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Williamsburg is an independent city of Virginia located on the Virginia Peninsulamarker in the Hampton Roadsmarker metropolitan area of Virginiamarker. As of the 2008 census, the city had a total population of 12,481. It is bordered by James City Countymarker and York Countymarker, and is an independent city. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Williamsburg with James City County for statistical purposes.

Originally Middle Plantation, a 1632 fortified settlement located on high ground on the Peninsulamarker between the James and Yorkmarker rivers, it was renamed Williamsburg after the capital of the Virginia Colony was moved there from Jamestown in 1698. The town received a royal charter as a city in 1722, and was the center of political events in Virginia leading to the American Revolution.

Williamsburg is well-known for Colonial Williamsburgmarker, the restored Historic Area of the city, and for the adjacent College of William & Marymarker, established in 1693, the second-oldest university in the United States. Nearby, established in 1770, the predecessor of the current Eastern State Hospital was the first known mental hospital in the United States.

The Historic Triangle of Virginia, which also includes Jamestown and Yorktownmarker, is among the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with Williamsburg located in the center. The three are linked by the National Park Service's bucolic Colonial Parkwaymarker, a 23 mile-long (37 km) National Scenic Byway which is carefully shielded from views of commercial development. The toll-free Jamestown Ferrymarker is located at the southern end of the Colonial Parkway. State Route 5, another scenic byway, links Williamsburg and Richmondmarker.

Most highway travelers reach Williamsburg via nearby Interstate 64, U.S. Route 60, and State Route 143, each major east-west highways. Commercial airline service is available at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airportmarker (20 miles), and at Richmondmarker and Norfolkmarker airports (55 miles each). All are located along I-64 and offer limousine service to Williamsburg, as well as rental cars.

Williamsburg also offers non-automobile driving alternatives for visitors and citizens. The intermodal Williamsburg Transportation Centermarker is located in a restored Chesapeake and Ohio Railway station near the Historic Area, downtown, and the College. It offers Amtrak and Greyhound services, taxicabs, and rental cars. There, many visitors transfer to the community's local transit bus system, Williamsburg Area Transport, which operates accessible equipment for the mobility-impaired with bicycle racks on buses as well.


Prior to the arrival of the English colonists at Jamestown in the Colony of Virginia in 1607, the area which became Williamsburg was largely wooded. It was well within the territory of the Native American group known as the Powhatan Confederacy. In the early colonial period, the navigable rivers were the equivalent of modern highways. For ease of travel, and security from conflicts with the Native Americans, early colonial settlements were established close by the rivers.

By the 1630s, English settlements had grown to dominate the lower (eastern) portion of the Virginia Peninsulamarker, and the Natives had abandoned their villages nearby such as Kiskiack (also spelled "Chiskiack"), shifting to more remote locations, but attacking intermittently. To offer protection for the farming and fishing communities lower on the Peninsula, the colonists built a stockade across the peninsula to provide some security from attacks by the natives.

Lying along the center-line of the Virginia Peninsulamarker, the location which became Williamsburg was some distance from both the James River and the York Rivermarker, the ground sloping down to the shore of each. Near Williamsburg, College Creek and Queen's Creek each fed into one of the two rivers. Between these two creeks the land area was only about 6 miles wide, much less than at other points.

The area which became Williamsburg was settled in 1638 and named Middle Plantation, after its location on the high ground about half-way across the Peninsula. The cross-peninsula defensive palisade completed in 1634 was an integral part of the creation of Middle Plantation, though its exact route is long gone. Remnants have recently been discovered by archaeologist on the Bruton Heights School property adjacent to the site of the house of Governor John Page while working on a Colonial Williamsburgmarker archaeological research project.

Jamestown was the original capital of Virginia Colony, but was burned down during the events of Bacon's Rebellion in 1676. As soon as Governor William Berkeley regained control, temporary headquarters for the government to function were established about 12 miles away on the high ground at Middle Plantation, whilst the Statehouse at Jamestown was rebuilt. The members of the House of Burgesses discovered that the 'temporary' location was both safer and more pleasant environmentally than Jamestown, which was humid and plagued with mosquitoes.

