Lynchburg is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 75,568. The 2014 census estimates an increase to 79,047. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the banks of the James River, Lynchburg is known as the “City of Seven Hills” or the “Hill City”. Lynchburg was the only major city in Virginia that was not captured by the Union before the end of the American Civil War.
Lynchburg is the principal city of the Metropolitan Statistical Area of Lynchburg, near the geographic center of Virginia. It is the fifth largest MSA in Virginia with a population of 254,171 and hosts several institutions of higher education. Other nearby cities include Roanoke, Charlottesville, and Danville. Lynchburg’s sister cities are Rueil-Malmaison, France and Glauchau, Germany.
A part of Monacan country upon the arrival of English settlers in Virginia, the region had traditionally been occupied by them and other Siouan Tutelo-speaking tribes since ca. 1270, driving Virginia Algonquians eastward. Explorer John Lederer visited one of the Siouan villages (Saponi) in 1670, on the Staunton River at Otter Creek, southwest of the present-day city, as did Batts and Fallam in 1671. The Siouans occupied the area until c. 1702, when it was taken in conquest by the Seneca Iroquois. The Iroquois ceded control to the Colony of Virginia beginning in 1718, and formally at the Treaty of Albany in 1721.
First settled in 1757, Lynchburg was named for its founder, John Lynch, who at the age of 17 started a ferry service at a ford across the James River to carry traffic to and from New London. He was also responsible for Lynchburg’s first bridge across the river, which replaced the ferry in 1812. He and his mother are buried in the graveyard at the South River Friends Meetinghouse. The “City of Seven Hills” quickly developed along the hills surrounding Lynch’s Ferry. Thomas Jefferson maintained a home near Lynchburg, called Poplar Forest. Jefferson frequented Lynchburg and remarked “Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be useful to the town of Lynchburg. I consider it as the most interesting spot in the state.”
Lynchburg was established by charter in 1786 at the site of Lynch’s Ferry on the James River. These new easy means of transportation routed traffic through Lynchburg, and allowed it to become the new center of commerce for tobacco trading. In 1810, Jefferson wrote, “Lynchburg is perhaps the most rising place in the U.S…. It ranks now next to Richmond in importance…” Lynchburg became a center of commerce and manufacture in the 19th century, and by the 1850s, Lynchburg (along with New Bedford, Mass.) was one of the richest towns per capita in the U.S. Chief industries were tobacco, iron and steel. Transportation facilities included the James River Bateau on the James River, and later, the James River and Kanawha Canal and, still later, four railroads, including the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad and the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad.
Early on, Lynchburg was not known for its religiosity. In 1804, evangelist Lorenzo Dow wrote of Lynchburg “… where I spoke in the open air in what I conceived to be the seat of Satan’s Kingdom. Lynchburg was a deadly place for the worship of God.” This was in reference to the lack of churches in Lynchburg. As the wealth of Lynchburg grew, prostitution and other “rowdy” activities became quite common and, in many cases, ignored, if not accepted, by the “powers that be” of the time. Much of this activity took place in an area of downtown referred to as the “Buzzard’s Roost.”
During the American Civil War, Lynchburg, which served as a Confederate supply base, was approached within 1-mile (1.6km) by the Union forces of General David Hunter as he drove south from the Shenandoah Valley. Under the false impression that the Confederate forces stationed in Lynchburg were much larger than anticipated, Hunter was repelled by the forces of Confederate General Jubal Early on June 18, 1864, in the Battle of Lynchburg. To create the false impression, a train was continuously run up and down the tracks while the citizens of Lynchburg cheered as if reinforcements were unloading. Local prostitutes took part in the deception, misinforming their Union clients of the large number of Confederate reinforcements.
From April 610, 1865, Lynchburg served as the Capital of Virginia. Under Governor William Smith, the executive and legislative branches of the commonwealth escaped to Lynchburg with the fall of Richmond. Then Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, roughly 20 miles east of Lynchburg, ending the Civil War.
