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Johnson City is a city in Washington, Carter, and Sullivan counties in the U.S. state of Tennessee, with most of the city being in Washington County. As of the 2010 census, the population of Johnson City was 63,152, and by 2019 the estimated population was 66,906, making it the ninth-largest city in the state. In 2019, Johnson City was reported to have a daytime population of 202,700.
Johnson City is ranked as the No. 65 "Best Small Place for Business and Careers" in the US by Forbes, and No. 5 in Kiplingers list of "The 10 Least-Expensive Cities For Living in the U.S.A." stating the low cost of living is attributed to affordable homes and below-average utility, transportation and health-care costs.
William Bean, traditionally recognized as Tennessee's first settler, built his cabin along Boone's Creek near Johnson City in 1769.
In the 1780s, Colonel John Tipton (1730–1813) established a farm (now the Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site) just outside what is now Johnson City. During the State of Franklin movement, Tipton was a leader of the loyalist faction, residents of the region who wanted to remain part of North Carolina rather than form a separate state. In February 1788, an armed engagement took place at Tipton's farm between Tipton and his men and the forces led by John Sevier, the leader of the Franklin faction.
During the American Civil War, before it was formally incorporated in 1869, the name of the town was briefly changed to "Haynesville" in honor of Confederate Senator Landon Carter Haynes. Henry Johnson's name was quickly restored following the war, with Johnson elected as the city's first mayor on January 3, 1870. The town grew rapidly from 1870 until 1890 as railroad and mining interests flourished. However, the national depression of 1893, which caused many railway failures (including the Charleston, Cincinnati and Chicago Railroad or "3-Cs", a predecessor of the Clinchfield) and a resulting financial panic, halted Johnson City's boom town momentum.
During the 1920s and the Prohibition era, Johnson City's ties to the bootlegging activity of the Appalachian Mountains earned the city the nickname of "Little Chicago".Stories persist that the town was one of several distribution centers for Chicago gang boss Al Capone during Prohibition. Capone had a well-organized distribution network within the southern United States for alcohol smuggling; it shipped his products from the mountain distillers to northern cities. Capone was, according to local lore, a part-time resident of Montrose Court, a luxury apartment complex now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
For many years, the city had a municipal "privilege tax" on carnival shows, in an attempt to dissuade traveling circuses and other transient entertainment businesses from doing business in town. The use of drums by merchants to draw attention to their goods is prohibited. Title Six, Section 106 of the city's municipal code, the so-called "Barney Fife" ordinance, empowers the city's police force to draft into involuntary service as many of the town's citizens as necessary to aid police in making arrests and in preventing or quelling any riot, unlawful assembly or breach of peace.
Johnson City is run by a five-person board of commissioners:
Johnson City is in northeastern Washington County at 36°20?N82°22?W / 36.333°N 82.367°W / 36.333; -82.367 (36.3354, -82.3728),with smaller parts extending north into Sullivan County and east into Carter County. Johnson City shares a contiguous southeastern border with Elizabethton. Johnson City also shares a small contiguous border with Kingsport to the far north along I-26 and a slightly longer one with Bluff City to the northeast along US 11E.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 43.3 square miles (112.1 km2), of which 42.9 square miles (111.2 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.8 km2), or 0.75 percent, is water.
The steep mountains, rolling hills, and valleys surrounding the region are part of the Appalachian Ridge-and-Valley Province, and Johnson City is just west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Roan Mountain, with an elevation of over 6,000 feet (1,800 m), is approximately 20 miles (32 km) to the southeast of the city. Buffalo Mountain, a ridge over 2,700 feet (820 m) high, is the location of a city park on the south side of town. The Watauga River arm of Boone Lake, a Tennessee Valley Authority reservoir, is partly within the city limits. The Nolichucky River flows 12 miles (19 km) to the south of Johnson City. Whitewater rafting and kayaking opportunities exist 20 miles (32 km) south of Johnson City where that river flows from the North Carolina state line near Erwin.
