Virginia Community and Travel Histories

Norfolk Through Time by Amy Waters YarsinskeNorfolk Through Time

Photographs chosen for this volume are testament to the power of a picture is worth a thousand words. Each photograph tells a story of Norfolk through time, starting with the city center – the downtown – before going down to the river, revisiting the significance of the streetcar and the horseless carriage on the city’s development, moving into the wards, and, finally, a journey to the  Chesapeake Bay on the city’s north shore. With over three centuries of rich history, and with so little intact of the city’s historic built environment, photographs are a priceless record of Norfolk, the sunrise city by the sea.

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The Elizabeth River by Amy Waters YarsinskeThe Elizabeth River

This volume traces more than four centuries of the Elizabeth River’s history. Rich in biodiversity, she is a living body of water. Those who named her opened a tablet in human history, one this enduring, beautiful princess has enriched each day since. There is today much to be gleaned from the river’s strength. As you read through The Elizabeth River, remember that this remarkable river is your river. From the Great Bridge to the Norfolk Naval Station, the importance of the Elizabeth River is ever-present in our everyday lives. Since man came to live on her shores, she has been a river with a story.

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Lost Norfolk by Amy Waters YarsinskeLost Norfolk

With over three centuries of rich history, Norfolk is truly an Old Dominion original. With a bustling port and the world s largest navy base, Norfolk has served as a center for agriculture, transportation, manufacturing and defense. Wars, epidemics, fires, economic depression and suburbanization greatly impacted the development of the city over the  centuries, and sadly, many of the relics and vestiges from Norfolk’s past have been lost to time, but they are forever preserved in this remarkable collection of photographs from renowned local historian Amy Waters Yarsinske.

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Lost Virginia Beach by Amy Waters YarsinskeLost Virginia Beach

The Oceanfront’s Cottage Line, the music halls of Seaside Park and dunes so large they dwarfed the old Cape Henry lighthouse are a memory. Gone, too, are many of the city’s iconic landmarks and open spaces, lost to flood, fire, storm and the relentless onslaught of post–World War II development. With a deft hand and rare vintage images, historian Amy Waters Yarsinske recalls a time when the likes of Chuck Berry and Ray Charles played beneath the sizzling lights of the Dome and locals shagged the night away at the Peppermint Beach Club. Join Yarsinske as she takes one final stroll through a Virginia Beach lost to time.

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Ghent: John Graham's Dream, Norfolk, Virginia's Treasure by Amy Waters YarsinskeGhent

John Graham’s Dream, Norfolk, Virginia’s Treasure

“Ghent is more than just a pretty place,” wrote Norfolk Compass writer Mary Adams-Lackey, as Ghent turned a century old in April of 1990, “Shaped by her creators, her abusers and those who finally rescued her, Ghent is a gritty Southern belle.” Ghent, perhaps more than any other Norfolk suburb, has a story to tell that transcends its historic port city lineage, reaching national importance in its planning and execution.

That this “gritty Southern belle” remains is a testament to her good genes. The people who populated Ghent during its early years generally rebuilt the city of Norfolk after the American Civil War; they reconstructed the trade on which much of the city’s power and influence still rests, and were instrumental in transforming Norfolk from a regional to a national city during the prosperous years between the Civil War and the end of World War I. This was a great accomplishment requiring a concerted team effort. The team lived in Ghent–and what a team it was, its legacy extending long after those whose collective achievements have passed into time and memory.

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Rendezvous with Destiny, the FDR Legacy by Amy Waters YarsinskeRendezvous with Destiny

The FDR Legacy

Decades after FDR’s death, generations of Americans want to know the source of this president’s intimate contact with those he called “My friends….” How was he able to cement a relationship with so many million of people in all corners of the world, of a wide array of races, religions, and creeds?  there was much more to it than a stirring radio voice, his friend and advisor Judge Samuel I. Rosenman observed, “I think that the great reason for Roosevelt’s place in the hearts and heads of people was his ability to make them feel that he associated himself personally with each of them in each one’s aspirations for something better in life.  He did not seem to be someone far removed, fighting their battles in a rarefied atmosphere, He was,” in Rosenman’s opinion, “right down in the sweaty arena with them, side by side, expressing what they were thinking, doing what they wanted done, taking his strength and his boldness from their strength and their support.”

