Virginia Beach, Virginia

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Virginia Beach, Virginia
Image:VirginiaBeach flag.jpg
Image:Va Beach Seal.jpg
Flag Seal
Location in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Coordinates: 36°50′04″N, 76°05′6.72″W
Country United States
State Virginia
Counties Independent City
Mayor Meyera E. Oberndorf
Area  
 - City 497.3 mi² - 1,288.1 km²
 - Land 248.3 mi² - 643.1 km²
 - Water 249.0 mi² - 645.0 km²
Elevation 6 m
Population  
 - City (2005) 438,415
 - Density 661.3/km²
 - Metro 1,645,015
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Website: http://www.vbgov.com/

Virginia Beach is an independent city located in the South Hampton Roads area in the Commonwealth of Virginia, on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The city is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the 39th largest city in the US, with a total population of 447,000.<ref name="census">U.S. Census Bureau, 2004 Population Estimates, Census 2000, 1990 Census: http://factfinder.census.gov/</ref> It is the third largest suburban city in the United States after Long Beach, California and Mesa, Arizona, and the fourth largest in North America.

Like a few other cities in the US, Virginia Beach consists of an area more traditionally defined as a county, as the southern half consists largely of rural areas, farmland and marshes.

It is one of seven cities that are together officially known as Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA. Like the independent municipalities of Hampton, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Newport News and Chesapeake, Virginia Beach is sometimes called a suburb of Norfolk despite Virginia Beach's larger population and urban areas.

Virginia Beach is best known as a major resort, with miles of beaches and hundreds of hotels, motels, and restaurants along its oceanfront. It is also home to several state parks, several long protected beach areas, three military bases, a number of large corporations, and two universities.

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

Contents

[edit] History

[edit] Cape Henry: first landing

The first landfall of the Jamestown colonists in 1607 was at Cape Henry, in the northeastern part of today's city, however the settlers left the area due to the inability to grow food and the need for a more sheltered site further inland.

Today, the site is within the boundaries of Fort Story, a U.S. Army installation used for training by the Army, Navy, and Marines. A memorial cross near the landing site and the historic Cape Henry Lighthouse are accessible to the general public. First Landing State Park (formerly Seashore State Park) nearby was named to commemorate this event.

[edit] Adam Thoroughgood

Adam Thoroughgood (1604-1640) of King's Lynn, Norfolkshire, England, is one of the earliest Englishmen to become enamored with the area which became Virginia Beach. At the age of 18, he became an indentured servant to pay for passage to the Virginia Colony. Around 1622, he settled in an area south of the Chesapeake Bay a few miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. This area had been passed by when the earlier settlements such as Jamestown were established beginning in 1607 in favor of locations further inland which would be less susceptible to attacks by other European forces, such as the Spanish.

Serving his period of indenture, he earned his freedom and became a leading citizen of the area. He was elected to the House of Burgesses for Elizabeth City (or "citiie" as it was then called) in 1629. He also served on the (Royal) Governor's Council, and as a Justice of the Court. He also became a Captain in the local militia.

The London Company lost its franchise and Virginia became a royal colony in 1624. In 1634, the Colony was divided into shires, soon renamed counties, a term still in use in Virginia 350 years later. He is credited using the name of his home in England when helping name New Norfolk County when it was formed from Elizabeth City County in 1637. The following year, New Norfolk County was split into Upper Norfolk County (soon renamed Nansemond County) and Lower Norfolk County, which was still quite large, encompassing the entire area now within the modern cities of Portsmouth, Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach.

His choice of residence after 1634 was along the Lynnhaven River, also named for his home in England. Thoroughgood appears to have had the foresight to realizing earlier than many other leaders that Lower Norfolk County was too large for a single site for convenient worship and court affairs. He led the effort to establish a second parish church, court, and glebe house at what was then known as Churches Point on the Lynnhaven River. Adam Thoroughgood suddenly became ill and died at the age of only 36 in 1640. He was buried at Churches Point in a location now believed to be submerged.

