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Danville is an independent city in Virginiamarker, bounded by Pittsylvania County, Virginiamarker and Caswell County, North Carolinamarker. It was the last capital of the Confederate States of America. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Danville with Pittsylvania county for statistical purposes under the Danville, Virginia Metropolitan Statistical Area. Danville is also called the city of churches because it has more churches per square mile than any other city in the state of Virginia. The population was 48,411 at the 2000 census. It hosts the Danville Braves baseball club of the Appalachian League. Dan River Industries, formerly one of the world's largest textile mills, recently closed leaving a large number of Danvillians without jobs.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , of which is land and is water.

Demographics

As of 2007, Danville had a population of 44,947 which was a -6.5% drop from the previous year. Races in Danville were White Non-Hispanic 53.3%, African American 44.1%, Hispanic 1.3%, two or more races 0.8%.

25.4% of the population Never Married, 46.6% are married, 5.4% is separated. 11.6% are widowed, 11.0% are divorced. There were 59 registered sex offenders living in Danville in early 2007.

Crime

Crime Danville, Virginia (2007) National Average
Murder 8.6 6.9
Rape 10.7 32.2
Robbery 160.9 195.4
Assault 233.9 340.1
Burglary 914.1 814.5
Automobile Theft 236.0 526.5
Overall crime in Danville is slightly above the national average. The Total Crime Index for Danville is 338.3 per 100,000 residents, the National Average is 320.9 per 100,000 residents.

Transportation

Railroad

Amtrak's Crescent train connects Danville with the cities of New Yorkmarker, Philadelphiamarker, Baltimoremarker, Washingtonmarker, Charlottemarker, Atlantamarker, Birminghammarker and New Orleansmarker. The Amtrak stationmarker is situated at 677 Craghead Street.

Highway

U.S. Route 58 Business (Riverside Dr/River St) parallels the north bank of the Dan Rivermarker traveling east/west through Danville's main commercial district while the US 58 Bypass route bypasses the city's center to the south via the Danville Expressway. U.S. Route 29 splits into a business route and a bypass at the North Carolinamarker/Virginiamarker border. The business route enters the heart of Danville via West Main Street and Memorial Drive and exits via Central Boulevard and Piney Forest Road; US 29 Business travels relatively north/south. The bypass (future Interstate 785) takes the eastern segment of the Danville Expressway and rejoins the business route north of the city near Chatham, Virginiamarker.

North Carolina Highway 86 becomes State Route 86 once it crosses the state line into Danville as South Main Street. It continues north to its terminus at US 29 Business/Central Boulevard.

State Route 293 was created in 1998 to mark the route of old US 29 Business, which was rerouted to the west. SR 293 enters Danville's downtown historic district as West Main Street, then Main Street, and then crosses the Dan Rivermarker to meet US 29 Business as North Main Street.

State Route 51 parallels US 58 Business as Westover Drive from its western terminus at US 58 Business at the Danville's corporate limits to its eastern terminus at US 58 Business near the Dan River.

History

Wreck of the Old 97, Danville, Virginia, 1903
In 1728, William Byrd headed an expedition sent to determine the true boundary between Virginia and North Carolina. One night late that summer, the party camped upstream from what is now Danville, Byrd was so captured with the beauty of the land, that he eloquently prophesied a future settlement in the vicinity, where people would live “with much comfort and gaiety of Heart.” The river along which he camped was named the “Dan”, for Byrd, supposing himself to be in the land of plenty, felt he had wandered “from Dan to Beershebamarker”.

The first white settlement (numerous Indian tribes had lived in the area) occurred downstream from Byrd’s campsite in 1792, at a spot along the river shallow enough to allow fording. It was named “Wynne’s Falls,” after the first settler. The village has a “social” reason for its origin, since it was here that pioneering Revolutionary War veterans met once a year to fish and talk over old times.

The establishment by the General Assembly of a tobacco warehouse at Wynne’s Falls in 1793 was the beginning of “The World’s Best Tobacco Market.” Virginia’s largest market for bright leaf tobacco. The village was renamed Danville by act of the Virginia Legislature on November 23, 1793. A charter for the town was drawn up February 17, 1830, but by the time of its issue, the population had exceeded the pre-arranged boundaries. This necessitated a new charter, which was issued in 1833. In that year, James Lanier was elected the first mayor, assisted by a council of “twelve fit and able men.”

The outbreak of the Civil War found Danville a thriving community of some 5,000 people. During those four years of war, the town was transformed into a strategic center of activity. It was a quartermaster’s depot, rail center, hospital station for Confederate wounded and a prison camp. Here six tobacco warehouses were converted into prisons, housing at one time more than 5,000 captured Federal soldiers.

Starvation and dysentery, plus a smallpox epidemic in 1864, caused the death of 1,314 of these prisoners. Their remains now lie interred in the Danville National Cemetery.

The Richmond and Danville Rail Road was the main supply route into Petersburg where Lee's Army of Northern Virginia were holding their defensivemarker line to protect Richmond. The Danville supply train ran until General Stoneman's Union cavalry troops tore up the tracks. This event was immortalised in the song "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down".

Danville became the last capital of the Confederate States of America within the space of a few days. Jefferson Davis and the temporary Capital moved to the palatial home of William T. Sutherlin on April 3, 1865. It was in the Sutherlin home that Davis' issued his final Presidential Proclamation. The final Confederate Cabinet meeting was held at the Benedict House(destroyed) in Danville. Davis and members of his cabinet remained there until April 10, 1865, when news of Lee’s surrender forced them to flee southward. On the day of their departure, Governor William Smith arrived from Lynchburg, to establish his headquarters.

