From Cvillepedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
City of Charlottesville seal (images of the Rotunda, Dogwood Flower, 1850's Napoleon Cannon, City Hall / statues of Presidents Jefferson, Monroe and Madison)

Charlottesville, the home of Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia, is one of the most historically significant cities in Virginia. The City, named for Queen Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of George III, was founded in the early 1760's just west of the Rivanna River watergap on the region's principal east-west route, the Three Notched Road. As laid out in an act of the Virginia General Assembly on December 23, 1762, fifty acres of land around the Albemarle County Courthouse were divided into half acre lots with four east-west streets and five north-south streets. It is this area that now forms the center of downtown Charlottesville.

Charlottesville is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia with an estimated population of 51,079 as of July 1, 2021. [1] [2]

The city is also the county seat of Albemarle County, though it is an independent jurisdiction with a separate government. The area is home to the University of Virginia which drives economic and population growth throughout the region.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the two jurisdictions as one of 363 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the nation. Its 2005 population of 188,016 ranked 212th in the nation. [citation needed] The MSA also includes Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene and Nelson Counties.


See also: Territorial evolution of Albemarle County

On December 23, 1762, the act establishing the town of Charlottesville as the new Albemarle County seat was passed by the Assembly of Virginia. [3][4] Located along the Three Notch'd Road from Richmond to the Shenandoah Valley, Charlottesville was named in honour of Queen Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenberg-Strelitz, wife of British King George III. [5] [6]

Settlement and early growth

The initial division of land in the 1760's was "into twenty-eight squares with half-acre lots per square." Four streets were plotted to travel east and west. Five were laid north to south. In the first sale in September 1763, seven people bought fourteen of the lots. Another ten were sold in 1764. The remaining 23 lots were sold in 1765 and divided into fifteen parcels that were used initially for agricultural purposes. [5]

The 50 acres of the original village were laid out under a gridded town pattern. A two acre public square to the north of the grid was set aside for a courthouse and would become Court Square. [7]

Early development was limited because of the distance from a navigable river. The presence of several hills meant that different neighborhood developed independently of each other. Thomas Jefferson purposely distanced his 'Academical Village (the University of Virginia) away from the town center. Commercial activity to serve the university took place on what would become known as the Corner.

The town grew slowly. in 1779, British prisoner Thomas Anburey described Charlottesville as "this famous place we had heard so much of consisted only of a court house, one tavern and about a dozen houses." Only one structure from this period exists today and is now used as the Inn at Court Square. [5]

Town era (1801-1888)

Charlottesville incorporated as a town on January 19, 1801. [8] The General Assembly authorized a government of five trustees "who were to maintain streets, settle boundary disputes, authorize a market, quiet public nuisances, appoint a town clerk, and collect taxes to no more than $200." [5]

By 1810, the town had grown to 45 houses, a courthouse, a jail, and an academy.

There was an annexations in 1818 that included the courthouse area and was known as Anderson's Addition. [5] Construction of the University of Virginia beginning in 1819 provided jobs and spurred commercial activity within the area.

By 1824, there were about six hundred inhabitants. Throughout the mid 19th century, Scottsville remained the commercial center of the area, but the arrival of first rail line by the Louisa Railroad Company in 1850 connected Charlottesville to the rest of the country via east-west rail. The Orange and Alexandria line followed soon after and connected the town to Lynchburg by 1860. This led to a population boom. In 1855, the Statistical Gazzeteer described Charlottesville as "a flourishing town." Gas service arrived in 1857 and the telegraph arrived in 1860. [5]

A map of Charlottesville's Court Square from 1828

The form of government changed again in 1851 to a mayoral form of government with four aldermen who could adopt local ordinances. They were also authorized to raise up to $1,000 in local taxes. There was a further annexation of 0.271 square miles in 1860 and another 0.340 acres in 1873. [5]

In 1880, the number of alderman was increased to twelve, and the city was divided into three municipal wards.

