Norfolk, Virginia, the second largest city in the state. It is independent of any county. Norfolk occupies a peninsula in southeastern Virginia, bounded by Chesapeake Bay, the Elizabeth River, and Hampton Roads, one of the world's finest natural harbors. The city is connected with Portsmouth, Newport News, and Hampton by bridges and tunnels. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel links it with Virginia's Eastern Shore.
Norfolk is the headquarters of the United States Atlantic Fleet and the Fifth Naval District and depends heavily on the huge naval installations here for economic prosperity. Shipbuilding and ship repairing are leading industries. Others include food-processing, printing and publishing, and the manufacturing of fertilizers and metal products. Norfolk is part of the Port of Hampton
Roads and is one of the nation's major export centers, shipping mainly tobacco, coal, and grain. The city is served by several railways, an airport, and an Interstate highway.
Although Norfolk is an old city, it has few historic structures. The most notable are the Adam Thoroughgood House (about 1650), St. Paul's Church (1739), and the Meyers House (1792). The General Douglas MacArthur Memorial contains the tomb of the general and memorabilia of his life and career. Old Dominion University is in Norfolk.
Norfolk was founded in 1682 and chartered as a borough in 1736. A Tory stronghold during the Revolutionary War, it was burned in an attack by Patriots in 1776. Norfolk grew rapidly after 1800 and was incorporated as a city in 1845. During the Civil War, Union forces occupied the city from 1862 until 1865. Modern commercial and industrial development began in the 1880's, when Norfolk became a major coal exporting center. The city's importance as a naval base was established during World War I and greatly increased during World War II.