Nathan_in_DC

How I Learned To Love Nashville Even More

8 posts in this topic

...by living in Virginia Beach. 

 

The Navy sent me here for a few months, and I'm about to be heading for the greener pastures of DC.  I have discovered a city that is the exact opposite of everything that is good and positive about a city.  It is a sprawling, unplanned mess that has horrendous traffic issues due to poor planning and mismanagement.  It has little to no density outside of a three block artificially concocted downtown that is utterly lacking in charm and a kitschy tourist-trap beachfront.  It has no public transit to speak of.  Even if it did, it would be of little use because of the fact that everything is so spread out.  It has little in the way of public spaces or parks, cycling or walking somewhere is inviting disaster due to lax enforcement of good driving laws.

 

Virginia Beach is the state of Virginia's most populous city, and it is also one of the most sparsely populated at around 1,700 per square mile.  Richmond, an hour away, has around 3,200.  Unlike Nashville, with its deceivingly low density due to large uninhabited areas in the county, Virginia Beach comes by its low density honestly, with acre after acre of housing developments and strip malls with huge pavement parking lots.  Arlington County, south of DC, has around 8,300.

 

In short, Hampton Roads is a continuation of what cities were becoming in the 1970s and 80s: unplanned masses that forced people to have hour long commutes on crowded roads between disparate neighborhoods and office parks. The solution to increasing population wasn't to grow up or together, it was to grow out, plopping new houses on the outskirts of town, along with new stores with acres of parking lots to serve them. 

 

I'll be glad to leave here, and I will never be requesting a posting that requires me to live here again.

 

Yes, Nashville has its problems.  It does have an issue with sprawl, and its public transit infrastructure is currently very broken.  That being said, it is a city trying to correct itself.  New buildings are going up, not out.  People are moving into homes and apartments that let them walk to places they want to go.  Plans are being made for transport by methods other than car.  Most importantly, though, it's a city with an identity, and not just one marketed by the tourism development agency.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Wow!! Sounds a lot like Myrtle Beach.  Not to pick on MB alone... as that describes too many beachside towns that became commercial hubs for their areas... at least in regions that saw their biggest growth in the decades after WW2.  You touch on the "character" of such places, and it's fair to note that many of those places never had any historical fabric (to speak of), and unfortunately most of what they had was demolished in the 1950-70s for more beachfront "amenities".  I haven't been to VB in years, and I don't remember it much, but I wonder if there is any attempt underway to build a core.  Or do the "Powers that Be" feel content passing that function off to Norfolk?  I know there are a lot of retirees in that area... and most of those folks are not the sort who go to a downtown clubbing district, and crave their convenient shopping (hence the strip malls). 

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow!! Sounds a lot like Myrtle Beach.  Not to pick on MB alone... as that describes too many beachside towns that became commercial hubs for their areas... at least in regions that saw their biggest growth in the decades after WW2.  You touch on the "character" of such places, and it's fair to note that many of those places never had any historical fabric (to speak of), and unfortunately most of what they had was demolished in the 1950-70s for more beachfront "amenities".  I haven't been to VB in years, and I don't remember it much, but I wonder if there is any attempt underway to build a core.  Or do the "Powers that Be" feel content passing that function off to Norfolk?  I know there are a lot of retirees in that area... and most of those folks are not the sort who go to a downtown clubbing district, and crave their convenient shopping (hence the strip malls). 

 

Virginia Beach has the perfect storm of being a tourist city/military city.  Transient populations that have few ties to the area, and often don't appreciate or care enough to support smart, planned growth.  VB has made some token attempts at developing cores at the oceanfront and in a new district referred to as Town Center.  Town Center is a planned "downtown" that includes two high rise buildings, but still is very car-centric.  It is bordered on one side by I-264, and to the west and north by large roads that are not inviting to be crossed by pedestrians, and to the east by more strip malls.  Not only that, it is barely 3 blocks by 3 blocks, and much of the area is parking.  It has little organic character to it, being comprised totally of chain restaurants and shopping areas.  A few offices, as well as a Westin hotel are there as well.

