Looking for a Google Ads Management?
The earliest documented English exploration of the area prior to settlement was the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe Expedition, led by Lt. Gov. Alexander Spotswood, who reached Elkton, and whose rangers continued and in 1716 likely passed through what is now Harrisonburg.
Harrisonburg, previously known as "Rocktown," was named for Thomas Harrison, a son of English settlers. In 1737, Harrison settled in the Shenandoah Valley, eventually laying claim to over 12,000 acres (4,900 ha) situated at the intersection of the Spotswood Trail and the main Native American road through the valley.
In 1779, Harrison deeded 2.5 acres (1.0 ha) of his land to the "public good" for the construction of a courthouse. In 1780, Harrison deeded an additional 50 acres (20 ha). This is the area now known as "Historic Downtown Harrisonburg."
In 1849, trustees chartered a mayor–council form of government, although Harrisonburg was not officially incorporated as an independent city until 1916. Today, a council–manager government administers Harrisonburg.
On June 6, 1862, an American Civil War skirmish took place at Good's Farm, Chestnut Ridge near Harrisonburg between the forces of the Union and the forces of the Confederacy at which the C.S. Army Brigadier General, Turner Ashby (1828–1862), was killed.
The City has expanded its borders twelve times since its original creation. The last, and largest, annex was in 1983. Today, the City’s borders cover just over 17 square miles.
On October 17, 2020, the city was the scene of a massive explosion and fire at a small shopping center at Miller Circle in the South Main St. area.
When the slaves of the Shenandoah Valley were freed in 1865, they set up near modern-day Harrisonburg a town called Newtown. This settlement was eventually annexed by the independent city of Harrisonburg some years later, probably around 1892. Today, the old city of Newtown is in the Northeast section of Harrisonburg and which is referred to as Downtown Harrisonburg. It remains the home of the majority of Harrisonburg's predominantly black churches, such as the First Baptist and Bethel AME. The modern Boys and Girls Club of Harrisonburg is located in the old Lucy Simms schoolhouse used for the black students in the days of segregation.
A large portion of this black neighborhood was dismantled in the 1960s when – in the name of urban renewal – the city government used federal redevelopment funds from the Housing Act of 1949 to force black families out of their homes and then bulldozed the neighborhood. This effort, called "Project R-4", focused on the city blocks east of Main, north of Gay, west of Broad, and south of Johnson. This area makes up 32.5 acres. "Project R-16" is a smaller tag on project which focused on the 7.5 acres south of Gay street.
According to Bob Sullivan, an intern working in the city planner's office in 1958, the city planner at the time, David Clark had to convince the city council that Harrisonburg even had slums. Newtown, a low socioeconomic status housing area, was declared a slum. Federal law mandated that the city needed to have a referendum on the issue before R4 could begin. The vote was close with 1,024 votes in favor and 978 against R4. Following the vote, the Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority was established in 1955 to carry out the project. All of the members were white men. The project began and, due to eminent domain, the government could force the people of Newtown to sell their homes. They were offered rock bottom prices for their homes. Many people couldn't afford a new home and had to move into public housing projects and become dependent on the government. Other families left Harrisonburg. It is estimated between 93 and 200 families were displaced.
In addition to families, many of the businesses of Newtown that were bought out could not afford to reestablish themselves. Locals say many prominent black businesses like the Colonnade which served as a pool hall, dance hall, community center, and tearoom were unable to reopen. Kline's, a white-owned business, was actually one of the few businesses in the area that was able to reopen. The city later made $500,000 selling the seized property to redevelopers. Before the project, the area brought in $7000 in taxes annually. By 1976, The areas redeveloped in R4 and R16 were bringing in $45,000 in annual taxes. These profit gains led Lauren McKinney to regard the project as “one of only two ‘profitable’ redevelopment schemes in the state of Virginia.”
Cultural landmarks were also influenced by the projects. Although later rebuilt, The Old First Baptist Church of Harrisonburg was demolished. Newtown Cemetery, a Historic African American Cemetery, was also impacted. It appears no Burials were destroyed, however, the western boundary was paved over and several headstones now touch the street.
Major highways in Harrisonburg include Interstate 81, the main north-south highway in western Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. Other significant roads serving the city include U.S. Route 11, U.S. Route 33, Virginia State Route 42, Virginia State Route 253 and Virginia State Route 280.
In early 2002, the Harrisonburg community discussed the possibility of creating a pedestrian mall downtown. Public meetings were held to discuss the merits and drawbacks of pursuing such a plan. Ultimately, the community decided to keep its Main Street open to traffic. From these discussions, however, a strong voice emerged from the community in support of downtown revitalization.
On July 1, 2003, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission of rejuvenating the downtown district.
In 2004, downtown was designated as the Harrisonburg Downtown Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places and a designated Virginia Main Street Community, with the neighboring Old Town Historic District residential community gaining historic district status in 2007. Several vacant buildings have been renovated and repurposed for new uses, such as the Hardesty-Higgins House and City Exchange, used for the Harrisonburg Tourist Center and high-end loft apartments, respectively.
In 2008, downtown Harrisonburg spent over $1 million in cosmetic and sidewalk infrastructure improvements (also called streetscaping and wayfinding projects). The City Council appropriated $500,000 for custom street signs to be used as "wayfinding signs" directing visitors to areas of interest around the city. Another $500,000 were used to upgrade street lighting, sidewalks, and landscaping along Main Street and Court Square.
