Norfolk, Virginia

Norfolk
—  Independent city  —
Norfolk
Downtown Norfolk skyline


Motto: Crescas (Latin for, "Thou shalt grow.")

Coordinates: 36°54′36″N 76°12′6.72″W / 36.91°N °W / 36.91; -76.2018667
Country United States
State Virginia
Founded 1682
Incorporated 1736
Government
 - Mayor Paul D. Fraim (D)
Area
 - Independent city  dunams (249.4 km2 / 96.3 sq mi)
 - Land
 - Water
Elevation
Population (2010)
 - Independent city 233,333 (82nd)
 Density
 Urban 1,047,869
 - Urban density
 - Rural density
 Metro 1,795,015
 - Metro density
 -  Density
 -  Density
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP Code 23501-23515, 23517-23521, 23523, 23529, 23541, 23551
Area code(s) 757
FIPS code 51-57000
GNIS feature ID 1497051
Website http://www.norfolk.gov/

Norfolk ( or ) is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. With a population of 237,764 as of the 2000 census, it is Virginia's second-largest city behind neighboring Virginia Beach.

Norfolk is located at the core of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, named for the large natural harbor of the same name located at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. It is one of nine cities and seven counties that constitute the Hampton Roads metro area, officially known as the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA. The city is bordered to the west by the Elizabeth River and to the north by the Chesapeake Bay. It also shares land borders with the independent cities of Chesapeake to its south and Virginia Beach to its east. One of the oldest of the cities in Hampton Roads, Norfolk is considered to be the historic, urban, financial, and cultural center of the region.

The city has a long history as a strategic military and transportation point. Norfolk Naval Base is the world's largest such base, and the world's largest military alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has its defense headquarters here. The city also has the corporate headquarters of Norfolk Southern Railway, one of North America's principal Class I railroads, and Maersk Line, Limited, who manages the world's largest fleet of US-flag vessels. As the city is bordered by multiple bodies of water, Norfolk has many miles of riverfront and bayfront property. It is linked to its neighbors by an extensive network of Interstate highways, bridges, tunnels, and bridge-tunnel complexes.

History

In 1619, the Governor for the Virginia Colony, Sir George Yeardley established four incorporations, termed citties, for the developed portion of the colony. These formed the basis for colonial representative government in the newly minted House of Burgesses. What would become Norfolk was put under the Elizabeth Cittie incorporation.

In 1622, Adam Thoroughgood (1604–1640) of King's Lynn, Norfolk, England, came to Virginia as an indentured servant. At the end of his contracted servitude, he earned his freedom and became a leading citizen of the fledgling colony.

In 1634 King Charles I reorganized the colony into a system of shires. The former Elizabeth Cittie became Elizabeth City Shire. After persuading 105 people to settle in the colony, Thoroughgood was granted a large land holding along the Lynnhaven River in 1636.

When the South Hampton Roads portion of the shire was partitioned off, Thoroughgood suggested the name of his birthplace for the newly formed New Norfolk County. One year later, it split into two counties, Upper Norfolk County and Lower Norfolk County (present day Norfolk), chiefly on Thoroughgood’s recommendation.[1]

Norfolk grew in the late 17th century as a "Half Moone" fort was constructed and were acquired in exchange for 10,000 pounds of tobacco. The House of Burgesses established "Towne of Lower Norfolk County" in 1680.[2][3] In 1691, a final county subdivision took place when Lower Norfolk County split to form Norfolk County (present day Norfolk, Chesapeake, and parts of Portsmouth) and Princess Anne County (present day Virginia Beach). Norfolk was incorporated in 1705 and in 1736, George II granted Norfolk a royal charter as a borough.[4] By 1775, Norfolk developed into what contemporary observers argued was the most prosperous city in Virginia. It was an important port for exporting goods to the British Isles and beyond. In part because of its merchants' numerous trading ties with other parts of the British Empire, Norfolk served as a strong base of Loyalist support during the early part of the American Revolution. After fleeing the colonial capitol of Williamsburg, Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of Virginia, tried to reestablish control of the colony from Norfolk. Dunmore secured small victories at Norfolk but was forced into exile by the American rebels, commanded by Colonel Woodford. His departure brought an end to more than 168 years of British colonial rule in Virginia.[5]

On New Year's Day, 1776, Lord Dunmore's fleet of three ships shelled the city of Norfolk for over eight hours. The damage from the shells, and fires started by the British and spread by the patriots, destroyed over 800 buildings, almost two-thirds of the city. The patriots destroyed the remaining buildings for strategic reasons in February.[6] Only the walls of Saint Paul's Episcopal Church survived the bombardment and subsequent fires. A cannonball from the bombardment (fired by the Liverpool) remains within the wall of Saint Paul's.[7]

Following recovery from the Revolutionary War's burning, the 19th century began inauspiciously for Norfolk and her citizens. In 1804, another serious fire along the city’s waterfront destroyed some 300 buildings and the city experienced a serious economic setback.

During the 1820s, agrarian communities across the American South suffered a prolonged recession, which caused many families to migrate to other areas. Many moved west into the Piedmont, or into Kentucky and Tennessee. Such migration also followed the exhaustion of soil due to tobacco cultivation in the Tidewater. Virginia made various attempts to phase out slavery, either through law (see Thomas Jefferson Randolph's 1832 resolution) or through "repatriation" of blacks to Africa. Many emigrants to Africa from Virginia and North Carolina embarked from the port of Norfolk. Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a native of Norfolk, was an emigrant who became the first president of Liberia.[8]

In early 1861, Norfolk voters instructed their delegate to vote for ratification of the ordinance of secession. Virginia voted to secede from the Union. In the spring of 1862, the Battle of Hampton Roads took place off the northwest shore of the city's Sewell's Point Peninsula, marking the first fight between two ironclads, the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia. The battle ended in a stalemate, but forever changed the course of naval warfare; from then on, warships were fortified with metal.[9] In May 1862, Norfolk Mayor William Lamb surrendered the city to General John E. Wool and Union forces. They held the city under martial law for the duration of the Civil War. Thousands of slaves escaped to Union lines to gain their freedom and set up schools in Norfolk so they could start learning before the end of the war.[10]

1907 brought both the Virginian Railway and the Jamestown Exposition to Sewell's Point. The large Naval Review at the Exposition demonstrated the peninsula's favorable location and laid the groundwork for the world's largest naval base. Commemorating the 300th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, the exposition featured many prominent officials, including President Theodore Roosevelt, members of Congress, and diplomats from 21 countries. By 1917, as the US built up to enter World War I, the Naval Air Station Hampton Roads had been constructed on the former exposition grounds.[11]

In the first half of the 20th century, Norfolk expanded its borders through annexation. In 1906, the City annexed the incorporated town of Berkley, which stretched the city limits across the Elizabeth River.[12] In 1923, the city expanded to include Sewell's Point, Willoughby Spit, the town of Campostella, and the Ocean View area. The City included the Navy Base and miles of beach property fronting on Hampton Roads and Chesapeake Bay.[13] After a smaller annexation in 1959, and a 1988 land swap with Virginia Beach, the city assumed its current boundaries.[14]

With the dawn of the Interstate Highway System, new highways opened in the region. A series of bridges and tunnels constructed during fifteen years linked Norfolk with the Peninsula, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach. In 1952, the Downtown Tunnel opened to connect Norfolk with the city of Portsmouth. In 1991, the new Downtown Tunnel/Berkley Bridge complex opened a new system of multiple lanes of highway and interchanges connecting Downtown Norfolk and Interstate 464 with the Downtown Tunnel tubes.[15] Additional bridges and tunnels included the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel in 1957,[16] the Midtown Tunnel in 1962,[17] and the Virginia Beach-Norfolk Expressway (Interstate 264 and State Route 44) in 1967.[18]

In reaction to the Supreme Court ruling in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case which held that segregated schools were unconstitutional and order integration, Virginia pursued a policy of "massive resistance". The Virginia General Assembly prohibited state funding for integrated public schools. Norfolk's private schools had voluntarily integrated by choosing to comply with the Brown decision. In 1958, United States district courts in Virginia ordered schools to open for the first time on a racially-integrated basis. In response, Governor James Lindsay Almond, Jr. ordered the schools closed.

