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Virginia Beach
—  City  —
Virginia Beach Oceanfront

Flag

Seal
Location in Virginia.
Virginia Beach is located in the USA
Virginia Beach
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 36°50′04″N 76°05′6.72″W / 36.83444°N 76.0852°W / 36.83444; -76.0852
Country United States
State Virginia
Government
 - Mayor Will Sessoms
Area
 - City 497.3 sq mi (1,288.1 km2)
 - Land 248.3 sq mi (643.1 km2)
 - Water 249.0 sq mi (645.0 km2)
Elevation 10 ft (6 m)
Population (2008 Census Estimate)
 - City 433,746
 Density 1,712.8/sq mi (661.3/km2)
 Urban 1,212,000
 Metro 1,795,015
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 757
FIPS code 51-82000[1]
GNIS feature ID 1500261[2]
Website http://www.vbgov.com/

Virginia Beach is an independent city located in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia, on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Although Fairfax County is the most populous jurisdiction, Virginia Beach is the most populous city in Virginia and the 42nd largest city in the United States, with an estimated population of 440,415 in 2008.[3] Its median household income in 2007 was $61,234.

Virginia Beach is the easternmost of the Seven Cities of Hampton Roads that make up the core of the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA. This area, known as "America's First Region", also includes the independent cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, as well as other smaller cities, counties and towns of Hampton Roads.

Virginia Beach is a resort city with miles of beaches and hundreds of hotels, motels, and restaurants along its oceanfront. Every year the city hosts the East Coast Surfing Championships as well as the North American Sand Soccer Championship, a beach soccer tournament. It is also home to several state parks, several long-protected beach areas, three military bases, a number of large corporations, two universities, and numerous historic sites. Near the point where the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean meet, Cape Henry was the site of the first landing of the English colonists, who eventually settled in Jamestown, on April 26, 1607.

The city is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having the longest pleasure beach in the world. It is located at the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, the longest bridge-tunnel complex in the world.[4]

Contents

History

A Chesepian Home

Chesepians were the first inhabitants of the area now known as South Hampton Roads in Virginia about which anything is known.[5] They occupied an area which is now the independent cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.[6]

Cape Henry from the air, facing ESE

In 1607, after a voyage of 144 days, three ships headed by Captain Christopher Newport carrying 105 men and boys made their first landfall in the New World where the Atlantic Ocean meets the southern mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in the northeastern part of the city. They named it Cape Henry, after Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of King James I of England. However, these English colonists of the Virginia Company of London left the area, as they were under orders to seek a site further inland which would be more sheltered from ships of competing European countries. They created their first permanent settlement at Jamestown.[7]

Adam Thoroughgood (1604–1640) of King's Lynn, Norfolk, England is one of the earliest Englishmen to settle in the area which became Virginia Beach. At the age of 18, he became an indentured servant to pay for passage to the Virginia Colony. He earned his freedom and became a leading citizen of the area. In 1629, he was elected to the House of Burgesses for Elizabeth Cittie [sic], one of four "citties" (or incorporations) which were subdivided areas established in 1619.[8]

In 1634, the Colony was divided into the original eight shires of Virginia, soon renamed as counties. Thoroughgood is credited with using the name of his home in England when helping name "New Norfolk County" in 1637. The following year, New Norfolk County was split into Upper Norfolk County (soon renamed Nansemond County) and Lower Norfolk County. Thoroughgood's choice of residence after 1634 was along the Lynnhaven River, also named for his home in England. Lower Norfolk County was quite large, and stretched all the way from the Atlantic Ocean west past the Elizabeth River, encompassing the entire area now within the modern cities of Portsmouth, Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach.[8]

In 1691, Lower Norfolk County was divided to form Norfolk County and Princess Anne County. Princess Anne, the easternmost county in South Hampton Roads, extended northward from the North Carolina border to Cape Henry at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, and included all of the area fronting the Atlantic Ocean. Princess Anne County was to last from 1691 to 1963, over 250 years.[9]

Princess Anne County (1691-1963), now extinct, with Virginia Beach from 1895 Virginia map

The small resort area of Virginia Beach grew in Princess Anne County, beginning in the late 19th century, particularly after the 1888 arrival of rail service and electricity and the opening of the original Princess Anne Hotel at the oceanfront near the tiny community of Seatack. In 1891, guests at the new hotel watched the wreck and rescue efforts of the United States Life-Saving Service for the Norwegian bark Dictator. The ship's figurehead, which washed up on the beach several days later, was erected as a modest monument to the victims and rescuers along the oceanfront for more than 50 years, and later became the inspiration for the current matching Norwegian Lady Monuments in Virginia Beach and Moss, Norway, sculpted by Ørnulf Bast.[10]

Although the resort was initially dependent upon railroad and electric trolley service, the completion of Virginia Beach Boulevard in 1922, which extended from Norfolk to the oceanfront, opened the way for automobiles, buses, trucks, and passenger rail service, the latter of which was eventually discontinued. The growing resort of Virginia Beach became an incorporated town in 1906. Over the next 45 years, Virginia Beach continued to grow in popularity as a seasonal vacation spot, and casinos gave way to amusement parks and family-oriented attractions. In 1927 The Cavalier Hotel opened and became a popular vacation spot. Virginia Beach became politically independent of Princess Anne County as an independent city in 1952, although the numerous ties between Virginia Beach and Princess Anne remained. In 1963, after approval by referendum of the voters of the City of Virginia Beach and Princess Anne County, and with the approval of the Virginia General Assembly, the two political subdivisions were consolidated as a new, much larger independent city, retaining the better-known name of the Virginia Beach resort.[11]

