Suffolk, Virginia facts for kids

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Suffolk, Virginia
Independent city
A view of North Main Street in downtown Suffolk, Virginia
A view of North Main Street in downtown Suffolk, Virginia
Official seal of Suffolk, Virginia
Seal
Location in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Location in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Country United States
State  Virginia
County None (Independent city)
Founded 1742
Area
 • Independent city 1,110 km2 (429 sq mi)
 • Land 1,000 km2 (400 sq mi)
 • Water 80 km2 (29 sq mi)
Elevation 11 m (39 ft)
Population (2010)
 • Independent city 84,585
 • Density 76.13/km2 (197.17/sq mi)
 • Metro 1,672,319
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 23432-23439
Area code(s) 757
FIPS code 51-76432
GNIS feature ID 1500187
Website http://www.suffolkva.us/

Suffolk is an independent city located in the U.S. state of Virginia. As of the 2014 census, the estimated population was 86,806 It is the largest city in Virginia by area as well as the 14th largest in the country.

Suffolk is located in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area which also includes the independent cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach, as well as other smaller cities, counties, and towns of Hampton Roads. With miles of waterfront property on the Nansemond and James River, present day Suffolk was formed in 1974 after consolidating with Nansemond County and the towns of Holland and Whaleyville. The current mayor is Linda T. Johnson.

History

Suffolk was founded by English colonists in 1742 as a port town on the Nansemond River in the Virginia Colony. Originally known as Constant's Warehouse, for John Constant, Suffolk was renamed after Royal Governor William Gooch's home of Suffolk, a county in East Anglia, England. Before European contact, indigenous American tribes lived in the region for thousands of years. At the time of English settlement, the Nansemond Indians lived along the river. In the early colonial years, the English cultivated tobacco as a commodity crop, but later turned to mixed farming. It became the county seat of Nansemond County in 1750.

Early in its history, Suffolk became a land transportation gateway to the areas east of it in South Hampton Roads. Before the American Civil War, both the Portsmouth and Roanoke Railroad and the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad were built through Suffolk, early predecessors of 21st century Class 1 railroads operated by CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern, respectively. Other railroads and later major highways followed after the war.

Suffolk became an incorporated town in 1808. In 1910, it incorporated as a city and separated from Nansemond County. However, it remained the seat of Nansemond County until 1972, when its former county became the independent city of Nansemond. In 1974, the independent cities of Suffolk and Nansemond merged under Suffolk's name and charter.

Peanuts grown in the surrounding areas became a major industry for Suffolk. Notably, Planters' Peanuts was established in Suffolk beginning in 1912. Suffolk was the 'birthplace' of Mr. Peanut, the mascot of Planters' Peanuts. For many years, the call-letters of local AM radio station WLPM stood for World's Largest Peanut Market.

Geography

Suffolk is located at 36°44′29″N 76°36′36″W / 36.741347°N 76.609881°W / 36.741347; -76.609881 (36.741347, -76.609881).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 429 square miles (1,110 km2), of which 400 square miles (1,000 km2) is land and 29 square miles (75 km2) (6.7%) is water. It is the largest city in Virginia by land area and second-largest by total area. Part of the Great Dismal Swamp is located in Suffolk.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 1,395
1870 930 −33.3%
1880 1,963 111.1%
1890 3,354 70.9%
1900 3,827 14.1%
1910 7,008 83.1%
1920 9,123 30.2%
1930 10,271 12.6%
1940 11,343 10.4%
1950 12,339 8.8%
1960 12,609 2.2%
1970 9,858 −21.8%
1980 47,621 383.1%
1990 52,141 9.5%
2000 63,677 22.1%
2010 84,585 32.8%
Est. 2015 88,161 4.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013
USA Suffolk city, Virginia age pyramid
Age distribution in Suffolk.

As of the census of 2010, there were 84,585 people, 23,283 households, and 17,718 families residing in the city. The population density was 159.2 people per square mile (61.5/km2). There were 24,704 housing units at an average density of 61.8 per square mile (23.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 50.1% White, 42.7% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.6% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.8% from other races, and 2.3% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 2.9% of the population.

There were 23,283 households out of which 36.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.1% were married couples living together, 16.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.9% were non-families. 20.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.09.

The age distribution was 27.8% under the age of 18, 7.1% from 18 to 24, 31.1% from 25 to 44, 22.5% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 91.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $41,115, and the median income for a family was $47,342. Males had a median income of $35,852 versus $23,777 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,836. About 10.8% of families and 13.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.2% of those under age 18 and 11.2% of those age 65 or over.

As of 2005, the city's median income jumped to $60,484 due to the influx of government-related high-tech jobs in the city's northern corridor and wealthy residents, causing it to be a close second to its neighbor Chesapeake in South Hampton Roads.

Adjacent counties and cities

National protected areas

  • Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
  • Nansemond National Wildlife Refuge

2008 tornado

The city was hit by an EF3 tornado which produced a large swath of extensive damage through the city and nearby communities during the late afternoon of April 28, 2008.

