The population was 45,049 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Albemarle County though the two are separate legal entities. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Charlottesville with Albemarle County for statistical purposes, bringing the total population to 118,398. The city is the heart of the Charlottesville, VA Metropolitan Statistical Area which includes Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene and Nelson counties. In 2004, Charlottesville was ranked the best place to live in the United States in the book Cities Ranked and Rated by Bert Sperling and Peter Sander. Sperling and Sander ranked the cities based on cost of living, climate, and quality of life. Charlottesville is best known as the home to three US Presidents, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe, as well as the home of the University of Virginia. The city is also known for Jefferson's Monticello, his renowned mountain-top home which attracts approximately half a million tourists every year.
During the American Revolutionary War, the Convention Army was imprisoned in Charlottesville between 1779 and 1781 at the Albemarle Barracks. On June 4, 1781, Jack Jouett warned the Virginia Legislature meeting at Monticello of an intended raid by Banastre Tarleton, allowing a narrow escape.
Unlike much of Virginia, Charlottesville was spared the brunt of the American Civil War. The only battle to take place in Charlottesville was the Skirmish at Rio Hill, in which George Armstrong Custer was repulsed by local Confederate militia. The city was later surrendered by the Mayor and others to spare the town from being burnt. The Charlottesville Factory, circa 1820-30, was accidentally burnt during General Sheridan's raid through the Shenandoah Valley in 1865. This factory was seized by the confederacy and used to manufacture woolen soldiers wear. The mill ignited when coals were taken by union troops to burn a near-by railroad bridge. The factory was rebuilt immediately after and known then on as the Woolen Mills until its liquidation in 1962.
The first Black church in Charlottesville was established in 1864. Previously, it was illegal for African-Americans to have their own churches, although they could worship in white churches. A current predominately African-American church can trace its lineage to that first church.
Charlottesville is the home of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory headquarters, the Leander McCormick Observatory and the CFA Institute. It is served by two area hospitals, the Martha Jefferson Hospital founded in 1903, and the UVa Hospital
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , all of it land.
The nearby Shenandoah National Park offers great recreational activities and beautiful scenery. It is famous for its rolling mountains and many hiking trails. Skyline Drive is a well-known scenic drive that runs the length of the park, alternately winding through thick forest and emerging upon sweeping scenic overlooks.
Charlottesville's bustling downtown is the center of business for Albemarle County. It is home to the Downtown Mall, one of the longest outdoor pedestrian malls in the nation, with many stores, restaurants, and civic attractions. The renovated Paramount Theater hosts various events, including Broadway shows and concerts. Local theatrics downtown are highlighted by Charlottesville's professional-level community theater Live Arts, and a new addition, Play On! Theatre Outside downtown are New Lyric Theatre and Heritage Repertory Theatre at UVa. Other attractions on the Downtown Mall are the Virginia Discovery Museum and a 3,500 seat outdoor amphitheater, the Charlottesville Pavilion Court Square, just a few blocks from the Downtown Mall, is the original center of Charlottesville and several of the historic buildings there date back to the city's founding in 1762.
Charlottesville also is home to the University of Virginia (most of which is legally in Albemarle County). During the academic year more than 20,000 students pour into Charlottesville to attend the university. UVa's main grounds are located on the west side of Charlottesville, with Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village, known as the Lawn, as the centerpiece. The Lawn is a long esplanade crowned by two prominent structures, The Rotunda (designed by Jefferson) and Old Cabell Hall (designed by Stanford White). Along the Lawn and the parallel Range are dormitory rooms reserved for distinguished students. The University Programs Council is a student-run body that programs concerts, comedy shows, speakers, and other events open to the students and the community, such as the annual "Lighting of the Lawn. Just around the corner from The Rotunda, the University of Virginia Art Museum exhibits work drawn from its collection of more than 10,000 objects and special temporary exhibitions from sources nationwide.
The Corner is the commercial district abutting the main grounds of UVa, along University Avenue. This area is full of college bars, eateries, and UVa merchandise stores, and is busy with student activity during the school year. Much of the University's Greek life is on nearby Rugby Road. West Main Street, running from the Corner to the Downtown Mall, is a commercial district of restaurants, bars, and other businesses.
Charlottesville is host to the annual Virginia Film Festival in October, the Festival of the Photograph in July, and the Virginia Festival of the Book in March. In addition, the Foxfield Races are steeplechase races held in April and October of each year. A Fourth of July celebration, including a Naturalization Ceremony, is held annually at Monticello, and a First Night celebration has been held on the Downtown Mall since 1982.
Common to many college towns, Charlottesville has a significant liberal community that co-exists with the university students in creating art and music scenes and an intellectual environment. The city is home to numerous music venues, bars, and coffee shops that cater to a wide variety of tastes. Musically, Charlottesville is known both as the launching pad and home of the Dave Matthews Band as well as myriad local and regional acts.
