Norfolk is a city located in Norfolk County, Virginia. With a 2020 population of 242,234, it is the 3rd largest city in Virginia (after Virginia Beach and Chesapeake) and the 95th largest city in the United States. Norfolk is currently declining at a rate of -0.38% annually and its population has decreased by -0.23% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 242,803 in 2010. Norfolk reached it's highest population of 307,951 in 1970. Spanning over 96 miles, Norfolk has a population density of 4,547 people per square mile.
The average household income in Norfolk is $69,410 with a poverty rate of 19.71%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to $1,031 per month, and the median house value is $199,400. The median age in Norfolk is 30.5 years, 28.8 years for males, and 32.8 years for females. For every 100 females there are 109.4 males.
Norfolk is part of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area which is made up of a total of nine cities and seven counties. It is one of the oldest cities in the region, and it is a center of history, culture, and finance.
Norfolk Population Statistics
The total crime in Norfolk falls above the national average, although it does seem to be improving. The city’s top employer is the US Department of Defense. Sentara Healthcare, Norfolk City Public Schools, the City of Norfolk and Old Dominion University round out the top five employers in Norfolk.
Norfolk Population Growth
The city of Norfolk has seen its share of ups and downs throughout the years when it comes to population. For many years, Norfolk saw steady growth, more than doubling its population between 1790 and 1800. The city reached a population of more than 100,000 at the time of the 1920 census and rose to more than 200,000 in 1950. It reached its peak in 1970 with more than 307,000 residents. However, the population began to decline after this, dropping to 234,403 in 2000 before rising again to 242,803 in 2010. The community seems to be on the upswing still, growing 1% between the 2010 census and estimates taken in 2016.
The city of Norfolk is one of the oldest cities in the Hampton Roads metro area. It was officially founded in 1682. Before that, it was jurisdiction under the Elizabeth Cittie incorporation. It was later incorporated in 1705. By the end of the century, it was considered the most prosperous city in the state because of its role as a port for exporting goods to the British Isles and other areas around the world. In 1776 during the Revolutionary War, the city was attacked for more than eight hours, destroying nearly two-thirds of the city’s buildings. The city began to rebuild but faced another challenge following a fire in 1804.
Like other areas in the south, Norfolk was affected by a recession in 1820 that led to the migration of many residents. The population was affected again in the mid-1800s with an outbreak of yellow fever that killed many people, and one-third of the residents left the city to avoid the illness. Neighboring cities and the state of New York banned residents from Norfolk as the epidemic continued to spread, primarily because of sanitation issues and mosquitoes. The cooler weather finally brought some relief, although over 3,000 people were dead after it all.
In the early 1900s, the Naval Air Station Hampton Roads was erected ahead of World War I. The Virginian Railway was also part of the city during this period. The city continued its expansion through annexation, with its current borders finally established in the 1980s. After World War II, highways, bridges, and tunnels furthered the city’s development. This led to the construction of more residential housing in the suburbs. This ultimately led to a decline in population as middle-class white residents moved out of the city and into the suburbs. To draw in more residents, the city built malls and shopping centers in the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s, revitalization efforts continued with the construction of the Waterside marketplace. The city continued its expansion to include a stadium, restaurants and retail centers. The downtown area has brought in revenues that will be used to revitalize other neighborhoods in Norfolk.
Today, the city is home to the Norfolk Southern Railway headquarters, as well as the Maersk Line headquarters. It boasts many attractions that appeal to residents and tourists, including the beaches of Chesapeake Bay.