A school of higher education had long been an aspiration of the colonists. An early attempt at Henricus failed after the Indian Massacre of 1622. The location at the outskirts of the developed part of the colony had left it more vulnerable to the attack. In the 1690s, the colonists tried again to establish a school. They commissioned Reverend James Blair, who spent several years in England lobbying, and finally obtained a royal charter for the desired new school. It was to be named the College of William and Marymarker in honor of the monarchs of the time. When Reverend Blair returned to Virginia, the new school was founded in a safe place, Middle Plantation in 1693. Classes began in temporary quarters in 1694, and the College Building, a precursor to the Wren Buildingmarker, was soon under construction.

Four years later, in 1698, the rebuilt Statehouse in Jamestown burned down again, this time accidentally. The government again relocated 'temporarily' to Middle Plantation, and in addition to the better climate now also enjoyed use of the College's facilities. The College students made a presentation to the House of Burgesses, and it was agreed in 1699 that the colonial capital should be permanently moved to Middle Plantation. A village was laid out and Middle Plantation was renamed Williamsburg in honor of King William III of England, befitting the town's newly elevated status.

Capitol Building
Capitol Building, from a silver gelatin photograph, ca. 1934-1950
Following its designation as the Capital of the Colony, immediate provision was made for construction of a capitol building and for plotting out the new city according to the survey of Theodoric Bland. His design utilized the extant sites of the College and the almost-new brick Bruton Parish Churchmarker as focal points, and placed the new Capitol building opposite the College, with Duke of Gloucester Streetmarker connecting them.

Alexander Spotswood, who arrived in Virginia as lieutenant governor in 1710, had several ravines filled and streets levelled, and assisted in erecting additional College buildings, a church, and a magazine for the storage of arms. In 1722, the town of Williamsburg was granted a royal charter as a city, (now believed to be the oldest charter in the United States).

Middle Plantation was included in James City Shire when it was established in 1634, as the Colony reached a total population of approximately 5,000. (James City and the other shires in Virginia changed their names a few years later; James City Shire then became known as James City Countymarker). However, the middle ground ridge line was essentially the dividing line with Charles River Shire, which was renamed York Countymarker after King Charles I fell out of favor with the citizens of England. As Middle Plantation, and later Williamsburg developed, the boundaries were adjusted slightly. For most of the colonial period, the border between the two counties ran down the center of Duke of Gloucester Streetmarker. During this time, and for almost 100 years after formation of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States, despite practical complications, the town remained divided between the two counties.

Williamsburg was the site of the first attempted canal in the United States. In 1771, Lord Dunmore, who would turn out to be Virginia's last Royal Governor, announced plans to connect Archer's Creek, which leads to the James River with Queen's Creek, leading to the York Rivermarker. It would have formed a water route across the Virginia Peninsulamarker, but was not completed. Remains of this canal are visible at the rear of the grounds behind the Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburgmarker.

The first purpose-built psychiatric hospital in the United Statesmarker was founded in the city in the 1770s: 'Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds'. Known in modern times as Eastern State Hospital, it was established by Act of the Virginia colonial legislaturemarker on June 4, 1770. The Act to 'Make Provision for the Support and Maintenance of Ideots, Lunaticks, and other Persons of unsound Minds' authorized the House of Burgesses to appoint a fifteen-man Court Of Directors to oversee the future hospital’s operations and admissions. In 1771, contractor Benjamin Powell constructed a two-story building on Francis Street near the College, capable of housing twenty-four patients. The design of the grounds included 'yards for patients to walk and take the Air in' as well as provisions for a fence to keep the patients out of the nearby town.

The Gunpowder Incidentmarker began in April 1775 as a dispute between Governor Dunmore and Virginia colonists over gunpowder stored in the Williamsburg magazine. Dunmore, fearing rebellion, ordered royal marines to seize gunpowder from the magazine. Virginia militia led by Patrick Henry responded to the 'theft' and marched on Williamsburg. A standoff ensued, with Dunmore threatening to destroy the city if attacked by the militia. The dispute was resolved when payment for the powder was arranged. This was an important precursor in the run-up to the American Revolution

Following the Declaration of Independence from Britain, the American Revolutionary War broke out in 1776. During the War, the capital of Virginia was moved again, in 1780, this time to Richmondmarker at the urging of then-Governor Thomas Jefferson, who feared Williamsburg's location made it vulnerable to a Britishmarker attack. However, during the Revolutionary War Williamsburg retained its status as a venue for many important conventions.

