For the metropolitan area, see Roanoke Metropolitan Area.
Roanoke is an independent city located in the Roanoke Metropolitan Area in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The city of Roanoke is adjacent to the city of Salem and the town of Vinton and is otherwise surrounded by, but politically separate from, Roanoke County. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 94,911. The city is bisected by the Roanoke River. Roanoke is the commercial and cultural hub of much of the surrounding area of Virginia and southern West Virginia.
The United States Census Bureau includes in Roanoke's metropolitan area the counties of Botetourt, Franklin, Craig and Roanoke, and the cities of Salem and Roanoke. The metropolitan area's population in the past three censuses has been reported to be:
Figures through 2000 do not include Franklin County (50,345 est. 2005 population) and Craig County (5,154 est. 2005 population). The Census Bureau has since added them to the Roanoke MSA, which is the fourth largest in Virginia (behind Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and the Greater Richmond area), and the largest in the western half of the state.
After the American Civil War (1861-1865), William Mahone, a civil engineer and hero of the Battle of the Crater, was the driving force in the linkage of 3 railroads, including the V&T, across the southern tier of Virginia to form the Atlantic, Mississippi & Ohio Railroad (AM&O), a new line extending from Norfolk to Bristol, Virginia in 1870. However, the Financial Panic of 1873 wrecked the AM&O's finances. After several years of operating under receiverships, Mahone's role as a railroad builder ended in 1881 when northern financial interests took control. At the foreclosure auction, the AM&O was purchased by E.W. Clark and Co., a private banking firm in Philadelphia which controlled the Shenandoah Valley Railroad then under construction up the valley from Hagerstown, Maryland. The AM&O was renamed Norfolk and Western Railway (N&W).
Frederick J. Kimball, a civil engineer and partner in the Clark firm, headed the new line and the new Shenandoah Valley Railroad. For the junction for the Shenandoah Valley and the Norfolk and Western roads, Kimball and his board of directors selected the small Virginia village called Big Lick, on the Roanoke River. Although the grateful citizens offered to rename their town "Kimball", at his suggestion, they agreed to name it Roanoke after the river. As the N&W brought people and jobs, the Town of Roanoke quickly became an independent city in 1884. In fact, Roanoke became a city so quickly that it earned the nickname "Magic City."
Kimball's interest in geology was instrumental in the development of the Pocahontas coalfields in western Virginia and West Virginia. He pushed N&W lines through the wilds of West Virginia, north to Columbus, Ohio and Cincinnati, Ohio, and south to Durham, North Carolina and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This gave the railroad the route structure it was to use for more than 60 years.
The Virginian Railway (VGN), an engineering marvel of its day, was conceived and built by William Nelson Page and Henry Huttleston Rogers. Following the Roanoke River, the VGN was built through the City of Roanoke early in the twentieth century. It merged with the N&W in 1959.
The opening of the coalfields made N&W prosperous and Pocahontas bituminous coal world-famous. Transported by the N&W and neighboring Virginian Railway (VGN), local coal fueled half the world's navies. Today it stokes steel mills and power plants all over the globe.
The Norfolk & Western was famous for manufacturing steam locomotives in-house. It was N&W's Roanoke Shops that made the company known industry-wide for its excellence in steam power. The Roanoke Shops, with its workforce of thousands, is where the famed classes A, J, and Y6 locomotives were designed, built, and maintained. New steam locomotives were built there until 1953, long after diesel-electric had emerged as the motive power of choice for most North American railroads. About 1960, N&W was the last major railroad in the United States to convert from steam to diesel power.
The presence of the railroad also made Roanoke attractive to manufacturers. American Viscose opened a large rayon plant in Southeast Roanoke in October 1917. This plant closed in 1958, leaving 5,000 workers unemployed. When N&W converted to diesel, 2,000 railroad workers were laid off.
Local Colors is a multi-cultural program which recognizes people of diverse origins, races and ethnic backgrounds and sponsors the annual Local Colors Festival in the third weekend of May.
Roanoke's festivals and cultural events include the Chili Cook-Off, Festival in the Park, Local Colors Festival, Henry Street Festival, Big Lick Blues Festival, Strawberry Festival, and the large red, white, and blue illuminated Mill Mountain Star (formerly illuminated in red following drunk driving fatalities in the Roanoke Valley; temporarily illuminated in white on April 22, 2007 in remembrance of the Virginia Tech Massacre of April 16, 2007) on Mill Mountain, which is visible from many points in the city and surrounding valley.
The city's African-American and professional class voting blocs have made the Democratic Party the city's leading party in recent years. The working class vote has tended increasingly towards the Republican Party.
Independent candidate David A. Bowers, a former Democrat, defeated incumbent Democrat Nelson Harris for Mayor in the May 2008 election with 53% of the vote. In both the 2000 election, Republican Ralph K. Smith and in the 2004 election Nelson Harris won with less than 40% of the vote in competitive three way races.
In the May 2008 council elections, Democrats Court Rosen, Anita Price, and Sherman Lea defeated a slate of loosely allied independent city council candidates including incumbent Brian Wishneff. In the May 2006 council elections, a slate of three former Democrats running on an independent slate backed by Harris defeated the candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties. This election ended the city's long running debate about the fate of Victory Stadium.
Roanoke is represented by two members of the Virginia House of Delegates, Onzlee Ware (D-11th) and William Fralin (R-17th), and one member of the Virginia Senate, John Edwards (D-21st). Former Roanoke mayor Ralph Smith won the 2007 election in the neighboring 22nd Senate district after defeating incumbent Brandon Bell for the Republican nomination in the primary election and Democrat Michael Breiner in the general election.
The city of Roanoke lies within the 6th Congressional District of Virginia, which also includes Lynchburg and much of the Shenandoah Valley. Current representative Bob Goodlatte resides in Roanoke as have many of those who have held the seat. Virgil Goode resides in nearby Franklin County and represents most of the area to south and east of Roanoke in the 5th Congressional District of Virginia, which also stretches north to Charlottesville. The 9th Congressional District of Virginia, represented by Rick Boucher, has traditionally covered southwest Virginia but has expanded into parts of Roanoke County and counties to the north of Roanoke to make up for population losses in the rest of the district. There is speculation that the lines of the three districts could be significantly redrawn in the next redistricting cycle after the 2010 Census, especially if Democrats gain control of the Virginia General Assembly, to account for rapid growth in the northern parts of the 5th and 6th districts and slower growth in the southern parts of the districts and population loss in much of the 9th.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 42.9 square miles (111.1 km²), of which, 42.9 square miles (111.1 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.07%) is water.
Within the city limits is Mill Mountain, which stands detached from surrounding ranges. Its summit features the Roanoke Star, Mill Mountain Zoo, the Discovery Center interpretive building, and an overlook of the Roanoke Valley. The Appalachian Trail runs through the northern section of Roanoke County several miles north of the city, while the Blue Ridge Parkway runs just to the south of the city. Carvins Cove, the second-largest municipal park in America at , lies in northeast Roanoke County and southwest Botetourt County. Smith Mountain Lake is several miles southeast of the city. The Jefferson National Forest is nearby. Roanokers and visitors to the area enjoy hiking, mountain biking, cross-country running, canoeing, kayaking, fly fishing, and other outdoor pursuits.
The city is located in the North Fork of Roanoke winemaking region. The "North Fork of Roanoke" appellation is a designated American Viticultural Area, recognizing the unique grape growing conditions present in the area. Valhalla Vineyards is located just outside the city limits of Roanoke.
The Roanoke River flows through the city of Roanoke. Some stretches of the river flow through parks and natural settings, while others flow through industrial areas. Several tributaries join the river in the city, most notably Peters Creek, Tinker Creek, and Mud Lick Creek.
Roanoke has a temperate climate with four distinct, but generally mild, seasons. Temperatures may reach over 100 °F (38 °C) in summer or dip below 0 °F (-18 °C) in winter, but neither occur in a typical year. Roanoke's all time record high of 105 °F (40.5 °C) occurred on August 21, 1983, and the all time record low of -11 °F (-23.9 °C) occurred on January 21, 1985.
The city averages of snow per winter; however, in something of an aberration, much of the central part of Virginia between Roanoke and Richmond have not received one foot of snow in a single storm since the blizzard of 1996. The area had a long stretch of many snowy winters in the 1960s and, to a lesser extent, through much of the 1970s and early 1980s, but snowy winters have been much more sporadic since then. Roanoke's snowiest winter on record occurred in 1986-1987 when 72.9" (185 cm) fell. The largest single storm dumped approximately three feet from December 16, 1890 through December 18 1890.
