Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Williamsburg is a city located on the Virginia Peninsula in the Hampton Roads region in southeastern Virginia. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 11,998. It is bordered by James City County and York County, and is an independent city. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Williamsburg with James City County for statistical purposes.
Originally Middle Plantation, a 1632 fortified settlement located on high ground on the Peninsula between the James and York rivers, it was renamed Williamsburg after the capital of the Virginia Colony was moved there from Jamestown in 1698. The town received a royal charter as a city in 1722, and was the center of political events in Virginia leading to the American Revolution.
Williamsburg is well-known for Colonial Williamsburg, the restored Historic Area of the city, and for the adjacent College of William and Mary, established in 1693, the second-oldest university in the United States. Nearby, established in 1770, the predecessor of the current Eastern State Hospital was the first known mental hospital in the United States.
The Historic Triangle of Virginia, which also includes Jamestown and Yorktown, is among the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with Williamsburg located in the center. The three are linked by the National Park Service's bucolic Colonial Parkway, a 23 mile-long (37 km) National Scenic Byway which is carefully shielded from views of commercial development. The toll-free Jamestown Ferry is located at the southern end of the Colonial Parkway, State Route 5, another scenic byway, links Williamsburg and Richmond).
Most highway travelers reach Williamsburg via nearby Interstate 64, U.S. Route 60, and State Route 143, each four laned east-west highways. Commercial airline service is available at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (20 miles), and at Richmond and Norfolk airports (55 miles each). All are located along I-64 and offer limousine service to Williamsburg, as well as rental cars.
Williamsburg also offers good non-automobile driving alternatives for visitors and citizens. The intermodal Williamsburg Transportation Center is located in a restored Chesapeake and Ohio Railway station near the Historic Area, downtown, and the College. It offers Amtrak and Greyhound services, taxicabs, and rental cars. There, many visitors transfer to the community's local transit bus system, Williamsburg Area Transport, which operates accessible equipment for the mobility-impaired with bicycle racks on buses as well.

History of Williamsburg
The area which became Williamsburg was settled in 1638 and called Middle Plantation. It was so named due to its location on high ground about half-way across the Virginia Peninsula between the James River and York River. A stockade across the peninsula, which was about 6 miles wide at that point between College Creek and Queen's Creek (which each fed into one of the two rivers) provided some security from attacks by the Native Americans for colonists farming and fishing lower on the Peninsula from that point.
The area of Middle Plantation was included in James City Shire when it was established 2 years later in 1634, as the Colony reached a total population of approximately 5,000. (James City Shire changed its name and became known as James City County). The cross-peninsula defensive palisade completed in 1634 was an integral part of the creation of Middle Plantation, though its exact route is long gone. Remnants have recently been discovered by archaeologists on the Bruton Heights School property adjacent to the site of the house of Governor John Page while working on a Colonial Williamsburg archaeological research project. Jamestown, which had been the original capital of Virginia Colony, remained as such until its burning during the events of Bacon's Rebellion in 1676. Immediately after Governor William Berkeley regained control, temporary quarters for the functions of the seat of government were established about 12 miles away on the high ground at Middle Plantation while the Statehouse at Jamestown was rebuilt. The Burgesses found the surroundings both safer and more pleasant environmentally than Jamestown, which was muggy and plagued with mosquitoes.
A school of higher education had long been an aspiration of the colonists. An early attempt at Henricus failed after the Indian Massacre of 1622. The location at the outskirts of the developed part of the colony had left it more vulnerable to the attack. In the 1690s, the colonists tried again and sent Reverend James Blair who spent several years in England lobbying and finally obtained a royal charter for the desired new school, which was named the College of William and Mary in honor of the monarchs of the time. When Reverend Blair returned to Virginia, the new school was founded in a safe place, Middle Plantation in 1693. Classes began in temporary quarters in 1694, and the College Building, a precursor to the Wren Building, was soon under construction.
Four years later, the rebuilt statehouse in Jamestown burned again (in 1698), this time accidentally. The government once again relocated temporarily to Middle Plantation, but now enjoyed use of the College's facilities in addition to the better climate. After that fire, upon suggestion of the students of the College, who made a presentation to the House of Burgesses, the colonial capital was permanently moved to Middle Plantation in 1699. A village was laid out and Middle Plantation was renamed Williamsburg in honor of King William III of England, befitting the town's newly elevated status.

