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Norfolk is one of the largest cities in Virginia, and it is often considered the historic, commercial and cultural heart of the region. It's long been an important location for the military and transportation, housing the world's largest Navy base as well as a NATO Strategic Command headquarters. Defense contracting, manufacturing, shipping and tourism fuel its diverse economy. Norfolk is also a leader in environmentalism with a large number of registered LEED buildings as well as hotels, restaurants and attractions participating in the Virginia Green program.
The History of Norfolk
Norfolk has a long, storied history that dates back to the 1600s, when the area that's now Norfolk became part of the Virginia Colony. English colonists developed the area, and it became an important place for business and entrepreneurship. By 1705, Norfolk was officially incorporated, and it quickly grew into one of the New World's most successful cities.
After the Revolutionary War, the city spent considerable time recovering from economic and physical damage. By the early 1900s, the Virginian Railway and Jamestown Exposition arrived in Norfolk, drawing national attention for its strategic waterfront location. In the decades since then, the city has undergone many waves of change and growth, evolving into the Norfolk it is today.
Things to Do in Norfolk
Norfolk is known for its vibrant entertainment, diverse culture, regional cuisine and miles of scenic shoreline. With Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and countless rivers, you're never far from water in Norfolk.
There are plenty of local activities to choose from, including touring the Elizabeth River harbor, sampling wines at Virginia's very first urban winery, Mermaid Winery and watching world-renowned artists blow glass at the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio. If you're interested in the city's history, sign up for a boat or land tour of the world's largest naval base, stop by the MacArthur Memorial or walk the Cannonball Trail.
Neighborhoods in Norfolk
Here are a few of Norfolk's vibrant neighborhoods:
Ocean View borders several miles of scenic coastline directly south of Chesapeake Bay. It was the former home of the famous Ocean View Park, a large amusement park that was popular with local Navy sailors in the late 19th century.
Downtown Norfolk is a bustling center of activity, with many large businesses, cultural institutions and historic districts. Recent rejuvenation efforts have brought new life to the area, encouraging development of new retail and dining destinations as well as trendy living spaces.
Berkley is one of Norfolk's most diverse communities, and it contains many of its most notable historic buildings. One of the oldest homes in the area, the Lycurgus Berkley House, dates back to 1873.
Fairmount Park is made up of homes with an impressive variety of architectural styles, including Victorian farmhouses, Craftsman bungalows and coastal cottages. It offers many family-friendly amenities, including playgrounds, sport courts and a unique exercise trail.
Norfolk City Public Schools, which has won major awards for students' academic achievement, serves most public schools in the city. You'll also find a number of private schools in Norfolk, including the historic Norfolk Academy, founded in 1728.
If you're planning to pursue a college education, Norfolk has a mix of public and private universities as well as a handful of community colleges and small private schools.
Resources for Moving to Norfolk
Here is an at-a-glance guide that can make your move to Norfolk a bit easier:
Utilities: The city's utilities department manages water and sewer services
. Dominion Power is the local electricity provider.
- Garbage and Recycling: The city facilitates curbside collection of trash and recyclables. You can also take advantage of the free document-shredding service.
- Transportation: Bus, light rail and ferry all provide public transportation in and around Norfolk.
Housing prices in Norfolk are on the rise, but they are currently fairly level with national averages. Whether you're looking for a single-family home or something in a multi-family community, you'll be able to find a number of options in the city and its suburbs.