Roanoke, Virginia

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A Taste of Roanoke, Virginia

did you know?

  1. Roanoke is an independent city in the Mid-Atlantic U.S. state of Virginia and is the tenth-largest city in the Commonwealth. It is located in the Roanoke Valley of the Roanoke Region of Virginia. The population within the city limits was 97,032 as of 2010.

  2. The town first called Big Lick was established in 1852 and chartered in 1874. It was named for a large outcropping of salt which drew the wildlife to the site near the Roanoke River. In 1882 it became the town of Roanoke, and in 1884 it was chartered as the independent city of Roanoke. The name Roanoke is said to have originated from an Algonquian word for shell "money". This was also the name of the river that bisected it (probably where shells had come from) and the county. The city grew frequently through annexation through the middle of the twentieth century. The last annexation was in 1976. The state legislature has since prohibited cities from annexing land from adjacent counties. Roanoke's location in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the middle of the Roanoke Valley between Maryland and Tennessee, made it the transportation hub of western Virginia and contributed to its rapid growth.

  3. EventZone was created in 2003 by the merger of various existing event organizers. EventZone is also charged with assisting in the creation of new festivals and activities in the Downtown Roanoke "event zone," which is defined as all areas bound by Williamson Road, 6th Street, SW, the Roanoke Civic Center, and Rivers Edge Park.

  4. Local Colors is a multi-cultural program which recognizes people of diverse origins, races and ethnic backgrounds and sponsors the annual Local Colors Festival in the third weekend of May.

  5. Roanoke's festivals and cultural events include the Chili Cook-Off, Festival in the Park, Local Colors Festival, Henry Street Festival, Big Lick Blues Festival, Strawberry Festival, and the large red, white, and blue illuminated Mill Mountain Star (formerly illuminated in red following drunk driving fatalities in the Roanoke Valley; temporarily illuminated in white on April 22, 2007 in remembrance of the Virginia Tech Massacre of April 16, 2007) on Mill Mountain, which is visible from many points in the city and surrounding valley.

  6. Roanoke's economy developed around the Norfolk and Western Railroad, with a strong emphasis on manufacturing. Roanoke's economic history also includes Sun Belt characteristics as it was once a center for the garment industry. Surrounding areas have traditionally relied on traditional industries of the rural South such as textiles and furniture manufacturing, which have lost jobs to offshore outsourcing. Despite Virginia's being a right to work state, unions have traditionally represented workers at many large employers in the Roanoke area and southwest Virginia.

  7. The Roanoke Times also owns the Blue Ridge Business Journal which publishes 25 issues per year that focus on the business community in Roanoke and the surrounding region. The weekly Roanoke Tribune covers the city's African-American community. Main Street Newspapers publishes weekly newspapers for surrounding communities such as Salem, Vinton, southwest Roanoke County, and Botetourt County.

  8. The Harrison Museum of African-American Culture is dedicated to the history and culture of Roanoke's African-American community and is currently located at a former school in the Gainsboro section of Roanoke. Gainsboro, originally Gainesborough for founder Major Kemp Gaines, was originally a separate community that petitioned for township status in 1835. The Harrison Museum will move to Center in the Square when the Art Museum of Western Virginia occupies its new facility.

  9. In November 2006, the former Dumas Hotel was reopened as the Dumas Center for Artistic and Cultural Development. The hotel is located on a segment of First Street NW commonly known as Henry Street. Located literally across the railroad tracks from the center of downtown Roanoke, Henry Street served as the commercial and cultural center of Roanoke's African American community prior to desegregation. The Dumas Hotel hosted such guests as Louis Armstrong, Ethel Waters, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole when they performed in Roanoke. The renovated Dumas Center houses an auditorium with more than 180 seats, the Downtown Music Lab: a recording studio and music education center for teens, the Dumas Drama Guild, and the offices of Opera Roanoke.