Today, some of the evidence of early English 17th century settlement in the city survives, including the Adam Thoroughgood House museum and the Adam Keeling House, a private home also on the Lynnhaven River.

[edit] 1638-1691 Lower Norfolk County grows, splits

Lower Norfolk County was quite large, and stretched all the way from the Atlantic Ocean west past the Elizabeth River and, as Thoroughgood had earlier envisioned, soon required two courthouses to service the citizenry. Finally, in 1691, Lower Norfolk County was in turn 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.

[edit] Incorporated town in 1906, independent city in 1952

Beginning in the late 19th century, the small resort area of Virginia Beach grew in Princess Anne County, particularly after 1888 with the arrival of rail service and electricity. Developers built the original Princess Anne Hotel which opened in 1890 at the oceanfront near the tiny community of Seatack, named for a British "attack by sea" during the War of 1812. 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 rescue along the oceanfront for more than 50 years, and then became the inspiration for the current Norwegian Lady Monuments which were dedicated in 1962 in Virginia Beach, and Moss, Norway.

Although the resort was initially dependent upon railroad and electric trolley service, completion of the concrete Virginia Beach Boulevard extending from Norfolk in 1922 opened access for automobiles, buses, and trucks, and passenger rail service was eventually discontinued.

A railroad passenger station at Cape Henry built in 1902 and served by the original Norfolk Southern Railway was restored late in the 20th century and is used as an educational facility by Fort Story. Another railroad station near 18th Street and Pacific Avenue was torn down. (Part of the original railroad from Norfolk near the Oceanfront is now used as a pedestrian and bicycle path).

The growing resort of Virginia Beach was incorporated as a town in 1906. B.P. Holland was chosen to be the Town's first mayor. He had been a clerk of the original Princess Anne Hotel many years earlier, and had witnessed the wreck of the Dictator. During the next 45 years, Virginia Beach continue to grow in popularity as a seasonal vacation spot, and casinos gave way to amusement parks and family-oriented attractions.

Virginia Beach became a tiny independent city politically independent from Princess Anne County in 1952, although the numerous ties between Virginia Beach and Princess Anne remained. The change was seen as part of a larger reorganization of the boundaries and structures of almost all of the counties, cities and towns in southeastern Virginia which took place between 1952 and 1976.

In the mid 20th century, the northwestern borders of Princess Anne County lost territory to annexation suits by the City of Norfolk after annexing the entire northeastern portion of Norfolk County. A merger with the tiny city of Virginia Beach became seen by leaders and residents of Princess Anne County as a way to prevent the independent City of Norfolk from annexing more (or potentially all) of the county, since cities in Virginia cannot annex land from each other.

[edit] 1963: consolidation with Princess Anne County

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. About the same time, at similar risk of annexations, the remaining portion of Norfolk County took similar action, consolidating with the small independent City of South Norfolk and forming another new city. The City of Chesapeake became Virginia Beach's new neighbor to the southwest.

Today, most of the area formerly in Princess Anne County when it was formed in 1691 is now located within the City of Virginia Beach. The only exceptions are some territory of the northwestern portion which became part of the City of Norfolk through annexation and a land swap agreement between the two cities in 1988.

[edit] 1989: "Greekfest" riots

Over the Labor Day weekend in 1989, Virginia Beach experienced the worst civil disturbance in its history, which resulted in over 500 arrests and citations and millions in property damage, not to mention the damage to the city's pristine reputation, which lingered for years afterward.

Although problems between the needs, expectations, and behavior of vacationing college students and partygoers versus those of families and retired persons have occurred in many other beach resorts such as Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Daytona Beach, Florida, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, usually during Spring Break holidays, a 1989 conflict of these groups and police in Virginia Beach seemed to add connotations of racism, and turned into a riot situation.