Having lost the Capitol from 1780, Williamsburg was reduced in prominence, although not to the degree Jamestown had previously experienced. Another factor was travel: 18th and early 19th century transportation in the Colony was largely by canals and navigable rivers. As it had been built on 'high ground' Williamsburg was not sited on a major water route, unlike many early communities in the United States. The railroad which began to be built from the 1830s also did not come through the city.

Despite the loss of the business activity involved in Government, the Williamsburg College continued and expanded, as did the Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds, with the latter becoming known as Eastern State Hospital.

At the outset of the American Civil War (1861–1865), enlistments in the Confederate Army depleted the student body of the College of William and Mary and on May 10, 1861 the faculty voted to close the College for the duration of the conflict. The College Buildingmarker was used as a Confederate barracks and later as a hospital, first by Confederate and later by Union forces.

The Williamsburg area saw combat in the spring of 1862 during the Peninsula Campaign, an effort to take Richmond from the east from a base at Fort Monroemarker. Throughout late 1861 and early 1862, the small contingent of Confederate defenders was known as the Army of the Peninsula, and led by General John B. Magruder. He successfully created ruses which fooled the invaders as to the size and strength of his forces, and deterred their attack. Their subsequent slow movement up the Peninsula gained valuable time for defenses to be constructed at the Confederate capital at Richmond.

In early May 1862, after holding the Union troops off for over a month, the defenders withdrew quietly from the Warwick Line (stretching across the Peninsula between Yorktownmarker and Mulberry Island). As General George McClellan's Union forces crept up the Peninsula to pursue the retreating Confederate forces, a rear guard force led by General James Longstreet and supported by General J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry blocked their westward progression at the Williamsburg Line. This was a series of 14 redoubts east of town, with earthen Fort Magrudermarker (also known as Redoubt # 6) at the crucial junction of the two major roads leading to Williamsburg from the east. The design and construction had been overseen by Benjamin S. Ewell, the President of the College of William and Mary. He owned a farm in James City County, and had been commissioned as an officer in the Confederate Army after the College closed in 1861.

At the Battle of Williamsburgmarker on May 5, 1862 the defenders succeeded in delaying the Union forces long enough for the retreating Confederates to reach the outer defenses of Richmond.

A siege of Richmond ensued, culminating in the Seven Days Battles. McClellan's campaign failed, and as a result, the War dragged on for almost three years at great cost to lives and finances for both sides before its conclusion in April 1865. Meanwhile, on May 6, 1862 Williamsburg had fallen to the Union. The Brafferton building of the College was used for a time as quarters for the commanding officer of the Union garrison occupying the town. On September 9 that year, drunken soldiers of the 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry set fire to the College Building, allegedly to prevent Confederate snipers from using it for cover.Much damage was done to Williamsburg during the Union occupation, which lasted until September 1865.

About 20 years later, in 1881, Collis P. Huntington's Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad (C&O) built its Peninsula Extension through the area, eventually establishing six stations in Williamsburg and the surrounding area. The Peninsula Extension was good news for the farmers and merchants of the Virginia Peninsula, and they generally welcomed the railroad, which aided passenger travel and shipping. Williamsburg allowed tracks to be placed down the main street of town, Duke of Gloucester Streetmarker, and even directly through the ruins of the historic capitol building. (They were later relocated, and Collis Huntington's real estate arm, Old Dominion Land Company, eventually donated the historic site to the forerunner of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities.)

However, the main business purpose for the new railroad was unquestionably shipping eastbound West Virginiamarker bituminous coal to Newport Newsmarker. Using the new coal piers, it was loaded aboard large colliers in the harbor of Hampton Roadsmarker for shipment to New England and export destinations world wide.

Due in no small part to the tireless efforts of its president, Benjamin Stoddert Ewell, education continued at the College of William and Mary, although teaching was temporarily suspended for financial reasons from 1882 until 1886. Ewell's efforts to restore the historic school and its programs during and after Reconstruction became legendary in Williamsburg and at the College and were ultimately successful, with funding from both the U.S. Congress and the Commonwealth of Virginia. After 1886, the College became a state school. Benjamin Ewell remained in Williamsburg as President Emeritus of the College until his death in 1894.

