|City of Lynchburg|
The downtown Lynchburg skyline in the late 2000s
|Nickname(s): "The Hill City"; "City of Seven Hills"|
Location within the Commonwealth of Virginia
|contiguous United States of America|
|Named for||John Lynch|
|o Mayor||Joan Foster|
|o Vice Mayor||Treney Tweedy|
|o Council||Lynchburg City Council|
|o Independent city||128 km2 (49.6 sq mi)|
|o Land||127 km2 (49.1 sq mi)|
|o Water||1 km2 (0.5 sq mi)|
|Elevation||192 m (630 ft)|
|o Independent city||80,212(US: 416th)|
|o Density||594/km2 (1,539/sq mi)|
|o Urban||116,636 (US: 271st)|
|o Metro||260,320 (US: 184th)|
|o Demonym||Lynchburgian, Lynchburger|
|Time zone||EST (UTC-5)|
|o Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|ZIP code(s)||24501, 24502, 24503, 24504, 24551|
|GNIS feature ID||1479007|
Lynchburg is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 75,568. The 2016 census estimates an increase to 80,212. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the banks of the James River, Lynchburg is known as the "City of Seven Hills" or the "Hill City". In the 1860s, Lynchburg was the only major city in Virginia that was not recaptured by the U.S. before the end of the American Civil War.
Lynchburg is the principal city of the Metropolitan Statistical Area of Lynchburg, near the geographic center of Virginia. It is the fifth largest MSA in Virginia with a population of 260,320 and hosts several institutions of higher education. Other nearby cities include Roanoke, Charlottesville, and Danville.
Monacan people and other Siouan Tutelo-speaking tribes had lived in the area since at least 1270, well before English settlers arrived in Virginia. They had driven the Virginia Algonquians eastward. Explorer John Lederer visited one of the Siouan villages (Saponi) in 1670, on the Staunton River at Otter Creek, southwest of the present-day city, as did the Thomas Batts and Robert Fallam expedition in 1671. Siouans occupied the area until about 1702, when, weakened by illness, the Seneca people (who spoke an Iroquois-related language) and hunted along the Shenandoah valley to the West conquered them. Beginning in 1718, certain Iroquois ceded control to the Colony of Virginia, as later did others at the Treaty of Albany in 1721 and Treaty of Lancaster in 1744.
First settled in 1757, Lynchburg was named for its founder, John Lynch. While about 17 years old, he started a ferry service at a ford across the James River to carry traffic to and from New London, where his parents had settled. The "City of Seven Hills" quickly developed along the hills surrounding Lynch's Ferry.
In 1786, Virginia's General Assembly in 1786 recognized Lynchburg, the settlement by Lynch's Ferry on the James River. The James River Company had been incorporated the previous year (and President George Washington given stock, which he donated to charity) in order to "improve" the river down to Richmond, which was then growing and became the new Commonwealth's capitol. Shallow-draft James River bateau provided a relatively easy means of transportation through Lynchburg down to Richmond and eventually the Atlantic Ocean (although rocks, downed trees and flood debris were constant hazards, so their removal became expensive ongoing maintenance and led to construction of a canal and towpath). Lynchburg became a tobacco trading, then commercial, and much later an industrial center. By 1812, U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall, who lived in Richmond, reported on the navigation difficulties and construction problems on the canal and towpath.
The General Assembly recognized the settlement's growth by incorporating Lynchburg as a town in 1805 and as a city in 1852. In between, Lynch built Lynchburg's first bridge across the James River, a toll structure which replaced his ferry in 1812. A toll turnpike to Salem, Virginia was begun in 1817. Lynch died in 1820 and was buried beside his mother in the graveyard of the South River Friends Meetinghouse, although Quakers soon abandoned the town because of their opposition to slaveholding. Presbyterians restored their meetinghouse as a church, and it is now a historic site.
