Chesapeake, Virginia

Chesapeake is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 222,209;[5] in 2019, the population was estimated to be 244,835,[2] making it the second-most populous city in Virginia.

Chesapeake, Virginia
City of Chesapeake
Great Dismal Swamp Canal
Great Dismal Swamp Canal
Flag of Chesapeake, Virginia
Official seal of Chesapeake, Virginia
"One Increasing Purpose"
Location in the State of Virginia
Location in the State of Virginia
Chesapeake, Virginia is located in the United States
Chesapeake, Virginia
Chesapeake, Virginia
Location in the contiguous United States
Coordinates: 36°42′51″N 76°14′18″W / 36.71417°N 76.23833°W / 36.71417; -76.23833
Country United States
State Virginia
CountyNone (independent city)
Founded1963 (1919 as South Norfolk, 1634 as Norfolk County, Virginia)
 • TypeCouncil-Manager
 • MayorRick West (R)
 • Independent city350.95 sq mi (908.95 km2)
 • Land338.51 sq mi (876.74 km2)
 • Water12.44 sq mi (32.21 km2)  2.9%
 • Independent city222,209
 • Estimate 
 • Density723.27/sq mi (279.26/km2)
 • Metro
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s)757 and 948
FIPS code51-16000[3]
GNIS feature ID1496841[4]

Chesapeake is included in the Virginia Beach–Norfolk–Newport News, VA–NC, MSA. One of the cities in the South Hampton Roads, Chesapeake was organized in 1963 by voter referendums approving the political consolidation of the city of South Norfolk with the remnants of the former Norfolk County, which dated to 1691. (Much of the territory of the county had been annexed by other cities.) Chesapeake is the second-largest city by land area in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the 17th-largest in the United States.

Chesapeake is a diverse city in which a few urban areas are located; it also has many square miles of protected farmland, forests, and wetlands, including a substantial portion of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Extending from the rural border with North Carolina to the harbor area of Hampton Roads adjacent to the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach, Chesapeake is located on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. It has miles of waterfront industrial, commercial and residential property.

In 2011, Chesapeake was named the 21st best city in the United States by Bloomberg Businessweek.[6] Chesapeake is home to the international Headquarters for Dollar Tree.


Norfolk County, Virginia (from 1895 map), existed from 1691 to 1963, now extinct

In 1963, the new independent city of Chesapeake was created when the former independent city of South Norfolk consolidated with Norfolk County. The consolidation was approved and the new name selected by the voters of each community by referendum, and authorized by the Virginia General Assembly.

Formed in 1691 in the Virginia Colony, Norfolk County had originally included essentially all the area which became the towns and later cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, and South Norfolk. Its area was reduced after 1871 as these cities added territory through annexations. Becoming an independent city was a method for the former county to stabilize borders with neighbors, as cities could not annex territory from each other.

The relatively small city of South Norfolk had become an incorporated town within Norfolk County in 1919, and became an independent city in 1922. Its residents wanted to make a change to put their jurisdiction on a more equal footing in other aspects with the much larger cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth. In addition, by the late 1950s, although immune from annexation by the bigger cities, South Norfolk was close to losing all the county land adjoining it to the city of Norfolk in another annexation suit.

The consolidation that resulted in the city of Chesapeake was part of a wave of changes in the structure of local government in southeastern Virginia which took place between 1952 and 1975.

The Chesapeake region was among the first areas settled in the state's colonial era, when settlement started from the coast. Along Chesapeake's segment of the Intracoastal Waterway, where the Great Bridge locks marks the transition between the Southern Branch Elizabeth River and the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal, lies the site of the Battle of Great Bridge. Fought on December 9, 1775, in the early days of the American Revolutionary War, the battle resulted in the removal of Lord Dunmore and all vestiges of English Government from the Colony and Dominion of Virginia.

Until the late 1980s and early 1990s, much of Chesapeake was either suburban or rural, serving as a bedroom community of the adjacent cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach with residents commuting to these locations. Beginning in the late 1980s and accelerating in the 1990s, however, Chesapeake saw significant growth, attracting numerous and significant industries and businesses of its own. This explosive growth quickly led to strains on the municipal infrastructure, ranging from intrusion of saltwater into the city's water supply to congested roads and schools.

