Williamsburg is an American city that is located in the Hampton Roads Metro area of Virginia. It covers an area of nine square miles and has a population of about twelve thousand people. The main economic activity of the city is tourism. It draws such a large volume of visitors that it has attracted businesses such as Anheuser Busch to the area. AB opened a large brewery just outside the city and also two theme parks Water Country USA and Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
Williamsburg can trace its history to the seventeenth century. This is when British settlements began to occuppy the lower portion of Virginia. These colonies built a stockade across the peninsula to protect themselves from Indian attacks. It was on this peninsula that Williamsburg was established. When Jamestown was burned down in an accidental fire, the colonial government was relocated to what would become Williamsburg. In 1699, it was organized into a village and was named in honor of King William III of England. In 1771, Virgina’s Royal Governor started a project to connect Archer’s Creek with Queen’s Creek. It was intended to be a water bridge across the Virginia Peninsula, but was never completed. This was the first canal constructed in the United States. Williamsburg was also the location of the first psychiatric hospital constructed in the United States. This hospital would later be known as Eastern State Hospital and was built in 1770.
During the American Revolution, the capital of Virginia was moved from Williamsburg to Richmond. This was done by request of Virginia governor Thomas Jefferson, who feared that Williamsburg’s location made it an easy target for attack by the British. During the Civil War, Confederate troops defended the city against the Union during the Peninsula Campaign. After holding the Union forces off for over a year, in 1862 the Confederates withdrew from the city and it fell into Union Hands. During the 1880s, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad built lines through the area. This allowed for more passenger travel and also for improved shipping of products from local farmers to their markets.
A prominent attraction in the city today, is Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Though this theme park is not directly located in the city limits (its actually three mile southeast), a lot of people still come to the city to visit this attraction. Busch Gardens Williamsburg opened its doors to the public in May of 1975 and is next to the Anheuser-Busch brewery and the Kingsmill Resort complex. Originally it was named Busch Gardens: The Old Country but was changed to Busch Gardens Williamsburg during the 1990s. Since this park is themed around a European theme, it was officially referred to as Busch Garden Europe as of 2006. Currently, the name is being reverted back to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The theme park is divided into ten areas that are referred to as hamlets. These hamlets are themed after six European countries. The hamlets are Banbury Cross (England), Killarney (Ireland), Heatherdowns (Scotland), Festa Italia (Italy), San Marco (Italy), Oktoberfest (Bavarian Germany), Rhinefeld (Rhineland Germany), New France (French Canada) and Aquitaine (France). Animal attractions in the park include Jack Hanna’s Wild Reserve and The Clydesdales. Jack Hanna’s Wild Reserve is a three thousand square foot area that is used for rehabilitating and housing bald eagles. It also educates the public about these birds. A subsection of this area is Wolf Haven, where guest can look at the pair of wolves that are in the collection. The park also has a Gondola Skylift and a replica steam train. There are also several roller coasters in the park which include the Griffon, Loch Ness Monster, Grover’s Alpine Express, Apollo’s Chariot and Alpengeist.
Another attraction in Williamsburg is Water Country USA. Water Country USA is a water park that is a few miles from Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It has a 1950s surg theme and contains shops, restaurants, live entertainment and water rides. Key features of this park include Cow-A-Bunga (children’s water playland), Adventure Isle (an inner tube attraction), H20-UFO (slides and fountains) and Kritter Korral (miniature slides for small children). Rides in the park include Aquazoid, Hubba-Hubba Highway, Juke Box Tower, Jet Scream, Big Daddy Falls, Malibu Pipeline, Little Bopper, Nitro Racer, Meltdown, Wild Thang, Surfer’s Bay and Rampage. Muscarelle Museum of Art is another popular attraction in the city. Its located on Jamestown Road and is next to Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall. It first opened its doors in 1883. This museum contains more than four thousand works of art. Items in its collection include American and European prints from the sixteenth century on, African art, Japanese prints and Asian ceramics. Current exhibitions here include “Deeply Superficial: Andy Warhol’s Voyeurism”, “Pursuing Perfection: Highlights & Select Loans from the Museum Collection” and “Nat Finkelstein: Factory Photography On View at the Sadler Center”.
Williamsburg Pottery Factory is an often looked attraction in the city, but is one worth making the time for. The city claims this retail outlet is the largest tourist attraction in Virginia. It sits on two hundred acres and has handmade articles and imported goods from over twenty countries. It was started in 1938 by James E. Maloney, who was looking to sell his eighteenth century saltglaze reproductions. As time went by, he added glassware and china. Eventually, it expanded to include items such as handmade lamps, cheeses, floral arrangements and baskets. Williamsburg Pottery Factory has thirty-two buildings, an eight thousand spot parking lot and an inventory that includes over one hundred and thirty thousand items.
Other attractions in the city of Williamsburg include Yankee Candle Company, Bruton Parish Episcopal Church, Jamestown Settlement, Colonial Williamsburg, Bassett Hall, Williamsburg Winery, Historic Jamestowne, Great Wolf Lodge, Spa of Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg Antique Mall, King’s Arms Tavern, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, Public Hospital Museum, William and Mary College, Golden Horseshoe Golf Club, Williamsburg National, Jamestown Island Explorer, Duke of Gloucester Street, Wetherburn’s Tavern, The Magazine & Guardhouse, Robertson’s Windmill, Merchants Square, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and James Geddy House & Silversmith Shop.