FORT EUSTIS, VA. –
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.
What do parks, movie theaters, universities, state of the art community centers and nuclear-powered ships all have in common?
All can be found next door to Fort Eustis, Va., throughout the city of Newport News, a city rich in history, which offers a wide variety of services to its residents and members of the military stationed at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.
While no one knows exactly where the name Newport News came from, the most widely accepted folktale is that it is the namesake of Captain Christopher Newport, commander of the Susan Constant, flagship of the three-ship English fleet that landed on Jamestown Island in 1607. He made several voyages to Newport News in the early days of the Jamestown Colony, bringing "good news" of supplies and settlers.
In 1917 Fort Eustis became part of the Newport News community. Forty-one years later in 1958, the city of Warwick and the city of Newport News consolidated into the Corporation of Newport News. This gave the city the boundary line they know today, which is approximately 25 miles long and three miles wide.
Today Newport News encompasses more than 70 square miles and boasts a population of approximately 181,000 people. It features more than 3,700 businesses and 36 parks.
"One unique thing about Newport News is we have one of the largest parks east of the Mississippi River," Price said. "Newport News Park, which is 8,138 acres, is actually eight times bigger than Central Park in New York City."
Throughout the many parks in Newport News there are activities and locations to enjoy such as hiking trails, archery, beaches, biking trails, disc golf courses , dog parks, both freshwater and saltwater fishing, playgrounds, sports fields and camp grounds, to name a few.
Parks aren't the only attractions in Newport News. History buffs can visit one of the many museums and historical buildings scattered throughout the city.
"Our Mariners' Museum and War Museum are great to visit," Price said. "We also have an old railroad station that once served as a debarkation station for Soldiers that has now been turned into a restaurant."
In addition to the Mariners' and War museums, there is the Virginia Living Museum, U.S. Army Transportation Museum and the Endview Plantation, which served as a confederate hospital during the American Civil War.
Newport News also offers a special feature you will not find in any other city throughout the country.
"Newport News is the only city in the country that builds nuclear aircraft carriers and submarines." Price said. "You can actually go to the gates of the shipyard and see an aircraft carrier being built over a two- to three year period, which is pretty cool."
For those who enjoy more artistic endeavors, check out one of the 26 new modern art sculptures scattered throughout the city. The sculptures feature recordings of the artists explaining the piece and how they came up with the idea.
While visiting the many different sculptures, one can enjoy more than 200 stores and 70 restaurants, ranging from locally owned establishments to national chains.
If all the options are overwhelming, Mayor Price recommends checking out the Newport News visitors center.
"Our visitor center here is amazing and the staff is very knowledgeable," Price said. "If you really want to see everything that Newport News has to offer, let them help you plan your visit."
The Newport News visitor center, located at the corner of Fort Eustis Blvd. and Jefferson Ave., inside the entrance to Newport News Park, can help you plan your day in the city and even provide coupons and brochures in some cases. In addition, every January, residents of Newport News and Fort Eustis can come by the visitor's center and pick up a free "Ambassador Pass." This pass will get you free admission for the entire month to a variety of attractions around the city that would normally charge a fee.
"I hope military members feel at home here in Newport News." Price said. "We are blessed to have such great relations with the members of Joint Base Langley-Eustis and we truly value having them here as part of our community."
For more information on Newport News, visit http://www.newport-news.org/