To avoid the many visitors at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson in 1806 built a home near Lynchburg, called Poplar Forest. He often visited the town, noting, "Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be useful to the town of Lynchburg. I consider it as the most interesting spot in the state." In 1810, Jefferson wrote, "Lynchburg is perhaps the most rising place in the U.S.... It ranks now next to Richmond in importance...."
Early Lynchburg was not known for religiosity, although the Church of England supposedly built a log church in 1765. In 1804, evangelist Lorenzo Dow wrote: "...where I spoke in the open air in what I conceived to be the seat of Satan's Kingdom. Lynchburg was a deadly place for the worship of God'." That referred to the lack of churches, which was corrected the following year. Itinerant Methodist Francis Asbury visited the town; Methodists built its first church in 1805; and it hosted the last Virginia Methodist Conference that bishop Asbury attended (February 20, 1815). Nonetheless, as Lynchburg's citizens and visitors grew wealthier, prostitution and other "rowdy" activities became quite common and often ignored, if not accepted, particularly in a downtown area referred to as the "Buzzard's Roost." Also, pro-slavery Methodist preacher and later bishop John Early became one of Lynchburg's civic leaders.
On December 3, 1840, the James River and Kanawha Canal from Richmond reached Lynchburg. It extended as far as Buchanan, Virginia in 1851, but never reached a tributary of the Ohio River as planned. Lynchburg's population exceeded 6,000 by 1840, and a water works system was built. However, floods in 1842 and 1847 wreaked havoc with the canal and towpath. Although both were repaired, because Virginia's General Assembly continued to refuse to fund a railroad to replace it, civic boosters began selling subscriptions for the Lynchburg and Tennessee Railroad the next year.
By the 1850s, Lynchburg (along with New Bedford, Massachusetts) was among the richest towns per capita in the US. Tobacco (including the manufacture of plug tobacco in factories using rented slave labor), slave-trading, general commerce, and iron and steel powered the economy.
Railroads had become the wave of the future. Construction on the new Lynchburg and Tennessee railroad had begun in 1850 and a locomotive tested the track in 1852. However, a locomotive called the "Lynchburg" blew up in Forest, Virginia (near Poplar Forest) later that year, illustrating the new technology's dangers. Nonetheless, by the Civil War discussed below, three more railroads, including the South Side Railroad from Petersburg, the Orange and Alexandria Railroad (connecting to both Richmond and Washington) and the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad stopped in Lynchburg.
In June 1864, Union forces of General David Hunter approached within 1-mile (1.6 km) as they drove south from the Shenandoah Valley. Confederate troops under General John McCausland harassed them. Meanwhile, the city's defenders hastily erected breastworks on Amherst Heights. Defenders were led by General John C. Breckinridge, who was an invalid from wounds received at the Battle of Cold Harbor. Union General Philip Sheridan appeared headed for Lynchburg on June 10, as he crossed the Chickahominy River and cut the Virginia Central Railroad. However, Confederate cavalry under General Wade Hampton, including the 2nd Virginia Cavalry from Lynchburg under General Thomas T. Munford defeated his forces at the two-day Battle of Trevillian Station in Louisa County, and they withdrew. This permitted fast-marching troops under Confederate General Jubal Early to reach within four miles of Lynchburg on June 16 and tear up the tracks of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad to inhibit Union reinforcements, while Confederate reinforcements straggled in from Charlottesville.
On June 18, 1864, in the Battle of Lynchburg, Early's combined forces, though outnumbered, repelled Union General Hunter's troops. Lynchburg's defenders had taken pains to create a false impression that the Confederate forces within the city were much larger. For example, a train was continuously run up and down the tracks while drummers played and Lynchburg citizens cheered as if reinforcements were disembarking. Local prostitutes took part in the deception, misinforming their Union clients of the large number of Confederate reinforcements. Narcissa Owen, wife of the President of the Lynchburg and Tennessee Railroad, later wrote about her similar deception of Union spies.