Flooding is the primary weather related hazard faced by Roanoke. Heavy rains, most frequently from remnants of a hurricane, drain from surrounding areas to the narrow Roanoke Valley. The most recent significant flood was in the fall of 2004, caused by the remains of Hurricane Ivan. The most severe flooding in the city's history occurred on November 4, 1985 when heavy storms from the remnants of Hurricane Juan stalled over the area. Ten people drowned in the Roanoke Valley, and others were saved by rescue personnel.
Many residents complain that they are prone to allergies because of pollen from trees in the surrounding mountains. Most famously, the family of Wayne Newton moved from Roanoke to the dry climate of Phoenix, Arizona because of his childhood asthma and allergies. However, there have not been clinical studies to establish that these conditions are more prevalent in Roanoke than other cities with similar vegetation and climate.
The following table shows Roanoke's average monthly temperatures and rainfall totals.
|Avg high °F||39.6||43.4||55.8||67.3||75.7||82.9||86.4||85.3||78.5||68.1||58.0||45.6|
|Avg low temperature °F||25.0||27.2||35.7||43.8||52.5||60.2||64.8||63.8||56.8||44.8||37.0||28.9|| |
|Rainfall in.||2.6||3.0||3.5||3.2||4.0||3.2||3.9||4.2||3.5||3.9||3.2||3.0|| |
Roanoke is divided into four quadrants: Northwest (NW), Northeast (NE), Southwest (SW), and Southeast (SE). The mailing address for locations in Roanoke includes the two letter quadrant abbreviation after the street name. For example, the Center in the Square complex in downtown Roanoke has the address "1 Market Square SE."
Roanoke remains a major hub in Norfolk Southern's freight rail system. In 2006, the railroad announced plans to construct an intermodal rail yard in the community of Lafayette, Virginia of neighboring Montgomery County; however, opposition by local residents prompted Norfolk Southern to consider other potential sites. In 2007, former Roanoke mayor David A. Bowers urged Roanoke to offer a site for the yard. Shortly thereafter, neighboring Salem proposed a site in an industrial area of the city. In 2008, Norfolk Southern determined that the Lafayette location was the only practical site. The Commonwealth of Virginia may also upgrade Norfolk Southern's rail line parallel to Interstate 81 from Roanoke through the Shenandoah Valley to encourage more freight to be shipped by rail.
There were 42,003 households out of which 25.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.1% were married couples living together, 16.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.3% were non-families. 35.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.86.
In the city the population was spread out with 22.6% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 30.5% from 25 to 44, 22.3% from 45 to 64, and 16.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 88.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,719, and the median income for a family was $37,826. Males had a median income of $28,465 versus $21,591 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,468. About 12.9% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.4% of those under age 18 and 11.3% of those age 65 or over.
Private non-parochial schools in Roanoke City include Community High School, that provides classes from ninth to twelfth grade; and New Vista Montessori, that provides classes from third through ninth grade. Private non-parochial schools outside of Roanoke City, but in the Roanoke Metropolitan Area, include North Cross School, which provides education from pre-kindergarten through the twelfth grade.
Private parochial schools in Roanoke City include North Side Christian, and Roanoke Catholic , that provide classes from kindergarten through twelfth grade; and Roanoke Adventist Preparatory, that provides classes from kindergarten through eighth grade. Private parochial schools outside of Roanoke City, but in the Roanoke Metropolitan Area, include Roanoke Valley Christian (in Roanoke County) and Faith Christian School (in Roanoke County).
Two four-year private institutions are situated in neighboring localities - Roanoke College in the city of Salem, and Hollins University in Roanoke County. Virginia Tech is located in neighboring Montgomery County. It has opened a higher education center in downtown Roanoke in cooperation with other colleges and universities, and the Virginia Tech Foundation owns the Hotel Roanoke. Virginia Tech is also opening a new medical school in South Roanoke in cooperation with Carilion Clinic, the regional non-profit health care organization based in Roanoke. Virginia Western Community College is located in the city of Roanoke, as is the Jefferson College of Health Sciences.
Roanoke's economy developed around the Norfolk and Western Railroad, with a strong emphasis on manufacturing. Roanoke's economic history includes Sun Belt characteristics as a once major center for the garment industry. Surrounding areas have traditionally relied on traditional Sun Belt industries such as textiles and furniture manufacturing, which have lost jobs to offshore outsourcing. Despite Virginia being a right to work state, unions have traditionally represented workers at many large employers in the Roanoke area and southwest Virginia. Roanoke was formerly the headquarters of Norfolk and Western Railway until its merger with the Southern Railway created the Norfolk Southern Railway in 1982. Norfolk Southern continues to operate its marketing headquarters and some maintenance facilities in Roanoke. Wachovia Bank, then known as First Union, acquired Roanoke based Dominion Bank in 1993 and maintains an operations and customer service center in Roanoke. Other firms such as Roanoke Electric Steel and architectural and engineering firm Hayes, Seay, Mattern and Mattern, (HSMM) have also been acquired by companies headquartered elsewhere. Roanoke's rates of economic and population growth have been less than the state and national averages since the 1960s. The immediate Roanoke area has a low unemployment rate, but a brain drain of workers unable to find satisfactory employment and underemployment are sometimes cited as explanations.
