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Home : News : Features : Display
NEWS | Aug. 19, 2013

Know your neighbor: City of Hampton

By Staff Sgt. Wesley Farnsworth 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Editors Note: This story is part of an ongoing series that will cover many of the cities surrounding Langley Air Force Base, Va., and Fort Eustis, Va.

For members of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, opportunities are endless when it comes to finding things to do in their off time. Many surrounding cities offer venues, attractions and recreational facilities, including the city of Hampton.

Founded in 1610, the 52 square-mile city has more than 145,000 residents, 20,000 of whom are veterans, and is located just outside the gates of Langley Air Force Base.

"Hampton prides itself as being very military friendly," said Bruce Sturk, Hampton director of federal facilities. "We have a history not only with Fort Monroe, but also Langley Air Force Base."

One way Hampton makes sure it is military friendly is by offering a wide variety of attractions and events for its residents to enjoy, said Sturk.

One such attraction is the 456-acre Sandy Bottom Nature Park, featuring a 10,000 square-foot nature center that overlooks Sandy Bottom Lake, as well as many hiking and biking trails that are home to a variety of wildlife.

For those who enjoy wildlife but want to get up close and personal, Hampton's public city park, Bluebird Gap Farm, offers a free petting zoo. Designed to resemble a working farm, it features farm animals and fowl of all types, as well as wild animals native to Virginia.

In addition to city parks and petting zoos, Hampton is also home to two military bases, Langley Air Force Base and Fort Monroe, which played a key role in the city's history.

In 1609, colonial settlers built what is now known as Fort Monroe. It was originally called Fort Algernourne and was a wooden structure large enough to hold 50 men and seven mounted cannons. Ten years later, it would serve as a landing place in the New World for Africans brought in as slaves. In 1834, the newly renovated Fort Algernourne was renamed Fort Monroe after the fifth President of the United States, James Monroe.

Hampton is one of America's oldest cities, and is also home to many of our country's firsts.

"Hampton is home to one of the first continuous English-speaking settlements, and was also the first city to have a public education system," Sturk said. "Additionally, NASA also trained the first astronauts to land on the moon in Hampton."

Some of this history can be seen today in downtown Hampton where visitors will find one of the oldest churches in the country. Visitors can also stop at the Virginia Air and Space Center, which has many different historical artifacts including aircraft and space capsules on display.

Aside from outdoor activities and historical artifacts, the city also offers the Hampton Coliseum and Hampton Convention Center, which host events like trade shows, circuses and concerts.

According to Sturk, Hampton is continually trying to bring great shows and amenities into the city for residents to enjoy.

In an effort to help take care of its veterans, Hampton established a military affairs committee, made up of volunteer, prior-Service members.

"They help us ensure that our veterans are welcomed in Hampton and their needs are being met," Sturk said. "They also help answer questions any Service members may have about the area."

To help ensure that everyone in the city of Hampton gets information about attractions or city services, and for general questions, the city established the 311 hotline.

Residents can call 311 from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. from any phone in the city of Hampton and an operator will answer questions or put residents in touch with someone who can help. For those who are outside of the city, call 727-8311.

For more information, the city offers two visitor centers at 120 Old Hampton Lane or 1919 Commerce Drive.

With its many attractions, historical sites and entertainment venues, Hampton has something to offer all Service members.

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