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Hampton Roads is the name of both a body of water and the metropolitan area which surrounds it in southeastern Virginiamarker. Hampton Roads is notable for its year-round ice-free harbor, for United States Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, NASAmarker, Marines, and Army facilities, shipyards, coal piers, and hundreds of miles of waterfront property and beaches, all of which contribute to the diversity and stability of the region's economy.

The water area known as Hampton Roads (informally known locally as "the harbor") is one of the world's biggest natural harbors (more accurately, roadstead), and incorporates the mouths of the Elizabeth River and James River with several smaller rivers and itself empties into the Chesapeake Bay near its mouth leading to the Atlantic Oceanmarker.

The land area (formerly known as "Tidewater") includes dozens of cities, counties and towns on the Virginia Peninsulamarker and in South Hampton Roads.
of the more outlying areas from the harbor may or may not be included as part of "Hampton Roads", depending upon the organization or purpose. For a commonly used example, as defined for federal economic purposes, the Hampton Roads metropolitan statistical area (MSA) additionally includes one countymarker in northeastern North Carolinamarker and two counties in Virginia’s Middle Peninsula. Officially, the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA has a population of about 1.7 million, the 35th-largest metropolitan area in the United States. Many are predicting that the Hampton Roads Area, and especially the "Seven Cities" of Virginia Beachmarker, Norfolkmarker, Chesapeakemarker, Newport Newsmarker, Hamptonmarker, Portsmouthmarker, and Suffolkmarker, will grow faster than expected. The predictions of some researchers estimate that the 2010 census will show a population well in excess of 2 million.

The area is steeped in 400 years of American history, and hundreds of historical sites and attractions in the area draw visitors from around the world each year. The harbor was the key to the Hampton Roads area's growth, both on land and in water-related activities and events. Ironically, the harbor and its tributary waterways were (and still are) both important transportation conduits and obstacles to other land-based commerce and travel. Creating and maintaining adequate infrastructure has long been a major challenge. The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnelmarker (HRBT) and the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnelmarker (MMMBT) are major harbor crossings of the Hampton Roads Beltway which links each of the largest Seven Cities of Hampton Roads. In 2007, the new Hampton Roads Transportation Authority (HRTA) was formed under a controversial state law to levy various additional taxes to generate funding for major regional transportation projects, including a long-sought and costly third crossing of the harbor of Hampton Roads.


The term "Hampton Roads" is a centuries-old designation that originated when the region was a struggling English outpost nearly four hundred years ago. The name is believed to have originated from the combination of two separate words.

The word "Hampton" honors one of the founders of the Virginia Company of London and a great supporter of the colonization of Virginia, Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton. In the easternmost part of the new colony, downstream from Jamestown, the early administrative center was known as Elizabeth Cittie [sic], named for Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of King James I, and formally designated by the Virginia Company in 1619. (The Elizabeth River was also named for the princess).

The town at the center of Elizabeth Cittie became known as simply "Hampton", and a nearby waterway was designated Hampton Creek (also known as Hampton River). The town (and later city) of Hampton was the county seat of Elizabeth City County for over 300 years, until they were politically consolidated into the current large independent city known as Hampton, Virginiamarker, in 1952. The City of Hampton thus became one of the large Seven Cities of Hampton Roadsmarker, of which four others also grew to the larger sizes by consolidating with neighboring jurisdictions such as counties and towns in the mid-twentieth century.

A land area to the north across the bay in what is now called "the Eastern Shore" became known as Northamptonmarker. Another area south of the James River became Southamptonmarker. As with Hampton, both of these names also remain in use in modern times.

The term "Roads" as applied to a water channel is used elsewhere. Examples include Castle Roads, in another of the Virginia Company's settlements, Bermudamarker, and Lahaina Roads, in Hawaiimarker. Signifying the safety of a port, the word "roads" (also called roadstead) in nautical terminology of the day meant "a place less sheltered than a harbor where ships may ride at anchor."

The combination of the words as "Hampton Roads" was recorded as the channel linking the James, Elizabeth, and Nansemond rivers with the Chesapeake Bay in an act of the Virginia General Assemblymarker in 1755. Perhaps by definition, the label "harbor" is technically incorrect. However, Hampton Roads has become well-known as the "world's greatest harbor." This is partially because it is the northernmost major East Coast port of the United States which is normally ice-free year round. The latter status is claimed with the notable exception of extraordinarily cold winter of 1917, which was the entire U.S.'s coldest year on record.

Although the designation initially applied to the water area, the region has also come to be known as "Hampton Roads", a label more specific than the term "Tidewater Virginia", which could by implication, include other areas of tidal lands in eastern Virginia. The U.S. Postal Service changed its postmark from "Tidewater Virginia" to "Hampton Roads, Virginia" beginning in 1983.


The harbor area of Hampton Roads, from official state map of pre-civil war Virginia circa 1858. image from the Library of Virginia

The first colonists arrived in 1607 when English Captain Christopher Newport's three ships, his flagship Susan Constant, the smaller Godspeed, and even smaller Discovery landed in April 1607 at Cape Henry along the Atlantic Coast in today's City of Virginia Beach, an event now known as the "First Landing." However, they moved on, under orders from the Virginia Company of London, the crews and new colonists sought a more sheltered area up one of the rivers. Their major concern was other European competitors such as the Spanishmarker, who had earlier discovered the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia's rivers, and had even in 1570 begun a small settlement on the Virginia Peninsulamarker known as the Ajacan Mission, which had failed.

