Norfolk is a city in the U.S. state of Virginia in the United States of America. It is an independent city, and therefore part of no county. Norfolk is one of Virginia's largest cities.As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 234,403.
Norfolk is located on the Elizabeth River, on Hampton Roads, the world's largest natural harbor. It is a part of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, officially known as the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA.
The city has a long history as a strategic military and transportation point. Norfolk is home to both the Norfolk Navy Base, the world's largest Navy Base and Norfolk Southern Corporation, one of North America's principal Class I railroads. It has many miles of riverfront and bayfront property, and is linked with its neighbors through an extensive network of Interstate highways, bridges, tunnels, and bridge-tunnel complexes.
Since the 1970s, the downtown area and waterfront has undergone substantial revitalization. It is also home to the Norfolk Tides, the top minor league affiliate of the New York Mets.
The site of what is now Norfolk was originally the Chesipean Indian town Skicoak. (The Chesipeans had been destroyed by Powhatan by the time of the arrival of the first English settlers, who, in 1585, settled on Roanoke Island in modern-day North Carolina. In 1591, the colony of Roanoke disappeared without a trace.) The city was laid out in 1682 and incorporated in 1845. It became an independent city from Norfolk County in 1871.
In 1855, the city suffered an epidemic of yellow fever which killed 1 of every 3 citizens. In 1858, the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad built by William Mahone was completed to Petersburg, where major connections were made with railroads to points north, west, and south. During the US Civil War, in 1862, the Battle of Hampton Roads between the ironclads Monitor and Merrimac was fought off Norfolk. Early in the war, Mahone commanded the city's defenses during the period of Confederate occupation which ended in May, 1862.
In the late 19th century, the Norfolk and Western Railway established the community as a major coal export port and built a large transloading facility at Lambert's Point. The year 1907 brought the Virginian Railway and the Jamestown Exposition to Sewell's Point. The large naval review at the Exposition demonstrated the favorable location, laying the groundwork for the Norfolk Navy Base which was built there beginning in 1917. The city limits were expanded in 1923 to include Sewell's Point, Willoughby Spit, and Ocean View, adding the Navy Base and miles of beach property fronting on Hampton Roads and the Chesapeake Bay.
Today, Norfolk is experiencing a great deal of urban renewal. Beginning in the late 1970s, mall-developer James W. Rouse developed Waterside in downtown Norfolk, a festival marketplace concept which helped transform a formerly seedy harbor area into a major catalyst for other redevelopment. Downtown Norfolk is clean, attractive and growing quickly. Many other areas of Norfolk are being revitalized, including Ocean View and East Beach, both on the Chesapeake Bay.
Norfolk is a major military center. With Portsmouth (directly across the Elizabeth River), it forms an extensive naval complex. The headquarters of the 5th Naval District , the Atlantic Fleet, the 2nd Fleet, and the Supreme Allied Command are at Sewell's Point. The Norfolk Navy Base is the largest naval base in the United States and includes a naval air station and other facilities. Several vessels of the Navy have been named USS Norfolk after the city.
General Douglas MacArthur is buried in the city; there is a small museum for him, and a major shopping mall across the street from his burial site is named for him. The city is home to Old Dominion University, Eastern Virginia Medical School and Norfolk State University; Virginia Wesleyan College, a private liberal arts college, has a Norfolk mailing address, but almost all of its campus lies in the adjacent city of Virginia Beach. The city's public school system comprises 5 high schools, 8 middle schools, 34 elementary schools, and 9 special-purpose/preschools. Norfolk Academy, founded in 1728, is the city's oldest independent school.
Norfolk Southern Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, has its headquarters in downtown Norfolk. The international headquarters of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are located on the city's waterfront just to the west of downtown.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 249.4 km² (96.3 mi²). 139.2 km² (53.7 mi²) of it is land and 110.3 km² (42.6 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 44.22% water.
In addition to extensive riverfront property, Norfolk has miles of bayfront resort property and beaches in the Willoughby Spit and Ocean View communities.
As of the census of 2000, there are 234,403 people, 86,210 households, and 51,898 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,684.4/km² (4,362.8/mi²). There are 94,416 housing units at an average density of 678.5/km² (1,757.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 48.36% White, 44.11% African American, 0.46% Native American, 2.81% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 1.67% from other races, and 2.48% from two or more races. 3.80% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 86,210 households out of which 30.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.9% are married couples living together, 18.8% have a female householder with no husband present, and 39.8% are non-families. 30.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.45 and the average family size is 3.07.
The age distribution is 24.0% under the age of 18, 18.2% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 16.9% from 45 to 64, and 10.9% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 30 years. For every 100 females there are 104.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 104.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $31,815, and the median income for a family is $36,891. Males have a median income of $25,848 versus $21,907 for females. The per capita income for the city is $17,372. 19.4% of the population and 15.5% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 27.9% of those under the age of 18 and 13.2% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Norfolk is linked with its neighbors through an extensive network of arterial and Interstate highways, bridges, tunnels, and bridge-tunnel complexes, notably the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel which enters Norfolk at Willoughby Spit. The major east-west routes are Interstate 64, U.S. Highway 58 and and U.S. Highway 460. The major north-south routes are U.S. Highway 13 and U.S. Highway 17.
An extensive transit bus system and paratransit services are provided by Hampton Roads Transit, a regional public transport system headquartered in Norfolk. A light rail service is in planning stages.
Norfolk is served by Amtrak via connecting bus with the railroad line across Hampton Roads which terminates at Newport News, and runs west along the Virginia Peninsula to Richmond. A high speed rail connection at Richmond to both the Northeast Corridor and the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor are also under study.
Norfolk and the rest of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area (including Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Williamsburg and Poquoson, Virginia) are served by Norfolk International Airport and Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport.
Virginians from Hampton Roads generally pronounce the city's name "NAW-fuk", while others in the state use the pronunciation "NOR-fick", with the second syllable somewhere in-between the obscene "FUCK" and the first syllable of "FICtional". The "L" in Norfolk is generally only pronounced by those from other states. Similarily, second syllable in neigboring Portsmouth is pronounced "smith" or "muth", and never as "mouth." It is known to many locals as "P-town."
The Norfolk Naval Shipyard or "Norfolk Navy Yard" is in Portsmouth, Virginia. They could not name it the "Portsmouth Naval Shipyard," because there was already one of those in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.