Hickory Downtown Development Association (HDDA) is a private, non-profit 501 (c)6 organization with a thirteen member volunteer Board of Directors. Funding for the organization is comprised of membership dues, grants, donations, and event sponsorships.
“ To physically and culturally improve downtown Hickory as a place of commerce, recreation, and culture of the people of Hickory and the greater metro area.”
“ Downtown Hickory is the cultural, historic, and symbolic heart of the region. Improved entrance ways into downtown and customer-friendly parking enable locally-owned businesses to thrive and prosper. The Farmer’s Market, the Art Walk, spectacular holiday decorations, and special events are enjoyed all hours of the day. Significant investments in historic preservation and pedestrian-friendly amenities reach into surrounding neighborhoods and spur redevelopment both north and south of the railroad tracks. The partnership between HDDA, the City of Hickory, and other organizations creates a vibrant and prosperous environment for visitors, residents, businesses, and investors. No matter what the age, downtown Hickory has something for everyone.”
Hickory began as a small piedmont city whose growth and development moved it from a late nineteenth-century trading center on the Western North Carolina Railroad to a thriving twentieth-century manufacturing center for furniture, hosiery and textiles.
The history and development of Hickory has been divided into five stages of growth. The earliest phase began at the end of the eighteenth century and ended with the outbreak of the Civil War (1769-1860).
The second phase began when the Civil War ended, as the city's population and economy expanded as well as increased development in cultural and educational facilities (1861-1900). This second phase lasted until around 1901, when the establishment of the first large-scale furniture plant made permanent changes in the manufacturing business. From 1901 until the onset of World War I in 1917, many furniture factories as well as hosiery and textile mills were built in the city's realm resulting in a rise in population, service industries and building activity.
During World War I, construction in the city declined only to be followed by a large increase in population and housing needs, growth of businesses and manufacturing companies, and the extension of public services rendered by local government (1918-1940).
Growth since 1940- After World War II Hickory continued growing and by 1961 the city boasted forty-six furniture plants, eight-nine hosiery mills, twenty-seven other manufactories, and a population of 37,000 people. A vast urban renewal project as well as continual redevelopment also accompanied this period of growth. Much of the historic fabric of Hickory's downtown was removed or drastically altered in the 1960s and 1970s, leaving gaping holes in the urban landscape. Yet, this period also saw the emergence of historic preservation efforts in Hickory, a trend that has grown in scope by instilling pride in the city's past by encouraging the appreciation, preservation, and continued use of Hickory's historic resources.