


  • Approximately 50 hotel properties and approximately 5,000 hotel rooms


  • Maximum or Ideal Group Size: 2,000 people
  • M.C. Benton, Jr. Convention: 105,000 square feet
  • 19,000 square foot ballroom
  • 18,500 square foot ballroom
  • 46,000 square foot exhibition area
  • Additional 70,000 square feet of meeting space in adjoining hotel; connected by underground walkway
  • 3,950 rooms within 10 minutes of the convention center

Winston-Salem has a wide variety of attractions from historic landmarks and gardens to contemporary art galleries and vineyards to sporting events.

  • More than 45 wineries, located in the neighboring Yadkin Valley American Viticultural Area
  • local art galleries/museums
  • Approximately 450 dining establishments
  • 12 golf courses
  • 80 recreational parks (across Winston-Salem and Forsyth County)
  • 4 historic and/or award-winning gardens
  • Winston-Salem Dash baseball team
  • Bowman Gray Racing
  • JDL Fast Track (Indoor)
  • BB&T Sports Park
  • CIAA sports (Winston-Salem State University Rams)
  • ACC sports (Wake Forest University Demon Deacons)

Winston-Salem is home to some of the finest institutions of higher education in the U.S.

  • Forsyth Technical Community College
  • University of North Carolina School of the Arts
  • Piedmont International University
  • Salem Academy & College
  • Wake Forest University, including Wake Forest School of Medicine
  • Winston-Salem State University

Winston-Salem experiences all four seasons.

  • Average annual rainfall: 42.5 inches
  • Average of 220 days (60%) of sunshine annually
  • Average seasonal temperature (degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Spring: maximum (max) 70, minimum (min) 47
  • Summer: max 87, min 67
  • Fall: max 71, min 50
  • Winter: max 51, min 32

In recent years Winston-Salem has moved from a manufacturing-based economy (tobacco/textiles) to an information and technology-based economy especially in the areas of medicine, research and finance.


  • Forsyth Medical Center
  • Wake Forest Baptist Health, including Wake Forest University Hospital and Brenner Children's Hospital & Health Services
  • Wake Forest University Bowman Gray School of Medicine
  • Innovation Quarter


  • Wells Fargo (formerly Wachovia): Regional headquarters
  • BB&T: Corporate headquarters


  • Founded in 1772, Salem College is the oldest women’s college in the nation.
  • America’s oldest continually performing brass band, Salem Band, began performing here in 1778 and continues during the summer in the Old Salem Square, located at 601 South Main Street
  • In 1778, the town of Salem established the second water distribution system in the United States.
  • American classical music was first written in Salem in 1789.
  • Built in 1880, Körner's Folly has seven levels with ceiling heights ranging from six to 25 feet.  It has been called the ”strangest house in the world. ”
  • Now known as Winston-Salem State University, Winston-Salem Teachers College was the first historically Black college in the nation to award the bachelor's degree in elementary education.
  • Established in 1946, Winston-Salem has the oldest city symphony in North Carolina. 
  • An arts conservatory of international renown, the North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) was founded in the 1960s as the first state-supported school of its kind in the nation.
  • The Museum of Anthropology at Wake Forest University is the first and second only museum devoted to the study of world cultures in the Southeast.
  • The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) is the only museum dedicated to exhibiting and researching the regional decorative arts of the early South.
  • Winston-Salem is home to the biennial National Black Theatre Festival, hosted by the North Carolina Black Repertory Company since 1989.

For additional information about Forsyth County, visit http://www.co.forsyth.nc.us/.   For business updates and information, contact the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce and the Winston-Salem Business Inc. For events and happenings in Downtown Winston-Salem, visit the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership site at http://www.dwsp.org/joom/index.php.