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Virginia Beach, Jewel Resort of the Atlantic by Amy Waters YarsinskeVirgina Beach

Jewel Resort of the Atlantic

This installment of Amy Waters Yarsinske’s Virginia community and travel histories takes us back in time to the days when the sparkling resort strip at Virginia Beach drew crowds by the train-full. Readers are visually taken back in time to a Virginia Beach that is no more, an oceanfront lined with summer cottages and welcoming inns, untouched seascapes and the wild country of Back Bay, Croatan, Sandbridge and Fort Story. You will follow the development of the resort from its salad days to the growth of grand hotels, clubs, nightlife and water sports to attract and accommodate excursionists from up and down the East Coast. Readers are invited to take a visual walk on the boardwalk of yesteryear and follow Virginia Beach through the turmoil of World War II and the unforgettable big band era, and going forward, to the fabulous fifties and sixties, when Virginia Beach formally enjoined with Princess Anne County and incorporated as an independent city in the Commonwealth.

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Ocean View, by Amy Waters YarsinskeOcean View

Ocean View, a rich historical beachfront hamlet on the northern-most reaches of the city of Norfolk, was at one time a major resort destination for beachgoers and amusement park lovers, from Florida to Maine and west to the Mississippi. Ocean View presents a comprehensive pictorial history of this resort, its development  as an important residential and recreational section of Norfolk, and the people who made it happen from 1862 to 1965. Using over 170 photographs, including those shot by Charles S. Borjes, often called “Virginia’s finest press photographer of his day,” we can experience and explore this very special part of Norfolk.

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Norfolk's Church Street, by Amy Waters YarsinskeNorfolk’s Church Street

Between Memory and Reality

Church Street, one of Norfolk’s original streets laid in 1680, served for many years as the gateway to the city. Originally called “The Road That Leadeth Out of Town,” its name was changed to Church Street following the completion of Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in 1739. Eastern European immigrants who settled the area between 1890 and 1914 established successful, small businesses along this main street, but by the late 1920s, many of the business owners had moved to outlying suburbs. African Americans soon began to settle the area, and as the black population increased, Church Street became the local center for African-American family life, religion, entertainment, education, and the manifestation of political power that would later give birth to several leaders of the American Civil Rights Movement.

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Summer on the Southside, by Amy Waters YarsinskeSummer on the Southside

Summer on the Southside brings to life the warm and sunny memories of yesteryear with unsurpassed detail by acclaimed author and historian Amy Waters Yarsinske. Including never-before-published images spanning the years from 1870 to 1965, this collection is a nostalgic view of those lazy summer days in the southside region of Hampton Roads. Scenes from the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk and the counties of Isle of Wight and Southampton, chronicle the familiar and well loved activities of summer, from fishing trips, beach outings, and picnics to ice cream cones, fireworks and baseball. Evoking the sweet, heavy scent of summer with beautiful photographs and charming anecdotes, this books is a well-crafted history of summertime in Virginia that invites all to reminisce.

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Winter Comes to Norfolk, by Amy Waters YarsinskeWinter Comes to Norfolk

Winter Comes to Norfolk is a retrospective of a vibrant city and its former neighboring counties and resorts during the time period 1880 to 1965. The book is a wonderful look at the winter months in a city that today rarely sees snow. Taking readers from October to April, the book explores the cultural and historical happenings of a city as its crisp fall months surrender to icy winters, and frigid cold melts, only to blossom into glorious springs.

Here we see a downtown in which people could hardly pass one another on streets choked with activity; a city at war and in peace; lean times of the Great Depression; a Navy Christmas; incredible winter landscapes; hard winters on the river and bay; parades and football games; children’s happy faces, from snowball fights to Christmas in the city, and, finally, the question inevitably asked as snow brought life to a full stop – “Will spring ever come?”

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Norfolk, Virginia - The Sunrise City by the Sea, by Amy Waters YarsinskeNorfolk, Virginia

The Sunrise City by the Sea

“Pictures are as much a link to our past as our own birth certificates or the family tree. Abandoning or discarding photographs would be akin to discarding a vital piece of the past – who we are or where we come from.” So wrote one of Norfolk’s premier visual historians, Carroll H. Walker. As a photographer and historian, Walker dedicated his life to immortalizing, in vivid images, the quaint homes, quiet churches, and bustling businesses of his adopted seaside home. With over 300 photographs, including shots from other early Norfolk photographers Harry C. Mann, Charles S. Borjes, and H. D. Vollmer, Norfolk, Virginia – The Sunrise City by the Sea provides an intimate glimpse of Norfolk history from the 1630s to 1994, when the book was first published and four years after Walker’s death.

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