City era (1888-present

Charlottesville incorporated as a city in 1888. At the time, the city covered 781 acres and had a population of 1,676. [5]

Since 1871, all incorporated cities in Virginia have classified as independent cities. Charlottesville became city of second class in 1902. [citation needed]

Governor Henry Stuart issued a proclamation on August 1, 1916 declaring that Charlottesville had become a first-class in excess of 10,000 people. [9]

Late 19th century development

By the late 19th century, the city was rapidly expanding. Much of this growth was absorbed by the development of the 551-acre Belle Mont Estate into what would become the Belmont-Carlton neighborhood. [10]

Workers were attracted to industrial sites such as Frank Ix & Sons. However, the rise of streetcars and then affordable automobiles as the 20th century progressed allowed for workers to have more choices about where they lived. [11]

The Charlottesville and University Street Railway was authorized by the General Assembly in March 1887 and began operations on June 11, 1887. This fueled real estate development throughout the city along the routes. Developers included the Charlottesville West End Land Company, the Development Company of Charlottesville, the Belmont Land Company, and the Jefferson Park Hotel and Land Improvement Company. [5]

Early 20th Century transportation and road layout

Virginia devolved road-maintenance to localities in 1929, including Charlottesville. [12]

By 1930, the population of Charlottesville had grown to 15,245. [13]

In 1933, a plan to widen the 4th Street underpass underneath the railway was discussed by city and railway officials. On August 9, 1933, City Manager Seth Burnley decided to defer work to widen the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway railroad underpass on 4th Street to 22 feet wide. After a morning conference with railroad officials, the $21,000 expense was deemed to be too much. [14] That same summer, city officials and business leaders lobbied Richmond to route traffic at Free Bridge toward downtown rather than along a highway bypass. [15]


Main Article: City Government

Charlottesville's city government is run by a City Manager who is supervised by a five member City Council. One of the councilors is selected as mayor for a two-year term. The current mayor is Lloyd Snook. The current vice-mayor is Juandiego Wade. Councilors are elected every other November to four-year terms.

Sam Sanders is the current city manager. [16] Ashley Marshall is the Deputy City Manager for Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

This city manager form of government dates back to September 1, 1922. Three councilors were elected that year followed by two more in 1923. [17] Prior to that, Charlottesville had a strong-mayor form of government with a bicameral legislature consisting of a Board of Alderman and a Common Council that began in 1916. [18] [19]

Cities are required by the Virginia Constitution to have elected governing bodies, called “councils” composed of not fewer than three nor more than eleven members. [20] Every city in Virginia has its own charter enacted by General Assembly, setting out its specific organization and powers. The current Charter of the City of Charlottesville was adopted in 1946 and has received piecemeal revisions and amendments many times through the years. [citation needed]

Originating in 1908 in Staunton, Virginia, the Council-Manager plan has become the most common form of government in cities with populations over 10,000, mainly in the Southeast and Pacific coast areas. [2]. The plan is modeled after the American corporation, with its shareholders (voters), board of directors (City Council) and Chief Executive Officer (City Manager). The Council-Manager plan provides for an elective council that appoints and removes the manager. The council is the policy-determining agency of the city. It passes ordinances, votes appropriations, and determines whether bonds shall be issued. After the council has made the policies, the manager executes them. The duties of the council are legislative; those of the manager are administrative.

Efficiency studies

In 2016, the city has paid the Novak Consulting Group $101,250 to conduct an efficiency study for its government structure. This comes nine years after the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service published an earlier study. The Novak work continues. [citation needed] [21] The study was requested by City Councilor Kathy Galvin. The study is intended to shape budget discussions for fiscal year 2018.

In 2020, Charlottesville awarded a $103,000 contract to the firm Gershman Brickner Bratton to study the city's recycling program.

The city's program operates at an annual defect covered by the general fund. [22]

Previous reports

Main article: City Council


Logo-small25.jpg This list is a stub. You can help cvillepedia by expanding it.

Board and Commissions

Joint government organizations


Chip Boyles becamse City Manager in February 2021.

Government association memberships

Logo-small25.jpg This list is a stub. You can help cvillepedia by expanding it.

Charlottesville's government is a member of Virginia First Cities.


Main article: List of Charlottesville Neighborhoods

Charlottesville is home to several neighborhoods, both formally defined by the planning department, and informally defined within the community.


The Department of Public Works buys water from the RWSA and the Utility Billing Office charges residents directly.

From 2010 to February 2013, the city built 4.8 miles of new sidewalk.[26]

Legal Agreements

Logo-small25.jpg This list is a stub. You can help cvillepedia by expanding it.

Charlottesville's government is bound by legal agreements with other area governments and some notable private enterprises:


Main article: List of superlative awards

As the 21st century began, Charlottesville found itself regularly listed among "best places to live" rankings in many publications.