Chesapeake made national headlines in 2003 when, under a court-ordered change of venue, the community hosted the first trial of alleged Beltway sniper Lee Boyd Malvo for shootings in 2002. A jury convicted him of murder but spared him a potential death sentence; it chose a sentence of "life in prison without parole" for the young man, who was 17 years old at the time of the crime spree. A jury in neighboring Virginia Beach convicted his older partner John Allen Muhammad and sentenced him to death for another of the attacks.


Chesapeake is located at 36°46′2″N 76°17′14″W / 36.76722°N 76.28722°W / 36.76722; -76.28722 (36.767398, -76.287405).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 351 square miles (910 km2), of which 341 square miles (880 km2) is land and 10 square miles (26 km2) (2.9%) is water.[7]

The northeastern part of the Great Dismal Swamp is located in Chesapeake.

Diverse environmentEdit

Chesapeake is one of the larger cities in Virginia and the nation in terms of land area. This poses challenges to city leaders in supporting infrastructure to serve this area. In addition, the city has many historically and geographically distinct communities. City leaders are faced with conflicts between development of residential, commercial and industrial areas and preservation of virgin forest and wetlands. Within the city limits in the southwestern section is a large portion of the Great Dismal Swamp.

Adjacent counties and citiesEdit


Chesapeake consists of eight informal boroughs: South Norfolk, Greenbrier, Hickory, Deep Creek, Grassfield, Great Bridge, Indian River, and Western Branch.[8] One of the boroughs, South Norfolk, used to be its own independent city.[9]


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Chesapeake has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[10]

Climate data for Chesapeake, Virginia (1980-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 49.7
Average low °F (°C) 30.3
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.6


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)244,835[2]
1790-1960 Population as Norfolk County
Historical population
Census Pop.
1920-1960 Population as the City of South Norfolk
Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)244,835[2]10.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]
1790-1960[13] 1900-1990[14]
Age distribution in Chesapeake

As of the census[16] of 2010, there were 222,209 people, 69,900 households, and 54,172 families residing in the city. The population density was 584.6 people per square mile (225.7/km2). There were 72,672 housing units at an average density of 213.3 per square mile (82.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 62.6% White, 29.8% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 2.9% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.2% from other races, and 3.0% from two or more races. 4.4% of the population were Hispanics or Latinos of any race. According to 2012 estimates 59.7% of the population is non-Hispanic white.

There were 69,900 households, out of which 41.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.7% were married couples living together, 14.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.5% were non-families. 18.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 5.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.79 and the average family size was 3.17.

The age distribution was: 28.8% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 32.3% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 9.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $50,743, and the median income for a family was $56,302. Males had a median income of $39,204 versus $26,391 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,949. About 6.1% of families and 7.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.7% of those under age 18 and 9.0% of those age 65 or over.


Top employersEdit

According to Chesapeake's 2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and other sources (as indicated),[17] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Chesapeake City Public Schools 5,995
2 City of Chesapeake 3,860
3 Chesapeake Regional Medical Center 2,032
4 Walmart 1,908
5 Dollar Tree 1,900[18]
6 Sentara Healthcare 1,821
7 Cox Communications 1,246
8 Tidewater Staffing 1,215
9 Capital One Services LLC 1,158
10 QVC 1,031
11 Food Lion 739
10 USAA 691
11 YMCA of South Hampton Roads 640
14 General Dynamics Information Technology 609
12 Commonwealth of Virginia 555
13 Home Depot USA, Inc. 495
15 Oceaneering International 483
16 Xerox HR Solutions, LLC 477
17 US Department of Homeland Security 460
18 Tecnico Corporation 438


Chesapeake is home to two Navy bases:

Points of interestEdit


Chesapeake's daily newspaper is The Virginian-Pilot. Other papers include the Port Folio Weekly, the New Journal and Guide, and the Hampton Roads Business Journal.[20] Hampton Roads Magazine serves as a bi-monthly regional magazine for Chesapeake and the Hampton Roads area.[21] Hampton Roads Times serves as an online magazine for all the Hampton Roads cities and counties. Chesapeake is served by a variety of radio stations on the AM and FM dials, with towers located around the Hampton Roads area.[22] Chesapeake is also served by several television stations. The Hampton Roads designated market area (DMA) is the 42nd largest in the U.S. with 712,790 homes (0.64% of the total U.S.).[23] The major network television affiliates are WTKR-TV 3 (CBS), WAVY 10 (NBC), WVEC-TV 13 (ABC), WGNT 27 (CW), WTVZ 33 (MyNetworkTV), WVBT 43 (Fox), and WPXV 49 (ION Television). The Public Broadcasting Service station is WHRO-TV 15. Chesapeake residents also can receive independent stations, such as WSKY broadcasting on channel 4 from the Outer Banks of North Carolina and WGBS-LD broadcasting on channel 11 from Hampton. Chesapeake is served by Cox Communications which provides LNC 5, a local 24-hour cable news television network.



The Chesapeake and Albemarle Railroad is a shortline railroad in Chesapeake.

Toll RoadEdit

Tolls in Chesapeake are currently limited to the Chesapeake Expressway, Veterans Bridge and the Jordan Bridge, but new ones may be imposed on some existing facilities to help generate revenue for transportation projects in the region.


Chesapeake is served by the nearby Norfolk International Airport in the City of Norfolk with commercial airline passenger service.

Within the city limits, Chesapeake Regional Airport is a general aviation facility located just south of Great Bridge. Also within the city, is the Hampton Roads Executive Airport located near Bowers Hill and the Hampton Roads Beltway. This airport caters to private airplane owners and enthusiasts. East of Great Bridge, NALF Fentress is a facility of the U.S. Navy and is an auxiliary landing field which is part of the large facility at NAS Oceana in neighboring Virginia Beach.

River and PortsEdit

The Intracoastal Waterway passes through Chesapeake. Chesapeake also has extensive frontage and port facilities on the navigable portions of the Western and Southern Branches of the Elizabeth River.

The Dismal Swamp Canal runs through Chesapeake as well. The site of this canal was surveyed by George Washington, among others, and is known as "Washington's Ditch". It is the oldest continuously used man made canal in the United States today and has been in service for over 230 years. The canal begins in the Deep Creek section of the city branching off from the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River. The canal runs through Chesapeake paralleling U.S. Highway 17 into North Carolina and connects to Elizabeth City, North Carolina.


Five railroads currently pass through portions of Chesapeake, and handle some intermodal traffic at port facilities on Hampton Roads and navigable portions of several of its tributary rivers. The two major Class 1 railroads are CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern, joined by three short line railroads.

Chesapeake is located on a potential line for high speed passenger rail service between Richmond and South Hampton Roads which is being studied by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. A new suburban passenger station near Bowers Hill would potentially be included to supplement a terminal in downtown Norfolk.


Chesapeake is served by U.S. Highways 13, 17, 58, and 460. Interstate 64, part of the Hampton Roads Beltway, crosses through the city, Interstate 464 is a spur which connects it with downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth at the Berkley Bridge, and Interstate 664, which completes the Interstate loop from the Western Branch section of Chesapeake through the city of Newport News and into the city of Hampton.

State Route 168 is also a major highway in the area. It includes the Chesapeake Expressway toll road.

Chesapeake is the only locality in the Hampton Roads area with a separate bridge division. The city's Department of Public Works, Bridges and Structures division has 51 full-time workers. The city maintains 90 bridges and overpasses. Included are five movable span (draw) bridges which open an estimated 30,000 times a year for water vessels.[24]


Hampton Roads Transit buses serve the city of Chesapeake as well as other cities in the Hampton Roads Area.


Water and sewer services are provided by the city's Department of Utilities. Chesapeake receives its electricity from Dominion Virginia Power which has local sources including the Chesapeake Energy Center (a coal-fired and gas power plant), coal-fired plants in the city and Southampton County, and the Surry Nuclear Power Plant. Norfolk headquartered Virginia Natural Gas, a subsidiary of AGL Resources, distributes natural gas to the city from storage plants in James City County and in the city.