Beginning in the 1890s, C&O land agent Carl M. Bergh, a Norwegian-American who had earlier farmed in the mid-western states, realized that the gentler climate of eastern Virginia and depressed post-Civil War land prices would be attractive to his fellow Scandinavians who were farming in other northern parts of the country. He began sending out notices, and selling land. Soon there was a substantial concentration of relocated Americans of Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish descent in the area. The location earlier known as Vaiden's Siding on the railroad just west of Williamsburg in James City Countymarker, was renamed Norge. These citizens and their descendants found the area conditions favorable as described by Bergh, and many became leading merchants, tradespersons, and farmers in the community. These transplanted Americans brought some new blood and enthusiasm to the old colonial capitol area.

Williamsburg was still a sleepy little town in the early 20th century. Some newer structures were interspersed with colonial-era buildings, but the town was much less progressive than other busier communities of similar size in Virginia. Some local lore indicates that the residents were satisfied with it that way, and longtime Virginia Peninsulamarker journalist, author and historian Parke S. Rouse Jr. has pointed this out in his published work. On June 26, 1912, the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper ran an editorial which dubbed the town 'Lotusburg' for "Tuesday was election day in Williamsburg but nobody remembered it. The clerk forgot to wake the electoral board, the electoral board could not arouse itself long enough to have the ballots printed, the candidates forgot they were running, the voters forgot they were alive."

However, even if such complacency existed, a dream of one Episcopalian priest was to expand and change Williamsburg's future thus providing it a new major purpose, turning much of it into a massive living museum. In the early 20th century, one of the largest historic restorations ever undertaken in the US was championed by the Reverend Dr W.A.R. Goodwin of Williamsburg's Bruton Parish Churchmarker. Initially, Dr Goodwin had just aimed to save his historic church building. This he accomplished by 1907, in time for the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Episcopal Church in Virginia. However, upon returning to Williamsburg in 1923 after serving a number of years in upstate New Yorkmarker, he realized that many of the other colonial-era buildings which remained were also in deteriorating condition: their survival was at stake.

Goodwin dreamed of a much larger restoration along the lines of what he had accomplished with his historic church. A cleric of modest means, he sought support and financing from a number of sources before successfully attracting the interest and major financial support of Standard Oil heir and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and his wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. Their combined efforts created Colonial Williamsburgmarker, involving restoration of much of the downtown Williamsburg area and the creation of a 301-acre Historic Area, celebrating the patriots and the early history of America.

Today, Colonial Williamsburg is Virginia's largest tourist attraction (based upon attendance) and is the cornerstone of the Historic Triangle with Jamestown and Yorktownmarker joined by the Colonial Parkwaymarker. In the 21st century, Williamsburg has continued to update and refine its attractions. There are more features designed to attract modern children and to offer better and additional interpretation of the African-American experience in the town. A century after Dr. Goodwin's work began, this masterpiece of Virginia and United States history remains a remarkable work-in-progress.

In addition to the Historic Area of Colonial Williamsburg, the city's railroad station was restored to become an intermodal passenger facility (see Transportation section below). Nearby in James City County, the old ca. 1908 C&O Railway combination passenger and freight station at Norge was preserved and with a donation from CSX Transportation was relocated in 2006 to a site at the Croaker Branch of the Williamsburg Regional Library. Other landmarks outside the historic area include Carter's Grove and Gunston Hallmarker.

Recent History

The third of three debates between Republican President Gerald Ford and Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter was held at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall at the College of William and Marymarker on October 22, 1976. Perhaps in tribute to the debate’s historic venue, as well as to the United States Bicentennial celebration, both candidates spoke of a "new spirit" in America.

The 9th G7 Summit was held in Williamsburg in 1983. The summit participants discussed the growing debt crisis, arms control and greater co-operation between the Soviet Unionmarker and the G7 (now the G8). At the end of the meeting, U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz read to the press a statement confirming the deployment of American Pershing II-nuclear rockets in West Germanymarker later in 1983.

On February 5, 2009, President Barack Obama took his first trip aboard Air Force One to a House Democrats retreat in the city to attend and address their “Issues Conference.”


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , of which, of it is land and of it is water. The total area is 1.50% water.