For more details on this topic, see Middle Plantation. 17th century
Following its designation as the Capital of the Colony, immediate provision was made for construction of a capitol building and for platting the new city according to the survey of Theodoric Bland.
Alexander Spotswood, who arrived in Virginia as lieutenant governor in 1710, had several ravines filled and the streets leveled, and assisted in erecting additional college buildings, a church, and a magazine for the storage of arms. In 1722, the town of Williamsburg was granted a royal charter as a city, now believed to be the oldest in the United States.
Williamsburg was the site of the first canal built in the United States. In 1771, Lord Dunmore, Virginia's Royal Governor, announced plans to connect Archer's Creek, which leads to the James River with Queen's Creek, leading to the York River. It would have been a water bridge across the Virginia Peninsula, but was not completed. Portions of the remains of this canal are visible at the rear of the grounds behind the Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg.
The first psychiatric hospital in the United States was built in the city in the 1770s as the, "Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds" (known in modern times as Eastern State Hospital), was established by act of the Virginia colonial legislature on June 4, 1770. The act, which intended to, "Make Provision for the Support and Maintenance of Ideots, Lunaticks, and other Persons of unsound Minds," authorized the House of Burgesses to appoint a fifteen-man Court Of Directors to oversee the future hospital's operations and admissions. In 1771, contractor Benjamin Powell constructed a two-story building on Francis Street near the College capable of housing twenty-four patients. The design of the grounds included "yards for patients to walk and take the Air in" as well as provisions for a fence to be built to keep the patients out of the nearby town.
Beginning in April 1775, the Gunpowder incident of Williamsburg, a dispute between Governor Dunmore and Virginia colonists over gunpowder (stored in the Williamsburg Magazine) evolved into an important event in the run-up to the American Revolution. Dunmore, fearing another rebellion, ordered royal marines to seize gunpowder from the magazine. Virginia militia led by Patrick Henry responded to the "theft" and marched on Williamsburg. A standoff ensued, with Dunmore threatening to destroy the city if attacked by the militia. The dispute was resolved when payment for the powder was arranged.
Following the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolutionary War broke out in 1776. During the War, in 1780, the capital of Virginia was moved again, this time to Richmond at the urging of then-Governor Thomas Jefferson, who was afraid that Williamsburg's location made it vulnerable to a British attack. However, during the Revolutionary War many important conventions were held in Williamsburg.

18th Century
With the capitol gone after 1780, Williamsburg also lost prominence, but not to the degree Jamestown had 81 years earlier. 18th and early 19th century transportation in the Colony was largely by canals and navigable rivers. Built deliberately on "high ground," Williamsburg was not located along a major waterway like many early communities in the United States. Early railroads beginning in the 1830s also did not come its way.
It seemed the principal business activities of Williamsburg had been the government and the College, the latter continuing and expanding, as well as the Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds. Both the College and the Hospital grew, with the latter known in recent years as Eastern State Hospital.

19th century
The Williamsburg area saw some activity during the Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War (1861-1865), notably the Battle of Williamsburg on May 5, 1862 as General George McClellan's Union forces crept up the Peninsula to lay siege to Richmond. Confederate forces, with earthen Fort Magruder as their only physical base, were successful in delaying the Union forces long enough for the retreating Confederates to reach the outer defenses of Richmond safely. A siege resulted, culminating in the Seven Days Battles, and McClellan's campaign failed. As a result, the War dragged on almost 3 more years at great cost to lives and finances for both sides before the Union was restored in April 1865.

