The City of Petersburg, Virginia

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The sexual abuse attorneys in Petersburg presents to you this informative article on the city of Petersburg. We hope you enjoy learning about the history of the area.

Brief History of Petersburg

Petersburg is an independent city 21 miles south of the historic capital city of Richmond. Part of the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is nicknamed "The Cockade City." The city is located at the fall line of the Appomattox River, where the establishment of Fort Henry in 1645 attracted many traders and settlers. On December 17, 1748, the Town of Petersburg was chartered by the Virginia legislature. It developed as a transportation hub and was the final destination on the Upper Appomattox Canal Navigation System.

In 1840, the town of Petersburg was given city status by the legislature.  In 1847, the city acquired the 8-mile railroad on the James River and renamed it the Appomattox Railroad. Over a decade later, the city's industries and transportation made it the second-largest city in Virginia. During the Civil War, its railroad network became critical in the plans to capture the Confederate States' national capital in Richmond. The Siege of Petersburg from 1864 to 1865 also devasted the city. Once the war ended, the economic position of the area never went back to how it used to be. The battle sites in the city are now preserved by the National Park Service as the Petersburg National Battlefield.

Read more: An Overview of Fredericksburg, VA


Nonetheless, the city remains a transportation hub. Amtrak serves the area with daily Northeast Regional passenger trains to and from Norfolk and other states to the south. The CSX and Norfolk Southern rail systems also provide transportation for residents of Petersburg at their center in the city. Highways in the area include Interstate 85 and 95 and U.S. Route 1, 301 and 460.


As of the 2010 census, the city of Petersburg has a population of 32,420 people – a decrease from the 33,740 people reported in 2000. Its racial makeup consists of:

  • 79.1% Black or African America
  • 16.1% White
  • 3.8% Hispanic or Latino
  • 1.8% Some Other Race
  • 1.8% Two or More Races
  • 0.8% Asian
  • 0.3% Native America
  • 0.1% Pacific Islander

Pocahontas Island

Pocahontas Island is a peninsula of Petersburg that used to be a warehouse and wharf-filled urban landscape. Platted in 1749, the peninsula is said to have been occupied since 6500 B.C. by prehistoric Native American settlements. In the early 1700s, when English colonists came to the area bringing enslave Africans, it was home to the Appomattoc tribe. In the 1800s, Pocahontas Island became the first predominately free black settlement in Virginia. A notable freedom colony, it was one of the largest in the nation by the mid-1800s. The free black population in Petersburg was the largest of the time.

However, during the 1900s, the Great Migration caused a decline in the peninsula's population as people moved north. In 1993, a tornado devastated the area, but involvement from the citizens in the community helped redevelop the place and transformed it into the Pocahontas Island Historic District. On November 3, 2006, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its prehistoric indigenous archeological assets and significance in African American history. Before then, on September 6, 2006, it was designated as a Virginia Landmarks Register.

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