Williamsburg is spread upon a ridge on the peninsula between the James and York Rivers. Queen's Creek and College Creek (called in early days Archer's Hope Creek) partly encircle the city.

The city is located on the I-64 corridor on the Virginia Peninsulamarker, 45 miles southeast of Richmondmarker and approximately 37 miles northwest of Norfolkmarker. It is in the northwest corner of the greater Hampton Roadsmarker area, (officially known as the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA), which is the 34th largest in the United States, with a total population of 1,576,370. The area includes the Virginia cities of Norfolkmarker, Virginia Beachmarker, Chesapeakemarker, Hamptonmarker, Newport Newsmarker, Poquosonmarker, Portsmouthmarker, Suffolkmarker, Williamsburg, and the counties of Gloucestermarker, Isle of Wightmarker, James Citymarker, Mathewsmarker, Surrymarker, and Yorkmarker, as well as the North Carolinamarker county of Currituckmarker. While Virginia Beach is the most populated city within Hampton Roads, it currently functions more as a suburb. The city of Norfolkmarker is recognized as the central business district, while the Virginia Beach seaside resort district and Williamsburg are primarily centers of tourism.

Williamsburg's mild four season climate means outdoor activities can be enjoyed year round. The weather in Williamsburg is temperate and seasonal. Summers are hot and humid with cool evenings. The mean annual temperature is , with an average annual snowfall of 6 inches and an average annual rainfall of 47 inches. No measurable snow fell in 1999. The wettest seasons are the spring and summer, although rainfall is fairly constant all year round. The highest recorded temperature was on June 26, 1952 and August 22, 1983. The lowest recorded temperature was on January 21, 1985.

Adjacent counties

National protected area


Age distribution in Williamsburg
As of the census of 2000, there are 11,998 people, 3,619 households, and 1,787 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,404.1 people per square mile (542.4/km²). There are 3,880 housing units at an average density of 454.1/sq mi (175.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city is 79.54% White, 13.34% Black or African American, 0.27% Native American, 4.58% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.75% from other races, and 1.47% from two or more races. 2.52% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 3,619 households out of which 16.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.2% are married couples living together, 9.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 50.6% are non-families. 35.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 11.4% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.07 and the average family size is 2.66.

The age distribution, which is heavily influenced by the College of William and Marymarker, is: 9.6% under the age of 18, 46.0% from 18 to 24, 17.7% from 25 to 44, 15.0% from 45 to 64, and 11.7% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 23 years. For every 100 females there are 81.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 80.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $37,093, and the median income for a family is $52,358. Males have a median income of $28,625 versus $26,840 for females. The per capita income for the city is $18,483. 18.3% of the population and 9.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 29.7% of those under the age of 18 and 5.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Williamsburg is notable for the fact that a high proportion of city residents derive a significant percentage of their annual income from investment sources, either in addition to or in lieu of income from work. This is because many retirees relocate to Williamsburg, who typically draw income from investments such as 401 plans and the like (see also retirement community).


The tourist volume of Colonial Williamsburg has attracted many other related businesses to the area. Notable among these was Anheuser-Buschmarker, which established large operations in James City Countymarker and York Countymarker just outside the city. The company operates a large brewery there, and a subsidiary of the company operates two of its theme park near the brewery, Busch Gardens Europemarker, and Water Country USAmarker. Anheuser-Busch's subsidiary Busch Properties also operates a commerce park, McLaw's Circle, and Kingsmill on the James a gated residential neighborhood that contains a resort of the same name.


As with most of Virginia (the Northern Virginia/Washington D.C. metro area being the notable exception), Williamsburg is most often associated with the larger American South. People who have grown up in the Hampton Roadsmarker area have a unique Tidewater accent which sounds different than a stereotypical Southern accent. Vowels have a longer pronunciation than in a regular southern accent. For example, "house" is pronounced "hoose" in the Tidewater accent.

Williamsburg is perhaps best known for its tourist and historical points of interest, the centerpiece of which is Colonial Williamsburgmarker, which is essentially a living history museum, depicting the lifestyles and culture of the 18th century colonial period in American history. Major points of interest in this historic district include the Virginia's first capitol buildingmarker, the Governor's Palace, Bruton Parish Churchmarker (the oldest continually-operating church in the United Statesmarker), and the College of William and Marymarker.