The problem had been brewing for several years. An increasing number of college students had been converging on Virginia Beach for the Labor Day Weekend each year. During the 1988 event, several could be clearly seen in hindsight as foretelling the unrest of the following year. The first was the looting of an oceanfront "7-11" convenience store. This apparently random act is generally considered instrumental in emboldening the Greekfest celebrants and leading to the following year’s riots, as the 1988 looters was never challenged by local law enforcement due to their large numbers and racial makeup. Another ominous indicator was the extensive damaging of oceanfront hotels. During the 1988 event, a number of the hotels experienced extreme events of hotel room vandalism, which led to more restrictive reservation procedures for the following year. A small sampling of the damage included human fecal matter smeared on the walls, burned furniture and extensive water damage. These revised reservations and deposit procedures were apparently perceived to be racially motivated and in turn, led to higher racial tensions in 1989. The third and least important was a concert at the Virginia Beach Pavilion, a venue which simply turned out to be too small, which led to $6,000 in property damage and an assault on a female security guard when 3,000 people could not get in. Managers afterward felt the number of attendees simply overwhelmed Virginia Beach's capacity for large events. Organizers of the event were told that they could not rent the public facilities again.

Nevertheless, in 1989, thousands of students arrived again on Labor Day Weekend for "Greekfest", so named for the Greek alphabet used by the fraternities and sororities involved in the festival. Many of the young people became intoxicated and rioted in the streets, breaking windows, looting shops, and vandalizing property.

Some people suggest that if the City had worked more closely with college organizers and created more event activities, the students would not have gotten intoxicated and rioted. However, this does not take into account two facts: 1) Beach locals and students alike will testify that most, if not all of the rioters, were not actually college students. Most were local and regional non-student party-goers who had learned about the previous year's mischief and were looking for more mayhem. 2) The year following the 1989 riot, the City became greatly engaged and spent millions of dollars to create a safe and fun Greekfest environment. However, the students and party-goers felt that the event had become overly organized and within two years the festival was virtually abandoned. The creation of events for people to attend actually destroyed the raucous and free-wheeling nature of the gathering.

Many people predicted a riot weeks in advance, suggesting that the city went out of its way to make the students feel unwelcome.[citation needed] Some claimed that the students rioted not out of anger, but out of a simple desire for the clothing displayed in the shops along the Boardwalk. Others claimed that the police were out of control, attacking anyone who was black, looter or not. It took M-16 toting National Guard troops to restore order after two days of rioting. Property damage took several years to repair; some small businesses were destroyed and were unable to reopen.

One tourist recalls, "I was there that weekend attempting to enjoy the long weekend. We [were] met with belligerent attitudes and observed several incidents of inappropriate behavior and language. Many of those in our group were over 60 years of age. I, with my two-year son in his stroller, was forced off the sidewalk several times."[cite this quote]</span>


Community leaders struggled in the aftermath to find a balance for the future. The city established a Labor Day Task Force Commission, which assumed the chores of figuring out what led to the 1989 riots and how to prevent a repeat of that spectacle. Videotape of the incident showed a few clips of police striking students who disobeyed police orders intermixed with many shots of rioting youth kicking in store windows and looting businesses. Neither situation is one that anyone wanted to see repeated.

Over the years a series of measures were implemented, ranging from increased police patrols to the 'Beach Behavior Campaign,' and increased surveillance measures, some of which were quite controversial and raised civil liberties questions. To this day, there are "No Profanity" signs all over the oceanfront area and Police chaplains patrol with the officers in hopes that young black youth may respect the uniform of the chaplain and hence follow police directives. Recently, the city installed a sound system mounted to lamp-posts along atlantic avenue which broadcasts easy listening music during the day (possibly a ploy to deter loitering and disruptive behavior).

Today, the city hosts the American Music Festival and the Rock and Roll Half-Marathon and many other large events (as it has done for years even prior to the Greek Festival) on Labor Day Weekend with great success and no major public safety issues. The city is actively pursuing about 20 multicultural conventions at the moment and has either booked or tentatively booked several of them. However, officials have cautioned that large groups of disorderly persons will not be welcomed.

