Steeped in history and set at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia, and neighbor to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. It's a small but cosmopolitan town with about 46,000 residents in 2007.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
- Historically a working-class section of town, the Belmont-Carlton neighborhood on the southeastern side has undergone intensive renovation and redevelopment in recent years. In addition to its traditional corner grocery stores, the area is now known for its ethnic restaurants, upscale grocery stores, and public parks. The neighborhood's hilly terrain offers enviable views of downtown Charlottesville and the surrounding area.
- Downtown features a red-brick pedestrian mall flanked by storefronts and warehouses. Trendy restaurants, boutiques, and bookstores abound in downtown Charlottesville, while renovated studio lofts attract young professionals to the vibrant downtown scene. The restored Paramount Theatre, originally a classic movie palace, offers live performances and film screenings. The Charlottesville Pavilion at the east end of the mall is a popular venue for live music. The Pavilion is also the site of Fridays After 5, a free summer concert series.
- The University Area is home to long-time local residents, UVA students, and professors. While housing is generally expensive throughout Charlottesville, home prices are particularly high near the university.
- Situated along University Avenue north of the main campus, the Corner is a popular destination for nightlife and shopping. Students and locals typically gather in this district on weekends, vying for a spot at one of the numerous cafes or bars.
- One of the city's major arteries, Barracks Road is known primarily for its upscale strip mall and several mid-range restaurants.
- The Greenbrier neighborhood on the north side features homes in a variety of styles, from colonial to split-level. Greenbrier has many long-time residents, many of whom have lived in the area since it was developed in the 1950s.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University of Virginia, or UVA, is the largest employer in the region. Other major employers include Martha Jefferson Hospital; SNL Financial; PRA International, which provides clinical research services for pharmaceutical companies; legal database research service Lexus-Nexus; Lockheed Martin; and GE Fanuc.
At one time, Charlottesville was home to three of the first five presidents of the United States: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Jefferson's legacy is best displayed in the University of Virginia. The university's famous Rotunda draws thousands of visitors annually. UVA also maintains the Bayly Art Museum, which hosts a range of exhibitions and events. Jefferson's historic estate, Monticello, is also a popular local attraction. Next door to Monticello visitors will find Ash Lawn-Highland, the former plantation of James Monroe.
In spite of its small size, Charlottesville is renowned for its cosmopolitan flair. More than two dozen family-owned vineyards, many of which offer tours and tastings, are scattered throughout the surrounding countryside. The John Paul Jones Arena, which serves the UVA basketball teams, and Scott Stadium, home of UVA football, also serve as venues for international entertainment acts.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Museum on the eastern end of the city features rotating exhibitions and community educational programs. The Virginia Discovery Museum on the Downtown Mall offers exhibits for children.
Theatre fans head downtown to Live Arts and the Play On! Theatre. The university's Heritage Repertory Theatre offers a blend of new and classic plays.
UVA is also host to the annual Virginia Film Festival, typically held during the last weekend in October. The four-day event features film screenings, lectures, and panel discussions.
Hunting, fishing, and hiking are all popular recreational pastimes in Charlottesville and the surrounding area. City residents frequently trek to nearby Shenandoah National Park to get outdoors. Other popular natural attractions include the Blue Ridge Parkway. Both feature stunning mountain vistas, and are popular destinations during the fall foliage season.
Horse enthusiasts can watch the FoxfieldRaces in April and October of each year.
A Naturalization Ceremony is held annually at Monticello on the 4th of July, and the city has sponsored a First Night celebration on the Downtown Mall since 1982.
The local sports scene is dominated by UVA men's football and basketball. UVA is also noted for a strong women's basketball team, and nationally-recognized soccer, baseball and lacrosse programs.
In addition to its trio of founding fathers, Charlottesville has been the proud of to a number of other preeminent residents. Edgar Allen Poe briefly attended UVA, and William Faulkner was the university's writer-in-residence in 1957. More recently, movie stars Sissy Spacek, Sam Shepherd and Jessica Lange, novelist John Grisham, and musician Dave Matthews have called Charlottesville home. Indeed, Matthews began his career as a bartender at Miller's, a downtown restaurant and jazz club, before forming his eponymous band.
Charlottesville AM radio stations:
- WKCI 970 News
- WINA 1070 News/Talk
- WCHV 1260 News/Talk
- WVCV 1340 Oldies
- WKAV 1400 Sports
Charlottesville's FM radio stations:
- WVTW 88.5 Public Radio
- WVTU 89.3 Public Radio
- WTJU 91.1 UVA jazz, classical, eclectic
- WUVA 92.7 Urban Contemporary
- WQMZ 95.1 Hot AC
- WWWV 97.5 Classic Rock
- WHTE 101.9 Top-40
- WSUH 102.3 Classic Hits
- WCJZ 107.5 Smooth Jazz
Charlottesville's local television stations:
- WCAV CBS
- WVIR NBC
- WHTJ/WCVE PBS
- WAHU FOX
- WVAW ABC
Newspapers serving Charlottesville include:
- Cavalier Daily, the UVA student-run paper.
- C-Ville Weekly, an independent paper with a focus on local music.
- Daily Progress, a Media General daily newspaper.
- The Hook, an independent weekly noted for investigative features.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Charlottesville was home to three of the first five presidents of the United States: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe.
- For insurance purposes, Thomas Jefferson in 1800 estimated the value of Monticello and its outbuildings at $6,300.
- Charlottesville was named in honor of Princess Charlotte, who became queen of England when she married King George III in 1761.
- Edgar Allan Poe attended the University of Virginia in 1826. It's possible he mingled with Thomas Jefferson, who often dined with students.
- The Charlottesville area has its share of celebrities, including actress Sissy Spacek, former football player Howie Long, author John Grisham and former poet laureate Rita Dove.
- In 2004, Frommer's declared Charlottesville the No. 1 City in America because of its low unemployment and crime rates, good health care, temperate climate and cultural amenities.
- Many of the area's names refer to its colonial-era past. Barracks, now a road and shopping center, was once a camp that housed British and German prisoners during the Revolutionary War.
- Charlottesville's Downtown Mall on East Main was "Three Notch'd Road" when the town officially became a city in 1888.
- According to Virginia law, you may not engage in business on Sundays; however, the law makes exceptions for nearly every industry.
- In Virginia, no animal may be hunted on Sunday with the exception of raccoons, which may be hunted until 2 a.m.
- In 1962, police radar detectors became illegal in Virginia.
- Ash Lawn-Highland, the home of former President James Monroe and his wife, Elizabeth, is now a historical museum, 535-acre working farm and performing arts site.
- The land of Jefferson Vineyards was a vineyard in Jefferson's day as well. Jefferson invested in a vineyard headed up by Italian winemaker Fillipo Mazzei.
- In the late 18th century, Charlottesville's courthouse served as a community center, house of worship and nucleus for political life.
- Newspaper accounts from June 10, 1902, asserted that there were more than 100 unmarked Confederate graves in Maplewood Cemetery.
- There are no formal paths, walkways or streets at Maplewood Cemetery, unlike most garden cemeteries today. Stones and gravesites are laid out irregularly throughout the property.
- During the Civil War, Charlottesville provided the Confederate war effort with swords, uniforms, artificial limbs and a 500-bed military hospital.
- The Charlottesville Manufacturing Co. produced uniforms during the Civil War designed especially for the Albemarle Light Horse Cavalry, including jackets for $2.75 and pants for $1.50.
- Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner became the first writer-in-residence at the University of Virginia in 1957.