Buena Vista was a focal point of the Shenandoah Valley land "boom" initiated in 1889 by several land development companies, one of which was the Buena Vista Company. In less than three years, Buena Vista grew from a sparsely populated rural area to a town with 19 industries that employed in excess of 1,000 workers.
When incorporated as a city by the Virginia General Assembly in 1892, Buena Vista had a population of 5,240. It was during the land "boom" era that Buena Vista assumed its role as an industrial city, a status it retains today. Southern Virginia College (formerly Southern Seminary) is a designated State and national historic landmark in the City.