NORFOLK, a city and port of entry of the United States in Norfolk county, Virginia, opposite Portsmouth, on the north bank of Elizabeth river, an arm of Chesapeake Bay. It is the terminus of the Norfolk and Western Railroad (408 miles) and the Norfolk Southern Railroad (74 miles), has easy access to the Dismal Swamp Canal from Elizabeth City to the Pasquotank river), and the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, navigable for vessels of 500 tons, and is connected by regular lines of steamers with Richmond, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, Providence, Washington, and New York. The city lies low, and is somewhat irregular in its arrangement, but the streets are generally wide. The city hall, with a cupola 110 feet high, the custom-house-and post-office, the Norfolk academy, the masonic temple, the mechanics' hall, and some of the banks are the most conspicuous of the secular buildings. Apart from its naval yard, one of the largest in the United States, Norfolk has but few manufacturing establishments, but it carries on a large trade in cotton, fruits, vegetables, and oysters for the northern markets, as well as in maize, wheat, and sugar. Though the harbour has 26 feet of water at high tide, the fairway up to the city is narrow. The population was 14,620 in 1860, 19,229 in 1870, and 21,966 in 1880.
Founded in 1705, Norfolk was incorporated as a borough in 1736, and as a city in 1845. In 1776 it was burned by the British. At the opening of the Civil War it was the chief naval depot of the Confederates, but at an early date in the contest the vessels and yard were destroyed, and in May 1862 the town was occupied by the Federal fotees.