  10. The median income for a household in the city was $30,719, and the median income for a family was $37,826. Males had a median income of $28,465 versus $21,591 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,468. About 12.9% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.4% of those under age 18 and 11.3% of those age 65 or over.

  11. Being located along the Blue Ridge Mountains, Roanoke lies in the transition zone between the Humid subtropical climate zone and the Humid continental climate zone, with four distinct, but generally mild, seasons. Temperatures may reach over 100 F in summer or dip below 0 F in winter, but neither occurs in a typical year. Roanoke's all time record high of 105 F occurred on August 21, 1983, and the all time record low of -11 F occurred on January 21, 1985. The city averages 23.0 inches of snow per winter. Roanoke experienced something of a snow drought in the 2000s until December 2009 when 17" of snow fell on Roanoke in a single storm. Roanoke's snowiest winter on record occurred in 1986-1987 when 72.9 inches fell. The largest single storm dumped approximately three feet from December 16, 1890 through December 18, 1890.

    Radio Stations
    WRXT 90.3 FM Roanoke, VA Christian Contemporary
    WXLK 92.3 FM Roanoke, VA Top-40
    W249AG (WVBE) 97.7 FM Roanoke, VA Urban Contemporary
    WJJS 104.9 FM Roanoke, VA Hip Hop
    WZZI 106.9 FM Bedford, VA Sports
    W249AG (WVBE) 107.3 FM Roanoke, VA Urban Contemporary
    WVBE 610 AM Roanoke, VA Urban Contemporary
    WFNR 710 AM Blacksburg, VA News/Talk
    WGMN 1240 AM Roanoke, VA Sports
    WTOY 1480 AM Salem, VA Urban Contemporary

Demographics of Roanoke, Virginia

By Race



Native American



Total Population






Because Hispanics could be counted in other races, the totals above could possibly be more than 100%. If you would like a detailed listing of all ethnic groups in the U.S., please Click Here.


submitted articles


I am reaching out to anyone in Roanoke that can help me find my Mothers family. I don't want to make this story long but my Mother is very ill and not expected to live much longer. She was adopted around the age of ten and remembered her family. I am not trying to disrupt someones life but only wanting to fulfill my Mothers wishes by finding her siblings. I have found information on her parents , grandparents and brother which have all died. I can not find her sister and don't know if she is still alive or in the Roanoke area. This is a list of relatives that I have found that resided in the Roanoke area in the past. I was hoping that someone would recognize a name that might be a elderly relative living or dead. Both her Father and Mother had very large families from my research. Unfortunately I don't know any names from the present family. The surnames were Preston and Braxton.

My mother was born Virginia Ann Preston, dob May 1937

Parents - Charles and Anna Clara Preston (maiden name Anna Braxton)

Siblings - Bettie Marie Preston, Richard Julius Preston

Grandparents - Julius and Lucy Braxton, Ballard and Maggie Preston

Many aunts and uncles. I don't know the married surnames of the aunts but this is a short list of both.

Braxton Family
Mary Braxton, James Braxton, Julius Braxton Jr., Ridgeway Braxton, Leroy Braxton, Wallace Braxton, Florida Braxton

Preston Family
James Preston, Matilda Preston, Julia Preston Willie Preston

All of these people have passed but I know they must have relatives that still reside in the area. I need any help I can get. If you could spread my request into the community it would be a blessing.

Thank You
Otis Warren


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Businesses in Roanoke, Virginia

A small percentage of the businesses listed on may not necessarily be black owned and operated but have received favorable reviews from users who have visited the establishment, or from the owners themselves who warmly seek out African American patronage.


