Mount Airy is a city in Surry County, North Carolina. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 8,484.
Mount Airy is located at , along the Ararat River.
The United States Census Bureau says the city has a total area of 8.4 square miles, all of it land.
Downtown Mount Airy, NC on January 27, 2008.As of the census of 2000, there were 8,484 people, 3,667 households, and 2,130 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,010.8 people per square mile. There were 4,129 housing units at an average density of 491.9/sq mi. The racial makeup of the city was 85.34% White descent, 7.99% African American, 0.35% Native American, 2.55% Asian American, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 2.49% from other races, and 1.24% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.87% of the population.
World's largest open faced granite quarry, near Mount Airy.There were 3,667 households out of which 24.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.6% were married couples living together, 14.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.9% were non-families. 38.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.87.
In the city the population was spread out with 21.6% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 25.1% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 25.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 84.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $26,910, and the median income for a family was $33,412. Males had a median income of $27,299 versus $24,830 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,237. About 17.4% of families and 19.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.7% of those under age 18 and 20.7% of those age 65 or over.
Mount Airy was the birthplace and childhood home of American actor Andy Griffith, and is widely believed to be the inspiration for the fictional community Mayberry, the setting of The Andy Griffith Show and its sequel, Mayberry RFD. Until he returned to Mount Airy, 45 years after the show, Griffith denied the connection. Several locations and names mentioned in both shows reflect real places and people in or near Mount Airy, including Mount Pilot (nearby Pilot Mountain and the town named for it) and Snappy Lunch, a restaurant which still operates in the city's downtown area and is famous for its pork chop sandwich. In episode #154 of the Andy Griffith Show, "Aunt Bee's Invisible Beau" Andy is clearly seen in closeup reading what could be a Mount Airy newspaper. All that is visible are the words "Airy News". This could be another connection between Mount Airy and Mayberry.
The community holds an annual "Mayberry Days" celebration during the last weekend of September; 30,000 attended in 2009, and 50,000 were expected for the show's 50th anniversary in 2010. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro estimates the town receives $5 million each year as a result.
Three Ford Galaxie police cars, painted to resemble those used on the show, give rides to tourists. A barber shop has been named "Floyd's", and a salvage yard has the name Mayberry. One of the attractions is the Andy Griffith Museum, which attracts 200 visitors a day.
Bluegrass and Old-Time Music
The home of old-time music legend Tommy Jarrell and country singer Donna Fargo, Mount Airy has a long history with regional music.
Mount Airy's WPAQ 740 AM radio is one of the few Bluegrass and Old-Time music stations still operating and has been airing the live radio show Merry-Go-Round from the Downtown Cinema Theatre since 1948.
Weekly bluegrass jam sessions at The Andy Griffith Playhouse and the annual Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention also serve to attract old-time musicians from across the region and the world.
The Blue Ridge Music Center with its amphitheater and music museum of old-time music is just a few miles away on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 213, near Galax, Virginia.
Chang and Eng Bunker
Mount Airy was also the home of the famous Siamese Twins, Chang and Eng Bunker (1811-1874), joined by a band of cartilage at the chest (xiphopagus).
After retiring from the circus of P.T. Barnum, they purchased two adjoining farm properties just west of Mount Airy in the community of White Plains.
Many of their descendants still live in the Mount Airy area. "The Wedding of the Siamese Twins" by Burton Cohen, a play detailing the salacious and often amusing lives of Chang and Eng Bunker, is scheduled to be performed annually at the Andy Griffith Playhouse in Mount Airy.
On the last week-end in July there is a family reunion held at the First Baptist Church at 714 N. Main St.. There are several other activities and functions throughout the week-end.
William Alfred Moore House
The William Alfred Moore house, built in 1860, is the earliest known structure still standing in Mount Airy.
The house is known for its Italianate and Victorian exterior and Greek revival interior. In the front yard stands a rare (c.1865) hexagonal gazebo made of wood poles and intervening laurel root walls.
The Moore house is owned by the Mount Airy Restoration Foundation.
Andy Griffith (1926- ), American actor
Chang and Eng Bunker (1811-1874), famous Siamese twins
Jack Childress (1950- ), American college football official
Chubby Dean (19160), Major League Baseball player
Ron Blackburn (1935- ), Major League Baseball player
Ben Callahan (19577), Major League Baseball player
Mark Daniel Merritt (1961- ), American music composer
Donna Fargo (1945- ), country music singer and songwriter
Benton Flippen, (1920- ), old-time fiddler
Frank Beamer (1946- ), American college football coach
iROC (1989- ), American hip-hop artist and producer
Alex Sink (1948- ), Florida politician
Justin Brock (1987- ), Professional Skateboarder
Mount Airy Links
Old North State Winery
Mount Airy's Surry Arts Council website
City of Mount Airy
Mount Airy Museum of Regional History
Mount Airy - Town With an Identity Crisis
....A behind the scenes look at Mount Airy,
....and the city - popularized by Andy Griffith's Mayberry.
Atlantic & Yadkin Railway
Mount Airy Photographs
Downtown Mount Airy, NC on January 27, 2008. Photo taken by Kyle and Melissa. [Source]
World's largest open faced granite quarry, near Mount Airy. Photo taken by Shadle. [Source]
This page was last updated October 10, 2010.
© 1997-2010 by the Surry County