[edit] Beltway Sniper trial

Virginia Beach made national headlines in 2003 when it hosted the first trial of convicted Beltway sniper murderer John Allen Muhammed. The area was selected due to a court order for a change of venue. His trial began in October 2003, and the following month, he was found guilty of capital murder in one of the series of shootings and extortion attempts. Four months later, the judge agreed with the jury's recommendation, and he was sentenced to death. In April 2005, the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the local court's verdict and the death sentence. Muhammed is awaiting execution in Virginia, as well as facing possible trials in other states with additional murder charges pending.

Image:VBNeptuneStatue.jpg
Statue of Neptune along the boardwalk in Virginia Beach

[edit] Current redevelopment projects

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.

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. Some of these, such as new hotels and convention centers built on public land along the Oceanfront and the New Urbanist Town Center development in the Pembroke area, have come under question due to the use of public funds and eminent domain in the interest of private economic development. In addition, some unique structures like The Dome, a geodesic dome and convention center dedicated to the career of astronaut Alan Shepard, were destroyed by the city [1] against the wishes of some citizens.

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.

Some of the latest redeleopments in the city were the building of a "Downtown" district in the Pembroke section of the city which has critics upset at the further exasperation of the traffic situation in the area. the other is the assisted funding of a Hilton brand hotel and shopping center on 31st street (Laskin road) which also was un-popular with many of the local residents.

[edit] Geography and climate

[edit] Geography

Image:Sunset- Waves.JPG
Image of the Chesapeake Bay shore.

Virginia Beach is located at 36°50′4″N, 76°5′13″W (36.834498, -76.087179)GR1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1,288.1 km² (497.3 mi²). 643.1 km² (248.3 mi²) of it is land and 645.0 km² (249.0 mi²) of it (50.07%) is water. The average elevation is 12 feet (4 meters) 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 the tidewater region of Virginia (also known as Hampton Roads), 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.

The Virginia tidewater area has grown faster than the local freshwater supply. The river water has always been salty, and the fresh groundwater is no longer available in most areas. Currently, water for the tidewater area is pumped from lake Gaston, which strattles the Virginia-North Carolina border. The pipeline is 76 miles long and 60 inches in diameter.<ref>VA Places, Gaston Pipeline:[2]</ref> It is capable of pumping 60 million gallons of water per day(60MGD), Chesapeake is a partner in the project and is allotted 10 MGD.<ref>VA Beach Government, Department of Public Utilities:[3]</ref>

[edit] Cityscape

When the modern city of Virginia Beach was created in 1963, by the consolidation of the 253 square mile (655 km²) Princess Anne County with the 2 square mile (5 km²) City of Virginia Beach, the newly larger city was divided into seven boroughs: Bayside, Blackwater, Kempsville, Lynnhaven, Princess Anne, Pungo, and Virginia Beach.

The city's roads are not arranged in any particular pattern, primarily due to the presence of many water inlets. Interstate 64, a portion of the Hampton Roads Beltway, forms a loop around the city of Norfolk, and is located just outside the western border of the city. I-64 forms a junction with Interstate 264 (formerly the Norfolk-Virginia Beach Expressway), which runs from west to east across the city to the oceanfront. 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, Princess Anne Road (State Route 165), Indian River Road (former State Route 603), Lynnhaven Parkway, Independence Boulevard and Nimmo Parkway. Streets in the oceanfront hotel and entertainment district are arranged in a fairly regular, gridlike pattern, with Atlantic Avenue parallel to the shoreline, then Pacific Avenue, and Arctic Avenue going further inland.