In the latter 19th century, Lynchburg’s economy evolved into manufacturing (sometimes referred to as the “Pittsburgh of the South”) and, per capita, made the city one of the wealthiest in the United States. In 1880, Lynchburg resident James Albert Bonsack invented the first cigarette rolling machine. Shortly thereafter Dr. Charles Browne Fleet, a physician and pharmacological tinkerer, introduced the first mass marketed over-the-counter enema. About this time, Lynchburg was also the preferred site for the Norfolk & Western junction with the Shenandoah Valley Railroad. However, the citizens of Lynchburg did not want the junction due to the noise and pollution it would create. Therefore, it was located in what would become the City of Roanoke.
In the late 1950s, a number of interested citizens, including Virginia Senator Mosby G. Perrow, Jr., requested the federal government to change its long-planned route for the interstate highway now known as I-64 between Clifton Forge and Richmond. Since the 1940s, maps of the federal interstate highway system depicted that highway taking a northern route, with no interstate highway running through Lynchburg, but the federal government assured Virginia that the highway’s route would be decided by the state. A proposed southern route called for the Interstate to follow from Richmond via US-360 and US-460, via Lynchburg to Roanoke and US-220 from Roanoke to Clifton Forge, then west following US-60 into West Virginia. Although the State Highway Commission’s minutes reflected its initial approval of the northern route, the issue remained in play, proponents of the southern route ultimately succeeded in persuading a majority of Virginia Highway Commissioners to support the change after a study championed by Perrow demonstrated that it would serve a greater percentage of the state’s manufacturing and textile centers. But in July 1961 Governor Lindsay Almond and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Luther Hodges announced that the route would not be changed. This left Lynchburg as the only city with a population in excess of 50,000 (at the time) not served by an interstate.
For several decades throughout the mid-20th century, the state of Virginia authorized compulsory sterilization of the mentally retarded for the purpose of eugenics. The operations were carried out at the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded, now known as the Central Virginia Training School, located just outside Lynchburg in Madison Heights. An estimated 8,300 Virginians were sterilized and relocated to Lynchburg, known as a “dumping ground” of sorts for the feeble-minded, poor, blind, epileptic, and those otherwise seen as genetically “unfit”.
Sterilizations were carried out for 35 years until 1972, when operations were finally halted. Later in the late 1970s, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action lawsuit against the state of Virginia on behalf of the sterilization victims. As a result of this suit, the victims received formal apologies and counseling if they chose. Requests to grant the victims reverse sterilization operations were denied.
Carrie Buck, the plaintiff in the United States Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell, was sterilized after being classified as “feeble-minded”, as part of the state’s eugenics program while she was a patient at the Lynchburg Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded.
The story of Carrie Buck’s sterilization and the court case was made into a television drama in 1994, Against Her Will: The Carrie Buck Story.
“Virginia State Epileptic Colony,” a song by the Manic Street Preachers on their 2009 album ‘Journal For Plague Lovers,’ addresses the state’s program of eugenics.
Downtown Lynchburg has seen a significant amount of revitalization since 2002 with hundreds of new loft apartments created through adaptive reuse of historic warehouses and mills. Since 2000, there has been more than $110 million in private investment in downtown and business activity increased by 205% from 2004 – 2014. In 2014, 75 new apartments were added to downtown with 155 further units under construction increasing the number of housing units downtown by 48% from 2010 – 2014. In 2015, the $5.8 million Lower Bluffwalk pedestrian street zone opened to the public in downtown which has seen a significant amount of residential and commercial development around the zone in recent years. Notable projects underway in downtown by the end of 2015 include the $25 million Hilton Curio branded Virginian Hotel restoration project, $16.6 million restoration of the Academy Center of the Arts, and $4.6 million expansion of Amazement Square Children’s Museum. 
