Chesapeake, Virginia was established as a new independent city in 1963, but the roots of the area go back hundreds of years. The history of the area that is now known as Chesapeake City started well before the Virginian Colony was established, even before the area was first discovered by European explorers. The Chesapians, a large group of Native Americans, were the first to settle and live in the area.
Colonist first arrived in the area now know as Chesapeake in 1620. These colonial settlers had a major role in the formation of the United States of America. In fact, in 1775, during the American Revolutionary War the colonist celebrated a huge victory against the British. The Battle of Great Bridge was an epic one and it enable the colonist to push British ships and vestiges away from the Colony of Virginia, who up until that point had largely controlled the waterways off the state’s coast.
Later, in 1790 the Dismal Swamp Canal was constructed to increase commerce in the area. The swamp canal enabled ships to go back and fourth between Virginia and North Carolina with ease. Steeped in historical significance, the Dismal Swamp Canal was the first surveyed by George Washington’s survey company. The canal has been in service for more than 230 years and it is the oldest continuously used man-made canal in the United States. The canal even played a huge role in the Civil War, as Confederate soldiers used it as a supply route until it was captured by Union soldiers in 1862.
The Virginia Civil War Trails go right through the Chesapeake area. These trails were set up during the Civil War and they are made up of Civil War battle fields and Underground Railroad passages. Today a number of historical sites have been preserved for tourists and locals to enjoy.
Once the Civil War ended the area in and around Chesapeake began to flourish as a community. The rich fertile soil, abundance of farmland and easy access to fresh and saltwater made it highly desirable to people looking for a new place to settle down. Until the late 1980s much of the area around Chesapeake was either rural, or suburban. The growth of the city of Chesapeake rapidly accelerated after this point and a significant number of new industries and business began to crop up. This sudden acceleration in growth led to infrastructure problem for Chesapeake, Virginia. The location of the city and its unique transportation considerations have continues to be an issue for the city of Chesapeake and the surrounding area. That being said, Chesapeake has been recognized as one of the “Best Places to Live” by Money Magazine and a number of other publications.