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Fredericksburg is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginiamarker located 50 miles south of Washington, D.C.marker, and 58 miles north of Richmondmarker. As of the 2000 census, the city had a population of 19,279. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Fredericksburg with neighboring Spotsylvania Countymarker for statistical purposes. It is a part of the Washington Metropolitan Area.

A majority of the population of Fredericksburg and its side of the Washington Metropolitan Area commutes to work by car, bus, and rail to Fairfaxmarker, Prince Williammarker, and Arlingtonmarker counties, as well as Washington, D.C. This has led to a long-standing debate in the area over whether or not Fredericksburg has become a part of Northern Virginia culturally, with strong arguments on both sides.


Located on the Rappahannock Rivermarker near the head of navigation at the fall line, Fredericksburg developed as the frontier of colonial Virginia shifted west out of the coastal plain. The land on which the city was founded was part of a tract patented in 1671. The Virginia General Assemblymarker established a fort on the Rappahannock in 1676, just below the present-day city. In 1714, Lt. Gov. Alexander Spotswood sponsored a German settlement called Germanna on the Rapidan River, a tributary of the Rappahannock upstream from the future site of the city, and led an expedition westward over the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1716.

As interest in the frontier grew, the colonial assembly responded by forming a new county named Spotsylvaniamarker (after the governor) in 1720 and establishing Fredericksburg in 1728 as a port for the county, of which it was then a part. Named for Frederick, Prince of Wales, son of King George II, the colonial town's streets bore the names of members of the royal family. The county court was moved to Fredericksburg in 1732 and the town served as county seat until 1780 when the courthouse was moved closer to the county center. Fredericksburg was incorporated as a town, with its own court, council, and mayor, in 1781.

It received its charter as an independent city in 1879. The city adopted its present city manager/council form of government in 1911.

The city has close associations with George Washington, whose family moved to Ferry Farm in Stafford County just off the Rappahannock Rivermarker opposite Fredericksburg in 1738. Washington's mother Mary later moved to the city, and his sister Betty lived at Kenmore, a plantation house then outside the city. Other significant early residents include the Revolutionary War generals Hugh Mercer and George Weedon, naval war hero John Paul Jones, and future U.S. president James Monroe.

The city's development and success was based on other significant residents, enslaved Africans with varied skills, who were critical to its growth. "Slaves worked on plantations, on the docks, in iron industries, mining and quarries, mercantile businesses, construction, domestic services, and others were skilled blacksmiths, coopers, cobblers, and draymen. African Americans were vital in the development of the area."

During the 19th century, Fredericksburg sought to maintain its sphere of trade but with limited success. It promoted the development of a canal on the Rappahannock and construction of a turnpike and plank road to bind the interior country to the market town. By 1837, a north-south railroad, which became the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad, linked the town to Richmondmarker, the state capital. A much-needed railroad joining the town to the farming region to the west was not finished until after the American Civil War.

Wounded soldiers being tended at Marye's House in Fredericksbug in May 1864.
Sometimes mistakenly labeled as taken in the field after the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 2, 1863.
During the Civil War, Fredericksburg gained strategic importance due to its location midway between Washingtonmarker and Richmond, the opposing capitals of the Union and the Confederacy. During the battle of Fredericksburgmarker, December 11–15, 1862, the town sustained significant damage from bombardment and looting by the Union forces. A second battle was fought in and around the town on May 3, 1863, in connection with the Chancellorsvillemarker campaign (April 27, 1863 – May 6, 1863). The battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court Housemarker were fought nearby in May 1864.

After the war, Fredericksburg recovered its former position as a center of local trade and slowly grew beyond its prewar boundaries. The University of Mary Washingtonmarker was founded here in 1908 as the State Normal and Industrial School for Women. Adopting the name of Mary Washington College in 1938, the college was for many years associated with the University of Virginiamarker as a women’s liberal arts college. The college became independent of UVA and began to accept men in 1970. Recently, the college changed names from Mary Washington College to The University of Mary Washington. A separate campus for graduate and professional studies is located in suburban Stafford Countymarker.

