Suffolk is an independent city located in the U.S. state of Virginia. As of the 2014 census, the estimated population was 86,806. It is the largest city in Virginia by area as well as the 14th largest in the country.
Suffolk is located in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area which also includes the independent cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach, as well as other smaller cities, counties, and towns of Hampton Roads. With miles of waterfront property on the Nansemond and James River, present day Suffolk was formed in 1974 after consolidating with Nansemond County and the towns of Holland and Whaleyville. The current mayor is Linda T. Johnson.
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, a county in East Anglia, 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. It became the county seat of Nansemond County in 1750.
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.