CARY — Fifty years ago, Cary residents found something to unify them: reading material.
The first edition of The Cary News was published on Aug. 1, 1963, beginning a chronicle of development, politics, culture and everyday life in a fast-changing town.
That day’s front page brought news about the Cary Swim Team’s championship effort, the hiring of a new fire chief and Cary High School’s driver’s education program, burgeoning that year with 75 students.
There was also a prominent item about the editor’s son and his summer job as a disk jockey.
Lewis Lawrence, the paper’s founder and publisher, rolled out a first issue lined with advertisements for businesses across the booming town of about 3,500.
Lawrence established the paper’s first headquarters at 114 S. Academy St., hiring Frances Riley as the first editor, according to the book “Around and About Cary” by Thomas M. Byrd.
“At first we gave away more copies than we sold. Every time I started some place with my children, I would throw an armful in the back seat to pass out along the way,” Riley said in the book.
Since then, The Cary News has seen a litany of editors and writers, along with three changes of ownership. The Cary News came under its current ownership in 1974, when The News & Observer Publishing Company bought the paper.
Of course, Cary is much different than it was half a century ago.
Back then, virtually all of the town was clustered downtown, with farms on the outskirts.
Fifty years later, much of that sprawling farmland has turned into subdivisions for more than 145,000 people who live here.
And downtown? Well, it’s making a comeback.
Cary leaders have big plans to once again create a lively town core.