American Civil War
About 20 years later, in 1881, Collis P. Huntington's Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad (C&O) built through the area, eventually establishing six stations in Williamsburg and the surrounding area. This aided passenger travel and shipping for local farmers, but the railroad had been built primarily for through-coal traffic destined for the coal pier and export at Newport News.
Of course, there were the ongoing activities of the College of William and Mary. However, school sessions there were temporarily suspended for financial reasons from 1882 until 1886, when the College became a state school.
Beginning in the 1890s, C&O land agent Carl M. Bergh, a Norwegian-American who had earlier farmed in the mid-western states, realized that the gentler climate of eastern Virginia and depressed post-Civil War land prices would be attractive to his fellow Scandinavians who were farming in other northern parts of the country. He began sending out notices, and selling land. Soon there was a substantial concentration of relocated Americans of Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish descent in the area. The location earlier known as Vaiden's Siding on the railroad just west of Williamsburg in James City County, was renamed Norge. These citizens and their descendants found the area conditions favorable as described by Bergh, and many became leading merchants, tradespersons, and farmers in the community. These transplanted Americans brought some new blood and enthusiasm to the old colonial capitol area.

Post Civil War
Williamsburg was still a sleepy little town in the early 20th century. Some newer structures were interspersed with colonial-era buildings, but the town was much less progressive than other busier communities of similar size in Virginia. Some local lore indicates that the residents were satisfied with it that way, and longtime Virginia Peninsula journalist, author and historian Parke S. Rouse Jr. has pointed this out in his published work. On June 26, 1912, the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper ran an editorial which dubbed the town "Lotusburg," for, "Tuesday was election day in Williamsburg but nobody remembered it. The clerk forgot to wake the electoral board, the electoral board could not arouse itself long enough to have the ballots printed, the candidates forgot they were running, the voters forgot they were alive." [1]
However, even if such complacency was common, a dream of one Episcopalian priest was to expand to change Williamsburg's future and provide it a new major purpose, turning much of it into the world's largest living museum. In the early 20th century, one of the largest historic restorations ever undertaken anywhere in the world was championed by the Reverend Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin of Williamsburg's Bruton Parish Church. Initially, Dr. Goodwin had wanted to save his historic church building, and this he accomplished by 1907, in time for the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Episcopal Church in Virginia. However, upon returning to Williamsburg in 1923 after serving a number of years in upstate New York, he began to realize that many of the other colonial-era buildings also remained, but were in deteriorating condition, and their longevity was at risk.
Goodwin dreamed of a much larger restoration along the lines of what he had accomplished with his historic church. A cleric of modest means, he sought support and financing from a number of sources before successfully drawing the interests and major financial support of Standard Oil heir and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. The result of their combined efforts was the creation of Colonial Williamsburg, which included a restoration of much of the downtown Williamsburg area with creation of a 301-acre Historic Area to celebrate the patriots and the early history of America.
In the 21st century, Colonial Williamsburg has continued to update and refine its attractions, with more features designed to attract modern children and offer better and additional interpretation of the African-American experience in the colonial town. Just a little more after Dr. Goodwin's work began, the effort to maintain and improve this corner piece of Virginia and United States history remains a remarkable work-in-progress.
In addition to the Historic Area of Colonial Williamsburg, the city's railroad station was restored to become an intermodal passenger facility (see Transportation section below). Nearby in James City County, the old ca. 1908 C&O Railway combination passenger and freight station at Norge was preserved and after donation by CSX Transportation, was relocated in 2006 to property at the Croaker Branch of the Williamsburg Regional Library.
Today, Colonial Williamsburg is Virginia's largest tourist attraction based upon attendance and forms the centerpiece of the Historic Triangle with Jamestown and Yorktown joined by the Colonial Parkway.
See also article Colonial Williamsburg