The City of Roanoke has created initiatives to address the brain drain of the region such as a database to match job seekers who wish to reside in the Roanoke area with employers looking for candidates. Additionally, a career and lifestyle fair has been held around Christmas in recent years to show the professional and social opportunities in the area to those visiting for the holidays. Similar a Reverse Job Fair has been held at Virginia Tech offering opportunities for students to connect to local employers. Also, organizations of young professionals such as Valley Forward and Newva Connects have emerged.
However, Roanoke's economy has areas of strength. The city is the health care and retail hub of a large area, driving the expansion of Carilion Health System and Valley View Mall. Advance Auto Parts is headquartered in Roanoke and has expanded through the acquisition of other chains to become one of the largest auto parts retailers in the country. Norfolk Southern remains a major employer and hired new workers in 2007. FreightCar America has hired several hundred persons to assemble rail cars in shops leased from Norfolk Southern and has closed a plant in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in part because of the lower costs for the Roanoke facility. General Electric and Toshiba manufacture large drive systems for electrical generation stations and factories at their joint facility in Salem. ITT manufactures night vision goggles at its plant in Roanoke County, and some of its employees have started other firms such as Optical Cable Corporation. The proximity of automotive assembly plants in the South has attracted manufacturers including Dynax, Koyo, Metalsa, and Yokohama, formerly Mohawk Tire. Roanoke's location allows for delivery within one day to most markets in the southeast, northeast, mid-atlantic, and Ohio Valley, which has made it a distribution center for such companies as Orvis, Elizabeth Arden, and Hanover Direct. United Parcel Service (UPS) maintains a major facility at the Roanoke Regional Airport. While the city of Roanoke has lost population, suburbs in Roanoke County, southern Botetourt County, and areas of Bedford County and Franklin County near Smith Mountain Lake have grown.
The city's daily newspaper, The Roanoke Times, has been published for 120 years and edited for many years in the twentieth century by famed editor John W. Eure. The newspaper's current owner is Landmark Communications. Weekday circulation averages a little over 100,000 with Sunday circulation around 110,000. In 2002, it was designated the best-read daily newspaper in the country, according to the 2002 Scarborough Report. Of 162 newspapers in top U.S. metropolitan areas, The Roanoke Times ranked first in the percentage of adults who read their daily newspaper. It ranked first again in 2006. The Roanoke Times established a web site in 1995 and has developed a web portal at Roanoke.com
The Roanoke Times also owns the Blue Ridge Business Journal which publishes 25 issues per year that focus on the business community in Roanoke and the surrounding region. The weekly Roanoke Tribune covers the city's African-American community. Main Street Newspapers publishes weekly newspapers for surrounding communities such as Salem, Vinton, southwest Roanoke County, and Botetourt County.
Other stations in the market include Fox affiliate WFXR Fox 21/27 in Roanoke, PBS affiliate WBRA-15 in Roanoke, Liberty University's WTLU-19 in Lynchburg, independent WDRL-24 in Pelham, North Carolina, and ION Television affiliate WPXR-38 in Roanoke.
|WVTF||89.1||Public Radio||Roanoke||Virginia Tech Foundation|
|WRXT||90.3||Christian Contemporary||Roanoke||Positive Alternative Radio|
|WPAR||91.3||Christian Contemporary||Salem||Positive Alternative Radio|
|WXLK||92.3||Top-40 Radio||Roanoke||Wheeler Broadcasting|
|WSNV||93.5||Adult Contemporary||Salem||Clear Channel|
|WROV||96.3||Classic Rock||Martinsville/Roanoke||Clear Channel|
|WSLQ||99.1||Adult Contemporary||Roanoke||Wheeler Broadcasting|
|WJJX||102.7||Rhythmic Top-40||Lynchburg||Clear Channel|
|WSNZ||101.7||Adult Contemporary||Appomattox/Lynchburg||Clear Channel|
|WZBL||106.1||Classic Country||Roanoke||Clear Channel|
|WJJS||104.9||Rhythmic Top-40||Vinton||Clear Channel|
|WYYD||107.9||New and Classic Country||Amherst||Clear Channel|
|WVBE||610||Urban Contemporary||Roanoke||Wheeler Broadcasting|
|WWWR||910||Gospel Music||Roanoke||Perception Media|
Center in the Square was opened in downtown Roanoke on December 9, 1983 near the city market as part of the city's downtown revitalization effort. The Center, a converted warehouse, houses the History Museum of Western Virginia, which contains exhibits and artifacts related to the area's history and has a library of materials available to scholars and the public. The Center also houses the Science Museum of Western Virginia and the Hopkins Planetarium.