Six Norfolk public schools serving over 10,000 Norfolk children were closed. The Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals declared the state law to be in conflict with the state constitution and ordered all public schools to be funded, whether integrated or not. About 10 days later, Almond capitulated and asked the General Assembly to rescind several "massive resistance" laws.[19] In September 1959, 17 black children entered six previously segregated Norfolk public schools. Virginian-Pilot editor Lenoir Chambers editorialized against massive resistance and earned the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing.[20]

After desegregation, and with new suburban developments beckoning, many white middle-class residents moved out of the city along new highway routes, and Norfolk's population fell. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the advent of newer suburban shopping destinations along with freeways spelled demise for the fortunes of downtown's Granby Street commercial corridor, located just a few blocks inland from the waterfront. The opening of malls and large shopping centers drew off retail business from Granby Street.[21]

Norfolk's city leaders began a long push to revive its urban core. While Granby Street underwent decline, Norfolk city leaders focused on the waterfront and its collection of decaying piers and warehouses. Many obsolete shipping and warehousing facilities were demolished. In their place, planners created a new boulevard, Waterside Drive, along which many of the high-rise buildings in Norfolk's skyline were erected.

The City and The Rouse Company developed the Waterside festival marketplace in 1983 to attract people to the waterfront and catalyze further downtown redevelopment.[22] Other facilities opened in the ensuing years, including the Harbor Park baseball stadium, home of the Norfolk Tides Triple-A minor league baseball team. In 1995, the Park was named the finest facility in minor league baseball by Baseball America.[23]

Norfolk's efforts to revitalize its downtown have attracted acclaim from economic development and urban planning circles throughout the country. Downtown's rising fortunes helped to expand the city's revenues and allowed the city to direct attention to other neighborhoods.[24]

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 96.3 square miles (249.4 km²), of which, 53.7 square miles (139.2 km²) of it is land and 42.6 square miles (110.3 km²) of it (44.22%) is water. Norfolk is located at (36.885747° N, 76.2599° W)

The city is located at the southeastern corner of Virginia at the junction of the Elizabeth and James rivers, bordering the Chesapeake Bay. The Hampton Roads Metropolitan Statistical Area (officially known as the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA) is the 34th largest in the United States, with a total population of 1,576,370. The area includes the Virginia cities of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Williamsburg, and the counties of Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Mathews, Surry, and York, as well as the North Carolina county of Currituck. The city of Norfolk is recognized as the central business district, while the Virginia Beach oceanside resort district and Williamsburg are primarily centers of tourism. Virginia Beach is the most populated city within the MSA though it functions more as a suburb.

In addition to extensive riverfront property, Norfolk has miles of bayfront resort property and beaches in the Willoughby Spit and Ocean View communities.

Climate

Norfolk has a humid subtropical climate with moderate changes of seasons. Spring arrives in March with mild days and cool nights, and by late May, the temperature has warmed up considerably to herald warm summer days. Summer temperatures can be unpleasantly hot, often topping 90 °F (32 °C) with high humidity. On average, July is the warmest month of the year, with the maximum average precipitation. Hurricanes and tropical storms usually brush Norfolk and only occasionally make landfalls in the area. Fall is marked by mild to warm days and cooler nights. Winter is usually mild in Norfolk, with the coldest days featuring lows near or slightly above freezing and highs in the upper 40s to mid 50s. On average, the coldest month of the year is January. Norfolk's record high was 105 °F (40 °C) on August 7, 1918 and July 24 and 25, 2010, and record low was -3 °F (-19 °C) recorded on January 21, 1985.[25] Snow falls rarely, with little or no accumulation.[26]