The Independent Cities of Virginia

Each award seems to have its own idiosyncracies. For DXCC Alaska and Hawaii are both separate countries from that of the other 48 states of the USA. For the ARRL Worked all States Award a contact with Washington DC can be counted as the state of Maryland. For county hunters the independent cities of Virginia have special status.The special status also extends to Carson City, Nevada and to Washington DC.

The State of Virginia has divided its land area into 95 counties and 40 independent cities. At one point the cites were actually more powerful than the counties in that the cities could annex neighboring land from the counties. This process actually resulted in the elimination of several Virginia counties.

The county hunters have given these cities a special status. They are not treated as true counties. But rather they are considered a part of the neighboring counties. Thus to work all the counties of the USA the county hunter does not need to work any of the Virginia cities. They also do not need to work all of the Virginia counties. They are permitted to submit a contact with a Virginia city in place of a contact with one of its neighboring counties. Under this arrangement a contact with a ham in the city of Virginia Beach can be counted as a contact with Isle of Wight county. This despite the fact that the nearest part of the city of Virginia Beach is to Isle of Wight county is over 14 miles away.

The history of many of the cities is very interesting. Much of what happend in the development of the larger cities was a attempt on the part of the counties to preserve their own existance. A good example of this is the creation of Virginia Beach City. Virgina Beach began as a town in 1906 and then become Virginia Beach City in 1952. At that time in was located in Princess Ann County. In 1963 the city and county merged in order to protect themselves from being absorbed by Norfolk City. Chesapeake City came into existance the same year when Norfolk County and the City of South Norflok merged to also protect themselves from Norfolk City. Perhaps these counties were led by events ten years earlier when in 1952 Elizabeth City County was devoured by the city of Hampton. Suffolk City followed something of the same path. Suffolk was established in 1748. One of my ancensters lived in the area before the city even existed. In 1910 it became the Suffolk City and was located in Nansemond County. Nasemond County became the City of Nansemond in July 1972. Then in 1974 the two cities merged into the City of Suffolk.

Now with the growth of the area of southeast Virgina and of many of the other cites many of them are larger than most of the counties in the state. The Census Bureau has a very interesting pdf file showing the size of the largest 15 cities and counties in state as recored in the 2000 Census. It should be observed that many of remaining 25 cites are very small in terms of both population and land area. However the smallest jurisdiction in the state in terms of population is Highland County.

Virginia remains biggest oddity in the system. The cities of Virginia are in general larger in population than most of the counties in the county. A third of seven million the people in VA live in one of the cities. One can spend over an hour at interstate highway speeds driving through the cities of southeast Virginia. The city of Virgina Beach with a 2000 Census reported population of 425,000 is smaller than only one county in the state. So to claim to have worked Isle of Wight County after a QSO with someone in Virginia Beach really is streching credibility. Or as I have been known to say it fails the laugh test.

If one were to be truely fair in the treatment of the cities and counties of VA some of the cites really should be treated the same one the same level as the counties. This would be most reasonable for those cites which are former counites. On the other hand it is very fair to let many of the smallar cities be considered as part of their parent county. determinig where to draw the line between the two would be a real problem.

The same principle is applied to Carson City, Nevada. Washington DC can be counted as either Prince George's or Montgomery county in MD. This despite the fact that no one considers the nation's capital to part of the state of MD. Of course here the county hunters are following the lead of the ARRL which allows a QSO with Washington DC to count as a QSO with the State of Maryland for their Worked All States award.

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