Authors Bert Sperling and Peter Sander selected Charlottesville as the best place to live in the United States for the year 2004 in their book Cities Ranked and Rated.[27] The Arbor Day Foundation named Charlottesville a Tree City USA in 2007.[28]


  1. Web. [University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center, Demographics Research Group. (2020) Virginia Population Estimates], University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center, Demographics Research Group, retrieved May 31, 2022.
  2. Web. Population growth up 12.8 percent, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Town Crier Productions, January 29, 2022, retrieved May 31, 2022.
  3. Moore, John Hammond, (1976). Albemarle, Jefferson's County, 1727-1976. University Press of Virginia for the Albemarle County Historical Society. Page 29.,bd,ns&strip_common=1&program=1005&order=price_ship_usasc
  4. Web. 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Charlottesville, Wikisource, 1911, retrieved April 5, 2023.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 Web. Charlottesville and Albemarle County Courthouse District, Kate Kuranda and Karen Lang-Kummer, Nomination Form, retrieved May 30, 2021.
  6. Web. The Earl and the Queen, Lynn Rainville, Website, February 3, 2007, retrieved May 30, 2021.
  7. Web. Charlottesville Urban Design and Affordable Housing, Kenneth A. Schwarz, Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, retrieved May 30, 2012.
  8. Web. Cities of Virginia, Encyclopedia Virginia, Encyclopedia of Virginia, retrieved June 6, 2022.
  9. Web. Now A City of First Class, Staff Reports, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, August 2, 1916, retrieved August 2, 2016 from University of Virginia Library. Print. August 2, 1916 page 1.
  10. Web. Belmont - A History of a Neighborhood, James H. Buck Jr., Paper for James Kinard's Local History course, May 1980, retrieved July 28, 2014.
  11. Web. City of Charlottesville Strategic Investment Area Plan, Cunningham Quill, Cunningham Quill, December 13, 2013, retrieved July 28, 2014.
  12. Web. [1], Staff Reports, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, February 6, 1929, retrieved February 6, 2017 from University of Virginia Library. Print. February 6, 1929 page 3.
  13. Web. Population of Virginia - 1930, Website, Charles Grymes, retrieved May 30, 2021.
  14. Web. 4th Street Pass Job Deferred, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, August 11, 1933, retrieved May 5, 2019.
  15. Web. Shirley Will Hear Group About Road, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, August 11, 1933, retrieved May 5, 2019. Print. August 11, 1933 page 1.
  16. Web. Charlottesville looks to Sam Sanders for stability as new city manager, Emily Horn, News Article, Cavalier Daily, Auguat 1, 2023, retrieved August 2, 2023.
  17. Print: McCue Bill Would Alter Election of Councilmen, Don Devore, Daily Progress, Lindsay family January 23, 1960, Page .
  18. Web. Two-Chambered City Council; Composed of Four Alderman, Eight Councilmen, Staff Reports, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, August 11, 1916, retrieved August 11, 2016 from University of Virginia Library.
  19. Print: Burrows Proposes New Bill for Vote on Annexation, , Daily Progress, Lindsay family February , 1960, Page .
  20. Web. Article VII. Local Government - Section 1. Powers, Constitution of Virginia, Virginia's Legislative Information System, retrieved September 9, 2021.
  21. Web. City Council approves resolution for organizational efficiency study, Chris Suarez, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, January 19, 2016, retrieved December 27, 2016.
  22. Web. Charlottesville awards $103K contract to study recycling program, Staff reports, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, February 9, 2020, retrieved February 10, 2020. Print. February 9, 2020 page A3.
  23. Web. City Council takes step toward removal of Confederate statues, Virginia Bixby, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, May 4, 2021, retrieved May 18, 2021.
  24. Web. Charlottesville hires Texas official as public works director, Staff reports, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, September 12, 2020, retrieved November 18, 2020.
  25. Web. Charlottesville hires new fire chief, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, Oct. 13, 2020, retrieved Oct. 16, 2020.
  26. E-mail. Angela Tucker, City of Charlottesville, Neighborhood Development Services. "quantification of sidewalks." Message to Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow. February 14, 2013.
  27. Web. Getting Oriented: Charlottesville Facts, University of Virginia School of Law, retrieved 9 July 2013.
  28. Web. City to enlist aid of 'tree advocates', Rachana Dixit, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, October 27, 2010, retrieved October 28, 2010.

External links