Real estate, defense, and tourism are major sectors of the Virginia Beach economy, but the city has begun to run out of clear land available for new construction above the Green Line, an urban growth boundary dividing the urban northern and rural southern sections of the city.[12]

As such, while Virginia Beach does not have a redevelopment authority, local public and private groups have maintained a vested interest in real-estate redevelopment, resulting in a number of joint public-private projects such as commercial parks. Examples of this are the Virginia Beach Convention Center, the Oceanfront Hilton Hotel, and the Virginia Beach Town Center. Using tax increment financing through creation of special tax districts and street and infrastructure construction, the City was able to assist in financing the projects making them a reality. The Town Center opened in 2003 and still has construction taking place, while the Convention Center opened in 2005.[13][14]

The Alan B. Shepard Civic Center ("The Dome"), a significant building in the city's history, was constructed in 1958,[15] was dedicated to the career of former Virginia Beach resident and astronaut Alan Shepard,[16] and was the first geodesic dome building constructed in the continental United States — based on the design work of Buckminster Fuller. The building was razed in 1994[15] to make room for a municipal parking lot and potential future development.

Infill and development of residential neighborhoods has placed a number of operating constraints on Naval Air Station Oceana, a major fighter jet base for the U.S. Navy. While the airbase currently enjoys wide support from Virginia Beach at large, the Pentagon Base Realignment and Closure commission has proposed closure of Oceana within the next decade.[17]

Geography and climate

Image of the Chesapeake Bay shore.

Virginia Beach is located at 36°50′4″N 76°5′13″W / 36.83444°N 76.08694°W / 36.83444; -76.08694 (Virginia Beach)Coordinates: 36°50′4″N 76°5′13″W / 36.83444°N 76.08694°W / 36.83444; -76.08694 (Virginia Beach).[18]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 497.3 square miles (1,288 km2). 248.3 square miles (643 km2) of it is land and 249.0 square miles (645 km2) of it (50.07%) is water. The average elevation is 12 feet (3.7 m) above sea level. A major portion of the city drains to the Chesapeake Bay by way of the Lynnhaven River and its tributaries.

The city is located at the southeastern corner of Virginia in the Hampton Roads area bordering the Atlantic Ocean. The Hampton Roads Metropolitan Statistical Area (officially known as the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA) is the 34th largest in the United States, with a total population of 1,576,370. The area includes the Virginia cities of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Williamsburg, and the counties of Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Mathews, Surry, and York, as well as the North Carolina county of Currituck. While Virginia Beach is the most populated city within the MSA, it actually currently functions more as a suburb. The city of Norfolk is recognized as the central business district, while the Virginia Beach oceanside resort district and Williamsburg are primarily centers of tourism.

Neighborhoods

Virginia Beach from space

When the modern city of Virginia Beach was created in 1963, by the consolidation of the 253 square miles (660 km2) Princess Anne County with the 2 square miles (5.2 km2) City of Virginia Beach, the newly larger city was divided into seven boroughs: Bayside, Blackwater, Kempsville, Lynnhaven, Princess Anne, Pungo, and Virginia Beach.

Virginia Beach has many distinctive communities and neighborhoods within its boundaries, including: Acredale,Chesapeake Beach, Brigadoon, Great Neck, Kings Grant, Alanton, Green Run, Buckner Farms, Bayside, Blackwater, Brighton on the Bay, College Park, Glenwood, Croatan Beach, Church Point, Greenwich, the North End, Kempsville, Landstown, London Bridge, Lynnhaven, Little Neck, Middle Plantation, Munden, Oceana, Ocean Lakes, Ocean Park, Pembroke Manor, Pembroke Meadows,Indian Lakes, Pembroke Shores, Hilltop, Pine Meadows, Princess Anne, Pungo, Indian River Plantation, Salem, Sandbridge, Seatack, Shadowlawn, Thalia, Thalia Shores, Thoroughgood, Witchduck Point and the Oceanfront.[19]

Climate

The climate of Virginia Beach is humid subtropical, due to the moderating effect of the ocean. Winters are very mild, and snowfall is rare. Summers are hot and humid with warm evenings. The mean annual temperature is 73 °F (23 °C), with an average annual snowfall of 2.5 inches (64 mm) and an average annual rainfall of 45 inches (1,100 mm). The wettest seasons are the spring and summer, although rainfall is fairly constant all year round. The highest recorded temperature was 103 °F (39 °C) in August 1957, and the lowest recorded temperature was 4 °F (−16 °C) in January 1985.[20][21]

Additionally, the geographic location of the city, with respect to the principal storm tracks, is especially favorable, as it is south of the average path of storms originating in the higher latitudes, and north of the usual tracks of hurricanes and other major tropical storms.With the exception of Hurricane Isabel in 2003[22]