Other highlights in the city include The Williamsburg Winery (Virginiamarker's largest winery), the Williamsburg Botanical Garden, and the National Center for State Courts. Also located in Williamsburg are two major theme parks, Busch Gardens Europemarker and Water Country USAmarker, as well as Go-Karts Plusmarker action park and 2 miniature golf courses. The enormous 200-acre Williamsburg Pottery Factory shopping complex visited by 3 million people annually is located at nearby Lightfoot, VA. High-quality artistic and ornamental items are sold at the Market Square shops adjacent to the colonial area, and at many stores on Richmond Road, including 3 "Christmas shops". Richmond Road also has an outlet shopping center of various discounted famous name brand apparels. President's Park is a new educational attraction displaying outdoor statue heads of all 43 Presidents, each one accompanied by a descriptive biographical plaque.


The major daily newspaper in Williamsburg is Williamsburg Yorktown Daily at The Daily Press, published in nearby Newport Newsmarker, covers some local stories as well. The Virginia Gazette is a bi-weekly, local newspaper, published in Williamsburg, and is the first newspaper paper to be published south of the Potomac River, starting in 1736. Its publisher was William Parks, who had similar ventures in Maryland.

The College of William & Marymarker has two student newspapers; the student fee supported campus newspaper is The Flat Hat while the independent campus newspaper is The Virginia Informer. William & Mary students produce many other publications and run their own radio station, WCWMmarker. Hampton Roads Magazine serves as a bi-monthly regional magazine for Williamsburg and the Hampton Roads area. Williamsburg is served by a variety of radio stations on the AM and FM dials, with towers located around the Hampton Roads area.

Williamsburg is served by the Norfolkmarker-Portsmouthmarker-Newport Newsmarker designated market area (DMA), which is the forty-second largest in the U.S. with 712,790 homes (0.64% of the total U.S.).


The "city" which Williamsburg became in 1722 had portions located in both James City and York County. In 1870, the Virginia General Assemblymarker changed the boundaries so that it was entirely within James City County. The new state constitution which took effect that year also created the political entity known as an independent city, which is not located in any county. Williamsburg subsequently met the requirements and changed to that status, continuing to share a joint court system. The city also operates a joint school division with James City County, under voluntary agreement which leaders revisit at planned intervals.

Williamsburg, as an independent city, has operated under the council-manager form of government since 1932. The governing body is composed of public-spirited citizens serving on a part-time basis to decide major policy issues. The Mayor is elected by the city council, and presides over council meetings and served as the Chief Elected Official for the city. The city council consists of five members that serve staggered, four-year terms. A city manager is hired by the city council, and is comparable to a corporation's chief executive officer. This person is usually a professionally-trained public administrator, who is charged with implementing the policies and directives of the city council, and has broad administrative authority with strict rules prohibiting political interference in administrative matters.

As of 2007, the current Mayor of the city of Williamsburg is Jeanne Zeidler (daughter of former Milwaukeemarker mayor Frank P. Zeidler), and the Vice Mayor is Clyde A. Haulman. Other members of the city council are Paul Freiling, Bobby Braxton, and Mickey Chohany. The current city manager is Jackson C. Tuttle.

The city shares constitutional officers, courts, and the Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools system (WJCC) with adjacent James City Countymarker, and is the county seat.

As a college town, Williamsburg's large student population has also resulted in a few conflicts with the local city government. For example, in addressing concerns of property values and noise complaints near the campus, the council has undertaken initiatives to reducestudent off-campus residential presence in the city by instituting a maximum occupancy rule of three-unrelated persons for single-family dwellings, as well as a plan to buy rental houses with taxpayer dollars and resell them with the stipulation that the new owners must occupy them. Prior to July 1, 2007, the voting registrar, David Andrews, had interpreted Virginia law to exclude a high percentage of students. He argued that students should be registered where their parents live. The new voter registrar, Win Sowder, said she is registering students as she would "any other resident of the city. If they're living in the dorms for eight months out of the year, and have an address located within the city limits on a Virginia driver's license, they're entitled to register to vote."