From April 6 to 10, 1865, Lynchburg served as the capital of Virginia. Governor William Smith and the Commonwealth's executive and legislative branches escaped to Lynchburg as Richmond surrendered on April 3. Then, Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, roughly 20-mile (32 km) east of Lynchburg, ending the Civil War. Lynchburg surrendered on April 12, to Union General Ranald S. Mackenzie. Ten days later, Confederate Brigadier General James Dearing, a native of nearby Campbell County and descendant of John Lynch wounded on April 6 at High Bridge during that Appomattox campaign, died. Mackenzie had visited his wounded friend and former West Point classmate, easing the transition of power.
The railroads which powered Lynchburg's economy were destroyed by the war's end, and its citizens deeply resented occupying forces under General J. L. Gregg. However, they worked with his affable successor General N.M. Curtis. Thomas J. Kirkpatrick became superintendent for the public education advocated by Jefferson and finally established under Virginia's Constitution of 1869, and built four new public schools. Previously, the only education for students from poor families was provided through St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
Floods in 1870 and 1877 destroyed the city's bridges (which were rebuilt) and the James River and Kanahwa Canal. That was not rebuilt, but the towpath was used by the Richmond and Allegheny Railroad, a project conceived five decades earlier. In 1881 not only was that railroad completed to Lynchburg, so was another railroad along the Shenandoah Valley. Lynchburg now had a telegraph, about 15000 residents, and a streetcar system had begun. However, Lynchburg was becoming crowded despite city limits expanded in 1874. Many citizens did not want to become a junction of that valley line and what became the Norfolk and Western Railroad, so the junction was moved to Big Lick, which later developed into the City of Roanoke.
In the latter 19th century, Lynchburg embraced manufacturing (the city being sometimes referred to as the "Pittsburgh of the South") and, per capita, again became one of the wealthiest in the United States. In 1880, Lynchburg resident James Albert Bonsack invented the first cigarette rolling machine. Shortly thereafter Dr. Charles Browne Fleet, a physician and pharmacological tinkerer, introduced the first mass marketed over-the-counter enema. By the city's centennial in 1886, banking activity had increased sixfold over the 1860 level, which some attributed to slavery's demise. Moreover, the Lynchburg Cotton Mill and Craddock-Terry Shoe Co. (which would become the largest shoe manufacturer in the south) were founded in 1888. The Reusens hydroelectric dam began in 1903 and soon delivered more power.
In 1886, Virginia Baptists founded a training school, the Lynchburg Baptist Seminary, which began to offer a college-level program to its African American students in 1900. Now named the Virginia University of Lynchburg, it is now the city's oldest institution of higher learning. Not far outside town, Randolph-Macon Woman's College and Sweet Briar College were founded in 1893 and 1901, respectively. In 1903, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) founded Lynchburg Christian College (later Lynchburg College) in what had been the Westover Hotel resort, which went bankrupt in the Panic of 1901. In the 2018/2019 year the college's name will be changed to the University of Lynchburg. Lynchburg's first public library, Jones Memorial Library, opened in 1907.
During World War I, the city's factories worked, and the area also supplied troops. The city powered through the Roaring Twenties and survived the Great Depression. Its first radio station, WLVA began in 1930 and its airport opened in 1931. In 1938 the former fairgrounds became side by side baseball and football stadiums. 
However, Lynchburg lost its battle for an interstate highway. In the late 1950s, interested citizens, including Virginia Senator Mosby G. Perrow, Jr., asked the federal government to change its long-planned route for the interstate highway now known as I-64 between Clifton Forge and Richmond. Since the 1940s, maps of the federal interstate highway system planned a northern route, missing the manufacturing centers at Lynchburg and Roanoke, but federal officials assured Virginia that the state would decide the route. Although initially favoring that northern route, Virginia's State Highway Commission eventually supported a southern route from Richmond via US-360 and US-460, which connected Lynchburg and Roanoke via US-220 from Roanoke to Clifton Forge, then continued west following US-60 into West Virginia. However, in July 1961 Governor Lindsay Almond and US Secretary of Commerce Luther Hodges announced that the route would not be changed. Thus Lynchburg became the only city with a population in excess of 50,000 (at the time) not served by an interstate.
