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Norfolk, Virginia
Independent city
City of Norfolk
Clockwise from top: Downtown Norfolk skyline as viewed from across the Elizabeth River, USS Wisconsin battleship museum, Ocean View Pier, The Tide light rail, ships at Naval Station Norfolk, historic homes in Ghent
Clockwise from top: Downtown Norfolk skyline as viewed from across the Elizabeth River, USS Wisconsin battleship museum, Ocean View Pier, The Tide light rail, ships at Naval Station Norfolk, historic homes in Ghent
Official seal of Norfolk, Virginia
Seal
Motto: Crescas (Latin for, "Thou shalt grow.")
Norfolk-Location.svg
Country United States
State  Virginia
County None (Independent city)
Founded 1682
Incorporated 1736
Area
 • Independent city 250 km2 (96 sq mi)
 • Land 140 km2 (54 sq mi)
 • Water 110 km2 (42 sq mi)
Elevation 2.13 m (7 ft)
Population (2014)
 • Independent city 245,428 (78th)
 • Density 1,733/km2 (4,488/sq mi)
 • Urban 1,047,869
 • Metro 1,672,319
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 23501-23515, 23517-23521, 23523, 23529, 23541, 23551
Area code(s) 757
Demonym Norfolkian
FIPS code 51-57000
GNIS feature ID 1497051
Website http://www.norfolk.gov/

Norfolk (/ˈnɔːrfᵿk/ NOR-fək, local /ˈnɒfʊk/ NOF-uuk) is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia, United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 242,803; in 2015, the population was estimated to be 247,189 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. Norfolk is one of the oldest cities in Hampton Roads, and 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, which 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, which are the only bridge-tunnels in the United States.

History

Colonial years

In 1619, the Governor of the Virginia Colony, Sir George Yeardley incorporated 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 head rights 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 Virginia Company of London.

Norfolk developed in the late-seventeenth 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. In 1730, a tobacco inspection site was located here. According to the Tobacco Inspection Act, the inspection was "At Norfolk Town, upon the fort land, in the County of Norfolk; and Kemp's Landing, in Princess Anne, under one inspection."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 the American Revolution. After fleeing the colonial capital 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.

Nineteenth century

Cannonball lodged in church wall
Where one of Lord Dunmore's shells landed during the American Revolutionary War
Joseph Jenkins Roberts
Joseph Jenkins Roberts, born and raised in Norfolk, became the first President of Liberia.

Following recovery from the Revolutionary War's burning, Norfolk and her citizens struggled to rebuild. In 1804, another serious fire along the city's waterfront destroyed some 300 buildings and the city suffered 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 further into Kentucky and Tennessee. Such migration also followed the exhaustion of soil due to tobacco cultivation in the Tidewater, where it had been the primary commodity crop for generations.

Virginia made some attempts to phase out slavery, and manumissions had increased in the first two decades after the war. Thomas Jefferson Randolph gained passage of an 1832 resolution for gradual abolition in the state, but by that time, increased demand from development in the Deep South created a large internal market for slavery. The invention of the cotton gin in the late-eighteenth century had enabled the profitable cultivation of short-staple cotton in the uplands, which was widely used.

The American Colonization Society proposed to "repatriate" free blacks and freed slaves to Africa by establishing the new colony of Liberia and paying for transportation. But most African-Americans wanted to stay in their birthplace of the United States and achieve freedom and rights there. For a period, many emigrants to Liberia from Virginia and North Carolina embarked from the port of Norfolk. Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a free person of color native to Norfolk, emigrated via the American Colonization Society and later was elected as the first president of Liberia, establishing a powerful family.