Johnson City has a humid subtropical climate (KöppenCfa), with warm summers and cool winters. Temperatures in Johnson City are moderated somewhat by its elevation and proximity to the Appalachian Mountains. Precipitation is abundant, with an average of 45.22 in (1,149 mm). Summer is typically the wettest part of the year, while early autumn is considerably drier. Snowfall is moderate and sporadic, with an average of 15.6 in (40 cm).
As of the census of 2000, there were 55,469 people, 23,720 households, and 14,018 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,412.4 per square mile. There were 25,730 housing units at an average density of 655.1 per square mile (253.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.09 percent white, 6.40 percent African American, 0.26% Native American, 1.22 percent Asian, 0.02 percent Pacific Islander, 0.69 percent from other races, and 1.32 percent from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.89 percent of the population.
There were 23,720 households, out of which 25.0 percent had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.1 percent were married couples living together, 11.6 percent had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.9 percent were non-families. 33.9 percent of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.5 percent had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20, and the average family size was 2.82.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 19.8 percent under the age of 18, 13.7 percent from 18 to 24, 28.1 percent from 25 to 44, 22.5 percent from 45 to 64, and 15.9 percent who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,835, and the median income for a family was $40,977. Males had a median income of $31,326 versus $22,150 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,364. About 11.4 percent of families and 15.9 percent of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.9 percent of those under age 18 and 12.7 percent of those age 65 or over.
U.S. Route 321, also partially on the 11E route, connects Johnson City to Elizabethton (forming a high-speed, limited-access freeway) before continuing on to Hickory and Gastonia, North Carolina.
U.S. Route 23 is concurrent with I-26 from North Carolina, through Johnson City, and north to the I-26 terminus in Kingsport.
Johnson City Transit (JCT) operates a system of buses inside the city limits, including a route every fifteen minutes along Roan Street. Main transit routes operate 6:15 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. on Saturdays. JCT also has an evening route that operates weeknights between 6:15 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. The Johnson City Transit Center, downtown on West Market Street, also serves as the transfer point for Greyhound lines running through the city. JCT operates the BucShot, a system serving the greater ETSU campus.
East Tennessee State University has around 16,000 students in addition to a K-12 University School, a laboratory school of about 540 students. University School was the first laboratory school in the nation to adopt a year-round academic schedule.
Milligan College (which changed its named to Milligan University in June, 2020) is just outside the city limits in Carter County, and has about 1,200 students in undergraduate and graduate programs.
Johnson City is ranked #35 "Best Small Place for Business and Careers" in the USA. Due to its climate, high-quality health care, and affordable housing, it is ranked #8 "Best Place for African Americans to Retire" by Black Enterprise magazine.Kiplinger ranked Johnson City #5 in "The 10 Least-Expensive Cities For Living in the U.S.A.", stating the low cost of living is attributed to affordable homes and below-average utility, transportation and health-care costs.
Franklin Woods Community Hospital is a LEED-certified facility in North Johnson City. The "green" hospital (opened July 12, 2010) encloses approximately 240,000 square feet (22,000 m2) on a 25-acre (100,000 m2) lot adjacent to The Wellness Center inside MedTech Park. The hospital has 80 licensed beds and a 22-room Emergency Department. Of the licensed beds, 20 are dedicated to Women's and Children's Services.
The James H. & Cecile C. Quillen Rehabilitation Hospital, also in North Johnson City, serves patients who have suffered debilitating trauma, including stroke and brain-spine injuries.
Steven Berk, former medical professor at East Tennessee State University James H. Quillen College of Medicine; later moved to Amarillo, Texas; wrote in 2011 Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor's Story, a memoir of his four-hour kidnapping and release in 2005; currently dean of medicine at Texas Tech University in Lubbock
^Center, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Deputy Under Secretary for Operations and Management, Veterans Integrated Service Network 9, James H. Quillen VA Medical. "Mountain Home VA Healthcare System". www.mountainhome.va.gov.
^Billy Hathorn, Review of Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor's Story by Steven Lee Berk, M.D., Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech University Press, 2011, in West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 89 (2013), pp. 184-186