Charlottesville has no professional sports teams, but is home to the University of Virginia's athletic teams, the Cavaliers, who have a wide fan base throughout the region. The Cavaliers field teams in sports from soccer to basketball, and have modern facilities that draw spectators throughout the year. Cavalier football season draws the largest crowds during the academic year, with football games played in Scott Stadium. The stadium hosts large musical events, including concerts by the Dave Matthews Band and The Rolling Stones.
John Paul Jones Arena, which opened in 2006, is the home arena of the Cavalier basketball teams, in addition to serving as a site for concerts and other events. The arena is one of the largest basketball venues in the Atlantic Coast Conference, being the biggest not located in a major metropolitan area. In its first season in the new arena concluded in March 2007, the Virginia men's basketball team tied with UNC for 1st in the ACC.
Both men's and women's lacrosse have become a significant part of the Charlottesville sports scene. The Virginia Men's team won their first NCAA Championship in 1972; in 2006, they won their fourth National Championship and became the first NCAA Men's lacrosse team to become undefeated Champions. Virginia's Women's team has three NCAA Championships to its credit, with wins in 1991, 1993, and 2004. The soccer program is also strong; the Men's team shared a national title with Santa Clara in 1989 and won an unprecedented four consecutive NCAA Division I Championships (1991-1994). Their coach during that period was Bruce Arena, who later won two MLS titles at D.C. United and coached the U.S. National Team during the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.
Charlottesville area high school sports have been prominent throughout the state. Charlottesville is a hotbed for lacrosse in the country, with teams such as St. Anne's-Belfield School, The Covenant School, Tandem Friends School, Charlottesville Catholic School, Western Albemarle High School and Albemarle High School. St. Anne's-Belfield School won its fourth state championship in ten years in football in 2006. Charlottesville Catholic School won the state title for lacrosse in the 2006-2007 year. The Covenant School won the state title for boys cross country in 2007-8 school year, the second win in as many years, and that year the girls cross country team won the state title. Monticello High School won the Group AA state football title in 2007.
Charlottesville was once a major rail hub, served by both the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) and the Southern Railway. The first train service to Charlottesville was by the Louisa Railroad Company, which became the Virginia Central Railroad, before becoming the C&O. The Southern Railway started service to Charlottesville around the mid-1860s with a north-south route crossing the C&O east-west tracks. The new depot which sprang up at the crossing of the two tracks was called Union Station. In addition to the new rail line, Southern located a major repair shop which produced competition between the two rail companies and bolstered the local economy. The Queen Charlotte hotel went up on West Main street along with restaurants for the many new railroad workers.
The former C&O station on East Water Street was turned into offices in the mid 1990s. Union Station, still a functional depot for Amtrak, is located on West Main street between 7th & 9th streets where the tracks of the former C&O Railway (leased by C&O successor CSX to Buckingham Branch Railroad) and Southern (now Norfolk Southern Railway) lines cross. Amtrak and the city of Charlottesville finished refurbishing the station just after 2000, upgrading the depot and adding a full-service restaurant. The Amtrak Crescent travels on Norfolk Southern's dual north-south tracks. The Amtrak Cardinal runs on the Buckingham Branch east-west single track, which follows U.S. Route 250 from Staunton to a point east of Charlottesville near Cismont. The eastbound Cardinal joins the northbound Norfolk Southern line at Orange, on its way to Washington, D.C.
Charlottesville is served by most of the major national networks: WVIR 29 (NBC/CW on DT2), WHTJ 41 (PBS), WCAV 19 (CBS), WAHU 27 (FOX), and WVAW 16 (ABC). News radio in Charlottesville can be heard on RadioIQ 89.7, WINA 1070, WCHV 1260, and WVAX 1450. There are also several community radio stations operated out of Charlottesville, including WNRN and WTJU.
There were 16,851 households out of which 20.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 29.2% were married couples living together, 13.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 54.7% were non-families. 34.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.85.
In the city the population was spread out with 15.2% under the age of 18, 33.8% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 15.2% from 45 to 64, and 10.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 87.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $31,007, and the median income for a family was $45,110. Males had a median income of $31,197 versus $26,458 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,973. About 12.0% of families and 25.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.8% of those under age 18 and 7.2% of those age 65 or over.
Since the city's early formation, it has been home to numerous notable individuals, from historic figures Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, to renowned literary giants Edgar Allan Poe and William Faulkner. In the present day, Charlottesville has become or been the home of movie stars such as Sissy Spacek, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and Sam Shepherd, novelists like John Grisham, poets such as Rita Dove and musicians like Dave Matthews.