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Emerald Isle is a town in Carteret County, North Carolina, United States. It is part of the Crystal Coast and is located entirely on Bogue Banks. The population was 3,655 at the 2010 census, but as many as 50,000 tourists inhabit the area during the summer season, filling up vacant rental properties that do not count toward official census results.
Today, the oceanfront is lined with both large and small homes and duplexes. While there is a large scattering of condominiums, there is only one oceanfront hotel, and Emerald Isle has maintained a family-oriented atmosphere.
Recent beach renourishment projects in North Carolina, including Emerald Isle, have been both praised and questioned.
From about 1 AD to colonial times, Emerald Isle was home to Native Americans. Later, the area was settled by a small number of whalers and fishermen.
In the 1920s Henry Fort, who owned the Emerald Isle beaches and land surrounding them, hoped to open a large summer tourist attraction and ocean resort. Fort worked with developers, but the plans never materialized. After his death, his daughter Anita Maulick inherited Emerald Isle.
In 1951, seven individuals purchased the 12-mile (19 km) stretch of island for $350,000 from Anita Maulick. Emerald Isle was sliced into 54 blocks of 1,000 feet (300 m), each going from ocean to sound. The partners drew from a hat for the ownership of blocks. Because they wanted Emerald Isle to be family-oriented, the owners limited commercial development and mobile homes to five blocks each.
In 1960 ferry service began, providing wider access to the Bogue Banks beaches of modern-day Emerald Isle.
In 1971 the Cameron Langston Bridge was opened to provide access from Cedar Point to the western end of Bogue Banks and Emerald Isle. The bridge, spanning the Intracoastal Waterway, offers a great view of Bogue Sound and Bogue Banks. The opening of the bridge increased island development.
Emerald Isle is a popular vacation spot for families and is also known for excellent fishing and a wealth of marine life. Notably its beaches are a favorite location for nesting sea turtles. The turtles nesting on the beaches there are protected by federal law.
Emerald Isle is located in southwestern Carteret County at 34°40′1″N 77°0′49″W (34.666994, -77.013482), at the western end of Bogue Banks, a barrier island. To the south is the Atlantic Ocean, and to the north is Bogue Sound separating the island from mainland North Carolina. The town extends to the western tip of the island, ending at Bogue Inlet, while to the east the town is bordered by Indian Beach.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 5.1 square miles (13.1 km2), of which 5.0 square miles (12.9 km2) is land and 0.08 square miles (0.2 km2), or 1.67%, is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,488 people, 1,644 households, and 1,088 families residing in the town. The population density was 665.3 people per square mile (257.0/km²). There were 6,017 housing units at an average density of 1,147.8 per square mile (443.4/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 96.67% White, 0.80% African American, 0.46% Native American, 0.63% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.29% from other races, and 1.12% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.63% of the population.
There were 1,644 households out of which 16.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.6% were married couples living together, 4.0% had a female householder with no male present, and 33.8% were non-families. 26.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.12 and the average family size was 2.49.
In the town, the population was spread out with 13.1% under the age of 18, 4.8% from 18 to 24, 24.0% from 25 to 44, 35.7% from 45 to 64, and 22.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 50 years. For every 100 females there were 105.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.8 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $53,274, and the median income for a family was $60,257. Males had a median income of $35,833 versus $28,417 for females. The per capita income for the town was $31,316. About 2.1% of families and 2.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including none of those under age 18 and 5.0% of those age 65 or over.
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