The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded (now known as the Central Virginia Training School), is just outside Lynchburg in Madison Heights. For several decades throughout the mid-20th century, the state of Virginia authorized compulsory sterilization of the mentally retarded for the purpose of eugenics. The operations were carried out at the institution, then an estimated 8,300 Virginians were sterilized and relocated to Lynchburg, which became a "dumping ground" of sorts for the feeble-minded, poor, blind, epileptic, and those otherwise seen as genetically "unfit"Carrie Buck, whose sterilization the United States Supreme Court authorized in Buck v. Bell, was classified as "feeble-minded" and sterilized while a patient at that institution.
Sterilizations were carried out for 35 years until 1972, when operations were finally halted. Later in the late 1970s, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action lawsuit against the state of Virginia on behalf of the sterilization victims. Victims received formal apologies and counseling if they chose, but the judiciary denied requests for reverse sterilization operations. In 1994, Buck's sterilization and litigation became a television drama, Against Her Will: The Carrie Buck Story. The Manic Street Preachers also address the issue in their song "Virginia State Epileptic Colony" on their 2009 album Journal For Plague Lovers.
Lynchburg now has ten recognized historic districts, four of them in the downtown residential area. Since 1971, 40 buildings have also been individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Especially since 2002, downtown Lynchburg has experienced significant revitalization, with hundreds of new loft apartments created through adaptive reuse of historic warehouses and mills. Since 2000, downtown has attracted private investments of more than $110 million and business activity increased by 205% from 2004 to 2014. In 2014, 75 new apartments were added to downtown, with 155 further units under construction increasing the number of housing units downtown by 48% from 2010 to 2014.
In 2015, the $5.8 million Lower Bluffwalk pedestrian street zone opened. Notable projects underway in downtown by the end of 2015 include the $25 million Hilton Curio branded Virginian Hotel restoration project, $16.6 million restoration of the Academy Center of the Arts, and $4.6 million expansion of Amazement Square Children's Museum.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 49.6 square miles (128.5 km2), of which 49.2 square miles (127.4 km2) is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2) (1.0%) is water.
Lynchburg has a four-season humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), with cool winters and hot, humid summers. The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 35.1 °F (1.7 °C) in January to 75.3 °F (24.1 °C) in July. Nights tend to be significantly cooler than days throughout much of the year due in part to the moderate elevation. In a typical year, there are 26 days with a high temperature 90 °F (32 °C) or above, and 7.5 days with a high of 32 °F (0 °C) or below. Snowfall averages 12.9 inches (33 cm) per season but this amount varies highly with each winter; the snowiest winter is 1995-96 with 56.8 in (144 cm) of snow, but the following winter recorded only trace amounts, the least on record.
Temperature extremes range from 106 °F (41 °C), recorded on July 10, 1936, down to -11 °F (-24 °C), recorded on February 20, 2015. However, several decades may pass between 100 °F (38 °C) and 0 °F (-18 °C) readings, with the last such occurrences being July 8, 2012 and February 20, 2015, respectively.
|Climate data for Lynchburg, Virginia (Lynchburg Regional Airport), 1981-2010 normals, extremes 1893-present[a]|
|Record high °F (°C)||80
|Average high °F (°C)||45.4
|Average low °F (°C)||24.8
|Record low °F (°C)||-10
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.14
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||4.5
|Average precipitation days||9.2||9.4||10.6||10.0||12.3||10.0||11.7||9.4||8.3||7.1||8.3||9.6||115.9|
|Average snowy days||2.0||2.0||1.0||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.1||1.3||6.5|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||167.0||168.2||221.7||243.7||272.3||287.5||273.4||256.6||226.5||215.4||169.6||155.9||2,657.8|
|Percent possible sunshine||54||56||60||62||62||65||61||61||61||62||55||52||60|
|Source: NOAA (sun 1961-1990)|
As of the 2010 census, there were 75,568 people, 25,477 households, and 31,992 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,321.5 people per square mile (510.2/km²). There were 27,640 housing units at an average density of 559.6 per square mile (216.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 63.0% White, 29.3% African American, 0.2% Native American, 2.5% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.63% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.0% of the population.