Mill Mountain Theatre, a regional theatre, is located on the first floor of Center in the Square. As the name implies, the theatre was originally located on Mill Mountain from 1964 until 1976 when its original facility was destroyed by fire. The theatre has both a main stage for mainstream performances and a smaller black box theatre called Waldron Stage which hosts both newer and more experimental plays along with other live events. The best known events are an annual festival of new plays and the "No Shame Theatre" every Friday at 11 PM which is open to any performance that is "original, five minutes or less, and doesn’t break anything – people, the space, or laws." Mill Mountain Theatre has an atelier for visiting actors in a former downtown hotel.
The Center's other prominent tenant is the Art Museum of Western Virginia. The art museum features nineteenth and twentieth century American art, contemporary and modern art, decorative arts, and works on paper, and presents exhibitions of both regional and national significance. The art museum is constructing a new facility designed by Los Angeles based architect Randall Stout, who earlier in his career worked under Frank Gehry. The new space is scheduled to open in November 2008. The facility's design sparked debate in the community between those who feel it is a bold, refreshing addition to Roanoke and those who feel its unusual, irregular design featuring sharp angles contrasts too strongly with the existing buildings. Some are also concerned about the facility's cost at a time when many Roanoke area artistic organizations face financial challenges. The Taubman Family, which established Advance Auto Parts contributed $15.2 million to the project. As a result, the museum will be renamed The Taubman Museum of Art when it moves to the new space.
The Virginia Museum of Transportation houses many locomotives that were built in Roanoke, including the Norfolk and Western J class #611 and Norfolk & Western 1218 steam engines, and other locomotives and rolling stock. The museum also houses exhibits covering aviation, automobiles, and buses.
The Harrison Museum of African-American Culture is dedicated to the history and culture of Roanoke's African-American community and is currently located at a former school in the Gainsboro section of Roanoke. Gainsboro, originally Gainesborough for founder Major Kemp Gaines, was originally a separate community that petitioned for township status in 1835. The Harrison Museum will move to Center in the Square when the Art Museum of Western Virginia occupies its new facility.
The Shaftman Performance Hall, which opened in May 2001 and is located at the Jefferson Center, has become a prominent part of Roanoke's performing arts scene. Shaftman Hall hosts a regular season of concerts and other performances from the fall through the spring as well as other entertainment events and lectures. The Jefferson Center formerly served Roanoke as Jefferson High School and now also houses offices and display spaces for cultural organizations.
In November 2006, the former Dumas Hotel was reopened as the Dumas Center for Artistic and Cultural Development. The hotel is located on a segment of First Street NW commonly known as Henry Street. Located literally across the railroad tracks from the center of downtown Roanoke, Henry Street served as the commercial and cultural center of Roanoke's African American community prior to desegregation. The Dumas Hotel hosted such guests as Louis Armstrong, Ethel Waters, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole when they performed in Roanoke. The renovated Dumas Center houses an auditorium with more than 180 seats, the Downtown Music Lab: a recording studio and music education center for teens, the Dumas Drama Guild, and the offices of Opera Roanoke
The Roanoke Symphony Orchestra has performances at Shaftman Hall, the Salem Civic Center, and the Roanoke Civic Center. Current conductor David Wiley and his predecessor Victoria Bond have made the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra nationally respected.
Virginia Western Theatre has performances in Whitman Auditorium at Virginia Western Community College, and has been performing original and well known theatrical productions since 1968.
The Roanoke Civic Center's auditorium and newly renovated theatre, now known as the Roanoke Performing Arts Theatre, host concerts, touring Broadway theatre performances, the Miss Virginia pageant, and other events.
