Chesapeake is an independent city located in the South Hampton Roads region of eastern Virginia in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 199,184, but as of 2004, the population estimates given by the U.S. Census Bureau was 214,725.
Chesapeake is one of the larger cities in Virginia and the nation in terms of land, a fact that poses challenges to city leaders in supporting a large infrastructure. The presence of many historically and geographically distinct communities also poses challenges to city leaders.
The city was created in 1963, when the former independent city of South Norfolk was consolidated with Norfolk County and reincorporated (approval from the Virginia General Assembly) as the new City of Chesapeake. The new name was selected through a voter referendum.
For more history of these predecessors, see articles on Norfolk County and South Norfolk
Chesapeake's history goes far back into Virginia's colonial roots. The Intracoastal Waterway passes through Chesapeake. On the waterway, at Great Bridge where the locks transition you from the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River to the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal lies the site of the Battle of Great Bridge. This American Revolutionary War battle was responsible for removing Lord Dunmore and any other vestige of English Government for the Colony of Virginia during the early days of the Revolution on December 9, 1775.
The Dismal Swamp Canal runs through Chesapeake as well. The site of this canal was surveyed by George Washington, among others, and is know as "Washington's Ditch." It is the oldest continuously used man made canal in the United States today and has been in service for over 230 years. The canal begins in the Deep Creek section of the city branching off from the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River. The canal runs through Chesapeake paralleling U.S. Highway 17 into North Carolina and will take you to Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
Until the late 1980s and early 1990s, much of Chesapeake was either suburban or rural, serving as a bedroom community of the adjacent cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach with residents commuting to these locations. Beginning in the late 1980s and accelerating in the 1990s, however, Chesapeake saw significant growth, attracting numerous and significant industries and businesses of its own. This explosive growth quickly led to strains on the municipal infrastructure, ranging from intrusion of saltwater into the city's water supply to congested roads and schools.