Charlottesville, named for Queen Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of George III, is sited on a low plateau in central Albemarle County. The Rivanna River, a major transportation route, lies to the southeast. The city was platted in 1762 when the county seat of Albemarle County was moved from Scottsville, a port along the James River. The site selected for the new county seat was along the Three Notched Road, a colonial highway that connected Richmond to the Shenandoah Valley. The courthouse, originally located outside the town, was the administrative center of the county. The University of Virginia, established nearby in 1817, has had a profound impact on the development of the city. The railroad arrived in Charlottesville during the mid-nineteenth century. Eventually two rail lines intersected near the center of the town and spurred additional growth. The initial grid has been expanded many times, and the uneven terrain has made for a confusing city plan. Over the years, contiguous but different centers for government, commerce, residence, and education have developed.
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