  1. Black Diamond Beauty Salon -  Category: Black Hair Salons -   301 24th Street apt B Northwest, Roanoke, VA 24017-5343 (540) 206-3653  - (visit website)

  2. Diva's House of Hair -  Category: Hair Salons -  5524 Williamson Rd, Roanoke, VA 24012 (540) 563-4911

  3. Jobrah African Hair Braiding -  Category: Black Hair Salons -  3304 Williamson Rd NW, Roanoke, VA 24012 (540) 400-6001  - (visit website)

  4. Kinkz 2 KURLZ -  Category: Hair Salons -  2328 Peters Creek Rd NW, Roanoke, VA 24017 (540) 342-0393

  5. SK Beauty Supply -  Category: Black Beauty Supply -  631 Peters Creek Rd, Roanoke, VA 24017 (540) 343-5656



  1. Harrison Museum-African American -  Category: Museum -   1 Market Square SE, Roanoke, VA 24011 (540) 857-4395  - (visit website)



  1. Da Island Man Enterprise LLC -  Category: Gifts -  African & West Indies Products, Shea Butter, Body Butters, Essential oils, Body oils, African American Art, Dashikis, Bags, African jewelry & more.   401 Rutherford Ave. Roanoke, Virginia (540) 353-3933  - (visit website)



  1. Blue 5 Restaurant -  Category: Southern-Inspired Cuisine - Entertainment -   312 2nd Street - Roanoke, VA 24011 (540) 904-5338   - (visit website)

  2. Soul Food Palace -  Category: Soul Food -   1201 Patterson Ave SW - Roanoke, VA (540) 342-1220

  3. The Blues BBQ Co. -  Category: BBQ -   107 E Market Street SE, Roanoke, VA 24011 (540) 344-5683   - (visit website)

  4. Thelma's Chicken and Waffles -  Category: Soul Food, Breakfast & Brunch -   315 Market St - Roanoke, VA 24012 (540) 343-8888



The 70th Anniversary of the African-American Newspaper in Roanoke Virginia - a brief history.


Jobs from Indeed



  1. Bethel Ame Church -  5056 Pleasant Hill Drive, Roanoke, VA 24018-3456 (540) 774-0588

  2. Double Anointing COGIC -  507 19th Street NW, Roanoke, VA 24017  - (visit website)

  3. Ebenezer AME Church -  1563 Lafayette Boulevard Northwest, Roanoke, VA 24017-3341 (540) 366-8690

  4. First Baptist Church -  407 North Jefferson Street, NW

  5. Holiness Tabernacle COGIC -  1130 Melrose Avenue, Roanoke, VA 24017 (540) 343-1063

  6. Mt Zion Ame Church -  2128 Melrose Avenue Northwest, Roanoke, VA 24017-6202 (540) 342-4954

  7. Price Memorial AMEZ Church -  Fifteenth St & Moorman Rd NW, Roanoke, VA (540) 344-7516

  8. St John Ame Church -  3020 Ivyland Drive, Roanoke, VA 24014-6312 (540) 427-3109



  1. Blue 5 Restaurant -  Category: Southern-Inspired Cuisine - Entertainment -   312 2nd Street - Roanoke, VA 24011 (540) 904-5338   - (visit website)

  2. Club Jazz & Blues Theater -  Category: Jazz & Blues Entertainment -   627 Townside Rd SW, Roanoke, VA 24014 (540) 343-6751

  3. Star City Comedy -  Category: Comedy Entertainment -   107 S. Jefferson St., Roanoke, VA 24011 (540) 632-2565   - (visit website)



  1. African-American N&W Heritage Celebration
    (June)   Location: Virginia Museum of Transportation   - (visit website)

    Downtown Roanoke, Inc. 213 Market Street - Roanoke, Virginia 24011 (540) 342-2028

  2. Big Lick Blues Festival
    (October)     - (visit website)

    Listen to blues music while chowing down on ribs from the Rib Cook-Off .

  3. Festival in the Park
    ( May)     - (visit website)

    4 event has a myriad of activities and entertainment for the whole family.

  4. Henry Street Heritage Festival
    (September)   Location: Harrison Museum of African American Culture (540) 857-4395   - (visit website)

    Promoting, showcasing, and celebrating the art and history of African Americans.


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