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Blacksburg is an incorporated town located in Montgomery County, Virginiamarker, United Statesmarker, with a population of 39,284 at the 2000 census, with an estimated increase to 41,796 in 2008. Blacksburg, Christiansburgmarker, and Radfordmarker are the three principal jurisdictions of the Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses those jurisdictions and all of Montgomery, Pulaski, and Giles counties for statistical purposes. The MSA has an estimated population of 158,328 and is currently one of the faster growing MSAs in Virginia. Blacksburg is dominated economically and demographically by the presence of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Universitymarker (better known as Virginia Tech), a Virginia land-grant university. Blacksburg is the largest town in Virginia by population. There are many larger municipalities, but they are incorporated as cities.

History

European discovery and the founding of a settlement (1671-1771)

When European explorers led by Abraham Wood reached the present-day location of Blacksburg, Virginia in 1671, there were no longer any Native Americans that lived in the area . They followed Stroubles Creek, through the current locations of the town and campus of Virginia Techmarker to what they named Wood's River. On September 17, 1671, the Wood party claimed all the lands comprising the drainage basin of the river, later renamed the New River, for King Charles II.

During the 1740s, the Wood's River Land Company, which was represented by Col. James Patton, attained a large tract of land within present-day southwest Virginia. Part of the tract became Montgomery Countymarker and Pulaski Countymarker and was sold to settlers entering the region. The Draper and Ingles families were among those that built their homes somewhere between present locations of the campus and the subdivision of Hethwood. The settlement came to be called Draper's Meadow by 1748.

Seven years later, the settlement was involved in the brutality of the French and Indian War. Sometime around July 30, 1755, the event now known as the Draper's Meadow massacre occurred, and there is a bridge located near Duck Pond that is dedicated to the massacre. By the end of the war, Draper's Meadow was deserted.

The Black family (1772-1797)

Samuel Black, whose family settled in Staunton, Virginiamarker, bought of land in the Draper’s Meadow area for his sons John and William in 1772. Smithfield Plantation, built in approximately 1774 by Col. William Preston, sits on the original Draper's Meadow site, which is near the Duck Pond on the Virginia Techmarker campus.

When Samuel Black died in 1792, the land was evenly divided into two sections by his sons. The road now known as Draper Road is the dividing line between the sections. John Black's property covered the majority of today's central campus and William Black's property became most of central downtown area of present-day Blacksburg.

In 1797, William laid out a small grid of streets and lots‚ÄĒ16 blocks in all‚ÄĒon a portion of his land. The original town was limited to the area bounded by present-day Draper Road, Jackson Street, Wharton Street, and Clay Street. The city logo contains 16 small squares that create a larger square, representing the original 16 square blocks that were a part of Black's design.

Blacksburg's establishment (1798-1870)

After Black petitioned the state legislature to establish a town at the site, the official establishment and founding of Blacksburg, Virginia was January 13, 1798 on the thirty-eight and three-quarter acre tract that he laid out. The following August 4, he signed over the deed to the town trustees. The town was named after him in his honor.

In 1801, a log cabin was built, which went on to be the home of the future colonel of the 28th Virginia Infantry, Robert Preston and two Virginia governors. The cabin, now known as "Solitude," is the oldest building on the Virginia Tech campus.

According to records of the Post Office Department of the National Archives and Records Administrationmarker, the post office was established as "BLACKSBURGH" on April 8, 1827. The name was changed to the current spelling (without the "h") in 1893.

Even though the Methodists had built two cabins to worship in since the town's founding, they did not build a more permanent structure until 1830, when a brick church was constructed. The Presbyterians were the next Christian denomination to build a church within Blacksburg's limits. In 1848 they built their first brick building at 117 South Main Street. Though still standing, this building has not been used as a church for many years. It was once South Main Café, but is currently Cabo Fish Taco. It is also the oldest building on Main Street. The Baptists founded the third oldest church in the town in 1852.

In 1832, Westview Cemetery was established from a few acres of land that were deeded to trustees.