Today Fredericksburg is the commercial hub of a rapidly growing region in north central Virginia. Despite recent decades of suburban growth, reminders of the area’s past abound. A 40-block national historic district embraces the city’s downtown area and contains more than 350 buildings dating to the 18th and 19th centuries. Notable homes include Kenmore, home of Washington’s sister Betty, and the Mary Washington House, where his mother spent her final years. Crowds of tourists are drawn to the historic district of Fredericksburg during the summer months.

Other historic buildings and museums include the late 18th century Rising Sun Tavern, Hugh Mercer apothecary shop, and the James Monroe law office museum. Important public buildings include the 1852 courthouse designed by James Renwick, whose works include the Smithsonian Institutionmarker’s castle building in Washington and St. Patrick’s Cathedralmarker in New York City, and the 1816 town hall and market house. The latter building now houses a local history museum and cultural center.

Nearby points of interest include the George Washington Birthplace National Monumentmarker, located 38 miles to the east in Westmoreland Countymarker, and the Ferry Farm historic site in Stafford Countymarker where Washington spent his boyhood across the river from Fredericksburg. The historic community of Falmouthmarker lies across the Rappahannock to the north and includes the historic house Belmont, home of American artist Gari Melchers.

The area’s Civil War battles are commemorated in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Parkmarker. Formed by an act of Congress in 1927, the national military park preserves portions of the battlefields of Fredericksburgmarker, Chancellorsvillemarker, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court Housemarker. The Fredericksburg National Cemeterymarker, also part of the park, is located on Marye’s Heights on the Fredericksburg battlefield and contains more than 15,000 Union burials from the area’s battlefields.

The power chord of modern guitar was first developed by Link Wray in Fredericksburg in 1958 during his first improvisation of the instrumental piece "Rumble", a single released by Wray & His Ray Men. The local music scene includes a wide variety of genres.

In 2008, Fredericksburg, like the rest of Virginia, became a focal point for candidates in the presidential election. On September 27, 2008, on the University of Mary Washington campus, United States Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama and Vice-Presidential candidate, Senator Joe Biden, held a campaign rally that drew roughly 26,000 supporters. Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin drew 8,000 people to a rally on October 27.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.5 square miles (27.2 km²). None of the area is covered with water. The city is part of the boundary between the Piedmont and Tidewater regions, and as such is located on the fall line, as evidently seen on the Rappahannock Rivermarker. US-1, US-17, and I-95 all pass through the city, which is located approximately 50 miles from Washington, D.C.marker

The city is bounded on the north and east by the Rappahannock Rivermarker; across the river is Stafford Countymarker; and is bounded on the south and west by Spotsylvania Countymarker.


Fredericksburg has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa).


As of the census of 2000, there were 19,279 people, 8,102 households, and 3,925 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,833.0 people per square mile (707.6/km²). There were 8,888 housing units at an average density of 845.0/sq mi (326.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 73.18% White, 20.41% Black or African American, 0.34% Native American, 1.51% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 2.56% from other races, and 1.95% from two or more races. 4.90% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 8,102 households out of which 21.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.8% were married couples living together, 13.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.6% were non-families. 39.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.09 and the average family size was 2.81.

In the city the population was spread out with 17.8% under the age of 18, 23.8% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 18.4% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 81.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,585, and the median income for a family was $47,148. Males had a median income of $33,641 versus $25,037 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,527. 15.5% of the population and 10.4% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 19.9% of those under the age of 18 and 8.8% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.


The following table shows Fredericksburg’s crime rate in comparison with the national average in 6 categories that Morgan Quitno uses in their calculation for "America's most dangerous cities" ranking. The statistics provided are not for the actual amount of crimes committed, but how many crimes committed per capita.
Crime Fredericksburg Virginia (2006) National Average
Murder 5.0 6.9
Rape 71.6 32.2
Robbery 138.5 195.4
Assault 291.3 340.1
Burglary 339.1 814.5
Automobile Theft 358.2 526.5
For the year of 2006 the overall crime index was 4981.1 per 100,000 civilians. The national average was 4479.3 per 100,000 people. Fredericksburg's crime was below the national average in all categories except for rape and property crimes.

