Hickory is a city split three ways between Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba counties in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The city’s population at the 2010 census was 40,010 (primarily in Catawba County), with an estimated population in 2015 of 40,374. Hickory is the principal city in the Hickory–Lenoir–Morganton MSA, in which the population at the 2010 census was 365,497 and is included as part of the Charlotte–Concord Combined Statistical Area.
Hickory is located in western Catawba County at 35°44′16″N 81°19′42″W (35.737682, −81.328372), and extends westward into Burke County and Caldwell County. Interstate 40 passes through the southern part of the city, leading east 68 miles (109 km) to Winston-Salem and west 75 miles (121 km) to Asheville. U.S. Route 70 (Conover Boulevard) is an older east-west route through the city. U.S. Route 321 passes through the western part of the city, leading northwest 43 miles (69 km) to Boone and south 36 miles (58 km) to Gastonia.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 29.8 square miles (77.2 km2), of which 29.7 square miles (76.9 km2) is land and 0.08 square miles (0.2 km2), or 0.31%, is water.
Hickory is the largest city within the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area). The MSA includes Catawba County, Burke County, Caldwell County, and Alexander County, with a combined population – as of the 2010 Census – of 365,497 Apart from Hickory, the MSA includes Lenoir, Morganton, Conover, and Newton, along with a number of smaller incorporated towns: Sawmills, Granite Falls, Valdese, Long View, Gamewell, Hudson, Maiden, Cajah’s Mountain, Hildebran, and Taylorsville.
Several sizable unincorporated rural and suburban communities are also located nearby: Drexel, Connelly Springs, Glen Alpine, Claremont, Rutherford College, Catawba, Cedar Rock, and Brookford.
As of the census of 2010, there were 40,093 people, 18,719 households, and 9,952 families residing in the city. There were 18,719 housing units at an average density of 640.4 per square mile (227.9/km²). There were 18,719 households out of which 27.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 12.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.1% were non-families. 32.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 23.3% under the age of 18, 11.2% from 18 to 24, 30.7% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $37,236, and the median income for a family was $47,522. Males had a median income of $31,486 versus $23,666 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,263. About 8.4% of families and 11.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.8% of those under age 18 and 7.0% of those age 65 or over. 364,759 people live within 25 miles (40 km) of Hickory; 1.8 million people within 50 miles (80 km) of Hickory.