Over 40 sites in Lynchburg are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Lynchburg is located at 372413N 791012W / 37.40361N 79.17000W / 37.40361; -79.17000 (37.403672, 79.170205).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 49.6 square miles (128.5km2), of which 49.2 square miles (127.4km2) is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3km2) (1.0%) is water.
Lynchburg has a four-season humid subtropical climate (Kppen Cfa), with cool winters and hot, humid summers. The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 35.1F (1.7C) in January to 75.3F (24.1C) in July. Nights tend to be significantly cooler than days throughout much of the year due in part to the moderate elevation. In a typical year, there are 26 days with a high temperature 90F (32C) or above, and 7.5 days with a high of 32F (0C) or below. Snowfall averages 12.9 inches (33cm) per season but this amount varies highly with each winter; the snowiest winter is 199596 with 56.8in (144cm) of snow, but the following winter recorded only trace amounts, the least on record.
Temperature extremes range from 106F (41C), recorded on July 10, 1936, down to 11F (24C), recorded on February 20, 2015. However, several decades may pass between 100F (38C) and 0F (18C) readings, with the last such occurrences being July 8, 2012 and February 20, 2015, respectively.
As of the 2010 census, there were 75,568 people, 25,477 households, and 31,992 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,321.5 people per square mile (510.2/km). There were 27,640 housing units at an average density of 559.6 per square mile (216.1/km). The racial makeup of the city was 63.0% White, 29.3% African American, 0.2% Native American, 2.5% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.63% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.0% of the population.
There were 25,477 households out of which 27.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.6% were married couples living together, 16.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.8% were non-families. 32.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.92.
The age distribution of the city had: 22.1% under the age of 18, 15.5% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 84.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $32,234, and the median income for a family was $40,844. Males had a median income of $31,390 versus $22,431 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,263. About 12.3% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.4% of those under age 18 and 10.7% of those age 65 or over.
Lynchburg ranks below the 2006 median annual household income for the U.S. as a whole, which was $48,200, according to the US Census Bureau.
The city’s population was stable for 25+ years: in 2006, it was 67,720; in 2000, it was 65,269; in 1990, it was 66,049; in 1980, it was 66,743.
In 2009 almost 27% of Lynchburg children lived in poverty. The state average that year was 14 percent.
Lynchburg features a skilled labor force, low unemployment rate, and below average cost of living. Of Virginia’s larger metro areas, Forbes Magazine ranked Lynchburg the 5th best place in Virginia for business in 2006, with Virginia being the best state in the country for business. Only 6 places in Virginia were surveyed and most of Virginia’s cities were grouped together by Forbes as “Northern Virginia”. Lynchburg achieved the rank 109 in the whole nation in the same survey.
Industries within the Lynchburg MSA include nuclear technology, pharmaceuticals and material handling. A diversity of small businesses with the region has helped maintain a stable economy and minimized the downturns of the national economy. Reaching as high as 1st place (tied) in 2007, Lynchburg has been within the Top 10 Digital Cities survey for its population since the survey’s inception in 2004.
The Lynchburg News & Advance reports that while more people are working than ever in greater Lynchburg, wages since 1990 have not kept up with inflation. Central Virginia Labor Council President Walter Fore believes this is due to lack of white-collar jobs. According to the Census Bureau, adjusted for inflation, 1990 median household income was about $39,000 compared to 2009 median household income of $42,740. As of 2009 Forbes has named Lynchburg as the 70th best metro area for business and careers, ahead of Chicago and behind Baton Rouge. The reason for the decent ranking was due to the low cost of living and low wages in Lynchburg. In other areas, the region didn’t come in as strong. It ranked at 189 for cultural and leisure and at 164 for educational attainment.
Virginia Business Magazine reports that Young Professionals in Lynchburg recently conducted a study that clearly showed how much of its young workforce has been lost.
According to Lynchburg’s 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top private employers in the city are:
The city is served by the Lynchburg City Public Schools. The school board is appointed by the Lynchburg City Council.
