In 1909 T. Marshall Bellamy laid out a streetcar suburb on the bluffs above the Appomattox River. He named the development Colonial Heights for the moment in history when, in 1781, the Marquis de Lafayette and his men known as the Colonials shelled the British troops below in Petersburg from these heights. Bellamy laid out his subdivision along the Richmond to Petersburg interurban transport route that opened in 1902 and followed the Manchester and Petersburg Turnpike. His development was made up of tracts of land that had once been part of the former plantations of Violet Bank (CS5) and Oak Hill (CS6).
Easy transport facilitating the early-twentieth-century rush to the suburbs assured the success of Bellamy's venture. In 1926 the suburban area was incorporated as a town, became a city in 1948, and an independent city in 1961. From 1950 to 1970, the population of Colonial Heights swelled from approximately 6,000 to approximately 15,000. White flight from Petersburg in the years following the 1954 federal mandate for racial integration was among the reasons for this rapid population increase. Thereafter, the population increased only gradually to just over 17,000 by 2010. The largest employers in this mainly residential city are major retail stores (Walmart being by far the largest). They serve area residents as well as Virginia State University, which is just outside the city.
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