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Chesapeake has been deemed the 17th largest city in the U.S. based off of land area and 91st by population. It has consistently been ranked by the FBI as one of the safest cities to live in in the country. It consists of 353 square miles of land and has roughly a population of 236,000. Chesapeake has more miles of deepwater canals than any other city in the United States (thanks to the Great Dismal Swamp, the Albermarle and Chesapeake Canals) and is ranked 6th in the top regions for recreation.
The land that is now considered Chesapeake was first discovered in 1620 and was an English settlement all along the banks of the Elizabeth River. However, it wasn’t until 1962 that the area was deemed “Chesapeake” to separate itself from the Norfolk and South Norfolk provinces due to annexation discrepancies.
The Great Dismal Swamp is a huge part of Chesapeake’s geography. It is now 37 miles long and 112,000 acres in total. In 1793 the work began on the canal, and was first envisioned by George Washington himself in 1963. The labor was done by hand and it opened in 1805. It is the oldest operating artificial waterway in the country.
Another large, and hugely important water system in our area is of course, the Chesapeake Bay. It’s 200 miles long and its surface area including all of its tidal tributaries is roughly 4,480 square miles. It produces about 500 million pounds of seafood a year and is the 3rd largest estuary in the world. It consists of more than 18 trillion gallons of water and is home to 348 species of finfish, 173 types of shellfish, 2,700 species of plants, 16 types of underwater grasses, 29 species of waterfowl, and 87 different types of waterbirds.
Important “staples” of the community are:
The Great Dismal Swamp: This historic land is equally important to our area’s past as it is to our present and future. It was used as a route for the Underground Railroad during the times of slavery, and is now a huge part of our local ecosystem. It is also a sight worth seeing with its hauntingly beautiful waterways and the trees that grow straight up from the murky depths.
Chesapeake City Park: This park has 90 acres of land, 60 of which are open and grassy areas. They have a a dog park, and horseshoe pits, and this is the site for a lot of events hosted by the city such as the Chesapeake jubilee.
Hickory Ridge Farm: Family owned and operated, with fresh fruits and vegetables, locally produced honey, and a petting zoo for the kids.
Battlefield Park: Dedicated in remembrance to the Battle of Great Bridge. There is an interpretive historic pathway, a recreation of the causeways of 1775, and an outdoor auditorium. They also offer daily tours if you are interested in hearing more of the history behind the location.
Northwest River Park: 763 acres of land with hiking trails, picnic areas, camping sites, paddle boat and canoe rentals, a mini golf course, and playground areas.