20th-21st century restoration: Colonial Williamsburg
The third of three debates between Republican President Gerald Ford and Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter was held at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall at the College of William and Mary on October 22, 1976. Perhaps in tribute to the debate's historic venue, as well as to the United States Bicentennial celebration, both candidates spoke of a "new spirit" in America.
The 9th G7 Summit was held in Williamsburg in 1983. The summit participants discussed the growing debt crisis, arms control and greater co-operation between the Soviet Union and the G7 (now the G8). At the end of the meeting, U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz read to the press a statement confirming the deployment of American Pershing II-nuclear rockets in West Germany later in 1983.

Geography and climate
Williamsburg is located at 37°16′29″N, 76°42′30″W.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.5 km² (8.7 mi²). 22.1 km² (8.5 mi²) of it is land and 0.3 km² (0.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.50% water.
Williamsburg is spread upon a ridge on the peninsula between the James and York Rivers. Queen's Creek and College Creek (called in early days Archer's Hope Creek) partly encircle the city.
The city is located on the I-64 corridor on the Virginia Peninsula, 45 miles southeast of Richmond and approximately 37 miles northwest of Norfolk. It is in the northwest corner of the greater Hampton Roads area, (officially known as the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA), which is the 34th largest in the United States, with a total population of 1,576,370. 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, Surry, and York, as well as the North Carolina county of Currituck. While Virginia Beach is the most populated city within Hampton Roads, it currently functions more as a suburb. The city of Norfolk is recognized as the central business district, while the Virginia Beach seaside resort district and Williamsburg are primarily centers of tourism.

Williamsburg's mild four season climate means outdoor activities can be enjoyed year round. The weather in Williamsburg is temperate and seasonal. Summers are hot and humid with cool evenings. The mean annual temperature is 60 °F (15 °C), with an average annual snowfall of 6 inches and an average annual rainfall of 47 inches. No measurable snow fell in 1999. The wettest seasons are the spring and summer, although rainfall is fairly constant all year round. The highest recorded temperature was 104.0°F (40.0°C) on June 26, 1952 and August 22, 1983. The lowest recorded temperature was -7.0°F (-21.6°C) on January 21, 1985.

As of the census of 2000, there are 11,998 people, 3,619 households, and 1,787 families residing in the city. The population density is 542.4/km² (1,404.1/mi²). There are 3,880 housing units at an average density of 175.4/km² (454.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 79.54% White, 13.34% Black or African American, 0.27% Native American, 4.58% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.75% from other races, and 1.47% from two or more races. 2.52% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 3,619 households out of which 16.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.2% are married couples living together, 9.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 50.6% are non-families. 35.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 11.4% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.07 and the average family size is 2.66.
The age distribution, which is heavily influenced by the College of William and Mary, is: 9.6% under the age of 18, 46.0% from 18 to 24, 17.7% from 25 to 44, 15.0% from 45 to 64, and 11.7% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 23 years. For every 100 females there are 81.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 80.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $37,093, and the median income for a family is $52,358. Males have a median income of $28,625 versus $26,840 for females. The per capita income for the city is $18,483. 18.3% of the population and 9.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 29.7% of those under the age of 18 and 5.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Williamsburg is notable for the fact that a high proportion of city residents derive a significant percentage of their annual income from investment sources, either in addition to or in lieu of income from work. This is because many retirees relocate to Williamsburg, who typically draw income from investments such as 401(k) plans and the like (see also retirement community).

The tourist volume of Colonial Williamsburg has attracted many other related businesses to the area. Notable among these was Anheuser-Busch, which established large operations in James City County and York County just outside the city. The company operates a large brewery there, and a subsidiary of the company operates two of its theme parks near the brewery, Busch Gardens Europe, and Water Country USA. Anheuser-Busch's subsidiary Busch Properties also operates a commerce park, McLaw's Circle, and Kingsmill on the James a gated residential neighborhood that contains a resort of the same name.