Climate data for Norfolk, Virginia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 48
(8.9)
50
(10)
58
(14.4)
67
(19.4)
75
(23.9)
83
(28.3)
87
(30.6)
85
(29.4)
79
(26.1)
69
(20.6)
61
(16.1)
52
(11.1)
67.8
(19.9)
Average low °F (°C) 32
(0)
34
(1.1)
40
(4.4)
48
(8.9)
58
(14.4)
66
(18.9)
71
(21.7)
70
(21.1)
65
(18.3)
53
(11.7)
44
(6.7)
36
(2.2)
51.4
(10.8)
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.93
(99.8)
3.34
(84.8)
4.08
(103.6)
3.38
(85.9)
3.74
(95)
3.77
(95.8)
5.17
(131.3)
4.79
(121.7)
4.06
(103.1)
3.47
(88.1)
2.98
(75.7)
3.03
(77)
45.74
(1,161.8)
Snowfall inches (mm) 2.6
(66)
2.9
(73.7)
1.0
(25.4)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.9
(22.9)
7.4
(188)
Source: The Weather Channel [23] July 28, 2008
Source #2: Weatherbase.com [24] January 2010

Demographics

Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1790 7,793
1850 7,669
1900 11,192
1910 11,526 3.0%
1920 13,626 18.2%
1930 16,282 19.5%
1940 19,984 22.7%
1950 42,277 111.6%
1960 84,215 99.2%
1970 172,106 104.4%
1980 262,199 52.3%
1990 393,069 49.9%
2000 425,257 8.2%
Est. 2008 433,746 [25] 2.0%
Population 1790 - 1990[26]
Age distribution in Virginia Beach

At the 2005-2007 American Community Survey Estimates the city's population was 73.0% White (67.1% non-Hispanic White alone), 21.0% Black or African American, 1.0% American Indian and Alaska Native, 6.5% Asian, 0.3% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 1.7% from some other race and 3.2% from two or more races. 5.4% were Hispanic or Latino of any race. [3]

As of the census of 2000,[1] there were 425,257 people, 154,455 households, and 110,898 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,712.7 people per square mile (661.3/km²). There were 162,277 housing units at an average density of 653.6/sq mi (252.3/km²).

The racial makeup of the city was: 78% White (72.46% non-Hispanic white), 12% African American, 0.38% Native American, 4.91% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 1.51% from other races, and 2.75% from two or more races. 4.18% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 154,455 households out of which 38.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.7% were married couples living together, 12.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.2% were non-families. 20.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.14.

The age distribution was 27.5% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 34.3% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 8.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 98.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $48,705, and the median income for a family was $53,242. Virginia Beach had the 5th highest median family income among large cities in 2003.[27] Males had a median income of $33,756 versus $25,979 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,365. About 5.1% of families and 6.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.6% of those under age 18 and 4.7% of those age 65 or over.

The city of Virginia Beach has crime that is considerably low compared to the other cities of the Hampton Roads, Newport News, Virginia, Norfolk, Virginia, Portsmouth, Virginia, have above the national average crime rates while Virginia Beach remains low. In 1999 Virginia Beach experienced 12 murders giving the city a murder rate of 2.7 per 100,000 people. For 2007, Virginia Beach had 16 murders giving the city a murder rate of 3.7 per 100,000 people. The National Average is 6.9. The city’s total crime index rate for 2007 was 221.2. The United States average is 320.9 per 100,000 people.[28] According to the Congressional Quarterly Press '2008 City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America, Virginia Beach, Virginia ranks as the 311th most dangerous city larger than 75,000 inhabitants. The rankings include 385 cities based upon all forms of violent crime.[29]

Violent crimes per 100,000 citizens
Crime Virginia Beach (2009) National Average
Murder 3.7 6.9
Rape 20.2 32.2
Robbery 127.3 195.4
Assault 98.6 340.1
Burglary 495.2 814.5
Automobile Theft 134.4 526.5

The city was also named the safest US city in 2004. { http://www.citymayors.com/society/uscities_safest.html }

Economy

Tourism at the beach boosts Virginia Beach's economy

Virginia Beach is best known for its tourism but the military and agribusiness sectors contribute to the City's economy. The City's economy also contains a large retail component. Major companies headquartered in Virginia Beach include Lillian Vernon and Stihl (North American headquarters). Other major employers include GEICO, Amerigroup, and Navy Exchange Service Command.[30]

Tourism produces a large share of Virginia Beach's economy. With an estimated $857 million spent in tourism related industries, 14,900 jobs cater to 2.75 million visitors. City coffers benefit as visitors provide $73 million in revenue. Virginia Beach opened a Convention Center in 2005 which caters to large group meetings and events. Hotels not only line the Oceanfront but also cluster around Virginia Beach Town Center and other parts of the City. Restaurants and entertainment industries also directly benefit from Virginia Beach's tourism.[30]

Virginia Beach has a large agribusiness sector which produces $80 million for the city economy. One hundred-seventy-two farms exist in Virginia Beach, mostly below the greenline in the southern portion of the City. Farmers are able to sell their goods and products at the City's Farmer's Market.[31][32]

A VF-41 F-4J over NAS Oceana in the late 1960s

Virginia Beach is home to several United States Military bases. These include the United States Navy's NAS Oceana and FTC Dam Neck, and the United States Army's Fort Story located at Cape Henry. Additionally, NAB Little Creek is located mostly within the city of Virginia Beach but carries a Norfolk address.[33]