In 2014, Downtown Harrisonburg was named a Great American Main Street by the National Main Street Association and downtown was designated the first culinary district in the commonwealth of Virginia.
Norfolk Southern also owns a small railyard in Harrisonburg. The Chesapeake and Western corridor from Elkton to Harrisonburg has very high volumes of grain and ethanol. The railroad serves two major grain elevators inside the city limits. In May 2017 Norfolk Southern 51T derailed in Harrisonburg spilling corn into Blacks Run. No one was injured.
Shenandoah Valley Railroad interchanges with the NS on south side of Harrisonburg and with CSX and Buckingham Branch Railroad in North Staunton.
Harrisonburg Transit provides public transportation in Harrisonburg. Virginia Breeze provides intercity bus service between Blacksburg, Harrisonburg, and Washington, D.C..
As of the census of 2010, 48,914 people, 15,988 households, and 7,515 families resided in the city. The population density was 2,811.1/mi2 (1087.0/km2). The 15,988 housing units averaged 918.9/mi2 (355.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 78.4% White, 6.4% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 3.5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 8.2% from other races, and 3.1% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 15.7% of the population, up from 8.85% according to the census of 2000.
Of the 15,988 households, 22.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.7% were married couples living together, 10.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 53.0% were not families. About 27.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59, and the average family size was 3.06.
In the city, the population was distributed as 15.0% under the age of 18, 48.9% from 18 to 24, 21.2% from 25 to 44, 13.2% from 45 to 64, and 9.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 22.8 years. For every 100 females, there were 87.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $37,850, and for a family was $53,642. The per capita income for the city was $16,992. About 11.5% of families and 31.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.6% of those under age 18 and 9.5% of those age 65 or over.
Virginia is an attractive southern U.S. State with beautiful landscapes and rich history. Virginia, a densely populated eastern U.S. city, stretches along the shores of the Potomac River from the Chesapeake Bay to the Appalachian Mountains. It is among the 13 original states, with historical landmarks including Monticello, home of Jefferson's famed plantation. The Virginia Colony was created out of proportion to its size, with many Native American and immigrant communities. Today, Virginia is one of America's fastest growing states, and is an exciting place to live.
Virginia is not without political intrigue. Virginia's leaders have historically been divided into three major camps: royalist, aristocrat, and colonialist. Each group has historically sought to expand its influence over the other. Virginia's two major political parties, the Democratic and Republican parties, represent opposing political philosophies. The Democratic Party is the moderate, older party in the state, and the Republican Party is the more radical, radicalizing faction.
Downtown Virginia, home to most of the government offices, is where most people commute to work. The city is also one of its most popular cities with tourists, who visit for its natural beauty, historic sites, shopping and nightlife. Virginia Beach is home to several popular beaches that attract thousands of tourists each year. In addition, the city offers other attractions such as the Virginia Zoo, Aquarium, Carilion Bowl, Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, and the Virginia Zoo and Gardens. The popular annual Virginia Spring Festival takes place in January.
A large portion of the population in Virginia is classified as rural. The word "rural" can imply both small town and rural living. People living in this type of environment tend to be conservative and private. This lifestyle is evident in many rural communities in Virginia. These communities are generally less expensive and, therefore, more affordable than urban areas. Most rural communities lack restaurants, shopping malls, and other sources of revenue that would support a larger community.
Virginia's largest cities of Richmond, Fairfax, and Hampton Roads provide much more to their residents than just the basics of daily living. Because it is located so close to Washington, D.C., these cities provide a unique view of political life in the capital. In addition, the people in these areas enjoy a strong sense of community and cultural identity that makes them attractive to young families and retirees.
Because the capital is so widely seen by people on a daily basis, Virginia is considered to be one of the most popular cities to live in. Many people choose to buy a home in Virginia because they can work from home; they are not limited by the laws that apply in their hometown. Additionally, working in a city allows people to socialize with other people, increasing their likelihood of forming lasting friendships.
Virginia is host to many historical attractions, which draw many visitors each year. The city of Springfield, for example, is a National Historic Landmark that has been listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places sincetones of the American Revolution. In addition to its significance as a significant historical event, Springfield is a beautiful place to live.
Regardless of where a person lives in Virginia, they have access to beautiful parks, breathtaking gardens, and unique architecture. The real estate market in Virginia is competitive and buyers can find a home that suits their budget and needs. With all of the activities and places to visit, Virginia is a wonderful place for people to call home.
In the Washington area, many families choose to live in the cities of Fairfax and Prince William County. Fairfax is home to the executive offices of the city and is the capital of the commonwealth of Virginia. This area is home to a wide variety of government agencies and beautiful landscaped communities. The home prices in this area are moderate and the people who live here enjoy a low cost of living and access to a variety of public and private schools.
In the Prince William County area, a homeowner will enjoy the beautiful beach views and well maintained golf courses. This area is also home to numerous attractions such as the Ocean Breeze, Water Parks, and The Farm at Waverly. These local attractions draw thousands of visitors each year. The cost of living in Prince William County is reasonable and the people who live here have access to high quality schools. A quick search online will yield many local listings.
The people who live in the Washington DC suburbs enjoy easy accessibility to major city centers and several different entertainment venues. In Ashburn, there are the Dulles International Airport and in Loudoun County, there are three major arena centers including the Verizon Arena and the Comcast Center. In addition to all of these benefits, these communities are near attractions such as the ballpark and museums. The housing prices are moderate and many of the homes are fully furnished. With so many benefits available in these communities, it's easy to see why so many people chose to live in the Washington DC suburbs.