""Norfolk by the Sea"" Top 5 Page for this destination Norfolk by starship
Norfolk Travel Guide: 122 reviews and 492 photos
After an absence of far too many years, recently I was able to return to Norfolk for a visit of several days. Located only a short distance from my hometown, Norfolk is the place where I spent four years in college, and where I worked after college graduation. I was happy to have the opportunity to really visit Norfolk rather than just drive through again!
For nearly three full days I was able to explore the downtown area on foot while my husband was busy with work. The location of our hotel was superb, offering not only wonderful views of the Elizabeth River and surroundings, but also the location put me within walking distance of many historic sites, museums, shopping, and restaurants. I also took the opportunity to revisit my old college campus, and visit Gray's Pharmacy where I ate the same meal at their lunch counter virtually every day for a year or more! The lunch counter is gone, but the indifferent attitude to customers still remains!
I always thought Norfolk was a great place, and my favorite place in Norfolk was the neighborhood of Ghent, made up of century-old homes and early to mid-20th century apartments, interesting streets, parks, etc.,. At one time I was lucky enough to live and work in Ghent.
I still have many personal connections to this area, along with an enthusiasm for its history, its interesting neighborhoods and landscapes, its military presence, the fact that it is mostly surrounded by water, and much more.
During this trip I found that Norfolk has taken the symbol of the "mermaid" to identify itself and its connection to the sea, and similarly the moniker, "Norfolk By the Sea." It seems a recent building spree has somewhat dissipated Norfolk's original character, but it is also working hard to preserve those historic points of interest and make them available to the public. This being the case, emphasizing Norfolk's lifetime historical connection to the Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean and Elizabeth River makes a lot of sense and fits.
All around downtown Norfolk you will find "mermaids" brightly decorated by local organizations---much the same as I have seen bee hives, horses, and other symbols in towns across the USA. I appreciated this public art, and liked the choice of symbol that Norfolk now uses.
More on the subject of Norfolk's Mermaids: "Norfolk visitors will notice the mermaid statues scattered throughout the town. The fanciful mermaids were designed by local artists and auctioned off to raise funds for Hampton Roads arts organizations. The mermaids are now located at businesses and public spaces throughout the area. ......The city has established a story trail from mermaid to mermaid downtown, where each mermaid is one page of a new mermaid story...." www.mermaidsonparade.com."
"The Chesipean Indians occupied the land where Norfolk is located today on the Elizabeth River near Chesapeake Bay. They ceased to exist by the time the first English settlers arrived in 1585 on Roanoke Island in North Carolina (a settlement which also disappeared in 1591). Norfolk was a planned city, laid out in 1682 (and became an independent city from Norfolk County in 1871). In 1776, the British royal governor of Virginia, in an attempt to quell the rebellion of the American colony, shelled the city and destroyed over 800 buildings. He ultimately failed to regain control of Virginia and went back to England. In 1855, a yellow fever epidemic ravaged Norfolk; one out of every three citizens died. The Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad was completed in 1858 which allowed for major connections to points north, west and south. During the Civil War in 1862, the battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac ironclad shipswas fought in the Battle of Hampton Roads off Norfolk. In 1917 the US Naval Base was established in Norfolk because of the area’s strategic location, deep-water bay, and ocean access. In the 1970s, urban renewal brought much-needed visitor and cultural attractions and commercial development, such as Waterside, which transformed a seedy harbor area into a festive marketplace with restaurants and artistic venues."
- Pros:On Chesapeake Bay, History, Museums, Many Local Attractions
- Cons:Recent building spree has changed the character somewhat
- In a nutshell:Feels like home to me!
The Ocean View section of Norfolk was once home to the Ocean View Amusement park and an amazing wooden rollercoaster... more travel advice
Billed as "America's Only Sidewalk Museum," I discovered the "Windows on History" museum on my way to visit St. Paul's... more travel advice
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