The city is a railroad terminus and its many manufactures include rubber, plastic, glass, and wood products; electrical and electronic equipment; machinery; chemicals; building materials; textiles; transportation equipment; and consumer goods. Tourism is important, and there is agriculture (barley, wheat, corn, soybeans, livestock, and dairy products) and commercial fishing. Four large military bases are within the city limits: Naval Air Station Oceana, a huge base with hundreds of carrier planes; Dam Neck, a fleet combat training support center that is part of Oceana; a naval amphibious training center at Little Creek; and Fort Story, a U.S. army transportation command.
Virginia Beach is the state's largest city and one of the fastest-growing U.S. cities, marked by a population increase of nearly 50% between 1980 and 1990. Long a popular resort, it has beautiful beaches, a boardwalk, and excellent sportfishing. Of interest are the Cape Henry memorial cross, site of the landing of the first colonists in 1607; the Cape Henry lighthouse (1791; restored); the nation's oldest brick residence (1636; restored); and the Alan B. Shepard civic center, a geodesic aluminum-domed structure. Seashore State Park is there, as are Atlantic Univ. and Regent Univ. Virginia Wesleyan College is on the Norfolk–Virginia Beach border. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (opened 1964) links Virginia Beach with the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Maryland.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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