Downtown Chapel Hill offers some of the town's most beautiful natural settings. Enjoy a quiet, tranquil walk right in the heart of town!
The establishment of the nation's first state university was called for in the state's first constitution of 1776. The original bill to request a charter from the North Carolina General Assembly was written in 1784 by the Reverend Samuel E. McCorkle, after whom McCorkle Place is named. The General Assembly chartered the University on December 11, 1789. When the University opened its doors in 1795, there were two professors and 41 students during the first term. By 1797, enrollment reached 100. At its first commencement on July 4, 1798, seven young men earned their diplomas.
One of the notable features of McCorkle Place is the Davie Poplar. The Davie Poplar is a large tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) at the South end of McCorkle Place that is said to have already been a large tree in 1792 when the first plans for locating the campus were made. Legend has it that the Revolutionary War General, William R. Davie, personally located the University land around the tree after having lunch underneath it on a warm summer day in 1792, but the legend is not true. The name was assigned to the tree by Cornelia Phillips Spencer to commemorate the tale almost a century after the University was founded. Perhaps the most contemporary myth associated with the tree is that if you kiss your sweetheart under it, the two of you will marry. In 1918, a shoot, Davie Poplar Jr., grafted from the parent tree was planted for fear of the Davie Poplar dying after it was struck by lightening. Later, Davie Poplar III was planted from a seed of the original tree. Why try so hard to preserve this tree? Well, the columnist Tom Collins once wrote that the tree "is now chock full of cement, which with some cables is all that's holding it up. But it shall not fall before America does."
Schumann, Marguerite. 1972 The First State University – A Walking Guide, Pages 284-89. The University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill.
Battle Park's 93 acres is the remaining natural forest that once covered the lands of the University. The green space is named after Kemp Plummer Battle who was president of UNC from 1876-1891 and was responsible for reopening the University after the Union occupation period following the Civil War. Battle was fond of the woods and spent many hours blazing trails throughout the park. Battle Park is now maintained by the North Carolina Botanical Garden, which is working to restore trails and create university and public educational programs within the park.
Country Club Road/Raleigh Street
The Coker Arboretum offers visitors a natural and serene spot to relax and explore. Boasting a variety of plantings, including those native to North Carolina as well as some from Asia, the Arboretum creates a beautiful environment in all seasons. The Arboretum is maintained by the North Carolina Botanical Garden.