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Virginia Beach, Virginia

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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 40th largest city in the US, with a total population of 440,098.[1]

Virginia Beach is best known as a major resort, with miles of beaches and dozens of hotels, motels, and restaurants. 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 at the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, the longest bridge-tunnel complex in existence.

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. 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.

1634 to 1963 shire to county
During the 17th century, shortly after establishment of the Jamestown Settlement in 1607, English settlers explored and began settling the areas adjacent to Hampton Roads. In 1634, the King of England directed the formation of eight shires (or counties) in the colony of Virginia. One of these was Elizabeth City Shire, which included land area on both sides of Hampton Roads.

In 1636, New Norfolk County was subdivided from it, including all the area in South Hampton Roads now incorporated in the five independent cities located there in modern times. The following year, in 1637, it was divided into into Upper Norfolk County and Lower Norfolk County. 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 the area fronting the Atlantic Ocean.

Incorporated as town in 1908, 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. A 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 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 and became a city politically independent from Princess Anne County in 1952.

However, in the mid 20th century, the western borders of Princess Anne County lost territory to annexation suits by the City of Norfolk which adjoined it after annexing all of the northern 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.

1963: consolidation with Princess Anne County
In 1963, after approval by referendum of the voters of both 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 reputation, which lingered for years afterward.

Although problems between the needs, expectations, and behavior of vacationing college students and those of older 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 African-American college students had been converging on Virginia Beach for the Labor Day Weekend each year. In 1988, a concert at the Virginia Beach Pavilion 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, with no events to attend, became intoxicated, and rioted in the streets, breaking windows, looting shops, and vandalizing property.

Many people predicted a riot weeks in advance, and this came to pass. Casual observers suggested that the city went out of its way to make the students feel unwelcome; that the students rioted not out of anger, but out of a simple desire for the clothing displayed in the shops along the Boardwalk; and 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.

The incident brought widespread publicity and public outcry from many factions. Two slogans commonly heard in the following weeks were: "It's a black thing; you wouldn't understand" and "It's a cop thing; we'll make you understand." The incident was immortalized by Public Enemy in their song "Welcome to the Terrordome" from their album Fear of a Black Planet (1990).

One tourist recalls "I was there that weekend attempting to enjoy the long weekend. We 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."

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 clips of police brutally striking students who disobeyed police orders intermixed with shots of rioting students 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 legitimate civil liberties questions.

Today, the city hosts the American Music Festival and the Rock and Roll Half-Marathon 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.

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 local court 's ruling and the death sentence. Muhammed is awaiting execution in Virginia, as well as facing possible trials in other states with additional murder charges pending.

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.

Infill and development of residential neighborhoods has placed a number of operating constraints on Oceana Naval Air Station, 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.

Museums and Cultural Arts

Old Cape Henry Lighthouse postal stamp United States Postal ServiceThe 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 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 stingrays 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.

The Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheather features a wide variety of popular shows and concerts, ranging from Kenny Chesney to Gretchen Wilson to Coldplay. 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, 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.

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.

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

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. At any rate, the Hampton Roads area has never been seriously considered as a viable prospect for major-league professional sports, notwithstanding the efforts of regional leaders to obtain Major League Baseball, NBA and NHL franchises in the recent past. The area population of about 1.5 million is marginal at best for major-league sports; the relative lack of major corporations in the area makes it difficult to sell sponsorships and luxury suites (important to modern sports financing in the US); and the region's chronic transportation challenges, notably its dependence on tunnels, make drawing fans from long distances highly problematic.

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.

Museums and Cultural Arts

Old Cape Henry Lighthouse postal stamp United States Postal ServiceThe 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 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 stingrays 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.

The Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheather features a wide variety of popular shows and concerts, ranging from Kenny Chesney to Gretchen Wilson to Coldplay. 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, 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.

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.

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

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. At any rate, the Hampton Roads area has never been seriously considered as a viable prospect for major-league professional sports, notwithstanding the efforts of regional leaders to obtain Major League Baseball, NBA and NHL franchises in the recent past. The area population of about 1.5 million is marginal at best for major-league sports; the relative lack of major corporations in the area makes it difficult to sell sponsorships and luxury suites (important to modern sports financing in the US); and the region's chronic transportation challenges, notably its dependence on tunnels, make drawing fans from long distances highly problematic.

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.

Posted by airwolf09 07:39 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world

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