One of the first educational establishments started here was the Blacksburg Female Academy in 1840. The Olin and Preston Institute (re-charted as Preston and Olin Institute in 1869) was a Methodist-sponsored academy established in 1851.

The first bank in Montgomery County, Blacksburg Savings Institution, was established in 1849.

The first newspaper published in Blacksburg was the Montgomery Messenger. Its first issue was released in 1869.

Incorporation and modernization (1871-1951)

In 1871, the village that became known as Blacksburg was incorporated and Thomas W. Jones became the first mayor.

One year later, the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College opened its doors on October 2, 1872 with a faculty of three members. The college grew and became known as Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, which shortly afterward became informally referred to as Virginia Tech.

A fire-fighting unit was organized within the university in 1899. The town bought its first fire truck 43 years later. The Blacksburg First Aid and Life Saving Crew was founded in 1951 as another addition to the growing amount of emergency services.

The first automobile came through the town in 1901. Three years later the train entered Blacksburg from Christiansburg using the Virginia Anthracite & Coal Railroad, which later became known as the "Huckleberry." Traffic in Blacksburg increased sufficiently enough that by January 1913 the town voted against allowing cows to continue to roam in town. The first filling station was opened in 1919 and at the time was the only one between Roanoke, Virginiamarker and Bluefield, West Virginiamarker. The town's first landing strip was built in 1929 and was 1,800 feet (548.64 m) in length. The grass landing strip was given airport status in 1931 and later became Virginia Tech Airport. Local buses began to make their rounds for the first time in 1947.

The town's first theater was built in 1909. It was a precursor to the Lyric Theater on College Avenue.

In the spring of 1935, Main Street was strung with ten street lights from Roanoke Street northward to the top of the hill, where it now intersects the Alumni Mall. By October the town's second stoplight was installed on Main Street at Roanoke Street and was synchronized with the original one at Main and College.

The establishment of official law enforcement began in 1937 when Officer Dave "Highpockets" Sumner became the first Blacksburg police officer. The first police car was purchased nine years later.

Compulsory education and commercialization (1952-1992)

Blacksburg experienced a boost of compulsory education during the second half of the 20th century. Even though there had been a place for secondary education somewhere in town since 1906, it was not until 1952 when the first official location for Blacksburg High Schoolmarker was built on South Main and Eheart Streets. That same year, all high schools in Montgomery County began operating on a twelve-grade basis which is still county policy to this day. Two years later, Blacksburg High School was relocated to a building on South Main Street which eventually became the site of Blacksburg Middle School. The Margaret J. Beeks Elementary School and the Gilbert F. Linkous Elementary School were both completed in 1963 and Harding Avenue Elementary School was built in 1972. Two years later, Blacksburg High School's current spot in town on Patrick Henry Drive was opened in 1974 after 20 years of issues with overcrowding in its previous location.

Jack Goodwin was appointed the first chief of police by the Blacksburg Town Council in 1954. Jan Olinger was made the first female police officer in 1976.

1958 marked the beginning of the end for the railroad that came to be known as the "Huckleberry." Passenger service came to an end on July 25. On June 30, 1966 the last freight train arrived at the Blacksburg depot. Within 24 hours, the depot was closed, the empty cars were picked up, and the tracks were immediately removed.

190 years after its original construction, the newly renovated Smithfield Plantation house was re-opened in 1964.

The amount of commercialization in the area began to increase in the mid-1960s. An important opening that occurred was the Corning Glass Works (now called Corning Incorporated) facility in 1964 which is located south of Blacksburg. The Blacksburg Municipal Building on South Main Street was constructed in 1969. Terrace View apartments, the first large student complex, was built in 1970. The Blacksburg Branch of the Montgomery County Library was opened the same year. Ten years later, it was moved into the facility that used to house the Blacksburg Lumber Company on Draper Road. In 1971, Blacksburg ratified a new charter and Montgomery Regional Hospital was built. The University Mall shopping center opened that year as well. During 1981, the Blacksburg Community Center opened. It cost the town $1.2 million to build. By 1988, the New River Valley Mall was opened and the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center had its first ground-breaking ceremony.

