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Johnson City is a city in Washington, Carter, and Sullivan counties in the U.S. state of Tennessee, with most of the city being in Washington County. As of the 2010 census, the population of Johnson City was 63,152, and by 2017 the estimated population was 66,391, making it the ninth-largest city in the state.
Johnson City is ranked the #65 "Best Small Place for Business and Careers" in the US by Forbes, and #5 in Kiplinger's list of "The 10 Least-Expensive Cities For Living in the U.S.A." stating the low cost of living is attributed to affordable homes and below-average utility, transportation and health-care costs.
Johnson City is the principal city of the Johnson City Metropolitan Statistical Area, which covers Carter, Unicoi, and Washington counties and had a combined population of 200,966 as of 2013. The MSA is also a component of the Johnson City–Kingsport–Bristol, TN-VA Combined Statistical Area – commonly known as the "Tri-Cities" region. This CSA is the fifth-largest in Tennessee with an estimated 500,538 people in residence.
William Bean, traditionally recognized as Tennessee's first settler, built his cabin along Boone's Creek near Johnson City in 1769.
In the 1780s, Colonel John Tipton (1730–1813) established a farm (now the Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site) just outside what is now Johnson City. During the State of Franklin movement, Tipton was a leader of the loyalist faction, residents of the region who wanted to remain part of North Carolina rather than form a separate state. In February 1788, an armed engagement took place at Tipton's farm between Tipton and his men and the forces led by John Sevier, the leader of the Franklin faction.
Founded in 1856 by Henry Johnson as a railroad station called "Johnson's Depot", Johnson City became a major rail hub for the Southeast, as three railway lines crossed in the downtown area. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Johnson City served as headquarters for the narrow gauge East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (the ET&WNC, nicknamed "Tweetsie") and the standard gauge Clinchfield Railroad. Both rail systems featured excursion trips through scenic portions of the Blue Ridge Mountains and were engineering marvels of railway construction. The Southern Railway (now Norfolk Southern) also passes through the city.
During the American Civil War, before it was formally incorporated in 1869, the name of the town was briefly changed to "Haynesville" in honor of Confederate Senator Landon Carter Haynes. Henry Johnson's name was quickly restored following the war, with Johnson elected as the city's first mayor on January 3, 1870.
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