There were 25,477 households out of which 27.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.6% were married couples living together, 16.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.8% were non-families. 32.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.92.
The age distribution of the city had: 22.1% under the age of 18, 15.5% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 84.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $32,234, and the median income for a family was $40,844. Males had a median income of $31,390 versus $22,431 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,263. About 12.3% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.4% of those under age 18 and 10.7% of those age 65 or over.
Lynchburg ranks below the 2006 median annual household income for the U.S. as a whole, which was $48,200, according to the US Census Bureau.
The city's population was stable for 25+ years: in 2006, it was 67,720; in 2000, it was 65,269; in 1990, it was 66,049; in 1980, it was 66,743.
In 2009 almost 27% of Lynchburg children lived in poverty. The state average that year was 14 percent.
Lynchburg features a skilled labor force, low unemployment rate, and below average cost of living. Of Virginia's larger metro areas, Forbes Magazine ranked Lynchburg the 5th best place in Virginia for business in 2006, with Virginia being the best state in the country for business. Only 6 places in Virginia were surveyed and most of Virginia's cities were grouped together by Forbes as "Northern Virginia". Lynchburg achieved the rank of 109th in the whole nation in the same survey.
Industries within the Lynchburg MSA include nuclear technology, pharmaceuticals and material handling. A diversity of small businesses with the region has helped maintain a stable economy and minimized the downturns of the national economy. Reaching as high as 1st place (tied) in 2007, Lynchburg has been within the Top 10 Digital Cities survey for its population since the survey's inception in 2004.
According to Lynchburg's 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top private employers in the city are:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|3||BWX Technologies, Inc.||2,800|
|6||Lynchburg City Public Schools||1,381|
|7||City of Lynchburg||1,183|
The city is served by the Lynchburg City Public Schools. The school board is appointed by the Lynchburg City Council.
The city is also home to a number of religious and non-religious private schools, including Appomattox Christian Academy, Desmond T Doss Christian Academy, Holy Cross Regional Catholic School, James River Day School, Liberty Christian Academy, New Covenant Classical Christian School, Temple Christian School, Virginia Episcopal School, and New Vistas School.
Lynchburg is also home to the Central Virginia Governor's School for Science and Technology located in Heritage High School. This magnet school consists of juniors and seniors selected from each of the Lynchburg area high schools. As one of eighteen Governor's Schools in Virginia, the Central Virginia Governor's School focuses on infusing technology into both the math and science curriculum.
Further education options include a number of surrounding county public school systems.
The GLTC has selected a property directly across from Lynchburg-Kemper Street Station as its top choice of sites upon which to build the new transfer center for their network of public buses. They are interested in facilitating intermodal connections between GLTC buses and the intercity bus and rail services which operate from that location. The project is awaiting final government approval and funding, and is expected to be completed around 2013.
Intercity passenger rail and bus services are based out of Kemper Street Station, a historic, three-story train station recently restored and converted by the city of Lynchburg to serve as an intermodal hub for the community. The station is located at 825 Kemper Street.
Greyhound Lines located their bus terminal in the main floor of Kemper Street Station following its 2002 restoration. Greyhound offers transport to other cities throughout Virginia, the US, Canada, and Mexico.
Amtrak's long distance Crescent and a Northeast Regional connect Lynchburg with Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Charlotte, Atlanta, Birmingham, New Orleans and intermediate points.
In October 2009, Lynchburg became the southern terminus for a Northeast Regional that previously had overnighted in Washington. The forecast ridership was 51,000 for the 180-mile extension's first year, but the actual count was triple that estimate, and the train paid for itself without any subsidy. By FY 2015, the Regional had 190,000 riders. The Lynchburg station alone served a total of 85,000 riders in 2015. It is located in the track level ground floor of Kemper Street Station.