On June 7, 1855, the 183-ft. vessel Benjamin Franklin put into Hampton Roads for repairs. She had just sailed from the West Indies where there had been an outbreak of yellow fever. The port health officer ordered the ship quarantined. After eleven days, a second inspection found no issues, so she was allowed to dock. A few days later, the first cases of yellow fever were discovered in Norfolk, and a machinist died from the disease on July 8. By August, several people were dying per day, and a third of the city's population had fled in the hopes of escaping the epidemic. No one understood how the disease was transmitted. With both Norfolk and Portsmouth being infected, New York banned all traffic from those sites. Neighboring cities also banned residents from Norfolk. The epidemic spread through the city via mosquitoes and poor sanitation, affecting every family and causing widespread panic. The number of infected reached 5,000 in September, and by the second week, 1,500 had died in Norfolk and Portsmouth. As the weather cooled, the outbreak began to wane, leaving a final tally of about 3,200 dead. It took the city some time to recover.

In early 1861, Norfolk voters instructed their delegate to vote for 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 changed the course of naval warfare; from then on, warships were fortified with metal.

In May 1862, Norfolk Mayor William Lamb surrendered the city to Union General John E. Wool and his forces. They held the city under martial law for the duration of the Civil War. Thousands of slaves from the region escaped to Union lines to gain freedom; they quickly set up schools in Norfolk to start learning how to read and write, years before the end of the war.

20th century to present

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. Southern Democrats in Congress gained its location here. Commemorating the tricentennial anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, the exposition featured many prominent officials, including President Theodore Roosevelt, members of Congress, and diplomats from twenty-one countries. By 1917, as the US prepared to enter World War I, the Naval Air Station Hampton Roads had been constructed on the former exposition grounds.

In the first half of the twentieth century, the city of Norfolk expanded its borders through annexation. In 1906, the city annexed the incorporated town of Berkley, making the city cross the Elizabeth River.

With the dawn of the Interstate Highway System following World War II, new highways were constructed 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. The highways also stimulated the development of new housing suburbs, leading to the population spreading out. Additional bridges and tunnels included the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel in 1957, the Midtown Tunnel in 1962, and the Virginia Beach-Norfolk Expressway (Interstate 264 and State Route 44) in 1967. 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.

In 1954 the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated public schools were unconstitutional, as the public system was supported by all taxpayers. It ordered integration, but Virginia pursued a policy of "massive resistance". (At this time, most black citizens were still disfranchised under the state's turn-of-the-century constitution and discriminatory practices related to voter registration and elections.) The Virginia General Assembly prohibited state funding for integrated public schools.

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. 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 ten days later, Almond capitulated and asked the General Assembly to rescind several "massive resistance" laws. In September 1959, seventeen 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.

With new suburban developments beckoning, many white middle-class residents moved out of the city along new highway routes, and Norfolk's population declined, a pattern repeated in numerous cities during the postwar era independently of segregation issues. 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.

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 have been erected. In 1983, the city and The Rouse Company developed the Waterside festival marketplace to attract people back to the waterfront and catalyze further downtown redevelopment. 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. 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.

Geography

Newport news norfolk portsmouth
Newport News, Hampton, Isle of Wight County, Suffolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth and Norfolk, Virginia from space, July 1996. Norfolk is located in the upper right quadrant, and east is at the top.

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 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:mw' not found. (36.8857° N, 76.2599° W)

The city is located at the southeastern corner of Virginia at the junction of the Elizabeth River and the Chesapeake Bay. The Hampton Roads Metropolitan Statistical Area (officially known as the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA) is the 37th largest in the United States, with an estimated population of 1,716,624 in 2014. 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, 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 Williamsburg are primarily centers of tourism. Virginia Beach is the most populated city within the MSA though it functions more as a suburb. Additionally, Norfolk is part of the Virginia Beach-Norfolk, VA-NC Combined Statistical Area, which includes the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA, the Elizabeth City, North Carolina Micropolitan Statistical Area, and the Kill Devil Hills, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area. The CSA is the 32nd largest in the nation with an estimated population in 2013 of 1,810,266.

In addition to extensive riverfront property, Norfolk has miles of bayfront resort property and beaches in the Willoughby Spit and Ocean 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 $1,000,000,000. Since then, scientists at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in 2013 have estimated that if current trends hold, the sea in Norfolk will rise by 5 and 1/2 feet or more by the end of this century.