The city is also home to a number of mostly religious private schools, including Holy Cross Regional Catholic School, James River Day School, Liberty Christian Academy, New Covenant Classical Christian School, Appomattox Christian Academy, Temple Christian School, and Virginia Episcopal School.
Lynchburg is also home to the Central Virginia Governor’s School for Science and Technology located in Heritage High School. This magnet school consists of juniors and seniors selected from each of the Lynchburg area high schools. As one of eighteen Governor’s Schools in Virginia, the Central Virginia Governor’s School focuses on infusing technology into both the math and science curriculum.
Further education options include a number of surrounding county public school systems.
Colleges and universities in Lynchburg include Central Virginia Community College, Liberty University, Lynchburg College, Randolph College, Sweet Briar College, and Virginia University of Lynchburg.
The Greater Lynchburg Transit Company (GLTC) operates the local public transport bus service within the city. The GLTC additionally provides the shuttle bus service on the Liberty University campus.
The GLTC has selected a property directly across from Lynchburg-Kemper Street Station as its top choice of sites upon which to build the new transfer center for their network of public buses. They are interested in facilitating intermodal connections between GLTC buses and the intercity bus and rail services which operate from that location. The project is awaiting final government approval and funding, and is expected to be completed around 2013.
Intercity passenger rail and bus services are based out of Kemper Street Station, a historic, three-story train station recently restored and converted by the city of Lynchburg to serve as an intermodal hub for the community. The station is located at 825 Kemper Street.
Greyhound Lines located their bus terminal in the main floor of Kemper Street Station following its 2002 restoration. Greyhound offers transport to other cities throughout Virginia, the US, Canada, and Mexico.
Amtrak’s long distance Crescent and a Northeast Regional connect Lynchburg with Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Charlotte, Atlanta, Birmingham, New Orleans and intermediate points.
In October 2009, Lynchburg became the southern terminus for a Northeast Regional that previously had overnighted in Washington. The forecast ridership was 51,000 for the 180-mile extension’s first year, but the actual count was triple that estimate, and the train paid for itself without any subsidy. By FY 2015, the Regional had 190,000 riders. The Lynchburg station alone served a total of 85,000 riders in 2015. It is located in the track level ground floor of Kemper Street Station.
Lynchburg has two major freight railroads. It is the crossroads of two Norfolk Southern lines. One is the former mainline of the Southern Railway, upon which Kemper Street Station is situated. NS has a classification yard located next to the shopping mall. Various yard jobs can be seen. Railfans who wish to visit the NS Lynchburg yard are advised to inquire with an NS official. CSX Transportation also has a line through the city and a small yard.
Lynchburg Regional Airport is solely served by American Eagle to Charlotte. American Eagle, a subsidiary of American Airlines, is the only current scheduled airline service provider, with seven daily arrivals and departures. In recent years air travel has increased with 157,517 passengers flying in and out of the airport in 2012, representing 78% of the total aircraft load factor for that time period.
Primary roadways include U.S. Route 29, U.S. Route 501, U.S. Route 221, running north-south, and U.S. Highway 460, running east-west. While not served by an interstate, much of Route 29 has been upgraded to interstate standards and significant improvements have been made to Highway 460.
In a Forbes magazine survey, Lynchburg ranked 189 for cultural and leisure out of 200 cities surveyed.
The following attractions are located within the Lynchburg MSA:
Lynchburg is home to sporting events and organizations including:
The first neighborhoods of Lynchburg developed upon seven hills adjacent to the original ferry landing. These neighborhoods include:
Other major neighborhoods include Boonsboro, Rivermont, Fairview Heights, Fort Hill, Forest Hill (Old Forest Rd. Area), Timberlake, Windsor Hills, Sandusky, Linkhorne, and Wyndhurst.
Notable residents of Lynchburg include:
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Lynchburg, Virginia – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia