Fredericksburg is an independent city
located in the Commonwealth
in the United States
. As of the 2010 census
, the population was 24,286,
an increase from 19,279 at the 2000 census. The city population was estimated at 29,036 in 2019.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis
of the United States Department of Commerce
combines the city of Fredericksburg with neighboring Spotsylvania County
for statistical purposes.
Fredericksburg is located south of Washington, D.C.
and north of Richmond
Located near where the Rappahannock River
crosses the Atlantic Seaboard fall line
, Fredericksburg was a prominent port in Virginia during the colonial era
. During the Civil War
, Fredericksburg, located halfway between the capitals of the opposing forces, was the site of the Battle of Fredericksburg
and Second Battle of Fredericksburg
. These battles are preserved, in part, as the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park
. More than 10,000 African-Americans
in the region left slavery
for freedom in 1862 alone, getting behind Union lines. Tourism is a major part of the economy. Approximately 1.5 million people visit the Fredericksburg area annually, including the battlefield park, the downtown visitor center, events, museums, art shops, galleries, and many historical sites.
Fredericksburg is home to several major retail and commercial centers including Central Park
(as of 2004, the second-largest mall on the East Coast
) and the Spotsylvania Towne Centre
, located in Spotsylvania County adjacent to the city. Major employers include the University of Mary Washington
(named for the Fredericksburg resident who was the mother of George Washington
), Mary Washington Healthcare, and GEICO
. Many Fredericksburg-area residents commute to work by car, bus, and rail to Washington D.C.
, as well as Fairfax
, Prince William
, and Arlington
At the time of European encounter, the indigenous inhabitants of the area that became Fredericksburg were a Siouan
-speaking tribe called the Manahoac
. English colonists recorded the name of the Manahoac village there as ''Mahaskahod''.
Siouan tribes occupied much of the area of the Piedmont. The Tidewater areas of the coastal plain had primarily Algonquian
-speaking tribes making up the Powhatan Confederacy
Located on the Rappahannock River
near the head of navigation at the fall line
, Fredericksburg developed as the frontier of colonial Virginia
shifted west from the coastal plain
into the Piedmont. The land on which the city was founded was part of a tract patented in 1671. The Virginia General Assembly
established a fort on the Rappahannock in 1676, just downriver of the present-day city. In 1714, Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood
sponsored a German settlement called Germanna
on the Rapidan River
, a tributary of the Rappahannock upstream from the future site of the city. In 1716, he led an exploratory expedition westward over the Blue Ridge Mountains
As interest in the frontier grew, the colonial assembly formed Spotsylvania County
in 1720, named after Royal Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood
. In 1728, Fredericksburg was declared a port for the county, of which it was then a part. Named for Frederick, Prince of Wales
, son of King George II
, the colonial town named its streets after the members of the royal family. The county court was moved to Fredericksburg in 1732. Hence, the community served as county seat
until 1780. The court was then moved to Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia
– closer to the geographical center of Spotsylvania County. In 1781, Fredericksburg was incorporated as a town
, with its own court, council, and mayor. It received its charter as an independent city in 1879, and under Virginia law was separated from Spotsylvania County. The city adopted its present city manager/council form of government in 1911.
The city has close associations with George Washington
, whose family in 1738 moved to Ferry Farm
in Stafford County
near the Rappahannock River opposite Fredericksburg. Washington's mother Mary
later moved to the city, and his sister Betty
lived at Kenmore
, a plantation house then outside the city. Several citizens played active roles during the American Revolution
(1763–1781). For example, a number of locals signed the Leedstown Resolves, which formed an association to protest the Stamp Act in the 1760s. In the 1770s, Fielding Lewis
, owner of Kenmore Plantation and brother-in-law to George Washington
, also operated an arms factory for the Continental Army. Other significant early residents include the Revolutionary War generals Hugh Mercer
and George Weedon
, naval war hero John Paul Jones
, and future U.S. president James Monroe
. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom
rail bridge over the Rappahannock River in 2017]]
During the 19th century, mills continued to be developed along the Rapahannock River, which provided water power. There were mills for grinding flour, processing and weaving cotton, and other manufacturing. Fredericksburg sought to maintain its sphere of trade, but with limited success. It promoted the development of a canal
on the Rappahannock and construction of a turnpike
and plank road
to bind the interior country to the market town. By 1837, a north–south railroad, which became the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad
, linked the town to Richmond, the state capital. A much-needed railroad joining the town to the West's arming region was not finished until after the Civil War.
During the Civil War
, Fredericksburg was strategically important because of its port location midway between Washington
and Richmond, the opposing capitals of the Union
and the Confederacy
. During the Battle of Fredericksburg
from December 11–15, 1862, the town sustained significant damage from bombardment and looting
by the Union forces.
During that engagement, nearly 10,000 slaves left area plantations and city households to gain freedom by crossing the Rappahannock River to Stafford County and join the Union lines, part of a movement by slaves throughout the South in wartime.
["Trail of Freedom"](_blank)
Rappahannock River Heritage Trail, University of Mary Washington blog
John Washington, a literate slave who shortly crossed to freedom, wrote later about people watching the approach of Union troops across the river from Fredericksburg: "No one could be seen on the street but the colored people. and every one of them seemed to be in the best of humors."
A Second Battle of Fredericksburg
was fought in and around the town on May 3, 1863, in connection with the Chancellorsville
campaign (April 27, 1863 – May 6, 1863). The battles of the Wilderness
and Spotsylvania Court House
were fought nearby in May 1864. The Washington Woolen Mill, a large three-story building, was converted to use as a hospital during the war.
After the war, Fredericksburg recovered its former position as a center of local trade and slowly grew beyond its prewar boundaries. Neither the city of Fredericksburg, nor either of the surrounding counties, reached the 1860 level of population again until well into the 20th century. After the war, many freedmen moved to Richmond and Petersburg
, where there had been established free black communities before the war, and there was more work.
20th century to present
In the early 20th century, as the Jim Crow
era continued in the South, there was widespread population movement. Many African-Americans left rural areas of the South for work and other opportunities in industrial cities of the North and Midwest in the Great Migration
. Some settled in Washington, D.C., where there were more opportunities, or further north.
War-related buildup at defense facilities for World War II
added to area population in the 1940s. The 1960s brought renewed growth and development, fueled by the construction of Interstate 95
, which eased commuting and trade. By the 1970s, the city and the area had become a bedroom community for jobs in Northern Virginia
and Washington, D.C.
. Headquarters agencies, lobbyists
, defense and government contractors
, and a range of other businesses were part of the regional economy influenced by the U.S. government
. The city also benefited by its relative proximity to four military installations: the United States Marine Corps
' Quantico Base
, the U.S. Army
's Fort Belvoir
, the U.S. Navy
's Dahlgren Surface Weapons Base
, and the Virginia National Guard
's Fort A.P. Hill
The University of Mary Washington
was founded in Fredericksburg in 1908 as the ''State Normal and Industrial School for Women'', to train white women for teaching K-12 and industrial skills. Adopting the name of Mary Washington College in 1938, the college was for many years associated with the University of Virginia
(then limited to white men) as a women's liberal arts college
. The college became independent of the University of Virginia
and began to accept men in 1970. In 2004, the college changed names from Mary Washington College to the University of Mary Washington. Two additional campuses for graduate and professional studies and education and research are located in Stafford County
and in King George County
Musician Link Wray
of Fredericksburg developed the power chord
of modern rock guitar in 1958 during his first improvisation of the instrumental piece "Rumble"
, a single released by Wray & His Ray Men. This innovation became widely used by rock guitarists. In the early 21st century, the local music scene includes a wide variety of genres.
A commuter rail line – the Virginia Railway Express
– was established in the 1980s, providing passage to Washington, D.C. and other cities north of Fredericksburg.
The city has become the regional healthcare center for the area. Retail, real estate, and other commercial growth exploded in the early 21st century, eventually slowing during the "Great Recession" beginning in 2007.
Geography and climate
According to the United States Census Bureau
, the city has a total area of , of which is land and , or 0.67%, is water.
The city is part of the boundary between the Piedmont
regions, and as such is located on the fall line
, as evident on the Rappahannock River
. US 1
, US 17
, and I-95
all pass through the city, which is located south of downtown Washington, D.C.
