Chesapeake was created in 1963, through the consolidation of the city of South Norfolk with the former Norfolk County. The name for the new city was selected in a referendum in each of the communities.
Although the city is rather new, its constituents have a long and rich history. Norfolk County was founded in 1691 as a part of the Virginia Colony. At the time, it encompassed the lands later occupied by Norfolk, South Norfolk and Portsmouth. After 1871, these cities increased in area through a series of annexations. The only solution to stabilize the borders of the county was to become an independent city, since a city were not allowed to annex the territory of another city.
South Norfolk, on the other hand, was a small town, incorporated as part of Norfolk County in 1919. It became an independent city in 1922.
The Chesapeake region was the site of the Battle of Great Bridge in 1775, in the early days of the American Revolutionary War. This was an important battle as it resulted in the defeat of Lord Dunmore and in the removal of British Government from the Virginia Colony.
For much of its history, until the late 1980s, Chesapeake was a part rural, part suburban community. It also served as a bedroom community or a commuter town for larger cities of Virginia Beach and Norfolk. However, starting from the early 1990s, the city started attracting large businesses on its own. Chesapeake started to grow rather quickly, and this sudden growth actually put significant strains on the infrastructure.
Chesapeake was in the center of national attention in 2003, when it hosted the trial of the Beltway Sniper Lee Boyd Malvo. He was sentenced to life in prison but his partner, John Allen Muhammad, was sentenced to death by the jury in the nearby Virginia Beach.
Chesapeake is located in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia, more precisely in South Hampton Roads. It lies on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, with miles of waterfront property. Its area also includes parts of the Great Dismal Swamp. The city is actually quite large in terms of area. It occupies 350.9 square miles, of which 2.90% is water. Chesapeake city limits include highly urbanized zones as well as almost untouched and state-protected wetlands, swamps and forests.
The city is divided into six boroughs: South Norfolk, Pleasant Grove, Butts Road, Washington, Deep Creek and Western Branch.
Chesapeake had a population of 222,209 in 2010, which is an 11.6% increase compared to 2000. The racial makeup in the city was 62.6% White, 29.8% Black or African American, 2.9% Asian, 0.4% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.2% some other race and 3% two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos made up 4.4% of the population.
The median household income in Chesapeake in 2000 was $50,747 and the per capita income was $20,949.
Chesapeake is frequently ranked among top places to live and work in the USA. Some of the companies with international, North American and U.S. headquarters in Chesapeake include Dollar Tree Stores, Init, Lovato USA, Altec USA, American GFM, Givens, Inc., Map Mobile, Tecnico Corporation, Vanderschoot USA, Volvo Penta of the Americas, Canon ITS, Eltromat Electronics, FDGM, Inc., Plasser American, Shock Metal, Selenium USA and others.
Top employers in Chesapeake in 2010 were Chesapeake City Public Schools, City of Chesapeake, Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, LTD Hospitality Group, Sentara Healthcare, QVC, HSBC France, Cox Communications, Hewlett-Packard, Reliance Staffing, Lifetouch, Dollar Tree, Damco, General Dynamics Information Technology, Canon Information Technology Service and First Data.
Some of the major points of interest in the city include Great Bridge Battle Site, Chesapeake Arboretum, Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal, Northwest River Park and Campground, Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Chrysler Museum of Art, Riddick’s Folly House Museum, Casemate Museum, Chesapeake City Park and others.
Institutions of higher education in Chesapeake area include Everest College, Strayer University, Sentara College of Health Sciences, DeVry University Chesapeake Campus and Greenbrier Christian Academy and Veritas Christian Academy.
The city is served by several major highways, including I-64, I-464, I-664, U.S. Highways 13, 17, 58 and 460. Major bridges in Chesapeake include Steel Bridge, Jordan Bridge, High Rise Bridge, Jordan Bridge and a number of drawbridges on the Elizabeth River.
The Dismal Swamp Canal and the Intracoastal Waterway both pass through the city.
Mass transit in the city is operated by Hampton Roads Transit, which offers bus service for the entire Hampton Roads area.
The city has two Class 1 railroads - CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern.
As for the air service, the nearest commercial airport is Norfolk International Airport. There is also a general aviation airport within the city limits, the Chesapeake Regional Airport, while the Hampton Roads Executive Airport is located in the nearby Bowers Hill.