The City of Williamsburg (population 12,000) is a world-renowned tourist attraction for its extensive restoration of the original 18th-century capital of the Virginia colony.
From 1699 to 1780, the city was Virginia's seat of government and the social and cultural center of Virginia. In 1926, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., inspired by the Rev. Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin, was convinced to begin a long-term project to preserve and restore this colonial core.
Williamsburg now features an extensively restored and interpreted colonial area, half of a square mile in size and including more than 500 original and reconstructed 18th century buildings. At one end of this area is the campus of the College of William and Mary, the second-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States following Harvard University.
Williamsburg's Architectural Review Board was created in 1958. A Certified Local Government, Williamsburg has taken a comprehensive approach to management of heritage tourism corridors and historic districts by adopting through its comprehensive plan every type of historic overlay zoning permitted to local governments under the Code of Virginia.
The city has identified an Architectural Preservation District, including not only the colonial core but 19 other areas that include significant structures, landscapes, and archaeological sites dating from the colonial era through the 1940s. Ten Corridor Preservation Districts are also included in the local design review process.
The city has successfully partnered with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and interested citizen groups in planning and implementing the Williamsburg Transportation Center Project. This is a multimodal center that has adaptively reused a 1935 train station and transformed it into a regional welcome center, visitor complex, and transportation center for passenger rail, bus, regional transport, and local rental car and taxicab services.
The city also helps support Colonial Williamsburg's Electronic Field Trip Program for school children, which is offered free of charge to Williamsburg area schools. To date, approximately five million students from 41 States have participated in this program on 18th-century life, archeology, and architecture.
Colonial Williamsburg involves more than 900 local volunteers who contribute docent, interpreter, and hospitality services, in addition to paid employees. The city also contributes more than $2 million annually to market the historic attractions in Virginia's Historic Triangle of Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.
Designated a Preserve America Community in March 2004.