Points of interest

Kenmore Plantation
Monroe Hall at University of Mary Washington


Fredericksburg's daily newspaper is The Free Lance–Star. The Free Lance was first published in 1885, and competed with two twice-weekly papers in the city during the late 19th century, the Fredericksburg News and The Virginia Star. While the News folded in 1884, the Star company began publishing the Daily Star in 1893. In 1900, the two companies merged, with both newspapers continuing publication until 1926, when they merged under the present title. Since that time, the Free Lance–Star has been owned and operated by members of the Rowe family of Fredericksburg.

Fredericksburg and the nearby region have several radio stations, including(on the FM dial) WJYJ (90.5, Christian),WFLSmarker (93.3, country),WGRQmarker (95.9, "Rockin' Oldies", licensed to nearby Colonial Beach),WWUZmarker (96.9, classic rock, licensed to nearby Bowling Green),WVBX (99.3, rhythmic contemporary, licensed to nearby Spotsylvania),WBQBmarker ("B-101.5", adult contemporary) andWGRXmarker ("Thunder 104.5", country, licensed to nearby Falmouth).Fredericksburg AM stations include WFVAmarker (1230, news/talk) and WYSKmarker (1350, Spanish-language). WFLS, WWUZ and WYSK are owned by the Free Lance–Star Company.

In 2001, the Arbitron media service began listing the Fredericksburg area as a nationally rated radio market. As of the fall of 2005, the area ranked 154th out of 297 markets surveyed, with a total market population of more than 280,000. Large broadcast companies like Clear Channel Communications and Cumulus Broadcasting are not active in the local market; almost all of its stations remain locally or regionally owned.



Fredericksburg is traversed by a series of rural and suburban four-lane highways and a multitude of small, two-lane roads. Among the major arterial roads is U.S. Route 1, providing north-south transportation from the region to Stafford, Washington D.C., and points beyond. Route 3 Plank Road is a major east-west route that connects downtown Fredericksburg (via the Blue and Gray Parkway bypass), southern Stafford County, and Route 301 with the large shopping centers, Spotsylvania Town Center and Central Park. To the west, Rt 3 reaches Culpepermarker, where it meets Route 29 and Route 15.

Most of Fredericksburg's traffic flow is to or from the north (Washington D.C. metropolitan area) during peak commuting hours, primarily via Interstate 95 and US-1. The US-1 bridge over the Rappahannock River is often a traffic bottleneck, and Rt 3 has become increasingly jammed as residential development has grown west.

As an alternative to I-95, commuters also use the Virginia Railway Express rail service to Washington. FRED is a recently started bus service in Fredericksburg which serves most area communities, retail shopping centers, two VRE stations, and downtown Fredericksburg.


Approximately 1.5 million people visit the Fredericksburg area annually, including visitation to the battlefield parks, the downtown visitor center, events, museums and historic sites and in pre-formed groups.

Notable residents and natives

18th century and before

19th century and beyond

Sister cities


External links

Fredericksburg, Virginia has always been a central hub, a half-way point between Washington, D.C. and Richmond. It was a strategic point in the Civil War and became a common stopping ground for many commuters and travelers. Fredericksburg once boasted the life of history and contained rolling hills, farmland and an easy paced atmosphere.In a matter of decades the Fredericksburg population grew faster than Northern Virginia , becoming home to the shopping empire Central Park. Central Park was established in 1995, currently containing over 255 stores and restaurants. Two new ventures to be built within the next two years include another exterior shopping mall built by the Cafaro Company and Kalahari Water Park which is to be built inside of Central Park.The future of Fredericksburg is uncertain. The current economy has placed a heavy burden on efforts the city is trying to make. Central Park, once the city’s main source of tax revenue is losing revenue due to the increasing store closings. Kalahari, the City’s savior, is still waiting for financing and there are no definite plans for construction (Free Lance Star). As it stands now in 2009, tourism to the historic district has decreased dramatically.The one thing that will remain constant is the history of Fredericksburg is changing from George Washington’s Boyhood home filled with luxurious stories and historic attractions, to an urban retail environment. Fredericksburg, Virginia will no longer be viewed as a historical destination, but rather a destination for shopping and entertainment.

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