Lexington is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 7,042. It is the county seat of Rockbridge County, although the two are separate jurisdictions. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Lexington (along with nearby Buena Vista) with Rockbridge County for statistical purposes. Lexington is about 57 miles (92 km) east of the West Virginia border and is about 50 miles (80 km) north of Roanoke, Virginia. It was first settled in 1777.
Main Street, Lexington
|Coordinates: Coordinates: |
|County||None (Independent city)|
|• Mayor||Frank Friedman|
|• City Manager||Noah Simon|
|• Commissioner of Revenue||Karen T. Roundy|
|• Treasurer||Patricia DeLaney|
|• City Attorney||Laurence A. Mann, Esquire|
|• Total||2.5 sq mi (6 km2)|
|• Land||2.5 sq mi (6 km2)|
|Elevation||1,063 ft (324 m)|
|• Density||2,817/sq mi (1,088/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||1498506|
|Councilman||J. Patrick Rhamey, Jr.|
Lexington was named in 1778. It was the first of what would be many American places named after Lexington, Massachusetts, known for being the place at which the first shot was fired in the American Revolution.
The Union General David Hunter led a raid on Virginia Military Institute during the American Civil War. Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson are buried here. It is the site of the only house Jackson ever owned, now open to the public as a museum. Cyrus McCormick invented the horse-drawn mechanical reaper at his family's farm in Rockbridge County, and a statue of McCormick is located on the Washington and Lee University campus. McCormick Farm is now owned by Virginia Tech and is a satellite agricultural research center.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.5 square miles (6.5 km2), virtually all of which is land. The Maury River, a tributary of the James River, forms the city's northeastern boundary.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen climate classification system, Lexington has a humid subtropical climate, similar to Northern Italy, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,867 people, 2,232 households, and 1,080 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,753.8 per square mile (,064.8/km²). The racial makeup was 86.01% White, 10.38% African American, 0.26% Native American, 1.92% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander and 0.48% from other races, and 0.93% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.1% of the population.
There were 2,232 households of which 18.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.9% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.6% were non-families. 41.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.06 and the average family size was 2.76.
In the city, the population was spread out with 11.0% under the age of 18, 41.4% from 18 to 24, 14.5% from 25 to 44, 16.7% from 45 to 64, and 16.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23 years. For every 100 females, there were 123.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 127.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $28,982, and the median income for a family was $58,529. Males had a median income of $35,288 versus $26,094 for females. The per capita income was $16,497. About 8.4% of families and 21.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.9% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over.
Today, Lexington's primary economic activities stem from higher education and tourism. Located at the intersection of historic U.S. Route 11 and U.S. Route 60 and more modern highways, Interstate 64 and Interstate 81. With its various connections to the Civil War, Lexington attracts visitors from around the country. Places of interest in Lexington include the Stonewall Jackson House, Lee Chapel, the George C. Marshall Museum, Virginia Military Institute Museum, Museum of Military Memorabilia, and the downtown historic district. Hull's Drive In theater attracts visitors to the area and was the first community-owned, non-profit drive-in in the U.S.
Lexington also contains a host of small retail businesses, bed and breakfast inns, and restaurants catering to a unique mixture of local, tourist, and collegiate clientele. The historic R. E. Lee Hotel, built in the 1920s, underwent extensive renovation and re-opened its doors late 2014.
Lexington has been the site for several movies. Parts of at least eight motion pictures have been filmed in the area. The first was the 1938 movie, Brother Rat, which starred Ronald Reagan. After the movie's release he was made an honorary VMI cadet. The second was the 1958 Mardi Gras, which starred Pat Boone as a VMI cadet and the actress Christine Carère. The third was Sommersby (1993), starring Richard Gere, Bill Pullman, James Earl Jones and Jodie Foster. The Foreign Student (1994), based on a novel of college life by former W&L student Phillipe Labro, also had scenes made in town. Filming for parts of several Civil War films also took place in Lexington, including the documentary Lee Beyond the Battles and Gods and Generals. In Fall 2004, the director Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise filmed scenes for War of the Worlds here, with Dakota Fanning and Tim Robbins. In June 2013, filming took place for a movie titled Field of Lost Shoes about the Battle of New Market starring Luke Benward and Lauren Holly.
The city has a number of independent newspapers. The News-Gazette is a weekly community paper; it also produces a free shopper known as The Weekender. The now-defunct The Rockbridge Weekly, noted for printing police and other local crime reports, was bought by The News-Gazette in June 2012. The Rockbridge Advocate is a monthly news magazine with the motto "Independent as a hog on ice".
In 2011, the city erupted in controversy after the City Council passed an ordinance to ban the flying of flags other than the United States flag, the Virginia Flag, and an as-yet-undesigned city flag on city light poles. Various flags of the Confederacy had previously been flown on city light poles to commemorate the Virginia holiday, Lee–Jackson Day, which is observed on the Friday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. About 300 Confederate flag supporters, including members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, rallied before the City Council meeting, and after the vote the Sons of Confederate Veterans vowed to challenge the new local ordinance in court. Previously, flags such as the Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute flags had also been flown on city light poles but the practice is now discontinued due to the city's ordinance.
Previously, a 1993 federal injunction had prohibited Lexington from barring individuals' displaying the Confederate flag. The current ordinance applies only to displays from city light poles; individuals still may exercise their First Amendment rights, including displaying flags of their choice.
The Red Hen restaurant was the site of the June 22, 2018, precipitating event for the Red Hen restaurant controversy, in which a restaurant co-owner asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave the restaurant, citing Huckabee Sanders' role in President Trump's administration. The incident sparked national controversy.