 

I encourage you to use Google Maps to do a little exploring around the area to get a feel for just how sprawling, congested, bland and commercial it all is.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem with Virginia Beach was that it was never really a "proper" city. It was just a modest beach community of between 10 and 20,000 people for the first half of the 20th century. Surrounding it was a rural county (Princess Anne). Suburbanization occurred at mid-century between it and Norfolk and the county was absorbed into VA Beach in 1963 (much like Nashville). It's sort of an odd place. You want to go to the courthouse (in the old enclave of Princess Anne) and you have to drive a distance away from Virginia Beach proper. I try to think of something similar, perhaps like Gwinnett County, Georgia. A county of a half-million or so, but there's no "city."

 

It's funny, since so many other places that developed in the 19th century in VA, even relatively small, have a "proper downtown" feel to them. Staunton, for instance. Lynchburg and Roanoke are two others. Considerably smaller than VA Beach, but all feel like a "city." The proper cities in the vicinity of VA Beach are Norfolk and Portsmouth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...by living in Virginia Beach. 

 

The Navy sent me here for a few months, and I'm about to be heading for the greener pastures of DC.  I have discovered a city that is the exact opposite of everything that is good and positive about a city.  It is a sprawling, unplanned mess that has horrendous traffic issues due to poor planning and mismanagement.  It has little to no density outside of a three block artificially concocted downtown that is utterly lacking in charm and a kitschy tourist-trap beachfront.  It has no public transit to speak of.  Even if it did, it would be of little use because of the fact that everything is so spread out.  It has little in the way of public spaces or parks, cycling or walking somewhere is inviting disaster due to lax enforcement of good driving laws.

 

Virginia Beach is the state of Virginia's most populous city, and it is also one of the most sparsely populated at around 1,700 per square mile.  Richmond, an hour away, has around 3,200.  Unlike Nashville, with its deceivingly low density due to large uninhabited areas in the county, Virginia Beach comes by its low density honestly, with acre after acre of housing developments and strip malls with huge pavement parking lots.  Arlington County, south of DC, has around 8,300.

 

In short, Hampton Roads is a continuation of what cities were becoming in the 1970s and 80s: unplanned masses that forced people to have hour long commutes on crowded roads between disparate neighborhoods and office parks. The solution to increasing population wasn't to grow up or together, it was to grow out, plopping new houses on the outskirts of town, along with new stores with acres of parking lots to serve them. 

 

I'll be glad to leave here, and I will never be requesting a posting that requires me to live here again.

 

Yes, Nashville has its problems.  It does have an issue with sprawl, and its public transit infrastructure is currently very broken.  That being said, it is a city trying to correct itself.  New buildings are going up, not out.  People are moving into homes and apartments that let them walk to places they want to go.  Plans are being made for transport by methods other than car.  Most importantly, though, it's a city with an identity, and not just one marketed by the tourism development agency.

 

 

...by living in Virginia Beach. 

 

The Navy sent me here for a few months, and I'm about to be heading for the greener pastures of DC.  I have discovered a city that is the exact opposite of everything that is good and positive about a city.  It is a sprawling, unplanned mess that has horrendous traffic issues due to poor planning and mismanagement.  It has little to no density outside of a three block artificially concocted downtown that is utterly lacking in charm and a kitschy tourist-trap beachfront.  It has no public transit to speak of.  Even if it did, it would be of little use because of the fact that everything is so spread out.  It has little in the way of public spaces or parks, cycling or walking somewhere is inviting disaster due to lax enforcement of good driving laws.

 

Virginia Beach is the state of Virginia's most populous city, and it is also one of the most sparsely populated at around 1,700 per square mile.  Richmond, an hour away, has around 3,200.  Unlike Nashville, with its deceivingly low density due to large uninhabited areas in the county, Virginia Beach comes by its low density honestly, with acre after acre of housing developments and strip malls with huge pavement parking lots.  Arlington County, south of DC, has around 8,300.