The city is bounded on the north and east by the Rappahannock River; across the river is Stafford County
. The city is bounded on the south and west by Spotsylvania County
Fredericksburg has a four-season humid subtropical climate
''Cfa''), with cool winters and hot, humid summers. Daytime temperatures for much of the year average slightly higher than in Washington, D.C. due to the southerly aspect, although the inland location and distance from the urban heat island
present in the nation's capital make for significantly cooler low temperatures.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 19,279 people, 8,102 households, and 3,925 families residing in the city. The population density
was . There were 8,888 housing units at an average density of . The racial makeup of the city was 73.18% White
, 20.41% Black
or African American
, 0.34% Native American
, 1.51% Asian
, 0.06% Pacific Islander
, 2.56% from other races
, and 1.95% from two or more races. 4.90% of the population were Hispanic
of any race.
There were 8,102 households, out of which 21.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.8% were married couples
living together, 13.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.6% were non-families. 39.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.09 and the average family size was 2.81.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 17.8% under the age of 18, 23.8% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 18.4% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 81.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $34,585, and the median income for a family was $47,148. Males had a median income of $33,641 versus $25,037 for females. The per capita income
for the city was $21,527. 15.5% of the population and 10.4% of families were below the poverty line
. Out of the total population, 19.9% of those under the age of 18 and 8.8% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
The Fredericksburg Police Department tracks crime information under the state-level system of thUniform Crime Reporting
[The Uniform Crime Reporting program was developed and is administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It provides a nationwide view of crime based on the submission of statistical data from law enforcement agencies across the country. The crime information is collected under th]
Per state code, the central repository for crime statistics rests with the Department of State Police, which compiles data from all of the participating agencies into aannual publication
By long-standing tradition (dating back to the Federal Hatch Act of 1939
, which prohibited government employees from participating in partisan politics), local elections in Fredericksburg are officially non-partisan. Neither the mayoral and council elections nor local constitutional positions (e.g. sheriff, Commissioner of Revenue, Commonwealth Attorney) list candidates with a party label.
Like the rest of Northern Virginia
, Fredericksburg has trended strongly Democratic
in the early 21st century. In the 2008 presidential election
, voters in Fredericksburg gave Barack Obama
a total of 63.6% of the vote.
Only Arlington County
, and Falls Church
in Northern Virginia had a higher percentage of votes for Obama.
No Republican presidential candidate has carried Fredericksburg since George H.W. Bush
did so in 1988
. In the 2016 presidential election
, then-candidate Donald Trump
garnered the lowest percentage of the city's vote for any Republican candidate since 1936; about two percent fewer votes were garnered in 2020
The City of Fredericksburg operates with a council-manager government
, with Mary Katherine Greenlaw as the current mayor, first elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2016 and 2020.
The following is the current makeup of City Council.
Culture and recreation
Architecture and historic sites
Despite recent decades of suburban growth, reminders of the area's past abound. The 40-block Fredericksburg Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places
, embraces the city's downtown area and contains more than 350 buildings and locations dating to the 18th and 19th centuries, including the Fredericksburg Town Hall and Market Square
, Lewis Store
, and former site of the Slave Auction Block
Church in downtown Fredericksburg was established in 1720.]]
Within the historic district, four 18th-century historic sites have been managed by the "Washington Heritage Museums": the Mary Washington House
, where George Washington's mother
lived in her final years; the late 18th-century Rising Sun Tavern
, and the Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop
(the fourth, the St. James House (built 1768), is open to the public only during Historic Garden Week
). Important public buildings include the 1852 courthouse designed by James Renwick
, whose works include the Smithsonian Institution
's castle building in Washington and St. Patrick's Cathedral
in New York City, and the 1816 town hall and market house, now operated as the Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center. Another site of interest is St. George's Church
. The James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library is located on the site where Monroe practiced law from 1786 to 1788. The museum is housed in a building made up of three individual structures, constructed at different times, beginning in 1816.
