About This Place
Suffolk is the largest city by area in Virginia, United States, and is located in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 84,585. Its median household income was $57,546.
Suffolk was founded by English colonists in 1742 as a port town on the Nansemond River in the Virginia Colony. Originally known as Constant's Warehouse, for John Constant, Suffolk was renamed after Royal Governor William Gooch's home of Suffolk county in East Anglia in England. Before European contact, indigenous American tribes lived in the region for thousands of years. At the time of English settlement, the Nansemond Indians lived along the river. In the early colonial years, the English cultivated tobacco as a commodity crop, but later turned to mixed farming. The labor-intensive crop depended on enslaved Africans.
Early in its history, Suffolk became a land transportation gateway to the areas east of it in South Hampton Roads. Before the American Civil War, both the Portsmouth and Roanoke Railroad and the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad were built through Suffolk, early predecessors of 21st century Class 1 railroads operated by CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern, respectively. Other railroads and later major highways followed after the war.