 

In short, Hampton Roads is a continuation of what cities were becoming in the 1970s and 80s: unplanned masses that forced people to have hour long commutes on crowded roads between disparate neighborhoods and office parks. The solution to increasing population wasn't to grow up or together, it was to grow out, plopping new houses on the outskirts of town, along with new stores with acres of parking lots to serve them. 

 

I'll be glad to leave here, and I will never be requesting a posting that requires me to live here again.

 

Yes, Nashville has its problems.  It does have an issue with sprawl, and its public transit infrastructure is currently very broken.  That being said, it is a city trying to correct itself.  New buildings are going up, not out.  People are moving into homes and apartments that let them walk to places they want to go.  Plans are being made for transport by methods other than car.  Most importantly, though, it's a city with an identity, and not just one marketed by the tourism development agency.

Amen!!!! I have been living here since 2003 and would leave in a heartbeat if I could.  I retired from the Navy back in January but my partner Wayne is from here and has 8 years to go before he retires from the city animal shelter.  Also, my son who is 13 lives up in Salisbury, Md and I want to be near him until he graduates at least.  Wayne loves Nashville and said he would move there in a heartbeat.  Hampton Roads is just a sprawling mess but unfortunately it is home right now.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Amen!!!! I have been living here since 2003 and would leave in a heartbeat if I could.  I retired from the Navy back in January but my partner Wayne is from here and has 8 years to go before he retires from the city animal shelter.  Also, my son who is 13 lives up in Salisbury, Md and I want to be near him until he graduates at least.  Wayne loves Nashville and said he would move there in a heartbeat.  Hampton Roads is just a sprawling mess but unfortunately it is home right now.  

 

Completely forgot there was someone else from VB on this board!

 

There are parts of HR that I could deal with living in, I think.  The Ghent neighborhood in Norfolk, for instance. Or even Old City Portsmouth.  But Virginia Beach just has so little going for it if you are not the type of person who is obsessed with the beach.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Been in the DC area less than a week and I'm already loving it.  Honestly, I'm simply a happier person living somewhere that hasn't completely neglected sound design and urban development like Virgina Beach has done.  I moved into an apartment in the Crystal City section of Arlington, and have quickly discovered that this is an area that actually encourages people to walk, bike and take public transit.  The Crystal City and Braddock Road Metro stations, which are a fair distant apart, are in the process of being connected via the new Potomac Yards developments with a bus line that is a mixed BRT/BRT light system. There is an extremely well developed bicycle trail and lane system.  The metro is hard to beat in terms of efficiency and service. 

 

Best of all? This is the direction I see Nashville taking.  More bikeways, dedicated pedestrian bridges, bicycle lanes, improved public transit, pedestrian oriented developments, and good green spaces.  I would give anything to get a glimpse of the city in 25 years (assuming we haven't wiped ourselves out as a species by then...can't really count that one out...).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Been in the DC area less than a week and I'm already loving it.  Honestly, I'm simply a happier person living somewhere that hasn't completely neglected sound design and urban development like Virgina Beach has done.  I moved into an apartment in the Crystal City section of Arlington, and have quickly discovered that this is an area that actually encourages people to walk, bike and take public transit.  The Crystal City and Braddock Road Metro stations, which are a fair distant apart, are in the process of being connected via the new Potomac Yards developments with a bus line that is a mixed BRT/BRT light system. There is an extremely well developed bicycle trail and lane system.  The metro is hard to beat in terms of efficiency and service. 

 

Best of all? This is the direction I see Nashville taking.  More bikeways, dedicated pedestrian bridges, bicycle lanes, improved public transit, pedestrian oriented developments, and good green spaces.  I would give anything to get a glimpse of the city in 25 years (assuming we haven't wiped ourselves out as a species by then...can't really count that one out...).

One of my favorite spots in the DC area is Old Town Alexandria.  Love that place.  I wish that Nashville would put more non-honkytonk ground-level retail in our historic and vintage buildings downtown (Church Street, anyone?) as well as in the midtown area (17th/Division).

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.