NAS Oceana is the largest employer in Virginia Beach; it was decreed by the 2005 BRAC Commission that NAS Oceana must close unless the city of Virginia Beach condemns houses in areas designated as "Accident Potential Zones." This action has never been the position of the United States Navy; indeed, the Navy had not recommended NAS Oceana to the BRAC Commission for potential closure. The issue of closure of NAS Oceana remains unresolved as of May, 2008<DISPUTED - see http://www.bracresponse.com/whyWeComply.pdf.>

[17]

Both NAS Oceana and FTC Dam Neck are considered to be the largest of their respective kind in the world. Furthermore, located in nearby Norfolk is the central hub of the United States Navy's Atlantic Fleet, Norfolk Navy Base.[34]

Culture

Adam Thoroughgood House, before 1957 restoration

Virginia Beach is most often associated with the larger American South. People who have grown up in the Hampton Roads area have a unique Tidewater accent which sounds different from a stereotypical Southern accent. Vowels have a longer pronunciation than in a regular Southern accent.[35]

The city is home to several points of interest in the historical, scientific, and performing arts areas, and has become a popular tourist destination in recent years. The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center (formerly the Virginia Marine Science Museum) is a popular aquarium near the oceanfront that features the 300,000-gallon Norfolk Canyon Aquarium, containing sand tiger, nurse and brown sharks, as well as sting rays and other large open-ocean dwellers. There is also a 70,000-gallon sea turtle aquarium, sea turtle hatchling laboratory, hands-on ocean exploration exhibits, jellyfish and octopus aquariums, and even a life-size model of a humpback whale. Other features include the Owls Creek salt marsh and a nature trail.[36]

The Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheather features a wide variety of popular shows and concerts, ranging from Kenny Chesney to Taylor Swift to Coldplay to Ozzfest. The Sandler Center, a 1200-seat performing arts theatre, opened in the Virginia Beach Town Center in November, 2007.[37]

Two lighthouses at Cape Henry

Virginia Beach is home to many sites of historical importance, and has 18 sites on the National Register of Historic Places. Such sites include the Adam Thoroughgood House (one of the oldest surviving colonial homes in Virginia), the Francis Land House (a 200-year-old plantation), the Cape Henry Lights and nearby Cape Henry Light Station (a second tower), Bayville Farm, DeWitt Cottage, Ferry Farm Plantation, Dr. John Miller-Masury House, Adam Keeling House, Old Donation Church, Pembroke Manor, Pleasant Hall, Shirley Hall (Devereaux House), Thomas Murray House, U.S. Coast Guard Station (Seatack), Upper Wolfsnare, Weblin House, and Wishart Boush House, and Wolfsnare.[38]

The Edgar Cayce Hospital for Research and Enlightenment was established in Virginia Beach in 1928 with 60 beds. Cayce was a psychic from Kentucky who claimed healing abilities and made prophesies. Cayce is known as the father of the "New Age" movement of the 1960s. Cayce resided in Virginia Beach until he died on January 3, 1945. His followers are still active in Virginia Beach. The 67th street facility features a large private library of books on psychic matters, and is open to the public. The traditional beach-architecture headquarters building features massage therapy by appointment. Atlantic University was opened by Cayce in 1930; it closed two years later but was re-opened in 1985. Atlantic University was originally intended for study of Cayce's readings and research on spiritual subjects.[39]

The city's largest festival, the Neptune Festival, attracts 500,000 visitors to the Oceanfront and 350,000 visitors to the air show at NAS Oceana. Celebrating the city's heritage link with Norway, events are held in September in the Oceanfront and Town Center areas.[40] Every August, the American Music Festival provides festival attendees with live music performed on stages all over the Oceanfront, including the beach on Fifth Street. The festival ends with the Rock and Roll Half Marathon.[41]

Sports

Virginia Beach has no major league professional sports teams or spectator sports. Since Norfolk contains the central business district of Hampton Roads, most of the major spectator sports are located there. While the Hampton Roads area has been recently considered as a viable prospect for major-league professional sports, and regional leaders have attempted to obtain Major League Baseball, NBA and NHL franchises in the recent past, no team has yet relocated to the area.[42]

There are two soccer teams, the Hampton Roads Piranhas, a men's team in the USL Premier Development League, and a women's team by the same name in the W-League. The Piranhas play at the main stadium of the Virginia Wesleyan College. The Virginia Beach Sportsplex contains the central training site for the U.S. women's national field hockey team.[43]

The city is also home to the East Coast Surfing Championships, an annual contest of more than 100 of the world's top professional surfers and an estimated 400 amateur surfers. This is North America's oldest surfing contest, and features combined cash prizes of $40,000.[44]

There are also eleven golf courses open to the public in the city, as well as four country club layouts and 36 military holes at NAS Oceana's Aeropines course. Among the best-known public courses are Hell's Point Golf Club and Virginia Beach National, the latter of which hosts the Virginia Beach Open, a Nationwide Tour event, each April.[45]

The North American Sand Soccer Championship is held once a year at the beach. The tournament includes the Pro/Am competition, which brings teams from all over the world to compete in the tournament.[46]

Virginia Beach is host to a Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon each year on Labor Day weekend in conjunction with the American Music Festival. It is one of the largest Half Marathons in the world. The final 3 miles (4.8 km) are on the boardwalk.[47]