The public school system is jointly operated by the city of Williamsburg and James City Countymarker. The Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools system (known informally as "WJCC") consists approximately 9,000 students in 14 schools—8 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, and 3 high schools. Within the county's boundaries, the two established high schools, Lafayette and Jamestown, are considered above average institutions. A third high school, Warhill, opened in the Lightfoot area in August 2007. An eighth elementary school, named Matoaka Elementary School, also opened at that time.

James River Elementary School, located in the Grove Communitymarker in the county's southeastern end, is a magnet school. It offers the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme, one of only five such schools Virginia to do so.

For the 2001–2002 academic year, the public school system was ranked among the top five school systems in the Commonwealth of Virginiamarker and in the top 15% nationwide by Expansion Management Magazine. There are also two regional Governor's Schools in the area that serve gifted and talented students.

The city has also been the home to the College of William and Marymarker since its founding in 1693, making it America's second oldest college (behind Harvard Universitymarker). Technically a university, the College of William and Mary was also the first U.S. institution to have a Royal Charter, and the only one to have coat-of-arms from the College of Arms in London. The College campus closely adjoins the Historic Districtmarker, and the Wren Buildingmarker of the College at the head of Duke of Gloucester Street was one of the earliest restored by the efforts of Reverend Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin and the family of John D. Rockefeller Jr. as they began creating what is now commonly known as Colonial Williamsburg. Over 70% of the students of the College either work part-time or serve as volunteers in the community. Students contribute over 300,000 hours of volunteer service to the Williamsburg community annually.

Six other Universities are located within a one-hour drive of the city, including Christopher Newport Universitymarker (Newport Newsmarker), Old Dominion Universitymarker and Norfolk State Universitymarker (Norfolkmarker), Hampton Universitymarker (Hamptonmarker), Virginia Commonwealth Universitymarker (Richmondmarker), the University of Richmondmarker (Richmondmarker) and Virginia Union University (Richmondmarker).

There are also three community colleges, offering associate degrees and college transfer programs, within a twenty-five mile radius of Williamsburg: Thomas Nelson Community College, Paul D. Camp Community College, and Rappahannock Community College. A branch of Thomas Nelson Community College is located just east of the city limits in James City Countymarker.



Williamsburg is served by three airports. Newport News/Williamsburg International Airportmarker, located in Newport News, and Norfolk International Airportmarker, in Norfolk, both cater to passengers from Hampton Roads. Public bus service to Williamsburg is available through a combination of Hampton Roads Transit and Williamsburg Area Transit, requiring a transfer in the Lee Hall area. Richmond International Airportmarker provides services for Richmond area residents and is about an hour's drive away. Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport, a privately owned but public use airport provides general aviation services for personal and chartered aircraft and is located approximately three miles from downtown Williamsburg

The primary airport for the Virginia Peninsula is the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport. The Airport is experiencing a 4th year of record, double-digit growth, making it one of the fastest growing airports in the country. In January 2006, the airport reported having served 1,058,839 passengers.Norfolk International Airportmarker , serves the region. The airport is located near Chesapeake Bay, along the city limits of Norfolkmarker and Virginia Beachmarker. Seven airlines provide nonstop services to twenty five destinations. ORF had 3,703,664 passengers take off or land at its facility and 68,778,934 pounds of cargo were processed through its facilities. Richmond International Airportmarker , located in Sandstonmarker, seven miles southeast of Richmond and within an hour drive of Williamsburg. Richmond International is now served by nine airlines with over 200 daily flights provide non-stop service to major destination markets and connecting flights to destinations worldwide. A record 3.3 million passengers used Richmond International Airport in 2006, a 13% increase over 2005.

Amtrak serves Williamsburg with three trains a day stopping at the Amtrak Stationmarker. The line runs west along the Virginia Peninsulamarker to Richmondmarker and points beyond. A high speed rail connection at Richmond to both the Northeast Corridor and the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor are also under study.

Williamsburg is located adjacent to Interstate 64 which parallels U.S. Route 60 and runs east-west in the area. State Route 199, officially named the Humelsine Parkway (after former Colonial Williamsburg President Carl Humelsine), surrounds the city in a semicircle. State Route 5 links the city with the James River Plantations along the north shore of the James River, Interstate 295 and Richmond. State Route 31 links the city to Jamestown and the toll-free Jamestown Ferrymarker.