Near the historic district is the Lewis Plantation, later named Kenmore, the plantation home of George Washington's sister Betty
and her husband, Fielding Lewis
Civil War battles are commemorated in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park
. Formed by an act of Congress in 1927, the national military park preserves portions of the battlefields of Fredericksburg
, the Wilderness
, and Spotsylvania Court House
. The Fredericksburg National Cemetery
, also part of the park, was developed by the federal government after the war on Marye's Heights on the Fredericksburg battlefield. It contains more than 15,000 Union burials from the area's battlefields. Many unidentified soldiers were buried in mass graves.
Among the 10,000 slaves crossing the Rappahannock for freedom with the Union in 1862 was John Washington. A literate slave from Fredericksburg, he settled in New York and wrote an account of the wartime events several years later. His manuscript was discovered in the 1990s. It was published as the basis of two books, David W. Blight
's ''A Slave No More'' (2007), and ''John Washington's Civil War: A Slave Narrative'' (2008), edited by Crandall Shifflett. In 2010, the National Park Service, which manages the battlefield, Stafford County, and the City of Fredericksburg worked collaboratively to post new historical markers on either side of the Rappahannock River as part of a "Freedom Trail" to mark this exodus.
Notable 20th-century sites and structures include the campus of the University of Mary Washington
(begun in 1908), and Carl's Ice Cream
, an Art Moderne roadside ice cream stand, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Nearby points of interest include Ferry Farm
historic site across the Rapahannock in Stafford County
where Washington spent his boyhood, and the George Washington Birthplace National Monument
, located to the east in Westmoreland County
on the Northern Neck. The historic community of Falmouth
lies across the Rappahannock to the north and includes the historic house Belmont, home of American Impressionist artist Gari Melchers
Public parks run by the city include:
* Old Mill Park
* Alum Spring Park
* Hurkamp Park
* Dixon Park
Central Rappahannock Regional Library
Primary and secondary schools
The Fredericksburg City Public Schools are run independently of the surrounding counties. The public primary and secondary schools include:
* James Monroe High School
* Walker-Grant Middle School
* Hugh Mercer Elementary School
* Lafayette Upper Elementary School
Private schools include:
* Fredericksburg Academy
* Fredericksburg Christian School
* Saint Michael the Archangel High School
* Lighthouse Academy
The University of Mary Washington
, established in 1908 and opening in 1911, is a four-year public university within the city.
Fredericksburg's daily newspaper is ''The Free Lance–Star
''. ''The Free Lance'' was first published in 1885, and competed with two twice-weekly papers in the city during the late 19th century, the ''Fredericksburg News'' and ''The Virginia Star''. While the ''News'' folded in 1884, the ''Star'' moved to daily publication in 1893. In 1900, the two companies merged, with both newspapers continuing publication until 1926, when they merged as a single daily newspaper under the current title. Until June 19, 2014, the ''Free Lance–Star'' was owned and operated by members of the Rowe family of Fredericksburg. At that time, Sandton Capital Partners purchased the paper. On December 31, 2015 the newspaper and associated website were purchased by Berkshire Hathaway
′s BH Media Group. ''Fredericksburg.Today'', an online hyperlocal
news site began operation following the 2014 bankruptcy of ''The Free Lance–Star''.
Fredericksburg and the nearby region have several radio stations, including (on the FM
(89.5, Contemporary Christian), WPER
(90.5, Christian), WFLS
(93.3, country), WGRQ
(95.9, "SuperHits", licensed to nearby Fairview Beach), WWUZ
(96.9, classic rock, licensed to nearby Bowling Green), WVBX
(99.3, "The Vibe", rhythmic contemporary, licensed to nearby Spotsylvania), WBQB
("B-101.5", adult contemporary) and WGRX
("Thunder 104.5", country, licensed to nearby Falmouth). Fredericksburg AM
stations include WFVA
(1230, nostalgia) and WNTX
(1350, talk, news, and sports). WGRQ and WGRX are owned locally by Telemedia Broadcasting. WFLS, WWUZ, WVBX, and WYSK are owned by Alpha Media
In 2001, the Arbitron
media service began listing the Fredericksburg area as a nationally rated radio market. As of the fall of 2014, the area ranked 146th out of 272 markets surveyed, with a total market population of more than 325,000. Large broadcast companies like Clear Channel Communications
and Cumulus Broadcasting
are not active in the local market; almost all of its stations remain locally or regionally owned.
