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Prince William County, Virginia facts for kids

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Not to be confused with King William County, Virginia.
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Prince William County
Prince William County
The Prince William County Courthouse in Manassas in July 2011
The Prince William County Courthouse in Manassas in July 2011
Flag of Prince William County
Official seal of Prince William County
"P.W. County"
Map of Virginia highlighting Prince William County
Location within the U.S. state of Virginia
Map of the United States highlighting Virginia
Virginia's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Virginia
Founded 1731
Named for Prince William, Duke of Cumberland
Seat Manassas
Largest town Dumfries
 • Total 348 sq mi (900 km2)
 • Land 336 sq mi (870 km2)
 • Water 12 sq mi (30 km2)  3.5%%
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,298/sq mi (501/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts 1st, 10th, 11th

Prince William County is a county on the Potomac River in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 402,002, on 1 July 2015, the population was estimated to be 451,721, making it Virginia's second-most populous county. Its county seat is the independent city of Manassas.

A part of Northern Virginia, Prince William County is part of the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area. In 2012 it had the seventh highest income of any county in the United States. It was Virginia's first majority-minority county, with Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic and, African American the chief groups.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the independent cities of Manassas and Manassas Park with Prince William County (within which the two cities are enclaves) for statistical purposes:

Name Area (km²) Population
2000 Census
2010 Census
1 July 2015
Manassas (city) 25.59 35,135 37,821 41,764
Manassas Park (city) 6.55 10,290 14,273 15,726
Prince William County 871.27 280,813 402,002 451,721
Totals 903.41 326,238 454,096 509,211


The old county courthouse (c.1897) in March 2007.

At the time of European encounter, the main inhabitants of the area that would become Prince William County were the Doeg, an Algonquian-speaking sub-group of the Powhatan tribal confederation. When John Smith and other English explorers ventured to the upper Potomac River beginning in 1608, they recorded the name of a village the Doeg inhabited as Pemacocack (meaning "plenty of fish"). It was located on the west bank of the Potomac River about 30 miles south of present-day Alexandria. Unable to deal with European diseases and firepower, the Doeg had abandoned their villages in the area by 1700.

Prince William County was created by an act of the General Assembly of the colony of Virginia in 1731; it was organized largely from the western section of Stafford County as well as a section of King George County. The area encompassed by the act creating Prince William County originally included all of what later became the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, and Loudoun; and the independent cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park. These later became independent jurisdictions. The county was named for Prince William, Duke of Cumberland, the third son of King George II.

In 1790 the population of the county was 58% white; most of the remainder was black and enslaved. The county had been an area of tobacco plantations, where crops were being changed to mixed crops due to soil exhaustion and changes in the market. In the first two decades after the Revolution, the number and percentage of free blacks increased in Virginia as some whites freed their slaves, based on revolutionary ideals. Most free people of color in the state were descended from colonial unions between white women and African-American men, slave, indentured servant or free. Under colonial law since 1662, children took the status of their mother, so children born to white women were free, even if of mixed race.

The county was rural and agricultural for decades. The population into the early 20th century was centered in two areas, one at Manassas (home to a major railroad junction), the other near Occoquan and Woodbridge along the Potomac River. Beginning in the late 1930s, a larger suburban population was attracted to new housing that was developed near the existing population centers, particularly in Manassas.

In 1960 the population was 50,164, but suburbanization caused that to increase rapidly in the following decades, supported by expansion of federal, military and commercial activities in Northern Virginia in the late 20th century. By 2000, this was the third-most populous local jurisdiction in Virginia. From 2000 to 2010, the population increased by 43.2%. This was the first county in Virginia to be minority-majority: the new majority is composed of Hispanic (of any race, largely of Central and South American ancestry), African American, and Asian. In 2012 it was the seventh-wealthiest county in the country. The estimated population of 2014 is more than 437,000.

The Marine Corps Heritage Museum and the Hylton Performing Arts Center opened in the 21st century. The American Wartime Museum is also to be located in this county. During the commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, re-enactment of the famous First and Second Battles of Manassas was planned.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 348 square miles (900 km2), of which 336 square miles (870 km2) is land and 12 square miles (31 km2) (3.5%) is water. It is bounded on the north by Loudoun and Fairfax Counties; on the west by Fauquier County; on the south by Stafford County; and on the east by the Potomac River (Charles County, Maryland lies across the river).

Adjacent jurisdictions

National protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 11,615
1800 12,733 9.6%
1810 11,311 −11.2%
1820 9,419 −16.7%
1830 9,330 −0.9%
1840 8,144 −12.7%
1850 8,129 −0.2%
1860 8,565 5.4%
1870 7,504 −12.4%
1880 9,180 22.3%
1890 9,805 6.8%
1900 11,112 13.3%
1910 12,026 8.2%
1920 13,660 13.6%
1930 13,951 2.1%
1940 17,738 27.1%
1950 22,612 27.5%
1960 50,164 121.8%
1970 111,102 121.5%
1980 144,636 30.2%
1990 215,686 49.1%
2000 280,813 30.2%
2010 402,002 43.2%
Est. 2015 451,721 12.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990

