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Charlottesville is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia with an estimated population of 49,181 as of July 1, 2019. [1]

The city is home to the University of Virginia which drives economic and population growth throughout the region. Charlottesville is located on 10.4 square miles of land and is completely surrounded by Albemarle County. The city is also the County seat, though it is an independent jurisdiction with a separate government.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the two jurisdictions as one of 363 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the nation. Its 2005 population of 188,016 ranked 212th in the nation. [citation needed] The MSA also includes Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene and Nelson Counties.

Charlottesville is an independent city in the U.S. state of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 43,475. It is the county seat of Albemarle County, which surrounds the city, though the two are separate legal entities. It is named after Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the queen consort of the United Kingdom. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Charlottesville with Albemarle County for statistical purposes, bringing the total population to 118,398. The city is the heart of the Charlottesville metropolitan area which includes Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene and Nelson counties. Charlottesville is best known as the home to two U.S. Presidents (Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe), and nearby is that of James Madison in Orange, as well as the home of the University of Virginia, which, along with Monticello is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Monticello, Jefferson's mountain-top home, attracts approximately half a million tourists every year. While both served as Governor of Virginia, they lived in Charlottesville and traveled to and from the capitol (Richmond, Virginia) along the 71-mile (114 km) historic Three Notch'd Road.


Charlottesville was chartered in 1762 to serve as the new county seat of Albemarle County along the Three Notch'd Road from Richmond to the Shenandoah Valley.[2] The town got its name from Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III.[3] Charlottesville incorporated as a town on January 19, 1801,[4] and incorporated as a City in 1888. Since 1871, all incorporated cities in Virginia have classified as independent cities. Charlottesville became city of second class in 1902. Charlottesville became a city of the first-class ipso facto, as of the date of the proclamation to that effect by the Governor, which was August 1, 1916.

Governor Henry Stuart issued a proclamation on August 1, 1916 declaring that Charlottesville had become a first-class in excess of 10,000 people. [5]

Early Development Patterns

The 50 acres of the originial village were laid out under a gridded town pattern. A two acre public square to the north of the grid was set aside for a courthouse and would become Court Square[6] Early development was limited because of the distance from a navigable river. The presence of several hills meant that different neighborhood developed independently of each other. Thomas Jefferson purposely distanced his 'Academical Village (the University of Virginia) away from the town center. Commercial activity to serve the university took place on what would become known as the Corner.

By the late 19th century, the city was rapidly expanding. Much of this growth was absorbed by the development of the 551-acre Belle Mont Estate into what would become the Belmont-Carlton neighborhood. [7] Workers were attracted to industrial sites such as Frank Ix & Sons. However, the rise of streetcars and then affordable automobiles as the 20th century progressed allowed for workers to have more choices about where they lived. [8]

Early 20th Century transportation and road layout

Virginia devolved road-maintenance to localities in 1929, including Charlottesville. [9]

In 1933, a plan to widen the 4th Street underpass underneath the railway was discussed by city and railway officials. On August 9, 1933, City Manager Seth Burnley decided to defer work to widen the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway railroad underpass on 4th Street to 22 feet wide. After a morning conference with railroad officials, the $21,000 expense was deemed to be too much. [10] That same summer, city officials and business leaders lobbied Richmond to route traffic at Free Bridge toward downtown rather than along a highway bypass. [11]


Charlottesville's city government is run by a City Manager who is supervised by a five member City Council. One of the councilors is selected as mayor for a two-year term. The current mayor is Nikuyah Walker. The current vice-mayor is Heather Hill. Councilors are elected every other November to four-year terms.

Tarron Richardson has been City Manager since May 2019. [12]

This city manager form of government dates back to September 1, 1922. Three councilors were elected that year followed by two more in 1923. [13] Prior to that, Charlottesville had a strong-mayor form of government with a bicameral legislature consisting of a Board of Alderman and a Common Council that began in 1916. [14] [15]

Cities are required by the Virginia Constitution to have elected governing bodies, called “councils” composed of not fewer than three nor more than eleven members. (Virginia Constitution, Article VII, §§4 and 5; Code of Virginia, §§15.2-102, 15.2-1400). Every city in Virginia has its own charter enacted by General Assembly, setting out its specific organization and powers. The current Charter of the City of Charlottesville was adopted in 1946 and has received piecemeal revisions and amendments many times through the years.

Originating in 1908 in Staunton, Virginia, the Council-Manager plan has become the most common form of government in cities with populations over 10,000, mainly in the Southeast and Pacific coast areas. [2]. The plan is modeled after the American corporation, with its shareholders (voters), board of directors (City Council) and Chief Executive Officer (City Manager). The Council-Manager plan provides for an elective council that appoints and removes the manager. The council is the policy-determining agency of the city. It passes ordinances, votes appropriations, and determines whether bonds shall be issued. After the council has made the policies, the manager executes them. The duties of the council are legislative; those of the manager are administrative.

Efficiency studies

In 2016, the city has paid the Novak Consulting Group $101,250 to conduct an efficiency study for its government structure. This comes nine years after the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service published an earlier study. The Novak work continues. [citation needed] [16] The study was requested by City Councilor Kathy Galvin. The study is intended to shape budget discussions for fiscal year 2018.