Parks and recreation

Virginia Beach is home to 208 city parks, encompassing over 4,000 acres (16 km2), including neighborhood parks, community parks, district parks, and other open spaces. Each park is unique and offers something for everyone, from wide open spaces to playgrounds, picnic shelters, and ballfields.[48]

A wedding party lines up for photographs in front of a giant Neptune statue on the boardwalk

Mount Trashmore Park is clearly visible from I-264 when traveling to the oceanfront. The park is 165 acres (668,000 m²). The hill is 60 ft (18 m) high and over 800 ft (240 m) long, and was created by compacting layers of solid waste and clean soil. When it opened in 1973, Mt. Trashmore was the first park in the world to be created from a waste landfill.[citation needed] It is the highest point in Virginia Beach. The name is a play on "Mt. Rushmore" and was coined as a nickname by city residents watching its construction.[citation needed] The park also features two lakes: Lake Windsor and Lake Trashmore. Lake Trashmore is stocked with fish, but is unsanitary to fish in. Residents can also take advantage of a skate park.[49]

Another major park in the city is Great Neck Park, a 70 acre (283,000 m²) park located in the Lynnhaven District. Facilities include five large group shelters, mini-shelters, family picnic tables and grills, three playgrounds, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, vending machines, walking trails, four baseball fields, as well as a gazebo located at the end of a scenic walkway overlooking the Lynnhaven River.[50]

People enjoying a rental quadracycle (called a surrey) on the Boardwalk

The Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1938, is an 8,000-acre (32 km2) fresh water refuge that borders the Atlantic Ocean on the east and Back Bay on the west. The barrier islands feature large sand dunes, maritime forests, fresh water marshes, ponds, ocean beach, and large impoundments for wintering wildfowl. It is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.[51]

First Landing State Park and False Cape State Park are both located in coastal areas within the city's corporate limits as well. Both offer camping facilities, cabins, and outdoor recreation activities in addition to nature and history tours.[52][53]

Munden Point is a park located in the deep southern end of the city, which is known for being rural.[54]

Additionally, the famous three-mile (5 km) boardwalk at the oceanfront is often packed with fascinating entertainment, outdoor cafes, concerts and people. Made of concrete, the boardwalk links forty hotels and other attractions and has a bike path.[55]

Naval Aviation Monument Park was formally dedicated on May 6, 2006, by the Hampton Roads Squadron of the Naval Aviation Foundation Association. Planned since 1997 in partnership with the City of Virginia Beach, the park features heroic-scale statuary and reliefs to tell the history of Naval Aviation.[56]

Government

No bad behavior sign along Atlantic Avenue

Virginia Beach was chartered as a municipal corporation by the General Assembly of Virginia on January 1, 1963. The city currently operates under the council-manager form of government.[57] The city does not fall under the jurisdiction of a county government, due to state law. Rather, it functions as an independent city and operates as a political subdivision of the state.

The city's legislative body consists of an 11 member city council. The city manager is appointed by the council and acts as the chief executive officer. Through his staff, he implements policies established by the council.[58]

Members of the city council normally serve four-year terms and are elected on a staggered basis in non-partisan elections. Beginning in 2008, general elections are held the first Tuesday in November in even-numbered years. In previous years, elections were held the first Tuesday in May in even-numbered years. All registered voters are eligible to vote for all council members. Three council members and the mayor serve on an "at large" basis with no district residency requirement. All others are required to reside in their respective district constituencies: Bayside, Beach, Centerville, Kempsville, Lynnhaven, Princess Anne, and Rose Hall.[57]

The mayor is elected to a four-year term through direct election. The mayor presides over council meetings, and serves as the ceremonial head and spokesperson of the city. A vice mayor is also elected by the city council at the first meeting following a council election.[58]

In addition to the city council, residents elect members of the school board of the city's public school district, Virginia Beach City Public Schools. The board consists of 11 members and is headed by a chairman. In addition to formulating local educational policy, the board appoints a Superintendent of Schools. School board elections are held concurrently and in the same manner as city council elections, with four at-large seats and seven seats with district residency requirements. The chairman and vice chairman are elected by the members of the board, and may be either at-large or district members.

Citizens of Virginia Beach also elect five constitutional officers, and candidates for these offices are permitted to run with an affiliated political party. Three of these offices deal substantially with public safety and justice: the Sheriff, Commonwealth's Attorney, and the Clerk of the Circuit Court. The two other offices are concerned with fiscal policy: the City Treasurer and the Commissioner of the Revenue.

Virginia Beach has a Housing and Neighborhood Preservation division which aims to promote healthy neighborhoods and allow access to affordable housing. This division provides assistance to area neighborhoods including federal and state resources, support for neighborhood groups, training seminars, code enforcement assistance, and youth activities. The City police also offer resources and networking for the neighborhoods.[59][60]

Education

The current building of Frank W. Cox High School

According to the U.S. Census, 28.1% of the population over twenty-five (vs. a national average of 24%) hold a bachelor's degree or higher, and 90.4% (vs. 80% nationally) have a high school diploma or equivalent.

