Norfolk (/ˈnɔrfʉk/ nor-fək, local /ˈnɒfʊk/ nof-uuk) is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia, United States of America. At the 2010 census, the population was 242,803; in 2013, the population was estimated to be 246,392 making it the second-most populous city in Virginia, 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. The largest Navy base in the world, Naval Station Norfolk, is located in Norfolk along with one of NATO's two Strategic Command headquarters. 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, including beaches on the Chesapeake Bay. It is linked to its neighbors by an extensive network of Interstate highways, bridges, tunnels, and three bridge-tunnel complexes—the only bridge-tunnels in the United States.
|City of Norfolk|
|Motto: Crescas (Latin for, "Thou shalt grow.")|
In 1619, the Governor for the Virginia Colony, Sir George Yeardleyincorporated four jurisdictions, 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 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, Adam Thoroughgood(who had immigrated to Virginia in 1622 from King's Lynn, Norfolk,England) was granted a large land holding, through the headrights system, along the Lynnhaven River in 1636.
When the South Hampton Roads portion of the shire was separated, Thoroughgood suggested the name of his birthplace for the newly formed New Norfolk County. One year later, it was split into two counties, Upper Norfolk and Lower Norfolk (the latter is incorporated within present-day City of Norfolk), chiefly on Thoroughgood’s recommendation.This area of Virginia became known as the place of entrepreneurs, including men of the Company of Merchant Adventurers of London.
Norfolk developed in the late 17th century as a "Half Moone" fort was constructed and 50 acres (200,000 m2) were acquired from local natives of the Powhatan confederacy in exchange for 10,000 pounds of tobacco. The House of Burgesses established the "Towne of Lower Norfolk County" in 1680. In 1691, a final county subdivision took place when Lower Norfolk County split to form Norfolk County (included in present-day cities of Norfolk, Chesapeake, and parts of Portsmouth) and Princess Anne County (present-day City of Virginia Beach).
Norfolk was incorporated in 1705, and in 1736 George II granted it a royal charter as a borough. 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 theAmerican 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.
On New Year's Day, 1776, Lord Dunmore's fleet of three ships shelled the city of Norfolk for more than 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. 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.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 96 square miles (250 km2), of which 54 square miles (140 km2) is land and 42 square miles (110 km2) (43.9%) is water. Norfolk is located at (36.8857° N, 76.2599° W)
The city is located at the southeastern corner of Virginia at the junction of the Elizabeth River and Chesapeake Bay. The Hampton Roads Metropolitan Statistical Area (officially known as the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA) is the37th largest in the United States, with a total population of 1,699,925 in 2012. The area includes the Virginia cities of Norfolk,Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Williamsburg, and the counties ofGloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Mathews, and York, as well as the North Carolina counties of Currituck and Gates. The city of Norfolk is recognized as the central business district, while the Virginia Beach oceanside resort district and Williamsburgare 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 andOcean View communities.
Being low-lying and largely surrounded by water, Norfolk is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels. In addition, the land on which it is built is slowly subsiding. Some areas already flood regularly at high tide, and the city commissioned a study in 2012 to investigate how to address the issue in the future: it reported the cost of dealing with a sea-level rise of one foot would be around one billion dollars. Since then, in 2013, scientists at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science have estimated that if current trends hold, the sea in Norfolk will rise by 5 1/2 feet or more by the end of this century.