New Bern, NC’s Old Capital, Still Makes History

January 11, 2017

You might not know how popular New Bern used to be — or how popular it may become. 

Little-known fact: New Bern was the first capital of North Carolina. Every attempt at establishing a capital in the state failed (you know those Revolutionaries — argumentative bunch!) until 1767, when the construction of Governor Tryon's Palace began in New Bern. Government had been migratory and Tryon’s Palace solidified New Bern as a definitive governmental home. However, when New Bern was threatened by enemy attacks during the American Revolution, government officials packed their bags and took to the backroads. Then, in 1792, the state’s permanent government was established in Raleigh. It seemed that New Bern set an impressive precedent.

But now the riverfront town of New Bern, once a bustling, prominent lumber town, is once again being hailed as an area worth flocking to. Why? Its medical center.

New Bern’s CarolinaEast Medical Center is the only five-star hospital in North Carolina. The Craven County hospital received its second round of star ratings by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and is among an elite 1.81 percent of hospitals in the country to receive a five-star rating. (Go New Bern!)

According to, Hospital Compare gives hospitals an overall rating based on a summary of up to 57 quality measures. These measures, like mortality and safety of care, are used to assess the medical care of common conditions that hospitals treat, like heart attacks and pneumonia. The overall rating shows how well each hospital performed compared to other U.S. hospitals. It looks like Tryon Palace isn’t the city’s top-notch attraction anymore!

So, what’s New Bern’s secret?

Its population of youthful residents certainly doesn’t hurt. The median resident age is 36.1 years old. A population leaning on the younger side means less heart disease and other conditions typically attributed to older patients. New Bern’s large proportion of urban residents population (95 percent) also means more people have access to healthcare. (As we’ve discussed before, rural access to healthcare is problematic across the state and the country.)

So even though New Bern is a town of just 30,000, it’s shown that you should never underestimate the little guy. In fact, New Bern’s five-star hospital rating isn’t its only “first” in North Carolina either. Check out our New Bern trivia list and discover (or rediscover) the Tar Heel state’s second-oldest colonial town.

New Bern Fun Facts:

  • The state’s first printing press was set up on the corner of Broad and Middle Streets in 1749.
  • North Carolina’s first bookstore opened in New Bern in 1783.
  • In 1790, North Carolina’s first postal service was established here. 
  • Pepsi-Cola was invented and first served in New Bern in 1898 by local pharmacist Caleb Bradham.
  • The first motion picture theatre in North Carolina was built in New Bern.

Whether you’re treated at a five-star hospital or not, we believe your healthcare should be affordable and accessible. If you agree, join us in fighting back against state-based mandates that drive up the cost of healthcare for you and your neighbor.

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