Clockwise from top: Downtown Norfolk skyline as viewed from across the Elizabeth River, USS Wisconsin battleship museum, Ocean View Pier, The Tide light rail, ships at Naval Station Norfolk, historic homes in Ghent making it the second-most populous city in Virginia after neighboring Virginia Beach.
Norfolk is located at the core of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, named for the large natural harbor of the same name located at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay.
Norfolk developed in the late-seventeenth century as a "Half Moone" fort was constructed and 50 acres (200,000 m In 1691, a final county subdivision took place when Lower Norfolk County split to form Norfolk County (included in present-day cities of Norfolk, Chesapeake, and parts of Portsmouth) and Princess Anne County (present-day City of Virginia Beach). In 1730, a tobacco inspection site was located here.
In 1619 the Governor of the Virginia Colony, Sir George Yeardley, incorporated four jurisdictions, termed citties, for the developed portion of the colony.In part because of its merchants' numerous trading ties with other parts of the British Empire, Norfolk served as a strong base of Loyalist support during the early part of the American Revolution.After fleeing the colonial capital of Williamsburg, Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of Virginia, tried to reestablish control of the colony from Norfolk.However, by that time the increased demand from the settlement of the lower South states had created a large internal market for slavery.The invention of the cotton gin in the late-eighteenth century had made profitable the cultivation of short-staple cotton in the uplands, which was widely practiced.On New Year's Day, 1776, Lord Dunmore's fleet of three ships shelled the city of Norfolk for more than eight hours.