The major daily newspaper in Williamsburg is the Daily Press, published in nearby Newport News. The Virginia Gazette is a bi-weekly, local newspaper, published in Williamsburg, and is the first newspaper paper to be published south of the Potomac River, starting in 1736. Its publisher was William Parks, who had similar ventures in Maryland.
Williamsburg is served by the Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News designated market area (DMA), which is the forty-second largest in the U.S. with 712,790 homes (0.64% of the total U.S.).

Williamsburg is perhaps best known for its tourist and historical points of interest, the centerpiece of which is Colonial Williamsburg, which is essentially a living history museum, depicting the lifestyles and culture of the 18th Century colonial period in American history. Major points of interest in this historic district include the Virginia's first capitol building, the Governor's Palace, Bruton Parish Church (the oldest continually-operating church in the United States), and the College of William and Mary.
Other highlights in the city include The Williamsburg Winery (Virginia's largest winery), the Williamsburg Botanical Garden, and the National Center for State Courts. Also located in Williamsburg are two major theme parks, Busch Gardens Europe and Water Country USA, as well as Go-Karts Plus action park and 2 miniature golf courses. The enormous 200-acre Williamsburg Pottery Factory shopping complex visited by 3 million people annually is located at nearby Lightfoot, VA. High-quality artistic and ornamental items are sold at the Market Square shops adjacent to the colonial area, and at many stores on Richmond Road, including 3 "Christmas shops". Richmond Road also has an outlet shopping center of various discounted famous name brand apparels. President's Park is a new educational attraction displaying outdoor statue heads of all 43 Presidents, each one accompanied by a descriptive biographical plaque.

Williamsburg, Virginia Museums and other points of interest

The independent city has operated under the council-manager form of government since 1932. The governing body is composed of public-spirited citizens serving on a part-time basis to decide major policy issues. The Mayor is elected by the city council, and presides over council meetings and served as the Chief Elected Official for the city. The city council consists of five members that serve staggered, four-year terms. A city manager is hired by the city council, and is comparable to a corporation's chief executive officer. This person is usually a professionally-trained public administrator, who is charged with implementing the policies and directives of the city council, and has broad administrative authority with strict rules prohibiting political interference in administrative matters.
As of 2007, the current Mayor of the city of Williamsburg is Jeanne Zeidler (daughter of former Milwaukee mayor Frank P. Zeidler), and the Vice Mayor is Clyde A. Haulman. Other members of the city council are Paul Freiling, Bobby Braxton, and Mickey Chohany. The current city manager is Jackson C. Tuttle.
The city shares constitutional officers, courts, and the Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools system (WJCC) with adjacent James City County, and is the county seat.
As a college town, Williamsburg's large student population has also resulted in a few conflicts with the local city government. For example, in addressing concerns of property values and noise complaints near the campus, the council has undertaken initiatives to reduce student off-campus residential presence in the city by instituting a maximum occupancy rule of three-unrelated persons for single-family dwellings,


The public school system is jointly operated by the city of Williamsburg and James City County. The Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools system (known informally as "WJCC") consists approximately 9,000 students in 12 schools, of which there are 7 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, and 2 high schools. Within the county's boundaries, the two high schools, Lafayette and Jamestown, are considered above average institutions. A third high school, to be named Warhill High School, is under construction in the Lightfoot area. It and an eighth elementary school, to be named Matoaka Elementary School, are scheduled to open in the fall of 2007.
James River Elementary School, located in the Grove Community in the county's southeastern end, is a magnet school. It offers the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme, one of only five such schools Virginia to do so.
For the 2001-2002 academic year, the public school system was ranked among the top five school systems in the Commonwealth of Virginia and in the top 15% nationwide by Expansion Management Magazine. There are also two regional Governor's Schools in the area that serve gifted and talented students.

