Roanoke, Virginia, a city in the western part of the state, independent of any county. It is on the Roanoke River in the Valley of Virginia, just west of the Blue Ridge. Salem adjoins Roanoke to the west. Roanoke is the commercial, industrial, transportation, and health-care center of western Virginia.
Manufactured in Roanoke are a wide variety of metal products, from tin cans to railway cars and structural steel. Other products include processed foods, furniture, textiles, and clothing. Roanoke is the headquarters of the Norfolk Southern Railway Company and has railway shops. A commercial airport and an Interstate highway serve the city.
Roanoke's chief landmark is an illuminated 100-foot (30-m) star on top of Mill Mountain. Also on Mill Mountain is a zoo. Center in the Square, a complex of buildings downtown, has a planetarium, a theater, and several museums. Nearby is the Virginia Museum of Transportation. Near Roanoke are Roanoke College and Hollins College. The Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic highway under National Park Service administration, passes just east of the city.
The first settlement was made in this area in the 1740's, but it was unsuccessful. In 1834 the village of Big Lick was founded here. It was merged with another village and incorporated as a town in 1874. With the linking up of two railway lines here in the early 1880's, the town began a period of rapid growth. The town's name was changed to Roanoke in 1882. Roanoke was incorporated as a city in 1884. It has the council-manager form of government.