The Virginia tidewater area has grown faster than the local freshwater supply. Chesapeake receives the majority of its water from the Northwest River in the southeastern part of the city. To deal with intermittent high salt content, Chesapeake implemented an advanced reverse osmosis system at its Northwest River water treatment plant in the late 1990s. The river water has always been salty, and the fresh groundwater is no longer available in most areas. Currently, additional freshwater for the South Hampton Roads area is pumped from Lake Gaston, about 80 miles (130 km) west, which straddles the Virginia-North Carolina border along with the Blackwater and Nottaway rivers. The pipeline is 76 miles (122 km) long and 60 inches (1,500 mm) in diameter. Much of its follows the former right-of-way of an abandoned portion of the Virginian Railway.[25] It is capable of pumping 60 million US gallons (230,000 m3) of water per day. The cities of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach are partners in the project.[26]

The city provides wastewater services for residents and transports wastewater to the regional Hampton Roads Sanitation District treatment plants.[27]


Chesapeake City Public Schools is the local school district.

Notable peopleEdit

In popular cultureEdit

In 2015, in honor of the game's 80th birthday, Hasbro held an online vote in order to determine which cities would make it into an updated version of the Monopoly Here and Now: The US Edition of the game. Chesapeake, Virginia won the wildcard round, earning it a brown spot.[28]


Chesapeake is a national bellwether, voting with the winner of the electoral college in every presidential election since 1972, except in 1992 and 1996.

Presidential election results[29]
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2020 45.8% 58,180 52.2% 66,377 2.0% 2,551
2016 48.0% 54,047 46.7% 52,627 5.3% 5,988
2012 48.8% 53,900 49.9% 55,052 1.3% 1,473
2008 48.9% 52,625 50.2% 53,994 0.8% 902
2004 57.1% 52,283 42.3% 38,744 0.6% 514
2000 53.2% 39,684 45.0% 33,578 1.8% 1,323
1996 46.7% 29,251 45.8% 28,713 7.5% 4,722
1992 46.7% 28,909 38.0% 23,495 15.3% 9,464
1988 60.9% 29,738 38.5% 18,828 0.6% 289
1984 61.6% 27,542 37.5% 16,740 0.9% 402
1980 48.5% 17,888 46.5% 17,155 5.0% 1,861
1976 40.0% 12,851 54.9% 17,651 5.2% 1,655
1972 68.0% 17,722 28.0% 7,289 4.1% 1,069
1968 25.2% 6,234 27.6% 6,843 47.2% 11,683
1964 48.5% 9,038 51.2% 9,532 0.3% 51

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  3. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on January 6, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  6. ^ "Chesapeake ranks on best cities list". Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
  7. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  8. ^ "Chesapeake Tree Guys - Google Search". Retrieved 2021-08-29.
  9. ^ "Chesapeake Tree Guys · 741 Tallahassee Dr, Chesapeake, VA 23322". Chesapeake Tree Guys · 741 Tallahassee Dr, Chesapeake, VA 23322. Retrieved 2021-09-02.
  10. ^ "Chesapeake, Virginia Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  11. ^ "Climatological Information for Chesapeake, Virginia",, 2003. Web: [1].
  12. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  13. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  14. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  15. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  16. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  17. ^
  18. ^ Virginia_Pilot Online,
  19. ^ "Northwest Annex". Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  20. ^ "Hampton Roads Magazine". Hampton Roads Magazine. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-08-06.
  21. ^ Holmes, Gary. "Nielsen Reports 1.1% increase in U.S. Television Households for the 2006-2007 Season Archived July 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine." Nielsen Media Research. September 23, 2006. Retrieved on September 28, 2007.
  22. ^ "Shutdown of Jordan Bridge for repairs puts spotlight on problem". Archived from the original on 2007-12-10. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  23. ^ "Lake Gaston and Virginia Beach's Drinking Water". Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  24. ^ "Lake Gaston Water Supply Pipeline". City of Virginia Beach. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  25. ^ "Hampton Roads Sanitation District". Hampton Roads Sanitation District. Archived from the original on 2012-12-24. Retrieved 2008-03-08.
  26. ^ Mitchell, Becca (19 March 2015). "Virginia Beach, Chesapeake win spots on new Monopoly game board". Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  27. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections".

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 36°46′03″N 76°17′15″W / 36.767398°N 76.287405°W / 36.767398; -76.287405