Cityscape

See also: List of tallest buildings in Norfolk, Virginia
Norfolk, Virginia skyline 2016
Norfolk, Virginia skyline from across the Elizabeth River in 2016
Ghent neighborhood house, Norfolk, VA
A home in the Ghent neighborhood

When Norfolk was first settled, homes were made of wood and frame construction, similar to most medieval English-style homes. These homes had wide chimneys and thatch roofs. Some decades after the town was first laid out in 1682, the Georgian architectural style, which was popular in the South at the time, was used. Brick was considered more substantial construction; patterns were made by brick laid and Flemish bond. This style evolved to include projecting center pavilions, Palladian windows, balustraded roof decks, and two-story porticoes. By 1740, homes, warehouses, stores, workshops, and taverns began to dot Norfolk's streets.

Norfolk was burned down during the Revolutionary War. After the Revolution, Norfolk was rebuilt in the Federal style, based on Roman ideals. Federal-style homes kept Georgian symmetry, though they had more refined decorations to look like New World homes. Federal homes had features such as narrow sidelights with an embracing fanlight around the doorway, giant porticoes, gable or flat roofs, and projecting bays on exterior walls. Rooms were oval, elliptical or octagonal. Few of these federal rowhouses remain standing today. A majority of buildings were made of wood and had a simple construction.

In the early nineteenth century, Neoclassical architectural elements began to appear in the federal style row homes, such as iconic columns in the porticoes and classic motifs over doorways and windows. Many Federal-style row houses were modernized by placing a Greek-style porch at the front. Greek and Roman elements were integrated into public buildings such as the old City Hall, the old Norfolk Academy, and the Customs House.

Whittle House Norfolk
Taylor-Whittle House (c. 1790), now occupied by the Junior League of Norfolk-Virginia Beach and the Norfolk Historical Society

Greek-style homes gave way to Gothic Revival in the 1830s, which emphasized pointed arches, steep gable roofs, towers and tracer-lead windows. The Freemason Baptist Church and St. Mary's Catholic Church are examples of Gothic Revival. Italianate elements emerged in the 1840s including cupolas, verandas, ornamental brickwork, or corner quoins. Norfolk still had simple wooden structures among its more ornate buildings.

High-rise buildings were first built in the late nineteenth century when structures such as the current Commodore Maury Hotel and the Royster Building were constructed to form the initial Norfolk skyline. Past styles were revived during the early years of the 20th century. Bungalows and apartment buildings became popular for those living in the city.

As the Great Depression wore on, Art Deco emerged as a popular building style, as evidenced by the Post Office building downtown. Art Deco consisted of streamlined concrete faced appearance with smooth stone or metal, with terracotta, and trimming consisting of glass and colored tiles.

Neighborhoods

See also: List of neighborhoods in Norfolk

Norfolk has a variety of historic neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods, such as Berkley, were formerly cities and towns. Others, such as Willoughby Spit and Ocean View, have a long history tied to the Chesapeake Bay. Today, neighborhoods such as Downtown, Ghent and Fairmount Park have transformed with the revitalization that the city has undergone.

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. Summers are consistently warm and humid, but the nearby Atlantic Ocean often exercises a slight cooling effect on daytime high temperatures, but a slight warming effect on nighttime low temperatures (compared to areas farther inland). As such, Norfolk has occasional days over 90 °F (32 °C). Temperatures over 100 F. are rare but can occur on occasion. On average, July is the warmest month, and August is the year's wettest month, due to still-frequent summer thunderstorm activity combined with a rising frequency (in August) of tropical activity (hurricanes and tropical storms), which can bring high winds and heavy rains. These usually brush Norfolk and only occasionally make landfalls in the area; the highest-risk period is mid-August to the end of September. Fall is marked by mild to warm days and cooler nights. Winter is usually mild in Norfolk, with average winter days featuring lows near or slightly above freezing and highs in the upper-40s to mid-50s (8 to 13 °C). On average, the coldest month of the year is January. Norfolk's record high was 105 °F (41 °C) on August 7, 1918, and July 24 and 25, 2010, and the record low was −3 °F (−19 °C) recorded on January 21, 1985. Snow occurs sporadically, with an average annual accumulation of 5.8 inches.


Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 2,959
1800 6,926 134.1%
1810 9,193 32.7%
1820 8,478 −7.8%
1830 9,814 15.8%
1840 10,929 11.4%
1850 14,326 31.1%
1860 14,620 2.1%
1870 19,229 31.5%
1880 21,966 14.2%
1890 34,871 58.7%
1900 46,624 33.7%
1910 67,452 44.7%
1920 115,777 71.6%
1930 129,710 12.0%
1940 144,335 11.3%
1950 213,513 47.9%
1960 305,872 43.3%
1970 307,951 0.7%
1980 266,979 −13.3%
1990 261,229 −2.2%
2000 234,403 −10.3%
2010 242,803 3.6%
Est. 2015 246,393 1.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000
[1]
USA Norfolk city, Virginia age pyramid
Population age distribution for Norfolk

As of the census of 2010, there were 242,803 people, 86,210 households, and 51,898 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,362.8 people per square mile (1,684.4/km2). There were 94,416 housing units at an average density of 1,757.3 per square mile (678.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 47.1% White, 43.1% African American, 0.5% Native American, 3.3% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 2.2% from other races, and 3.6% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 6.6% of the population. Non-Hispanic Whites were 44.3% of the population in 2010, down from 68.5% in 1970.

There were 86,210 households out of which 30.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.9% were married couples living together, 18.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.8% were non-families. 30.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.07.

The age distribution was 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 were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 104.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.8 males. This large gender imbalance is due to the military presence in the city, most notably Naval Station Norfolk.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,815, and the median income for a family was $36,891. Males had a median income of $25,848 versus $21,907 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,372. About 15.5% of families and 19.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.9% of those under age 18 and 13.2% of those ages 65 or over.

Arts and culture

MacArthurStatue
The Douglas MacArthur Statue

Norfolk is the cultural heart of the Hampton Roads region. In addition to its museums, Norfolk is the principal home for several major performing arts companies. Norfolk also plays host to numerous yearly festivals and parades, mostly at Town Point Park in downtown.

The Chrysler Museum of Art, located in the Ghent district, is the region's foremost art museum and is considered by The New York Times to be the finest in the state. Of particular note is the extensive glass collection, the Glass Studio, the Moses Myers House, and American neoclassical marble sculptures. The museum's main building is undergoing expansion and renovation and is expected to reopen in April 2014. During the renovation, the Glass Studio and the Moses Myers House will remain open and art will be displayed at venues throughout the community.

Nauticus, the National Maritime Center, opened on the downtown waterfront in 1994. It features hands-on exhibits, interactive theaters, aquaria, digital high-definition films and an extensive variety of educational programs. Since 2000, Nauticus has been home to the battleship USS Wisconsin, the last battleship to be built in the United States. It served briefly in World War II and later in the Korean and Gulf Wars.

The MacArthur Memorial, located in the nineteenth century Norfolk courthouse and city hall in downtown, contains the tombs of the late General and his wife, a museum and a vast research library, personal belongings (including his famous corncob pipe) and a short film that chronicles the life of the famous General of the Army.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the world's largest animal rights organization, is based in Norfolk.

The Hermitage Foundation Museum, located in an early 20th-century Tudor-style home on a 12-acre (49,000 m2) estate fronting the Lafayette River, features an eclectic collection of Asian and Western art, including Chinese bronze and ceramics, Persian rugs, and ivory carvings. Norfolk has a variety of performing groups with regular seasons.

Harrison operahouse
Harrison Opera House
Nauticus, Norfolk
Nauticus

The Virginia Opera was founded in Norfolk in 1974. Its artistic director since its inception has been Peter Mark, who conducted his 100th opera production for the VOA in 2008. Though performances are staged statewide, the company's principal venue is the Harrison Opera House in the Ghent district.

