Virginia Beach, VA
Crossing the state line from Knotts Island into Virginia Beach does not easily alert one to the fact that they have entered the largest city in Virginia. Back Bay in February is a rural flat land filled with large neatly plowed fields awaiting spring planting. As one travels north on Princess Anne Road, the trappings of civilization come slowly. The journey leads through communities such as Creeds that would be incorporated villages in a different setting. The rural nature of the southern portion of Virginia Beach is a jealously guarded treasure. Development rights have been purchased by the city, assuring that at least a portion of the open spaces will remain. In the late 1990's a fictional green line, dividing the rural undeveloped south from the suburban north, started to fade. Now there are large high priced subdivisions where there were once fields and farms. The north is evolving into an urban/suburban mix with the addition of Town Center, a downtown for the city with no downtown, currently under construction in the Pembroke area.
Virginia Beach began in a small area located along the Oceanfront. Then in 1963 Princess Anne County merged with the City of Virginia Beach to form the entity that it is now. As one passes through Pungo traveling north on Princess Anne Road, the 21st century nature of Virginia Beach begins to become evident. Subdivisions and golf courses lead the way to a newly elegant resort strip. Tall hotels face the Atlantic Ocean awaiting the multitudes who visit during the tourist season. Sand replenishment crews work hard in the off season to repair damage from the annual northeasters and sometimes hurricanes. Each year finds new amenities built to lure the tourist dollars. At present the Pavilion convention center is being converted into a mega facility. The familiar Pavilion theater will soon become a casualty of modernization, being replaced by a Performing Arts Center at Town Center..
It is a city with dual allegiance. Tourism shakes hands with the U.S. Navy on a daily basis. The town has a plethora of bases, including Oceana Master Jet Base, which services the needs of the Atlantic Fleet's fighter squadrons. If one, like myself, has a business located under Oceana's flight path you can watch those silver slivers of freedom on a daily basis, hurling in to a landing mimicking that on an aircraft carrier. The north side shares with Norfolk, Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base, home to the east coast Seal teams. Dam Neck Training Center faces the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean. Fort Story holds court at the site of the first landing of English settlers on our soil. Our country's sailors and officers move into and out of Virginia Beach on a regular basis. But many return at retirement age, never to leave again. The multitude of amenities, such as military hospitals, shopping, and entertainment facilities, provide a continuing attraction. Civilian contracting firms offer jobs in their field to the retirees who plan continued employment.
Fabulous fresh seafood is available in abundance. Restaurants serve a catch that cannot be duplicated in other parts of the country. Long restaurant lines await local residents in the off season on the weekend. Tourist season brings even greater crowds. A different type of restaurant is starting to rival the traditional seafood fares. Town Center is becoming a home to many fashionable national chains. Virginia Beach now has a restaurant row.
Though it is home to many migrant military families, there is a strong neighborhood flavor to Virginia's largest city. You meet someone you know almost everywhere you go. Your doctor and dentist know you by name. Waiters remember your favorite dish and where you like to sit. People are friendly and willing to help. Established neighborhoods such as Thoroughgood, Thalia, Alanton and Bay Island welcome newcomers such as Church Point, Broad Bay Point Greens and The Reserve at Great Neck.
The transition area is home to a large amphitheater, which draws nationally recognized entertainment. Virginia Beach looks with pride to its soccer stadium and marine science museum. Golf courses are in abundance, adding to the tourist draw. One can be entertained by theater, well stocked libraries or a walk on the beach. A fabulous asset are the Virginia Beach Recreational Centers, which provide all the amenities of a perfectly stocked Gym Club/Spa at a cost for residents of $50 a year.
Virginia Beach City Public Schools offer a superior education to our children in their 55 elementary schools, 15 middle schools, and 11 high schools. VBCPS also operates a number of specialty secondary schools and academies, a gifted school for both elementary and middle schools, magnet programs in selected secondary schools, and participates in the Virginia Governor's School for the Arts.
The history of the area cannot be duplicated in any other metropolis. Beautiful Historical Structures sit fully restored and run as museums with period furnishings. Costumed docents take one back to an earlier time. One can climb the same sandy dunes where the first English settlers landed 400 years ago, before completing their journey up the majestic James River to Jamestown.
The beauty of the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay accents our borders and weaves its way into our neighborhoods in the form of the Elizabeth River and its offshoots. The young and not so young surf on the ocean waves while passing jet skiers spray their surf. Picturesque boats share the Chesapeake Bay with huge Navy vessels making the final leg of their journey back to Norfolk Naval Station. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel spans a twenty five mile length beginning in Virginia Beach and ending on the Eastern Shore.
And all the while we lucky residents of Virginia Beach live our lives, raise our families, and bury our dead. Virginia's largest city is a great place to raise children and grow old.
Visit the Atlantic Ocean & the Chesapeake Bay
Pictured Left to Right 1986: Oceanfront Beach (Atlantic Ocean), Ocean Park Beach (Chesapeake Bay), Ocean Park Dunes.
Visit Our Urban Tomorrow