The city of Virginia Beach is home to Virginia Beach City Public Schools, one of the largest school systems in the state and among the 50 largest school divisions in the United States (based on student enrollment). Virginia Beach City Public Schools currently serves 69,735 students, and includes 56 elementary schools, 14 middle schools, 11 high schools which include Landstown, Princess Anne, Cox, Tallwood, Salem, First Colonial, Kellam, Green Run, Kempsville, Bayside, and Ocean Lakes High Schools as well as a number of secondary/post-secondary specialty schools and centers such as the Advanced Technology Center (ATC), which provides excellent courses for those trying to gain a place in the technology field. Ocean Lakes maintains a rigorous math and science academy, while Bayside houses a health sciences academy. Salem High school houses the Visual and Performing Arts Academy, preparing students for jobs in the Fine and Performing Arts. Landstown High School contains a Technology Academy, which helps prepare students for jobs in Business Marketing, Information Technology, and/or Engineering. First Colonial High School is home to the Legal Studies Academy, with courses such as Forensic Science, Intro to Law, and Legal Research and Writing, preparing students for jobs in the law field. Tallwood High School has recently founded a world studies academy, and Princess Anne, the oldest high school in the city, is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme school. Specialized courses are offered at all these academies, even though they occasionally overlap courses offered at other specialized centers, such as Landstown and the ATC — less than 1-mile (1.6 km) away.[61]

There are also a number of private, independent schools in the city, including Norfolk Academy, Hampton Roads Academy, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic School and Parish, The Hebrew Academy of Tidewater, Cape Henry Collegiate School, Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School (formerly Norfolk Catholic), Baylake Pines School, and Virginia Beach Friends School.[62]

Association for Research and Enlightenment

Virginia Beach is home to two universities: Regent University, a private university founded by Christian Evangelist and Leader Pat Robertson which has historically focused on graduate education but has recently established an undergraduate program as well.[63] Atlantic University, associated with the Edgar Cayce organization, the Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE), offers M.A. degrees in Transpersonal Studies, with many New Age subjects thanks to its Edgar Cayce link.[39] Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University are in nearby Norfolk and both the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech operate satellite campuses in Virginia Beach.[64][65][66][67] Tidewater Community College, a major junior college, also has its largest campus located in the city.[68] Virginia Wesleyan College, a private liberal arts college, is located on the border with Norfolk with the physical address of the school being in Norfolk, but the majority of the campus being in Virginia Beach.[69] ECPI College of Technology main campus is located here as well. Additional institutions of higher education are located in other communities of greater Hampton Roads.[70]

The Virginia Beach Public Library System provides free access to accurate and current information and materials to all individuals, and promotes reading as a critical life skill. The library supports the educational and leisure needs of Virginia Beach citizens with a system of area libraries, a Central Library, a Bookmobile, a virtual library, the South Rosemont Youth Library, the Wahab Public law Library, the Municipal Reference Library and the Special Services for the Blind and Visually Handicapped. The Library has a collection of more than 1,000,000 items including special subject collections.[71]

Media

Virginia Beach's daily newspaper is the Virginian-Pilot. Alternative papers include the Port Folio Weekly and the New Journal and Guide. The Hampton Roads Business Journal focuses on local business news.[72]

Virginia Wesleyan College publishes its own newspaper, The Marlin Chronicle.[72] Hampton Roads Magazine serves as a bi-monthly regional magazine for Virginia Beach and the Hampton Roads area.[73] Virginia Beach is served by a variety of radio stations on the AM and FM dials, with towers located around the Hampton Roads area.[74]

Virginia Beach is also served by several television stations. The Hampton Roads designated market area (DMA) is the 42nd largest in the U.S. with 712,790 homes (0.64% of the total U.S.).[75] The major network television affiliates are WTKR-TV 3 (CBS), WAVY 10 (NBC), WVEC-TV 13 (ABC), WGNT 27 (CW), WTVZ 33 (MyNetworkTV), WVBT 43 (Fox), and WPXV 49 (ION Television). The Public Broadcasting Service station is WHRO-TV 15. Virginia Beach residents also can receive independent stations, such as WSKY broadcasting on channel 4 from the Outer Banks of North Carolina and WGBS broadcasting on channel 7 from Hampton. Virginia Beach is served by Cox Cable which provides LNC 5, a local 24-hour cable news network. DirecTV and Dish Network are also popular as an alternative to cable television in Virginia Beach.

Virginia Beach serves as the headquarters for the Christian Broadcasting Network, located adjacent to Regent University. CBN's most notable program, The 700 Club originates from the Virginia Beach studios.[76] In 2008, Virginia Beach became the home to the Reel Dreams Film Festival.

Several films have been made in or near the city: Deep Impact (1998) in this film after the comet plunges in to the ocean near a sign is shown saying Virginia Beaches, however, the scene was filmed on State Route 234 near Manassas, Virginia, and there is no such sign, 195 miles (314 km) northwest. Psycho Kickboxer (1997), Hearts in Atlantis (2001), Call This a Cry for Help (2007)[77], Judges (2005), The Killing Kind (2004), Moving (2002), Navy SEALs (1990), The Satan Killer (1993) and Too Young the Hero (1988; TV film). Mission Impossible 3 (2006) was filmed at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, which is connected to Virginia Beach.[76]

Jay Sanchez created the first Filipino American Television program in Virginia Beach. This show was broadcasted on the Public Broadcasting Service. The events that were featured often took place at the Philippine Cultural Center on Baxter Road. The 2008- 2009 Lock-in event hosted by the Filipino American Cultural Society, FACS, of Salem High School Featured. During this event the leaders of the organization and a few Salem Alumni spent the night meeting and educating the current students on Filipino-American History. The president, Mary Anne Matel, and former Alumni, Jennel Baltazar, were interviewed and reported about the experience that FACS provides it's students with. The Fil-Am television program has also interviewed successful filipino americans of Virginia Beach to help inspire productivity within the area.

