Roanoke

City of Roanoke, from the overlook at Mill Mountain
City of Roanoke, from the overlook at Mill Mountain

Roanoke was originally known as Big Lick, due to the salt in the natural springs that attracted animals in the colonial era. Dr. Thomas Walker visited it in 1750, on the way to crossing Cumberland Gap:1

March 15th. We went to the great Lick on A Branch of the Staunton and bought Corn of Michael Campbell for our horses. This Lick has been one of the best places for Game in these parts and would have been of much greater advantage to the Inhabitants than it has been if the Hunters had not killed the Buffaloes for diversion, and the Elks and Deer for their skins.

Big Lick in 1859, on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad
Big Lick in 1859, on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad
Source: Library of Congress, A map of the state of Virginia (by Lewis Von Buchholtz, L. V., Herman Böÿe, Benjamin Tanner, 1859)

The town of Roanoke was chartered by the General Assembly on February 3, 1882. The railroad junction linking the Shenandoah Valley Railroad and the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad was completed on June 18, 1882. To maintain the coal trains going to and from Norfolk, the railroad built the Roanoke Shops. The high pay for skilled workers and steady employment opportunities attracted people.

Roanoke became known as the Magic City because it was "the fastest growing urban area in the South from 1880 to 1890."2

three sets of Norfolk and Western tracks converged in Roanoke
three sets of Norfolk and Western tracks converged in Roanoke
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online

When Roanoke celebrated its tenth anniversary, local officials made clear how significant they considered the railroad's decision on where to build the connection to the creation of the town, by holding the event on June 18, 1892.3

Moving Norfolk Southern Jobs From Roanoke to Norfolk... and Beyond

Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport

the Roanoke area has a rich history, though the city was not created until 1882
the Roanoke area has a rich history, though the city was not created until 1882
Source: Wordcloud from Roanoke Virginia's Rich History

in 1937, redlining by the Home Owners' Loan Corporation restricted mortgage financing in neighborhoods with a significant percentage of non-white residents
in 1937, "redlining" by the Home Owners' Loan Corporation restricted mortgage financing in neighborhoods with a significant percentage of non-white residents
Source: University of Richmond, Mapping Inequality- Redlining in New Deal America

Big Lick station on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, 1856
Big Lick station on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, 1856
Source: Library of Congress, W.W. Blackford map, Map & profile of the Virginia & Tennessee Rail Road

Taubman Art Museum
Taubman Art Museum
why it is called the Blue Ridge
why it is called the Blue Ridge
downtown Roanoke
downtown Roanoke
downtown - from rail to museums
downtown - from rail to museums
Norfolk and Western office buildings
Norfolk and Western office buildings
City Market (2008, before restoration)
City Market (2008, before restoration)
Center in the Square (2008)
Center in the Square (2008)
Roanoke was an industrial center
Roanoke was an industrial center
(click on images for larger pictures)

downtown Roanoke fire station on Church Street
downtown Roanoke fire station on Church Street

rehab project in downtown Roanoke
rehab project in downtown Roanoke

murals in downtown Roanoke
murals in downtown Roanoke

transit in downtown Roanoke
transit in downtown Roanoke

the 21-story Dominion Tower (now Wells Fargo Tower) was completed in 1991
the 21-story Dominion Tower (now Wells Fargo Tower) was completed in 1991

the 12-story building now occupied by American National was completed in 1927
the 12-story building now occupied by American National was completed in 1927

the Amtrak platform in Roanoke
the Amtrak platform in Roanoke
the Amtrak platform in Roanoke

Links

References

1. Doctor Thomas Walker's Journal (6 Mar 1749/50 - 13 Jul 1750) - A Record of His Travels in Present-day Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky www.tngenweb.org/tnland/squabble/walker.html#5 (last checked April 3, 2004)
2. Rand Dotson "'Magic City' - Class, Community, And Reform In Roanoke, Virginia, 1882-1912," PhD thesis, Louisiana State University, December 2003, http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.697.3662&rep=rep1&type=pdf (last checked December 25, 2017)
3. Peter Wallenstein, Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History, University Press of Kansas, 2007, p.245, https://books.google.com/books/about/Cradle_of_America.html?id=mGd5AAAAMAAJ (last checked December 25, 2017)

Roanoke Machine Works in 1891
Roanoke Machine Works in 1891
Source: Library of Congress, Perspective map of the city of Roanoke, Va. 1891

original Hotel Roanoke in 1891, overlooking Norfolk and Western train depot
original Hotel Roanoke in 1891, overlooking Norfolk and Western train depot
Source: Library of Congress, Perspective map of the city of Roanoke, Va. 1891


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