Morehead City is a port city in Carteret County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 8,661 at the 2010 census. Morehead City celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding on May 5, 2007. It forms part of the Crystal Coast. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 5.7 square miles (15 km2), of which, 5.1 square miles (13 km2) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km2) of it (9.89%) is water.
By the early 1850s, a group of investors had been formed and incorporated a land development project known as the "Shepard Point Land Company" which purchased 600 acres (2.4 km2) of land on the eastern tip of the peninsula bordering the Newport River known then as "Shepards Point" which is the present day location of Morehead City, North Carolina. The Shepard Point Land Company's objective was to take advantage of the natural deep channel (geography) of Topsail Inlet known today as the Beaufort Inlet which splits Bogue Banks and Shackleford Banks providing access to both Morehead City, Beaufort, North Carolina, the Newport River and the Intra-Coastal Waterway. The Shepard Point Land Company was established to construct a deep water port to allow another access point for North Carolina timber products to relieve pressure at the port located in Wilmington, North Carolina. To make the port accessible to the interior of North Carolina, the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad line between Goldsboro and New Bern was completed on April 29, 1858.
North Carolina Governor John Motley Morehead, for whom the city of Morehead City is named was also a principal member of the Shepard Point Land Company investment group. Fully operational Rail Service began in July of 1858 connecting to the town to points west, north and south. The town of Morehead City was laid out using a grid plan whereby city blocks were equally laid out with each block consisting of 16 equally divided lots. The city blocks stretched from 1st Street to 15th Street incorporating a system of alleys forming an "H" shape that enabled businesses and residential homes to be serviced from the alleys behing them.
Morehead City was officially incorporated by the North Carolina Senate in 1860 at which time the total number of households consisted of only 300 individual families. The town continued to prosper until the American Civil War, when in 1862 it was occupied by Federal troops. The war disrupted commerce, and the economy of the port declined along with the town's population. It was not until the 1880s, with the construction of the Atlantic Hotel at the tip of the peninsula, and its promotion by the railroad as the "Summer Capital by the Sea", that the area began to experience a resurgence. The popularity of this particular hotel, with its train depot entrance, grand ballroom, piers, sailing and ferries to the beaches of Bogue Banks, helped to establish Morehead City as a summer destination.