Infrastructure

Transportation

A Hampton Roads Transit bus travels northbound on Pacific Avenue in Virginia Beach.

Virginia Beach is primarily served by the Norfolk International Airport (IATA: ORFICAO: KORFFAA LID: ORF), which is now the region's major commercial airport. The airport is located near Chesapeake Bay, along the city limits straddling neighboring Norfolk.[78] Seven airlines provide nonstop services to twenty five destinations. ORF had 3,703,664 passengers take off or land at its facility and 68,778,934 pounds of cargo were processed through its facilities.[79] Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport also provides commercial air service for the Hampton Roads area.[80] The Chesapeake Regional Airport provides general aviation services and is located five miles (8 km) outside the city limits.[81]

Virginia Beach is served by Amtrak through the Newport News station, via connecting buses. The line runs west along the Virginia Peninsula to Richmond and points beyond. A high speed rail connection at Richmond to both the Northeast Corridor and the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor are also under study.[82]

Greyhound/Trailways provides service from a central bus terminal in adjacent Norfolk. The Greyhound station in Virginia Beach is located on Laskin Road, about a mile west of the oceanfront. Bus services to New York City via the Chinatown bus, Today's Bus, is located on Newtown Road.[83]

The city is connected to I-64 via I-264, which runs from the oceanfront, intersects with I-64 on the east side of Norfolk, and continues through downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth until rejoining I-64 at the terminus of both roads in Chesapeake where Interstate 664 completes the loop which forms the Hampton Roads Beltway. Travelers to and from Virginia Beach can access the Hampton Roads Beltway in either direction from I-264 in Norfolk to use a choice of the two bridge-tunnel facilities to cross Hampton Roads to reach the Peninsula, Williamsburg, Richmond and points north. Other major roads include Virginia Beach Boulevard (U.S. Route 58), Shore Drive (U.S. Route 60), which connects to Atlantic Avenue at the oceanfront, Northampton Blvd (U.S. Route 13), Princess Anne Road (State Route 165), Indian River Road (former State Route 603), Lynnhaven Parkway, Independence Boulevard, General Booth Boulevard, and Nimmo Parkway. Streets in the oceanfront hotel and entertainment district are arranged in a fairly regular, grid like pattern, with Atlantic Avenue parallel to the shoreline, then Pacific Avenue, and Arctic Avenue going further inland.

The city is also connected to Virginia's Eastern Shore region via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT), which is the longest bridge-tunnel complex in the world and known as one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World. The CBBT, a tolled facility carries U.S. Route 13.[84]

Transportation within the city, as well as with other Seven Cities of Hampton Roads is served by a regional bus service, Hampton Roads Transit.[85] An extension of The Tide light rail system from Norfolk to the oceanfront is currently being studied.[86]

Utilities

Water and sewer services are provided by the City's Department of Utilities. Virginia Beach receives its electricity from Dominion Virginia Power which has local sources including the Chesapeake Energy Center (a gas power plant), coal-fired plants in Chesapeake and Southampton County, and the Surry Nuclear Power Plant. Norfolk headquartered Virginia Natural Gas, a subsidiary of AGL Resources, distributes natural gas to the City from storage plants in James City County and Chesapeake.

Virginia Beach receives its water from Lake Gaston. The Virginia Tidewater area has grown faster than the local freshwater supply. The river water has always been salty, and fresh groundwater is no longer available in most areas. Currently, water for the Tidewater area is pumped from Lake Gaston, which straddles the Virginia-North Carolina border along with the Blackwater and Nottoway rivers. The pipeline is 76 miles (122 km) long and 60 inches (1,500 mm) in diameter. Much of its follows the former right-of-way of an abandoned portion of the Virginian Railway.[87] It is capable of pumping 60 million gallons of water per day(60MGD), Norfolk and Chesapeake are partners in the project.[88]

The City provides wastewater services for residents and transports wastewater to the regional Hampton Roads Sanitation District treatment plants.[89]

Healthcare

Because of the prominence of the Portsmouth Naval Hospital and V.A. Hospital in Hampton, Virginia Beach has had a strong role in medicine.[citation needed] Virginia Beach is served by Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, Sentara Bayside Hospital, and by the newly created Sentara Princess Anne Medical Campus. Sentara Leigh Hospital is just across the city line in Norfolk.[90]

Sister cities

Virginia Beach has three Sister Cities:[91]

See also

References

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External links


Simple English

Virginia Beach, Virginia
Location of Virginia Beach.
Coordinates: 36°50′04″N 76°05′6.72″W / 36.83444°N 76.0852°W / 36.83444; -76.0852
Country United States
State Virginia
County Independent City
Incorporated 1906
Independent city 1952
Government
 - Mayor William D. Sessoms, Jr.
Population (2005)
 - City 438,415
 Metro 1,645,015
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Website http://www.vbgov.com/

Virginia Beach is an American city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The city is located in the South Hampton Roads area on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. It is the largest city in Virginia and the 42nd largest city in the United States. The city has a total population of 447,000 people.[1]

Virginia Beach is a part of the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News metropolitan area. The area also includes the cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, as well as other smaller cities, counties and towns of Hampton Roads. The area is known as "America's First Region."