As of the census of 2010, there were 402,002 people, 137,115 housing units, and 130,785 households residing in the county. The population density was 1,186 people per square mile (458/km²). There were 137,115 housing units at an average density of 405 per square mile (156/km²). The racial makeup of the county (reporting as only one race) was:

  • 57.8% White
  • 20.2% Black or African American
  • 0.6% Native American
  • 7.5% Asian (1.5% Indian, 1.2% Filipino, 1.2% Korean, 0.8% Vietnamese 0.6% Chinese, 0.1% Japanese, 2.1% Other Asian)
  • 0.1% Pacific Islander
  • 9.1% from other races
  • and 5.1% from two or more races
  • 20.3% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race (6.8% Salvadoran, 3.7% Mexican, 1.8% Puerto Rican, 1.1% Guatemalan, 1.0% Peruvian, 0.9% Honduran, 0.7% Bolivian, 0.4% Colombian, 0.3% Nicaraguan, 0.3% Dominican)

Also according to census figures, there were 130,785 households in Prince William County as of April 1, 2010. According to the Census Bureau’s 2009 American Community Survey, 76.1% of the County’s households are occupied by families, (compared to 66.5% in the United States). This represents a decrease of 4.6 percentage points since 1990, when 80.7% of households in the County were families. Approximately 42.2% of Prince William County’s households are family households occupied by parents with their own children under 18 years of age.

According to the Census Bureau’s 2009 American Community Survey, 29.3% of the total County population is under 18 years of age; approximately 6.5% is aged 65 and over. The median age of the population is 33.2 years. The 2009 American Community Survey also indicated that 50.0% of the County’s population is male and 50.0% is female.

According to the 2009 American Community Survey, the 2009 median household income in Prince William County was $89,785. The per capita income for the county was $35,890. The 2009 American Community Survey reported that in 2009, 6.0% of Prince William County’s population was living below the poverty line, including 7.7% of those under age 18 and 5.3% of those age 65 or over.


The National Museum of the Marine Corps in November 2010.

The National Museum of the Marine Corps is located in Triangle, Virginia and is free to the public. The Historic Preservation Division of Prince William County also operates five museums: Rippon Lodge Historic Site, Brentsville Historic Centre, Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park, Lucasville Historic Site, and Ben Lomond Historic Site.


The Prince William Public Library System is a regional public library system that serves Prince William County, the City of Manassas and the City of Manassas Park. The system consists of 6 full-service branches and 5 neighborhood branches that covers the entire Prince William area.


The Manassas National Battlefield Park visitors' center in July 2003.

Two National Parks lie within the county. Prince William Forest Park was established as Chopawamsic Recreational Demonstration Area in 1936 and is located in eastern Prince William County. This is the largest protected natural area in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region at over 15,000 acres (6,070 ha). Manassas National Battlefield Park, located north of Manassas in Prince William County, preserves the site of two major American Civil War battles: the First Battle of Manassas on July 21, 1861, and the Second Battle of Manassas which was fought between August 28 and August 30, 1862. Outside the South, these battles are commonly referred to as the first and second battles of Bull Run.

The Prince William County Department of Parks & Recreation operates fifty parks, two water parks, two recreation centers (Birchdale Rec. Center and Sharron Baucom Dale City Rec. Center), two community centers, six sports complexes, and an ice skating rink.


The county is traversed by many major highways and roads, including the following:

  • I-66.svg Interstate 66
  • I-95.svg Interstate 95
  • US 1.svg U.S. Route 1
  • US 15.svg U.S. Route 15
  • US 29.svg U.S. Route 29
  • Virginia 28.svg State Route 28
  • Virginia 123.svg State Route 123
  • Virginia 234.svg State Route 234
  • Virginia 294.svg Prince William Parkway

Manassas Regional Airport lies near its namesake city; for commercial passengers, both Dulles Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport are located nearby.

Public busing in the county is provided by the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission. Services provided by PRTC include OmniRide, OmniLink, and OmniMatch.

The county is served by both Virginia Railway Express (VRE) lines. The Manassas line has the Manassas Park, Manassas, and Broad Run / Airport stations. The Fredericksburg line has the Woodbridge, Rippon, and Quantico stations. The Manassas, Quantico and Woodbridge stations are also served by Amtrak.



Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

Former communities

Independent cities

The independent cities of Manassas and Manassas Park are surrounded by Prince William County. Before becoming independent cities in 1975, as are all cities in Virginia, both were towns and officially part of the county. The Prince William County Circuit, District, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts, Prince William County Commonwealth Attorney's Office, Prince William County Adult Detention Center, Prince William County Sheriff's Office, and other county agencies are located at Prince William County Courthouse complex. The courthouse complex itself is located in a Prince William County enclave surrounded by the city of Manassas.

Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park share a single judicial system (courts) and Constitutional offices (Commonwealth's Attorney, Sheriff, Circuit Court Clerk).

Other important features

Potomac mills mall
Potomac Mills in August 2005.
  • Marine Corps Base Quantico, a large military installation
  • Hylton Performing Arts Center
  • Jiffy Lube Live, a large concert venue
  • Potomac Mills, the 10th most popular tourist destination in Virginia and largest outlet mall in the region
  • FBI Academy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's training and research facility.
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