On July 22, 1882, six of Danville’s enterprising citizens founded the Riverside Cotton Mills, which today is known the country over as Dan River Inc., the largest single-unit textile mill in the world.

One of the most famous wrecks in American rail history occurred in Danville. On September 27, 1903, “Old 97,” the Southern Railway’s crack express mail train, was running behind schedule. Its engineer “gave her full throttle,” but the speed of the train caused it to jump the tracks on a high trestle overlooking the valley of the Dan. The engine and five cars plunged into the ravine below, killing nine and injuring seven, but immortalizing the locomotive and its engineer, Joseph A. ("Steve") Broadey, in a now well-known song. A marker is located on U.S. 58 between Locust Lane and North Main Street at the train crash site. A mural of the Wreck of the Old 97marker is painted on a downtown Danville building in memory of the historic wreck.
Former Dan River Fabrics plant in Danville


On March 2, 1911, Danville Police Chief R. E. Morris, who had been elected to three two-year terms and was running for a fourth term, was arrested as an escaped convicted murderer. He admitted that he was really Edgar Stribling of Harris County, Georgiamarker, and had been on the run for thirteen years.

Danville was home to both Nancy Langhorne, Viscountess Astor, the first woman to serve in the British House of Commonsmarker, and Irene Langhorne Gibson, the inspiration for "the Gibson girl". It is also the home of the very first and only black driver to win a race in what is now NASCAR's Sprint Cup, Wendell Scott, and was the birthplace of "Battling Jim" Johnson (b. ca. 1883), a boxer who fought heavyweight champion Jack Johnson to a draw in Paris, Francemarker in 1913.

APVA Preservation Virginia President William B. Kerkam, III, and its Executive Director Elizabeth S. Kostelny announced at a press conference held in Danville (2007) at Main Street Methodist Church, a building not designated to the list but nonetheless at risk, that the entire city of Danville has been named one of the Most Endangered Historic Sites in Virginia.

Civil Rights Movement in Danville

A series of violent episodes of the Civil Rights Movement in Virginia occurred in Danville during the summer of 1963. On May 31, representatives of the black community organized as the Danville Christian Progressive Association (DCPA) demanded an end to segregation and job discrimination in Danville. A boycott of white merchants was declared, and a march to City Hall followed. Many of the marchers were high school students. They were met by police and city workers armed with clubs. The protesters were sprayed with fire hoses and hit with clubs. Thirteen protesters were checked at Winslow Hospital with all being released that same evening with the exception of one female that complained with back pain. She was kept overnight and released the next morning. A number of police officers received injuries with little, if any, attention given the officer's injuries. Marches and other protests continued for several weeks. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Danville and spoke at High Street Baptist Church about the brutality of the police force. He called it the worst police brutality he had seen in the South. Actually, King was not present to see any confrontation between the police and demonstrators.

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) sent organizers to Danville to support the DCPA. They helped lead protest, including demonstrations at the Howard Johnson Hotel and restaurant on Route 29. The hotel was known for discriminating against blacks. A special grand jury indicted 13 DCPA, SCLC, and SNCC activists for violating the "John Brown" law. This law, passed in 1830 after a slave uprising, made it a serious felony to "..incite the colored population to acts of violence or war against the white population." It became known as the "John Brown" law in 1860 because it was used to convict and hang abolitionist John Brown after his raid on Harpers Ferrymarker in 1859.

By the end of August, over 600 protesters had been arrested in Danville on charges of inciting to violence, contempt, trespassing, disorderly conduct, assault, parading without a permit, and resisting arrest. Because of the large number of arrest on these charges, often the jails would be over crowded, protesters were housed in detention facilities in jurisdiction located near Danville, VA. The demonstrations failed to achieve desegregation in Danville which remained segregated until passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Millionaire's Row

Millionaire's Row is the most impressive area in Danville. It has many fine homes built in the 1800s and early 1900s by descendants of American planters. They are beautiful mansions adorned by trees lining the streets and peppered about the yards of these beautiful homes.The entire area around "Penn's Bottom", the nick name for the part of Main St that experienced heavy growth as the first suburb of Danville during the Tobacco boom, has been designated as a historic district. The Old West End Historic District, Tobacco Warehouse Historic District, Downtown Danville Historic District and North Main Historic District are going through a period of revitalization.The many fine examples of Victorian Architecture are showcased every Holiday season with the Christmas Tour.Also located in this district is the "Sutherlin Mansion" currently known as the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History. This Italinate Mansion was the home of Major William T. Sutherlin a Confederate Quartermaster and was the location of the last "White House" of the Confederacy after the fall of Richmond. The museum, and its grounds currently occupy a complete block in this district. The remainder of the plantation was subdivided to create the surrounding neighborhood.

City government

The City of Danville has a council-manager government in which a City Manager is hired by council to supervise the city government and ensure that the laws, ordinances, and policies made by the City Council are carried out in an effective manner. The City Council consists of nine members elected by the citizens of Danville. The City Council selects the Mayor and Vice Mayor from among its members to serve two year terms. The City Council has the power "to adopt and enforce legislative and budgetary ordinances, policies, and rules and regulations necessary to conduct the public's business and to provide for the protection of the general health, safety and welfare of the public." The members if the Danville City Council are:

Terms expiring 30 June 2012
  • Lawrence G. "Larry" Campbell, Jr.
  • T. David Luther
  • Albert K. "Buddy" Rawley, Jr.
  • Sherman M. Saunders (Mayor)
  • Fred O. Shanks, III


Terms expiring on 30 June 2010
  • Ruby B. Archie
  • T. Wayne Oakes
  • Adam J. Tomer
  • Gary P. Miller


Notable Danville natives



Newspapers distributed in Danville



Colleges and universities



Notable businesses



References

External links




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