Virginia Beach has many distinctive communities and neighborhoods within its boundaries, including Chesapeake Beach, Great Neck, Kings Grant, Alanton, Green Run, Bayside, Blackwater, Croatan Beach, Doyletown, Greenwich, North End, Kempsville, London Bridge, Lynnhaven, Munden, Oceana, Ocean Park, Pembroke, Princess Anne, Pungo, Salem, Sandbridge, Seatack, Shadowlawn, Thalia, Thoroughgood, and the Oceanfront.

[edit] Climate

The weather in Virginia Beach is temperate and seasonal. Summers are hot and humid with cool evenings. The mean annual temperature is 60 °F (15 °C), with an average annual snowfall of 7.4 inches and an average annual rainfall of 45 inches. 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 -11°F (-24°C) in January 1985.<ref name="noaa">Climate information from NOAA.</ref>,<ref name="maxmintemps">Maximum and minimum temperatures from Yahoo! Weather</ref>

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.

[edit] Points of interest

[edit] People and culture

[edit] Demographics

Historical populations
Census
year
Population

1790 7,793
1800 8,859
1810 9,498
1820 8,768
1830 9,102
1840 7,285
1850 7,669
1860 7,714
1870 8,273
1880 9,394
1890 9,510
1900 11,192
1910 11,526
1920 13,626
1930 16,282
1940 19,984
1950 42,277
1960 84,215
1970 172,106
1980 262,199
1990 393,069
2000 425,257
2004 440,098

As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 425,257 people, 154,455 households, and 110,898 families residing in the city. The population density was 661.3/km² (1,712.7/mi²). There were 162,277 housing units at an average density of 252.3/km² (653.6/mi²).<ref name="noaa" />

The racial makeup of the city was 71.41% White (69.46% non-Latino white), 18.95% 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% Hispanic or Latino of any race.<ref name="noaa" />

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.<ref name="noaa" />

The age distribution is 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.<ref name="noaa" />

The median income for a household in the city was $48,705, and the median income for a family was $53,242. 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.<ref name="noaa" />

[edit] Museums and cultural arts

Image:Capehenry6335.jpg
Old Cape Henry Lighthouse postal stamp United States Postal Service

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. (www.VirginiaAquarium.com)

The Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheather features a wide variety of popular shows and concerts, ranging from Kenny Chesney to Gretchen Wilson to Coldplay to Ozzfest. The city is also planning to build a 1200-seat performing arts theatre in the Virginia Beach Town Center by 2007.

Virginia Beach also 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 Lighthouse 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 (Brick House Farm), Weblin House, and Wishart Boush House and Wolfsnare.

In 1928, the Edgar Cayce Hospital for Research and Enlightenment established in Virginia Beach, with 60 beds. Cayce was a supposed psychic from Kentucky who claimed healing abilities and made prophesies. Cayce resided in Virginia Beach until he died on 3 January 1945. His followers are still active in Virginia Beach.

[edit] Parks and outdoor 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.

Perhaps one of the most well-known parks is the world-renowned Mount Trashmore Park, clearly visible from I-264 as you're traveling to the oceanfront. The park is 165 acres (668,000 m²). The mountain 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. The park also features two lakes: Lake Windsor and Lake Trashmore. Lake Trashmore is stocked with fish for fishing. A new skate park has also been opened here as well.

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 overlooks the Lynnhaven River.

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.

First Landing State Park and False Cape State Park are both located in coastal areas within the city's corporate limits as well.

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

Additionally, the famous three-mile (5 km) boardwalk at the oceanfront is often packed with fascinating entertainment, outdoor cafes, concerts and people.

[edit] 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.

There are two soccer teams in the United Soccer Leagues - the Virginia Beach Mariners, a men's team in the second-level USL First Division, and the Hampton Roads Piranhas, a women's team in the W-League, the de facto top women's league after the suspension of the Women's United Soccer Association. The Mariners play at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex. That facility is also the central training site for the U.S. women's national field hockey team. The Piranhas formerly played at the complex, but now play home games at nearby Virginia Wesleyan College on the border between Virginia Beach and Norfolk.