The Colonial Parkwaymarker provides a bucolic low-speed link between the points of the Historic Triangle which in addition to Colonial Williamsburg, includes Jamestown and Yorktown. It passes under the "Restored Area" in a tunnel. With the exception of buses, commercial vehicles are not allowed on the Parkway.

In the "restored" or Historic Area, motorized traffic is not allowed on Duke of Gloucester Street, helping visitors to gain a perspective of what life was really like transportation-wise in the colonial days (before the invention of the automobile). There are bus stops and some parking areas located conveniently nearby, however. The only exceptions to this are for residents living in the historic area, and members of Bruton Parish Church, who have limited access and parking on Sundays.

Intercity bus service is provided by Greyhound Lines (Carolina Trailways) and Hampton Roads Transit (HRT).

The center also offers several modes of local transportation. Williamsburg Area Transport (WAT) uses the center as a transfer hub for its network of handicapped accessible transit bus routes serving the city, James City Countymarker, and most portions of York Countymarker adjacent to the Williamsburg area, with hourly service 6 days a week during daytime and evening hours.

The community's public bus system, Williamsburg Area Transport (WAT), has its central hub at the transportation center. Various color-coded routes, with buses accessible to disabled persons, serve many hotels and motels, restaurants, stores, and non-CW attractions in the City of Williamsburg and much of neighboring James City Countymarker and part of York Countymarker. The system also provides paratransit services and operates replica trolley buses at the Yorktown Riverfrontmarker attraction.

WAT connects with the much larger Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) (Route 116) bus system at Lee Hallmarker in northwestern Newport News and at the Williamsburg Transportation Center (HRT Route 121). HRT routes connect to many other cities to the east in Hampton Roadsmarker and Greyhound Lines bus routes serve a nationwide network.

WAT also operates a bus line for the College of William and Marymarker and its students, faculty, and staff, connecting the central university campus with points in the city of Williamsburg and James City County, the law school campus, and various outlying dormitories and auxiliary buildings owned or operated by the university that are not contiguous with the main campus.


The Newport News Waterworks was begun as a project of Collis P. Huntington as part of the development of the lower peninsula with the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, the coal piers on the harbor of Hampton Roadsmarker, and massive shipyard which were the major sources of industrial growth which helped found nearby Newport News as a new independent city in 1896. It included initially an impingement of the Warwick River. Later expansions included more reservoirs, including one at Skiffe's Creek and another near Walker's Dammarker on the Chickahominy Rivermarker.

A regional water provider, in modern times it is owned and operated by the City of Newport News, and serves over 400,000 people in the cities of Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, and portions of York County and James City County.

The City provides wastewater services for residents and transports wastewater to the regional Hampton Roads Sanitation District treatment plants.

See also


  2. Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society
  3. Benjamin Stoddert Ewell (1810 - 1894) - Find A Grave Memorial
  4. WPA_Guide: Colonial Williamsburg: The Corporate Town-Before
  5. Obama invited here next month
  6. Obama taking first Air Force One trip as president
  7. Obama Goes Airborne Today For First Time As President
  8. Williamsburg Pottery
  9. Williamsburg Winery
  10. the Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia)
  11. History of the Virginia Gazette
  12. Holmes, Gary. " Nielsen Reports 1.1% increase in U.S. Television Households for the 2006–2007 Season." Nielsen Media Research. August 23, 2006. Retrieved on February 20, 2007.
  13. Williamsburg City Manager
  14. Williamsburg City Council
  15. Williamsburg-James City Courthouse
  16. " About James River." James River Elementary School. Retrieved on February 24, 2007.
  17. Christopher Newport University
  18. University of Richmond
  19. Old Dominion University
  20. Norfolk State University
  21. Hampton University
  22. Virginia Union University
  23. About Us Richmond International Airport
  24. Colonial National Historical Park website
  25. Duke of Gloucester Street
  26. Williamsburg Transportation Center
  27. Williamsburg Area Transport
  28. Route 121 Hampton Roads Transit
  29. Green/Gold Lines Williamsburg Area Transport
  30. Waterworks — City of Newport News

  • McCartney, Martha W. (1977) James City County: Keystone of the Commonwealth; James City County, Virginia; Donning and Company; ISBN 0-89865-999-X

External links

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