Virginia Beach is an independent city located in the U.S. state of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 437,994. in 2013, the population was estimated to be 449,628, It is the most populous city in Virginia as well as the 39th most populous in the United States. Located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Beach is included in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area. 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.
Chesepians were the first inhabitants of the area now known as Tidewater in Virginia about whom hardly anything is known. They occupied an area which is now the independent cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach. 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.
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 , one of four "citties" (or incorporations) which were subdivided areas established in 1619.
Geography and climate
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 497 square miles (1,290 km Sq), of which 249 square miles (640 km Sq) is land and 248 square miles (640 km Sq) (49.9%) is water. It is the largest city in Virginia by total area and third-largest city land area. 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.
When the modern city of Virginia Beach was created in 1963, by the consolidation of the 253 square miles (660 km Sq) Princess Anne County with the 2 square miles (5.2 km Sq) 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 is home to several points of interest in the historical, scientific, and visual/performing arts areas, and has become a popular tourist destination in recent years. The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art features regularly changing exhibitions in a variety of media. Exhibitions feature painting, sculpture, photography, glass, video and other visual media from internationally acclaimed artists as well as artists of national and regional renown. MOCA was born from the annual Boardwalk Art Show, which began in 1952 and is now the museum's largest fundraiser. By operating at a national standard, MOCA received accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 2010.
Parks and recreation
Virginia Beach is home to 210 city parks, encompassing over 4,000 acres (1,600 ha), 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. Mount Trashmore Park is clearly visible from I-264 when traveling to the oceanfront. The park is 165 acres (67 ha). 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. It is the highest point in Virginia Beach. 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.
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.