In 2020, Charlottesville awarded a $103,000 contract to the firm Gershman Brickner Bratton to study the city's recycling program. The city's program operates at an annual defect covered by the general fund. [17]

Previous reports

Main article: City Council


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Board and Commissions

Joint government organizations


John Blair is interim city manager. He oversees roughly 980 full-time equivalents spread across several departments. [18]

[citation needed]

Other staff include:

  • Letitia Shelton, deputy city manager/chief operating officer
  • Paul Oberdorfer, deputy city manager
  • John Blair, City Attorney (interim city manager as of Oct. 1, 2020). Deputy City Attorney Lisa Robertson is acting city attorney as of Oct. 1, 2020.
  • Alexander Ikefuna, Director of Neighborhood Development Services
  • Todd Brown, Director of Parks and Recreation
  • Director of Public Works (Vacant)
  • Brian Wheeler, Director of Communications
  • Chris Cullinan, Director of Finance
  • Chris Engel, Director of Economic Development
  • RaShall Brackney, Chief of Police
  • Emily Pelliccia, Interim Fire Chief. (Hezedean Smith starts Dec. 1, 2020[19])
  • Michele Vineyard, Director of Human Resources

Government association memberships

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Charlottesville's government is a member of Virginia First Cities.


Main article: List of Charlottesville Neighborhoods

Charlottesville is home to several neighborhoods, both formally defined by the planning department, and informally defined within the community.


The Department of Public Works buys water from the RWSA and the Utility Billing Office charges residents directly.

From 2010 to February 2013, the city built 4.8 miles of new sidewalk.[20]

The city maintains a list of public streets.

Legal Agreements

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Charlottesville's government is bound by legal agreements with other area governments and some notable private enterprises:


Main article: List of superlative awards

Charlottesville is repeatedly listed among "best places to live" rankings in many publications.

Authors Bert Sperling and Peter Sander selected Charlottesville as the best place to live in the United States for the year 2004 in their book Cities Ranked and Rated.[21] The Arbor Day Foundation named Charlottesville a Tree City USA in 2007.[22]

Tourist attractions

Tourism is a significant part of the Charlottesville economy, with about two million tourists visiting the area every year.[23]

Major attractions include:


  1. Web. Virginia Population Estimates, Website, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, January 30, 2020, retrieved March 14, 2020.
  2. Barrick, Ric. City's 250th Anniversary of Incorporation. Rep. Charlottesville, 2010. Web. 19 May 2010. <>.
  3. Rainville, Lynn. "LoCoHistory » Blog Archive » The Earl and the Queen." LoCoHistory. 3 Feb. 2007. Web. 21 July 2010. <>.
  4. Web. This Day in Charlottesville History, City of Charlottesville, retrieved March 14, 2012.
  5. Web. Now A City of First Class, Staff Reports, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, August 2, 1916, retrieved August 2, 2016 from University of Virginia Library. Print. August 2, 1916 page 1.
  6. Web. Charlottesville Urban Design and Affordable Housing, Kenneth A. Schwarz, Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, retrieved November 29, 2012.
  7. Web. Belmont - A History of a Neighborhood, James H. Buck Jr., Paper for James Kinard's Local History course, May 1980, retrieved July 28, 2014.
  8. Web. City of Charlottesville Strategic Investment Area Plan, Cunningham Quill, Cunningham Quill, December 13, 2013, retrieved July 28, 2014.
  9. Web. [1], Staff Reports, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, February 6, 1929, retrieved February 6, 2017 from University of Virginia Library. Print. February 6, 1929 page 3.
  10. Web. 4th Street Pass Job Deferred, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, August 11, 1933, retrieved May 5, 2019.
  11. Web. Shirley Will Hear Group About Road, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, August 11, 1933, retrieved May 5, 2019. Print. August 11, 1933 page 1.
  12. Web. Richardson details changes to city management, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, July 31, 2019, retrieved October 27, 2019.
  13. Print: McCue Bill Would Alter Election of Councilmen, Don Devore, Daily Progress, Lindsay family January 23, 1960, Page .
  14. Web. Two-Chambered City Council; Composed of Four Alderman, Eight Councilmen, Staff Reports, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, August 11, 1916, retrieved August 11, 2016 from University of Virginia Library.
  15. Print: Burrows Proposes New Bill for Vote on Annexation, , Daily Progress, Lindsay family February , 1960, Page .
  16. Web. City Council approves resolution for organizational efficiency study, Chris Suarez, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, January 19, 2016, retrieved December 27, 2016.
  17. Web. Charlottesville awards $103K contract to study recycling program, Staff reports, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, February 9, 2020, retrieved February 10, 2020. Print. February 9, 2020 page A3.
  18. Web. Councilors, public hear from city manager finalists, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises
  19. Web. Charlottesville hires new fire chief, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, Oct. 13, 2020, retrieved Oct. 16, 2020.
  20. E-mail. Angela Tucker, City of Charlottesville, Neighborhood Development Services. "quantification of sidewalks." Message to Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow. February 14, 2013.
  21. Web. Getting Oriented: Charlottesville Facts, University of Virginia School of Law, retrieved 9 July 2013.
  22. Web. City to enlist aid of 'tree advocates', Rachana Dixit, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, October 27, 2010, retrieved October 28, 2010.
  23. Web. Better Quality of Life: Thriving Tourism, City of Charlottesville, retrieved 9 July 2013.

External links