Elementary and secondary public schools
The city has also been the home to the College of William and Mary since its founding in 1693, making it America's second oldest college (behind Harvard University). Technically a university, the College of William and Mary was also the first U.S. institution to have a Royal Charter, and the only one to have coat-of-arms from the College of Arms in London. The College campus closely adjoins the Historic District, and the Wren Building of the College at the head of Duke of Gloucester Street was one of the earliest restored by the efforts of Reverend Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin and the family of John D. Rockefeller Jr. as they began creating what is now commonly known as Colonial Williamsburg. Over 70% of the students of the College either work part-time or serve as volunteers in the community. Students contribute over 300,000 hours of volunteer service to the Williamsburg community annually.
Six other Universities are located within a one-hour drive of the city, including Christopher Newport University (Newport News), Old Dominion University (Norfolk), Hampton University (Hampton), Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond), the University of Richmond (Richmond) and Virginia Union University (Richmond).
There are also three community colleges, offering associate degrees and college transfer programs, within a twenty-five mile radius of Williamsburg: Thomas Nelson Community College, Paul D. Camp Community College, and Rappahannock Community College. A branch of Thomas Nelson Community College is located just east of the city limits in James City County.

Higher education

Williamsburg is served by the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, in nearby Newport News, approximately 20 miles distant.
The Norfolk International Airport and Richmond International Airport, each located about 55 miles away via Interstate highways, are larger and offer considerably more flights. Williamsburg is roughly equidistant from these two airports. However, due to traffic concerns in crossing the harbor of Hampton Roads, the Richmond airport is often a shorter driving time away.
The Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport is a small general aviation airport located 3 miles southwest of Williamsburg, that provides air transport for private and small business jets.

Williamsburg is located adjacent to Interstate 64 which parallels U.S. Route 60 and runs east-west in the area. State Route 199, officially named the Humelsine Parkway, surrounds the city in a semicircle. State Route 5 links the city with the James River Plantations along the north shore of the James River, Interstate 295 and Richmond. State Route 31 links the city to Jamestown and the toll-free Jamestown Ferry.
The Colonial Parkway provides a bucolic low-speed link between the points of the Historic Triangle which in addition to Colonial Williamsburg, includes Jamestown and Yorktown. It passes under the "Restored Area" in a tunnel. With the exception of buses, commercial vehicles are not allowed on the Parkway.
In the "restored" or Historic Area, motorized traffic is not allowed on Duke of Gloucester Street, helping visitors to gain a perspective of what life was really like transportation-wise in the colonial days (before the invention of the automobile). There are bus stops and some parking areas located conveniently nearby, however. The only exceptions to this are for residents living in the historic area, and members of Bruton Parish Church, who have limited access and parking on Sundays.

Williamsburg, Virginia Highways
See also: Williamsburg (Amtrak station)
Unlike many U.S. destinations, Williamsburg offers good non-automobile driving alternatives for visitors and citizens. The area has both a central intermodal transportation center and a public transit bus system. The transportation center affords easy access to the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor's Center and is located near the downtown and restored areas and the College of William and Mary.
The Williamsburg Transportation Center itself is a restored building which is a former Chesapeake and Ohio Railway station now owned by Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. It is served by several Amtrak trains a day, with direct service to Newport News, Richmond, and points along the Northeast Corridor from Washington DC through New York City to Boston. Intercity bus service is provided by Greyhound Lines (Carolina Trailways) and Hampton Roads Transit (HRT).
The center also offers several modes of local transportation. Williamsburg Area Transport (WAT) uses the center as a transfer hub for its network of handicapped accessible transit bus routes serving the city, James City County, and most portions of York County adjacent to the Williamsburg area, with hourly service 6 days a week during daytime and evening hours. Taxicabs and rental cars are also based at the transportation center.

Local bus services: WAT, CW, and W&M

Colonial Williamsburg
Hampton Roads
Virginia Peninsula
The Williamsburg Winery

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