The Grandin Theatre in the Grandin Village of Southwest Roanoke regularly screens art house films, family features, and mainstream movies. The Grandin Theatre was the home of Mill Mountain Theatre from 1976 until 1983. The Buchanan Theatre recently reopened in Buchanan and screens classic and mainstream films and holds concerts and other live events.
Roanoke has also been home to the Showtimers Community Theatre since 1951. Attic Productions is located in Fincastle and opened a new facility in November 2006. The Star City Playhouse began performances in 2007 at its theatre on Williamson Road.
Part of the argument in favor of acknowledging Roanoke's neighborhood groups as gangs comes from state politicians, like former attorney general Jerry Kilgore, part of it comes from the groups themselves who actively proclaim their legitimate existence as criminal and violent gangs in a DVD released for sale in the local area. In 2007, a DVD titled "Real Talk" appeared in Roanoke convenience stores depicting gang life in Roanoke. The 95-minute video includes references to the "Lincoln Terrace Posse" ("LTP"), "Villa Heights", and "Southwest" ("SW"). The local NAACP president, while outraged by the content of the DVD, disagreed that there were "full-fledged" gangs in Roanoke and felt that the presence of a camera played a big part in encouraging the behavior displayed.
Minor league baseball has been more successful in building and maintaining a fan base than have the Roanoke Valley's other minor league sports teams. In the 1940s and early 1950s, Roanoke was home to a class B farm team of the Boston Red Sox. Since 1955, neighboring Salem has hosted the local minor league baseball team, currently the Salem Avalanche of the high Class A Carolina League. The Avalanche is currently affiliated with the Houston Astros but is expected to become an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, whose ownership group purchased the Avalanche in 2007, for the 2009 season.
Minor league hockey has a history in the Roanoke Valley dating to the 1960s. It reached a zenith of popularity in the mid- to late-1990s with the Roanoke Express of the ECHL. The team's attendance declined due to a lack of post-season success and management turmoil. The Express folded after the 2003-2004 season.
The 2005-2006 revival by the UHL's Roanoke Valley Vipers failed after one season. The team had a losing record and the midwestern-based league was unable to rekindle the interest of the local fanbase. The team was formed to provide a travel partner for a UHL franchise in Richmond which also folded after the 2005-2006 season. The southeastern-based Southern Professional Hockey League, nearly all of whose teams are located in cities with former ECHL teams, may bring hockey back to the Roanoke Valley.
The Roanoke Dazzle of the NBDL and the Roanoke Steam of the af2 (Arena Football) folded after never developing consistent followings. The Dazzle's attendance was similar to other inaugural franchises in the league. It was one of the last two teams to remain in its original city. Over the years, Roanoke has also had teams in soccer and men's and women's semi-professional football.
From the 1940s through the late 1960s, Roanoke's Victory Stadium hosted an annual Thanksgiving Day game between Virginia Tech and the Virginia Military Institute and other high profile college football games. From 1946 to 1950, Victory Stadium also hosted the South's Oldest Rivalry between the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina.
William Fleming High School is also a member of the AAA Western Valley District. The Colonels have established strong programs in men's basketball and football with a Group AA state championship in men's basketball in 2007 and two state runner-up seasons in both sports over the last 15 years. Lee Suggs graduated from Fleming.
Roanoke Catholic High School is a member of the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association. The Celtics won a VISAA football state championship in 1994 and have recently fielded strong men's basketball teams, often with foreign players, and have produced college players such as Virginia's J.R. Reynolds. The Celtics have won 3 VIS Basketball championships in the past years.
The city has constructed separate on-campus football stadiums at the schools to replace Victory Stadium, which was demolished in summer 2006. Patriot Stadium was opened for the 2007 season and a currently unnamed stadium on the William Fleming campus will open for the 2008 season. The field at Patriot Stadium was named after Merrill Gainer, who coached Patrick Henry to the 1973 state championship.
Note: Since a state constitutional change in 1871, all cities in Virginia are independent cities and they are not legally located in any county. The OMB considers these independent cities to be county-equivalents for the purpose of defining MSAs in Virginia. Each MSA is listed by its counties, then cities, each in alphabetical order, and not by size.
The Roanoke, VA MSA includes:
Many businesses and organizations adopted Star City in their names, after the Mill Mountain Star. The older Magic City is still used, most prominently by Roanoke's Ford dealership. The city's original name of Big Lick is often used in whimsical contexts.
Roanoke's status as the largest city in a mountainous area led to the nickname Capital of the Blue Ridge.
Raised in Roanoke: