Student Research Projects

White Flight and the Suburbanization of Virginia Beach

Student James Sawyer
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department History
Course HIST 360: Junior Research Seminar


One of the fastest growing cities on the East Coast from 1960 until 1980 was Virginia Beach, Virginia. Due to a population explosion that occurred during this twenty-year period, the city of Virginia Beach became the largest city in the state. However, the disparity in its demographics made it nearly a homogonous white city in comparison to other major cities in the region. Through a combination of Supreme Court rulings, government-sponsored mortgage lending policies, and congressionally passed bills created during the mid-1950s, local, state and federal officials wittingly and unwittingly caused many white middle-class residents to move to new and established suburbs in neighboring counties. This paper will focus on the white flight from Norfolk, Virginia, to the newly merged Princess Anne County and Virginia Beach, Virginia. The results show how racially engineered policies had a lasting effect on both the makeup of the inner city and the suburbs.