Virginia Beach, Virginia

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Part of the Virginia Beach oceanfront resort strip.

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. As of the 2004 census, the city had a total population of 433,934, making it the most populous city in the state and the 39th largest city in the US.

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. Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) headquarters and principal studios are in the city, as are several important military bases.

The city is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having the longest pleasure beach in the world and as 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. 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.

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. It was incorporated as a town in 1906 and became a city 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 as a way to prevent the independent City of Norfolk from annexing more (or potentially all) of Princess Anne County.

1963: consolidation with Princess Anne County

In 1963, after approval 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.

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, an 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 on Virginia's death row in Waverly, Virginia, where he is fighting attempts to extradite him to Maryland, which is among several other states with additional murder charges pending.


Virginia Beach is home to two universities, Virginia Wesleyan College, a private liberal arts college, and Regent University, a private university founded by Pat Robertson which is almost totally dedicated to graduate education.

Additional higher education may be found at Tidewater Community College, of which the largest campus is located in Virginia Beach.

In addition to a high-ranking public school system, independent schools include Cape Henry Collegiate School, Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School (formerly Norfolk Catholic), and Baylake Pines School.

Entertainment industry

Pat Robertson's TV talk/news show, The 700 Club, is produced by the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), whose headquarters and principal studios are in the city and adjacent to the Regent University campus.

The superstar hip-hop and pop music production duo of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, better known as The Neptunes, were both raised in Virginia Beach (Williams was also born there; Hugo was born in nearby Portsmouth), and operate their recording studio in the city.

Virginia Beach was the location for much of the filming of the 1990 movie Navy SEALs, starring Charlie Sheen. Some filming also occurred in Norfolk (wedding scene, bridge dive) and Portsmouth (golf course).

Survivor: Pulau Tiga contestant Rudy Boesch lives in Virginia Beach as well. Two contestants/cast members from The Apprentice have Virginia Beach connections. Maria Boren, from the second season, earned her MBA at Regent University and lived in Virginia Beach at the time of the show. Kendra Todd, who won the third season, lived in Virginia Beach from the second grade through her graduation from the city's First Colonial High School.


When the consolidation of the 253 square mile (655 km²) Princess Anne County and the 2 square mile (5 km²) City of Virginia Beach occurred in 1963, the newly expanded independent city of 255 square miles (655 km²) thus created was divided into seven boroughs:

  • Bayside
  • Blackwater
  • Kempsville
  • Lynnhaven
  • Princess Anne
  • Pungo
  • Virginia Beach

Effective July 1, 1998, five of the seven boroughs of Virginia Beach were replaced by voting districts for election purposes. Blackwater and Pungo were incorporated into the Princess Anne district and two new districts, Rose Hall and Centerville emerged in the western part of the city.


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Location of Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach is located at 36°50'4" North, 76°5'13" West (36.834498, -76.087179)Template:GR.

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 is water. The total area is 50.07% water.

Adjacent counties and cities

Military bases

Virginia Beach is home to several United States Military bases, including NAS Oceana and NAB Little Creek. NAS Oceana is the largest employer in Virginia Beach, and both bases are considered to be the largest of their respective kinds in the world. Furthermore, adjacent to Virginia Beach is the Norfolk Navy Base, the central hub of the United States Navy's Atlantic Fleet. Fort Story, operated by the United States Army, is located at Cape Henry.


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 425,257 people, 154,455 households, and 110,898 families residing in the city. The population density is 661.3/km² (1,712.7/mi²). There are 162,277 housing units at an average density of 252.3/km² (653.6/mi²).

The racial makeup of the city is:

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

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 are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females there are 98.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 95.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $48,705, and the median income for a family is $53,242. Males have a median income of $33,756 versus $25,979 for females. The per capita income for the city is $22,365. 6.5% of the population and 5.1% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 8.6% of those under the age of 18 and 4.7% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Virginia Beach is served by Norfolk International Airport, which is located in Norfolk, Virginia and also serves the rest of the Hampton Roads area.

The city is the largest political subdivision by population within the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area). Informally known as the Hampton Roads MSA, it has a population about 1.6 million and is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the southeastern United States between between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, Georgia.

Although it is listed first due to population, Virginia Beach currently functions more as a giant suburb within the MSA, instead of a central city. Despite recent efforts by the city's leaders to construct a more urban environment, the urban core of the metropolitan area lies primarily in Norfolk.


Virginia Beach has relatively few professional sports teams or spectator sports; most of the region's sports franchises have historically been in Norfolk.

Virginia Beach has 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 Virginia Wesleyan College.

The Virginia Beach Admirals, an OBA team basketball, shut down due to the OBA Bankruptcy of 2005.

External links


Template:Virginiade:Virginia Beach


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