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 $55,000.

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 the TPC of Virginia Beach, the latter of which hosts the Virginia Beach Open, a Nationwide Tour event, each April.

There are some great gyms in Virginia Beach for those that are competitive gymnasts. Ocean Tumblers and Excalibur are two of the gyms that host competitions throughout the year.

[edit] Infrastructure

[edit] Government

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.

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.

Members of the city council normally serve four-year terms and are elected on a staggered basis. General elections are 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 live in the district they represent.

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 in July following a council election.

[edit] Education

According to the U.S. Census, of the population over twenty-five, 28.1% (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, the second largest school system in Virginia and among the 50 largest school divisions in the United States (based on student enrollment). Virginia Beach City Public Schools currently serves 74,682 students, and includes 55 elementary schools, 15 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. Landstown High School contains a Technology Academy, which helps prepare students for jobs in Business Marketing and/or Information Technology. First Colonial High School is home to a legal studies academy, Tallwood has recently founded a world studies academy, and Princess Anne 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 away.

There are also a number of private, independent schools in the city, including The Hebrew Academy of Tidewater, Cape Henry Collegiate School, Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School (formerly Norfolk Catholic), and Baylake Pines School.

Virginia Beach is home to one university, Regent University, a private university founded by controversial Christian Evangelist and Leader Pat Robertson which has historically focused on graduate education but is attempting to establish an undergraduate program as well. Old Dominion University is in nearby Norfolk and both the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech operate satellite campuses in Virginia Beach. Tidewater Community College, a major junior college, also has its largest campus located in the city. Virginia Wesleyan College, a private liberal arts college, is located near the border with Norfolk. Additional institutions of higher education are located in other communities of greater Hampton Roads.

[edit] Military bases

Virginia Beach is home to several United States Military bases. These include the United States Navy's NAS Oceana, FTC Dam Neck, NAB Little Creek, and the United States Army's Fort Story located at Cape Henry. NAS Oceana is the largest employer in Virginia Beach and currently under consideration to be shut down by the 2005 BRAC Commission. The BRAC Commission ultimately issued a decree giving Virginia Beach one last chance to maintain Oceana. The decree included a command to condemn houses in the APZ Zones. This action has never been the position of the United States Navy. A report in March 2006 was to determine whether the jets remain at Oceana or not; the issue remained unresolved 6 months later. 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.<ref name="littlecreek">Worldwide Space A Handbook: ISBN 1-881341-13-5. www.nablc.navy.mil</ref>

[edit] Transportation

Image:Cbbt bridges at north end.jpg
Aerial view of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel looking south from Cape Charles, Virginia. photo courtesy Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Commission

The city is primarily served by the nearby Norfolk International Airport (IATA: ORFICAO: KORF). Also located within an hour's drive away is the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (IATA: PHFICAO: KPHF). 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. The city is also connected to Virginia's Eastern Shore via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, which is the longest bridge-tunnel complex in the world and known as one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World. Transportation within the city, as well as with other cities in the Hampton Roads area, is served by a regional bus service, HRT.

[edit] Sister cities

Virginia Beach has three Sister Cities:<ref>Sister Cities designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI). Retrieved June 6, 2006.</ref>

[edit] Trivia

  • The resort strip area of Virginia Beach had been part of the same political subdivision as the rest of the current city of Virginia Beach since 1634 except for 11 years (1952-1963) when the 2 square mile area was a separate independent city, also named Virginia Beach, (before rejoining the former Princess Anne County by consolidation in 1963, when the better known name of the resort strip was retained for the greatly enlarged city).[citation needed]
  • Until 2004, Emergency Medical Services in Virginia Beach was provided by the nation's largest all volunteer rescue squad system. However after a public battle with the president of the local Firefighter's Union regarding response times, city employees were hired to augment the volunteers with additional paramedics.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

<references />

[edit] External links

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Hampton Roads, Virginia

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