The Virginia Stage Company, founded in 1968, is one of the country's leading regional theaters and produces a full season of plays in the Wells Theatre downtown. The company shares facilities with the Governor's School for the Arts.

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1920 and directed by JoAnn Falletta, has been a regular staple on the regional fine arts scene. Most Norfolk performances take place at Chrysler Hall in the Scope complex downtown. The orchestra also provides musicians for many other performing arts organizations in the area.

Large-scale concerts are held at either the Norfolk Scope arena or the Ted Constant Convocation Center at ODU, while The Norva provides a more intimate atmosphere for smaller groups. Other Norfolk cultural venues include the Attucks Theatre, the Jeanne and George Roper Performing Arts Canter (formerly the Loew's State Theater) and the Naro Expanded Cinema.

The revitalization of downtown Norfolk has helped to improve the Hampton Roads cultural scene. In particular, a large number of clubs, representing a wide range of music interests and sophistication now line the lower Granby Street area.

Norfolk celebrates the rich ethnic diversity of its population with sights, sounds, attractions and special events that pay tribute to the city's long multicultural heritage.

Parks and recreation

NorfolkBotanicalGardenCanal
Canal at the Norfolk Botanical Garden

Town Point Park in downtown plays host to a wide variety of annual events from early spring through late fall. Harborfest, the region's largest annual festival, celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in 2006. It is held during the first weekend of June and celebrates the region's proximity and attachment to the water. The Parade of Sail (numerous tall sailing ships from around the world form in line and sail past downtown before docking at the marina), music concerts, regional food, and a large fireworks display highlight this three-day festival. Bayou Boogaloo and Cajun Food Festival, a celebration of the Cajun people and culture, had small beginnings. This three-day festival during the third week of June has become one of the largest in the region and, in addition to serving up Cajun cuisine, also features Cajun music. Norfolk's Fourth of July celebration of American independence contains a spectacular fireworks display and a special Navy reenlistment ceremony. The Norfolk Jazz Festival, though smaller by comparison to some of the big city jazz festivals, still manages to attract the country's top jazz performers. It is held in August. The Town Point Virginia Wine Festival has become a showcase for Virginia-produced wines and has enjoyed increasing success over the years. Virginia's burgeoning wine industry has become noted both within the United States and on an international level. The festival has grown with the industry. Wines can be sampled and then purchased by the bottle and/or case directly from the winery kiosks. This event takes place during the third weekend of October. There is also a Spring Wine Festival held during the second weekend of May. Nearby are the museum ship USS Wisconsin (BB-64) and Wisconsin Square.

The St. Patrick's Day annual parade in the city's Ocean View neighborhood, celebrates Ocean View's rich Irish heritage.

Norfolk Zoo Entrance
Virginia Zoo

Norfolk has a variety of parks and open spaces in its city parks system. The city maintains three beaches on its north shore in the Ocean View area. Five additional parks contain picnic facilities and playgrounds for children. The city also has some community pools open to city residents.

The Norfolk Botanical Garden, opened in 1939, is a 155-acre (0.6 km2) botanical garden and arboretum located near the Norfolk International Airport. It is open year-round.

The Virginia Zoological Park, opened in 1900, is a 65-acre (260,000 m2) zoo with hundreds of animals on display, including the critically endangered Siberian tiger and threatened white rhino.

The city is also known for its "Mermaids on Parade," a public art program launched in 2002 to place mermaid statues all over the city. Tourists can take a walking tour of downtown and locate 17 mermaids while others can be found further afield.

Norfolk Public Library

Norfolk Public Library, Virginia's first public library, consists of one main library, one anchor library, ten branch libraries and a bookmobile. The library also has a local history and genealogy room and contains government documents dating back to the 19th century. The libraries offer services such as computer classes, book reviews, tax forms, and online book clubs.

Sister cities

Norfolk has ten sister cities:

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