In television, Fredericksburg is part of the Washington market. One local television station, NBC
, was briefly on the air in the 1970s.
The Fredericksburg Nationals
minor league baseball team are building a new stadium in Fredericksburg
to open in April 2020.
Sports at the secondary education level are run through the Virginia High School League
. On the collegiate level are the University of Mary Washington
Eagles. Other amateur athletics include Fredericksburg FC
of the National Premier Soccer League
(NPSL); and the Rappahannock Rugby Club, a senior men's rugby club competing in Division III of the Potomac Rugby Union.
Fredericksburg is traversed by a series of rural and suburban four-lane highways and a multitude of small, two-lane roads. The primary highway serving Fredericksburg is Interstate 95
, which connects northward to Washington, D.C.
and southward to Richmond, Virginia
. Among the major arterial roads is U.S. Route 17
, providing northwest-southeast transportation across the region. Through Fredericksburg, I-95 and US 17 are concurrent, though a local business route
provides local access to downtown. Route 3 (Plank Road)
is a major east–west route that connects downtown Fredericksburg (via the Blue and Gray Parkway bypass), southern Stafford and King George counties, and Route 301
to the east with the large shopping centers, Spotsylvania Town Center and Central Park. To the west, Route 3 reaches Culpeper
, where it meets Route 29
and Route 15
, formerly of the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad
Most of Fredericksburg's traffic flow is to or from the north (Washington, D.C. metropolitan area
) during peak commuting hours, primarily via I-95 and U.S. Route 1
. The Route 1 bridge over the Rappahannock River is often a traffic bottleneck, and Route 3 has become increasingly congested as residential development grows and the location of major regional shopping centers.
As an alternative to I-95, some commuters use the Virginia Railway Express
rail service to Washington. Long-distance rail service is available on Amtrak
, which serves Fredericksburg via the ''Northeast Regional
'' and ''Carolinian
Fredericksburg Regional Transit
(FRED) is a bus service that started in 1996 in Fredericksburg and serves most area communities, retail shopping centers, two VRE stations, and downtown Fredericksburg.
Four major airports serve Fredericksburg and the surrounding area. Reagan National
and Dulles International Airport
s are to the north within Virginia. Beyond them to the northeast is Baltimore/Washington International
in Maryland, and Richmond International
is south of Fredericksburg.
:_[[Union_Army_soldiers_of_6th_Corps,_[[Army_of_the_Potomac.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Union_Army.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="American Civil War: American_Civil_War
:_[[Union_Army_soldiers_of_6th_Corps,_[[Army_of_the_Potomac">Union_Army.html"_style="text-decoration:_none;"class="mw-redirect"_title="American_Civil_War:_[[Union_Army">American_Civil_War:_[[Union_Army_soldiers_of_6th_Corps,_[[Army_of_the_Potomac,_in_trenches_before_storming_[[Battle_of_Fredericksburg#Marye's_Heights.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Union Army">American Civil War: [[Union Army soldiers of 6th Corps, [[Army of the Potomac">Union_Army.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="American Civil War: [[Union Army">American Civil War: [[Union Army soldiers of 6th Corps, [[Army of the Potomac, in trenches before storming [[Battle of Fredericksburg#Marye's Heights">Marye's Heights at the [[Second Battle of Fredericksburg]] during the Chancellorsville campaign, Virginia, May 1863 (#B-157).
[Sometimes mistakenly labeled as taken at siege of [[Petersburg, Virginia]].]
[[Image:James Monroe Museum, Fredericksburg, VA IMG 4002.JPG|right|thumb|James Monroe Museum in downtown Fredericksburg]]
18th century and before
19th century to present
General Interest Information about Fredericksburg VirginiaLocal history resources
from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library
the website of the ''Free Lance-Star'' newspaper
Google news archive. —PDFs for 7,659 issues, dating from 1893 through 1926.
Central Rappahannock Heritage Center
a nonprofit all-volunteer historical archive in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Category:Historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places in Virginia
Category:Cities in Virginia
Category:Washington metropolitan area
Category:Populated places established in 1728
Category:University towns in the United States
Category:1728 establishments in Virginia
Category:Former county seats in Virginia
Category:National Register of Historic Places in Fredericksburg, Virginia