After 4:00 PM EDT on April 28, a tornado touched down multiple times, causing damage and leaving over 200 injured in Suffolk along a path which passed north and west of the downtown area striking near Sentara Obici Hospital and in the unincorporated town of Driver. The storm seriously damaged over 120 homes and 12 businesses. The subdivisions of Burnett's Mill and Hillpoint Farms were damaged particularly heavily, as well as several of the older historic structures in Driver. However, near Driver, large radio and television broadcast towers located in an antenna farm serving most of Hampton Roads were spared serious damage.

Governor Timothy Kaine declared a state of emergency and directed state agencies to assist the recovery and cleanup efforts. Police officers and firefighters from across Hampton Roads were sent to Suffolk to help in the quarantine and cleanup of the damaged areas.

On May 1, the property damages were estimated at $20 million.

Video of the tornado.

Transportation

See also: Transportation in the Hampton Roads region

Suffolk's early growth was fueled by its location and transportation considerations. These continue to be major factors in the 21st century.

Bike trails

The Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge includes dozens of miles of trails accessible via White Marsh Road at Washington Ditch and other entry sites. Additional bike trails can be found at Lone Star Lakes City Park off Godwin Blvd. This city park provides over 4 miles (6.4 km) of rock trails. There are many rural roads with light traffic available for road riding. Adjacent to Suffolk is Smithfield, where a city facility called Nike Park includes a bike trail approximately 212 miles in a loop.

Waterways

Suffolk was initially a port at the head of navigation of the Nansemond River. The Nansemond flows into the James River near its mouth and the ice-free harbor of Hampton Roads.

Railroads

The two railroads completed through Suffolk before the American Civil War were later joined by four more. These were eventually consolidated during the modern merger era of North American railroads which began around 1960. Today, Suffolk is served by three freight railroads, and is located on a potential line for high speed passenger rail service between Richmond and South Hampton Roads being studied by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

Highways

Suffolk is served by U.S. Highways 17, 13, 58, 258, and 460. Interstate 664, part of the Hampton Roads Beltway, crosses through the northeastern edge of the city. State Route 10 is also a major highway in the area.

In 2006, Suffolk assumed control of its road system from the Virginia Department of Transportation, which is customary among Virginia's independent cities, although since the Byrd Road Act of 1932 created Virginia's Secondary Roads System, which maintains the roads in most counties and town. An exception was made by the General Assembly when the former Nansemond County became an independent city and consolidated Suffolk in the 1970s. The state still maintained the primary and secondary routes in Suffolk until July 1, 2006.

Bridges, bridge-tunnel

The Monitor–Merrimac Memorial Bridge–Tunnel connects Suffolk to the independent city of Newport News on the Virginia Peninsula from South Hampton Roads and is part of the Hampton Roads Beltway, a circumferential interstate highway which links the seven largest cities of Hampton Roads. Completed in 1992 it provided a third major vehicle crossing of the Hampton Roads harbor area and cost $400 million to build.

There have been conflicts with VDOT and the city over ownership and responsibility for the circa 1928 Kings Highway Bridge across the Nansemond River on State Route 125, which was closed in 2005 by VDOT for safety reasons. About 3,300 motorists a day used the bridge that connected Chuckatuck and Driver. Now, they face detours of as much as 19 miles (31 km). The cost of a new bridge for the King's Highway crossing is estimated at $48 million, far more than could be recovered through collection of tolls at that location. In 2007, VDOT announced that it would contract for demolition and removal of the bridge. According to newspaper accounts, this will be the first time in VDOT's history of such action when no replacement facility was planned.

Virginia is currently reviewing proposals under a public-private partnership for a major realignment and upgrade of U.S. 460 from Suffolk west to Interstate 295 near Petersburg. In 1995, the Virginia General Assembly passed the Public-Private Transportation Act allowing private entities to propose innovative solutions for designing, constructing, financing, and operating transportation improvements. The new roadway would be funded through collection of tolls.

As part of the Suffolk 2026 Comprehensive Plan, the city plans to bypass the crossroads community of Whaleyville in southwestern Suffolk City. US 13 (along with NC Highway 11) is a strategic highway corridor in North Carolina towards Greenville.

Boroughs

Suffolk is divided politically into seven boroughs, one corresponding to the former city of Suffolk and one corresponding to each of the six magisterial districts of the former Nansemond County. The boroughs are Chuckatuck, Cypress, Holy Neck, Nansemond, Sleepy Hole, Suffolk, and Whaleyville.

Sister cities

In 1981, Suffolk County, England became Suffolk's first sister city as a result of the personal interest in the Sister Cities concept by Virginia's Governor, Mills E. Godwin. A native of the city, Governor Godwin believed that Sister Cities would benefit the community culturally and educationally. Suffolk's second sister city relationship with Oderzo, Italy, began in 1995 because of one man, Amedeo Obici. Mr. Obici was a native of Oderzo and the founder of Planters Nut and Chocolate Company in Suffolk.

Suffolk Sister Cities International, Inc. (SSCI) is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit established to promote international relationships as directed by Suffolk City Council through its appointed Suffolk Sister Cities Commission. Its membership is open to all who are interested in fostering the goals of the organization.

SSCI and its international youth association, SIYA, have won national awards for Youth and Education and for the Best Overall Program for cities with populations less than 100,000.

Climate

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

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