Charlottesville has quickly become THE destination for many travelers. On any given weekend, you can drive around a corner of a quiet country road and see a limo, or two, carrying a bridal party or guests enjoying one of the many winery tours in our fast-growing wine region – the aptly named Monticello Wine Trail.
At one time, our little town was one of the best-kept secrets in Virginia, but we’ve been discovered, as they say, and tourists, retirees and new residents alike are flocking here to walk our Downtown Mall or visit Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home.
Good Housekeeping recently announced that Charlottesville is the Happiest City in America!
Once only known for the University of Virginia, this once sleepy area now boasts more than just natural beauty in the surrounding mountains.
Location, location, location
Charlottesville is located just east of the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia and incredible views can be spotted from anywhere around town, from Tip Top at Pantops to the rooftop terrace at Heirloom at the Graduate Hotel on the Corner, or any parking garage around town really.
As a result of eight annexations, the most recent of which was in 1968, this independent city is now 10.4 square miles. As of 2015, the population was 48,210 – UVA adds more than 20,000 students a year to that number even though the Grounds are technically considered a part of Albemarle County.
The city itself has 18 distinctive neighborhoods, from Belmont, Woolen Mills, Starr Hill and Fifeville to Rugby Road, Park Street/Locust Avenue and Greenbrier, just to name a few.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the City of Charlottesville with the County of Albemarle for statistical purposes, bringing its steadily growing total population to approximately 150,000.
Charlottesville is the heart of the Charlottesville metropolitan area, which includes Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene and Nelson counties.
A Look Back
Charlottesville was formed in 1762 by an Act of the Assembly of Albemarle County. Thomas Walker was named its first trustee. It was located along a trade route called Three Notched Road (present day U.S. Route 250) which led from Richmond to the Great Valley. It was named for Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the wife of King George III.
Many school children have heard of Paul Revere’s Ride on April 18, 1775 – thanks to the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – but some local historians can argue as well that Jack Joust’s ride was just as, if not more, important to a young country.
During the American Revolutionary War, the Convention Army was imprisoned in Charlottesville between 1779 and 1781 at the Barracks. The Governor and legislators had to temporarily abandon the capitol and on June 4, 1781, Jack Jouett warned the Virginia Legislature meeting at Monticello of an intended raid by Banastre Tarleton, allowing a narrow escape.
A Look at Albemarle County
Albemarle County has also had quite a history. At the time of European encounter, the inhabitants of the area that became Albemarle County were a Siouan-speaking tribe called the Saponi.
In 1744, the Virginia General Assembly created Albemarle County from the western portion of Goochland County, although portions of Albemarle were later carved out to create other counties.
Albemarle was named in honor of Willem Anne van Keppel, 2nd Earl of Albemarle. It was partitioned in 1761, forming Buckingham and Amherst counties, at which time the county seat was moved from the formerly central Scottsville to a piece of newly central land, christened Charlottesville.
In 1777, Albemarle County was divided and Fluvanna County established, finalizing the boundaries of modern Albemarle County at 726 square miles.
Charlottesville is the home of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory headquarters, the Leander McCormick Observatory and the CFA Institute. It’s served by two area hospitals, the now known as Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, founded in 1903 and now located near Pantops, and the University of Virginia Hospital in 1901.
The National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC) is just north of Charlottesville. Other large employers include Crutchfield, the CFA Institute, GE Intelligent Platforms, PepsiCo and SNL Financial, not to mention all the new craft breweries and recently opened wineries dotting the landscape.
Charlottesville is host to the annual Virginia Film Festival in early November, the Charlottesville Festival of the Photograph, better known for its “photos in the trees” along the Downtown Mall in the summer, and the Virginia Festival of the Book in March.
In addition, the Foxfield Races are steeplechase races held in April and September of each year. A Fourth of July celebration, including a Naturalization Ceremony, is held annually at Monticello, and a First Night celebration has been held on the Downtown Mall since 1982.
Charlottesville has four sister cities: in France – Besançon; in Bulgaria – Pleven; in Italy – Poggio a Caiano – the birthplace of Thomas Jefferson’s neighbor and friend, Filippo Mazzei; and in Ghana – Winneba.
If you’ve never visited our area before, and now that our secret is out as one of the best places to live, why don’t you consider a visit to Charlottesville soon and maybe stay for a day, or a lifetime?
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More about the Charlottesville Area
Charlottesville is a highly desirable area for several reasons and one is the rich history. Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, overlooks Charlottesville. James Monroe’s home, Ash-Lawn Highland, is within minutes of Monticello. Presidents James Madison (Madison’s home Montpelier) and Theodore Roosevelt also lived in the area which gives us a historic connection that is hard to beat. Jefferson enlisted the help of Lewis and Clark to map out the western United States from this spot. In fact, Meriwether Lewis’ home is only a few minutes from my home in Western Albemarle County.
The city of Charlottesville has around 50,000 residents and this area was recently ranked the number one place to live in the US. Charlottesville is often on lists of best places to live as we have two fantastic hospitals, low population, low crime, four seasons, incredible Blue Ridge views, award winning wineries and the quality of life we all deserve.
Music and Sports are big in Charlottesville. Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band was born and raised here. Charlottesville attracts many top performers to the area from the Rolling Stones to Loretta Lynn. Local sports legend, Howie Long has his home in the Charlottesville area and he also attended the University of Virginia. With so many young families in the area, we have baseball, soccer, polo, and lacrosse as popular sports. Well known persons like John Grisham, and actress Sissy Spacek also call Charlottesville home.
Charlottesville Homes are unique in that we have the number one public University in America – The University of Virginia. We also have UVA Hospital which is a top rated teaching hospital, award-winning Martha Jefferson Hospital and several companies that make living and working in this area a pleasure.
So homes in the Charlottesville area benefit from historic roots, exceptional hospitals, the University of Virginia, a lively music and sports scene, great restaurants, exceptional entertainment, first class shows, grand views and more. Add to that affordable housing and fantastic public schools and you can see why we are often chosen as a top place to live.
When you start your Charlottesville home search, find and work with a REALTOR®* who knows the area and works for your best interests. Start by locating the area, school and price range that fit your families needs. Enlist your Agent’s expertise in determining homes that work best for you. The internet is extremely helpful but nothing can replace a skilled buyers agent.
It would be hard to imagine a better place to live, work, raise a family and retire than the Charlottesville area.
Charlottesville in the News
If you are thinking of relocating or retiring to our area, know that Charlottesville Virginia was just ranked the Number One place to live by Yahoo Real Estate. It was also ranked the #2 Place to Retire Young by Money Mag in 2007, ranked America’s Best Place to Live by bestplaces.net in 2004 and USA Today says Mr. Jefferson would be proud!