After construction of Virginia's portion of Interstate 81 began in 1957, it took about nine years until the segment that ran alongside the town was opened in November 1965. About half that amount of time passed before the U.S. Route 460 bypass opened in 1969.

In the 1970s, Virginia Tech was annexed into the town and other land area was also brought in. The population grew from 9,000 people to 30,000 during this decade.

Replacing the old public bus system, Blacksburg Transit began running in 1983.

Information Age (1993-2005)

Blacksburg is the site of the Blacksburg Electronic Village or BEV, conceived as a computer networking project of Virginia Techmarker in 1991 and officially born in 1993 as a way to link the town together using the Internet. This project quickly ushered the town into what is being called the Information Age.

In 1994, Kipps Elementary School was opened. By this time, Blacksburg had five elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school.

A new Blacksburg branch library was opened in 1996.

After 24 years of abandonment and six years of planning and construction, the first phase of the Huckleberry Trail opened in 1996. The second phase of construction was completed in 1998.

On July 8, 1997, ground was broken for the experimental "Smart Road" project. The second phase of construction was completed in 2002.

Geography

Overlooking Blacksburg
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 19.4 square miles (50.2 km¬≤) of which 19.4 square miles (50.1 km¬≤) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km¬≤), or 0.10%, is water. Blacksburg is 2,080 feet (634 m) above sea level. It is the 15th largest municipality and the largest town in the commonwealth of Virginia.

The Eastern Continental Dividemarker traverses the Virginia Techmarker/Montgomery Airport.

The tallest building in Blacksburg is Slusher Tower, a twelve story residence hall on the Virginia Techmarker campus. The building with the highest elevation is actually Lee Hall, another residence hall, which until May 17, 2009 was home to the transmitter of campus radio station WUVT. The tower for WUVT now sits atop Price Mountain.

Transportation

Blacksburg is served primarily by US-460 and I-81, both major arteries for travel in the region. The two roads, together with Route 114, US-11, and Route 8 provide the major highway infrastructure for the developing area. The Virginia Techmarker Transportation Institute is currently working with the Virginia Department of Transportation to build the Virginia Smart Road which will connect Blacksburg directly to I-81, thus significantly decreasing the travel time between Blacksburg and its much larger neighbor, Roanokemarker. The road, together with the current US-460, will create a loop around Blacksburg, thus alleviating current traffic congestion and aiding further development of the area.

Public transportation is provided by Blacksburg Transit (BT). The BT provides bus transportation primarily to and from the campus of Virginia Techmarker. Students and faculty ride the BT free with their respective student and faculty ids. Virginia Techmarker subsidizes BT for this service. The transportation is available to anyone for a fee, and during special events the service is often free. U Car Share, a subsidiary of U-Haul, offers a carsharing service around the Virginia Tech campus.

The Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive Airportmarker serves Blacksburg and the Virginia Techmarker campus for general aviation.

Weather

Normal Temperatures

(BLACKSBURG Weather station, from Blacksburg)













Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
Max ¬įF 41.1 44.8 53.3 62.9 71.5 78.6 82.5 81.3 75.3 65.3 55.0 44.9 63.0
Mean ¬įF 30.9 33.5 41.4 50.0 58.9 66.9 71.1 69.6 63.0 51.7 42.8 34.1 51.2
Min ¬įF 20.6 22.1 29.4 37.0 46.3 55.2 59.7 57.8 50.7 38.0 30.6 23.2 39.2


Normal precipitation

(BLACKSBURG Weather station, from Blacksburg)





Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
Inch 3.37 3.02 3.83 3.83 4.39 3.93 4.17 3.68 3.39 3.19 2.96 2.87 42.63


Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 39,573 people, 13,162 households, and 4,777 families residing in the town, of which 23,895, or 60%, were college students. The population density was 2,044.2 people per square mile (789.2/km¬≤). There were 13,732 housing units at an average density of 709.4/sq mi (273.9/km¬≤). The racial makeup of the town was 84.39% White, 7.80% Asian, 4.39% African American, 0.11% Native American 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.90% from other races, and 2.36% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.32% of the population.

The Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes the town of Christiansburgmarker, the independent city of Radfordmarker, and all of Montgomerymarker, Pulaskimarker, and Gilesmarker counties has an estimated population of 157,614 and is currently one of the faster growing MSAs in Virginia.

There were 13,162 households out of which 16.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.7% were married couples living together, 5.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 63.7% were non-families. 26.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.79.

In the town the population was spread out with 9.7% under the age of 18, 57.4% from 18 to 24, 18.9% from 25 to 44, 9.2% from 45 to 64, and 4.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 22 years. For every 100 females there are 127.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 129.7 males.

The median household income was $22,513 and the median income for a family was $51,810. Males had a median income of $37,129 versus $24,321 for females. The per capita income for the town was $13,946. About 15.9% of families and 43.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.7% of those under the age of 18 and 6.1% of those 65 and older.

About 87% of the town's residents has in-home Internet access with 65% using a broadband connection.

Eighty-five percent of the community has a college education.

Economy

The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center is home to several companies of varying sizes including VTLS, Honeywell, Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Rackspace's Email and Apps Division (formerly Mailtrust and Webmail.us), and the National Weather Service which maintains its Southwestern Virginia headquarters there. The town is also home to MOOG, a major contractor for the defense department and the health care industry. The town and county continue to recruit major industry to the area. Due to its close proximity to Virginia Techmarker and Radford Universitymarker, Blacksburg is an ideal location for developing high tech industry.

Notable natives



Points of interest





Annual town events

  • The International Street Fair & Parade held in Blacksburg takes place on the first Saturday of every April. Over 110 countries are represented by the student body of Virginia Techmarker and individuals from the community during the festival. College Avenue is closed for food and craft booths and the stage features an eclectic mix of melodies and musical performances from around the world.


  • Steppin' Out, the town's first annual street festival, has taken place on the first Friday and Saturday of every August since 1976 when it was known as the Deadwood Days Summer Festival. The festival's name was changed in 1980. Steppin' Out features over 150 artists and crafts people from around the United States selling unique handcrafted items, local merchants holding final clearance sidewalk sales, local restaurants selling food through outdoor vending, multiple stages for live performances, and fun for the entire family. The area from North Main Street and Alumni Mall (sometimes even more to the north) to South Main Street and Roanoke Street and Draper Road and Lee Street is designated for the festival. The Draper Mile Run, which was started in 1982, is a one-mile (1.6 km) road race for runners of all ages that is held annually during the first evening of the festival.


Organizations, associations and clubs



References

  1. Blacksburg: A Brief Early History | Virginia Tech
  2. Historic Smithfield: History and Research Resources
  3. Robert Preston papers
  4. Solitude
  5. Virginia Tech's 125th Anniversary: Blacksburg Was Incorporated Year Before Virginia Tech Opened Doors
  6. A Special Place for 200 Years: Blacksburg Social Life and Customs
  7. Blacksburg Presbyterian: BPC History.
  8. New River Valley Dining Guide - Blacksburg Restaurants in Blacksburg Virginia
  9. A Special Place for 200 Years: Business and Industry in Blacksburg
  10. A Special Place for 200 Years: Blacksburg's Mayors and the Evolution of Town Government
  11. A Special Place For 200 Years: Blacksburg Transported
  12. History of Lyric
  13. A Special Place for 200 Years: Blacksburg Educates Its Children
  14. Economic Development History of Interstate 81 in Virginia
  15. Blacksburg Transit - BT History
  16. History of the Smart Road
  17. Welcome to Blacksburg! | Virginia Tech
  18. WUVT to Operate at Reduced Power Starting Sunday
  19. U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder: DP-2. Profile of Selected Social Characteristics: 2000
  20. Campus & Town Guide: Virginia Tech and the Town of Blacksburg.
  21. downtownBLACKSBURG.COM Events
  22. Blacksburg Bicentennial: Timeline
  23. downtownBLACKSBURG.COM Steppin' Out


External links




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