Lynchburg has two major freight railroads. It is the crossroads of two Norfolk Southern lines. One is the former mainline of the Southern Railway, upon which Kemper Street Station is situated. NS has a classification yard located next to the shopping mall. Various yard jobs can be seen. Railfans who wish to visit the NS Lynchburg yard are advised to inquire with an NS official. CSX Transportation also has a line through the city and a small yard.
Lynchburg Regional Airport is solely served by American Eagle to Charlotte. American Eagle, a subsidiary of American Airlines, is the only current scheduled airline service provider, with seven daily arrivals and departures. In recent years air travel has increased with 157,517 passengers flying in and out of the airport in 2012, representing 78% of the total aircraft load factor for that time period.
Primary roadways include U.S. Route 29, U.S. Route 501, U.S. Route 221, running north-south, and U.S. Highway 460 (Richmond Highway), running east-west. While not served by an interstate, parts of Route 29 have been upgraded to interstate standards and significant improvements have been made to Highway 460 in the immediate vicinity to Lynchburg and suburban areas.
In a Forbes magazine survey, Lynchburg ranked 189 for cultural and leisure out of 200 cities surveyed.
The following attractions are located within the Lynchburg MSA:
Lynchburg is home to sporting events and organizations including:
The first neighborhoods of Lynchburg developed upon seven hills adjacent to the original ferry landing. These neighborhoods include:
Other major neighborhoods include Boonsboro, Trents Ferry, Rivermont, Fairview Heights (Campbell Ave corridor), Jackson Heights, Federal Hill (Federal Street, Jackson Street, Harrison Street) Fort Hill, Forest Hill (Old Forest Rd. Area), Timberlake, Windsor Hills, Sandusky, Linkhorne, and Wyndhurst.
Notable residents of Lynchburg include:
|2016||50.4% 17,982||41.5% 14,792||8.1% 2,883|
|2012||54.3% 19,806||43.8% 15,948||1.9% 694|
|2008||51.4% 17,638||47.4% 16,269||1.3% 434|
|2004||54.7% 14,400||44.5% 11,727||0.8% 213|
|2000||53.3% 12,518||44.1% 10,374||2.6% 614|
|1996||49.7% 11,441||44.7% 10,281||5.6% 1,290|
|1992||50.1% 12,518||38.4% 9,587||11.5% 2,864|
|1988||64.0% 15,323||34.6% 8,279||1.4% 324|
|1984||67.4% 18,047||31.9% 8,542||0.7% 183|
|1980||62.4% 15,245||31.9% 7,783||5.7% 1,389|
|1976||61.2% 14,564||34.6% 8,227||4.3% 1,013|
|1972||74.1% 13,259||23.5% 4,208||2.4% 423|
|1968||54.3% 9,943||23.5% 4,305||22.1% 4,051|
|1964||59.7% 10,044||40.1% 6,758||0.2% 32|
|1960||59.3% 7,271||40.5% 4,961||0.2% 24|
|1956||64.8% 6,806||32.0% 3,362||3.2% 334|
|1952||64.8% 7,090||35.1% 3,848||0.1% 11|
|1948||35.2% 2,373||36.8% 2,480||28.1% 1,894|
|1944||35.7% 2,396||64.1% 4,302||0.2% 15|
|1940||29.7% 1,966||70.2% 4,656||0.1% 9|
|1936||27.0% 1,373||72.6% 3,697||0.4% 22|
|1932||24.3% 1,200||74.1% 3,656||1.6% 80|
|1928||57.9% 2,730||42.1% 1,987|
|1924||21.5% 606||74.0% 2,086||4.5% 128|
|1920||22.3% 609||76.8% 2,096||1.0% 26|
|1916||19.2% 353||79.5% 1,465||1.3% 24|
|1912||6.0% 111||80.8% 1,487||13.2% 242|