Virginia Beach is best known as a resort town. It has miles of beaches and hundreds of hotels, motels, and restaurants along the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay. It is also home to several state parks, three military bases, a number of large corporations, and two universities. It was the site of the first landing of English colonists going to Jamestown.

The city is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having the longest pleasure beach in the world and. It is also located at the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, the longest bridge-tunnel in the world.

Contents

History

Native Americans

Chesepians were the Native American (American Indian) people living in the area now known as South Hampton Roads in Virginia during the time the English settlers came in 1607. They lived in an area which is now the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.

The Chesepians had two other towns (or villages), Apasus and Chesepioc. Both were near the Chesapeake Bay in what is now Virginia Beach. Archaeologists and other people have found many Native American artifacts, for example arrowheads, stone axes, pottery, beads, and skeletons in the area.

First landing, Adam Thoroughgood

[[File:|right|thumb|Cape Henry from the air, facing ESE]]In 1607, after traveling by ocean for 144 days, three ships headed by Captain Christopher Newport came to land where the Atlantic Ocean meets the southern mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. This point is in the northeastern part of the city. They named it Cape Henry, after Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, the oldest son of King James I of England. They then left the area to find a place farther inland where ships from other European countries would not find them. They created their first settlement at Jamestown.

Adam Thoroughgood (1604-1640) of Norfolk, England is one of the first Englishmen to settle in the area which became Virginia Beach.

In 1634, the Colony was divided into shires. They were soon renamed counties. It is said that Thoroughgood used the name of his home in England when helping name New Norfolk County in 1637. The following year, New Norfolk County was split into Upper Norfolk County (soon renamed Nansemond County) and Lower Norfolk County. Thoroughgood chose to live along the Lynnhaven River, also named for his home in England. Lower Norfolk County was very big. It stretched all the way from the Atlantic Ocean west past the Elizabeth River. It included the entire area that is now the cities of Portsmouth, Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach.

Princess Anne County: 1691-1963

In 1691, Lower Norfolk County was divided to form Norfolk County to the west and Princess Anne County to the east. Princess Anne included all the area from North Carolina border to Cape Henry at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay along the Atlantic Ocean. Princess Anne County existed from 1691 to 1963, over 250 years.

Virginia Beach: growth of a resort

The small resort area of Virginia Beach began to grow in Princess Anne County in the late 19th century. This growth was helped in 1888 when rail service and electricity started in the area.

The resort was dependent upon railroad and electric trolley service at first. The concrete Virginia Beach Boulevard from Norfolk to the Oceanfront was completed in 1922. It let people get to the oceanfront in automobiles, buses, and trucks. The resort of Virginia Beach became an incorporated town in 1906. Over the next 45 years, Virginia Beach became more popular as a summer vacation spot. Virginia Beach became a small independent city in 1952. It was politically independent from Princess Anne County. In 1963, Virginia Beach and Princess Anne county merged into a new, much larger independent city keeping the name of the Virginia Beach resort.

Geography and climate

Geography

Virginia Beach has an area of 1,288.1 km² (497.3 mi²). Of that area, 643.1 km² (248.3 mi²) is land and 645.0 km² (249.0 mi²) is water. The average elevation is 12 feet (4 meters) above sea level.

Things to see

  • Adam Keeling House
  • Adam Thoroughgood House
  • Cape Henry
  • Fleet Combat Training Center Atlantic
  • Fort Story
  • Hell's Point Country Club
  • Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base
  • Naval Air Station Oceana
  • Norwegian Lady Statue
  • Old Cape Henry Lighthouse
  • Old Coast Guard Station Museum (Seatack)
  • Regent University and Christian Broadcasting Network
  • TPC of Virginia Beach
  • Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater
  • Virginia Aquarium
  • Virginia Beach Oceanfront

The Edgar Cayce Hospital for Research and Enlightenment was started in Virginia Beach in 1928 with 60 beds. Cayce was a psychic from Kentucky who said he had healing abilities and made prophesies. Cayce lived in Virginia Beach until he died in 1945. His followers are still active in Virginia Beach. Atlantic University was opened by Cayce in 1930; it closed two years later but was re-opened in 1985. Atlantic University was originally intended for study of Cayce's readings and research after spiritual subjects.

There are also eleven golf courses open to the public in the city, as well as four country club courses and NAS Oceana's Aeropines course. Among the best-known public courses are Hell's Point Golf Club and the TPC of Virginia Beach.

Military bases

Virginia Beach is home to several United States Military bases. These include the United States Navy's NAS Oceana and FTC Dam Neck, and the United States Army's Fort Story located at Cape Henry. NAB Little Creek is located mostly within the city of Virginia Beach but has a Norfolk address.

NAS Oceana is the largest employer in Virginia Beach. It is said to the largest naval airbase in the world.

Sister cities

Virginia Beach has three Sister Cities:[2]

References

  1. U.S. Census Bureau, 2004 Population Estimates, Census 2000, 1990 Census: http://factfinder.census.gov/
  2. Sister Cities designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI). Retrieved June 6, 2006.

Other websites


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