During 18 days of exploring the area, they surely saw the enormous harbor of Hampton Roads, and some of the party must have appreciated its possibilities. However, after exploring the James River west at least as far as present-day Hopewellmarker, they agreed upon Jamestown Island, where they established the first successful English colony in the New World on 14 May 1607.

Despite the defensive advantages of that location against Spanish attacks, the low and marshy site at Jamestown proved a very poor choice in many other ways. More than five years of fragile existence and high mortality rates followed including the Starving Time of 1609-10 when over 80% of the 500 colonists perished before the future of the Virginia Colony began to appear more promising. The change came about with the just-in-time arrival of a new Governor, Lord De La Warr, and a new colonist with a successful business idea named John Rolfe, who established the Virginia tobacco industry.

For centuries, the harbor and rivers of Hampton Roads have been ideal locations for both commerce and for many major shipyards. Some were established as early as the late 18th century such as the Gosport Navy Yardmarker in what is now the City of Portsmouthmarker.

The harbor was also a key point for military control of the region. Even the earliest settlers created fortifications at Old Point Comfort by 1610 against potential attacks by ships of Spanish or other unfriendly European forces.

Important conflicts of the American Revolutionary War involved Norfolk and Craney Island (at the mouth of the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth). It was at Norfolk where the last Royal Governor of the Virginia Colony, Lord Dunmore, departed mainland Virginia for the last time.

The first naval action of the War of 1812 took place on 8 July 1812, when the Bermuda sloop, HMS Whiting, its crew oblivious to the US declaration of war, lowered anchor in Hampton Roads. As its captain was being rowed ashore, the Royal Naval vessel was seized by the American privateer Dash, which happened to be leaving port.

Under the new United States government, by the 1830s, the entrance from Chesapeake Bay was defended by Fort Monroemarker, built by the U.S. Army beginning in 1819 on Old Point Comfort, and by Fort Wool, built as Fort Calhoun in 1829, on a small island called the Rip Raps near the middle of the channel (and now adjacent to one of the manmade islands of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnelmarker). Much work in the building of these fortresses in the early 19th century was done by a 24-year old engineer in the U.S. Army, a Lieutenant named Robert E. Lee
Battle of Hampton Roads
During the American Civil War (1861-1865), the famous Battle of Hampton Roads between the first American ironclad warships, the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia took place off Sewell's Point, on March 8-9, 1862. That battle was inconclusive, but later in 1862, Union forces took control of Hampton Roads, Norfolk, and the lower James River. However, their efforts to take the Confederate capital of Richmondmarker via the James River with their vastly superior Navy were thwarted by a strong Confederate battery position high above a bend in the river about below Richmond at Drewry's Bluff.

Fort Monroe was the launching place for Union General George McClellan's massive 1862 Peninsula Campaign, a land campaign of many months which began at Fort Monroe and advanced up the Virginia Peninsulamarker, with a Siege at Yorktown and another battle at Williamsburg before the Union Army almost literally reached the gates of Richmond, ending at the Chickahominy Rivermarker within earshot of the city's church bells, according to the journals of Union soldiers. However, the Confederates mounted a credible defense of their capital city, and McClellan's campaign failed to capture Richmond, ending in the Seven Days Battles, during which the Union Army withdrew, effectively extending the War for almost three more years.

During the American Civil War (1861~1865), after the efforts of Francis P. Blair (Sr.), the Confederate president Jefferson Davis sent three Peace Commissioners in an effort to negotiate for peace. This unsuccessful attempt at peace lasted for four hours, and at the end of the Conference, the commissioners returned to Richmondmarker.

Beginning in 1861, some of the former slaves found refuge in a camp near Fort Monroemarker, which remained in Union hands throughout the War. There, the commander, Union Army General Benjamin F. Butler, a lawyer by training, declared them to be "Contraband of war". On that legal basis, Union forces refused to return them to Confederate owners as would have been the practice even in many "free states" before Virginia seceded and declared itself a foreign power. Soon, word spread, and many slaves were understandably anxious to become "contraband."

Although many of the "contraband" men at Hampton and elsewhere during the War volunteered and became part of the United States Colored Troops (USCT), others and the women and children grew in increasing numbers near Fort Monroe in Elizabeth City County. From the wood and materials salvaged from the remains of the Town of Hampton, which had been burned earlier by retreating Confederates, they built the Grand Contraband Camp, near, but outside the protective walls of the Army base. It was the first self-contained African American community in the United States.

Close by, was (and still is) the Emancipation Oak, on the grounds of the school for them which grew to become Hampton Universitymarker. Beginning as a normal school founded to train teachers, Hampton University was established by church groups and former Union Army officers. Early educators of the era included Mary Smith Peake and former Union Army General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, who was himself the son of missionaries, and had commanded a USCT force during the War. Among the earlier students was a young former slave named Booker T. Washington, who became a famed African-American educator and was the first head of present-day Tuskegee Universitymarker. The Emancipation Oak is part of the official logo of the modern city of Hampton.

The Jamestown Exposition for the 300th anniversary of the 1607 founding of Jamestown was held at Sewell's Point in a rural section of Norfolk County in 1907.

President Theodore Roosevelt arrived by water in the harbor of Hampton Roads, as did other notable persons such as Mark Twain and Henry Huttleston Rogers, who both arrived aboard the latter's steam yacht Kanawha. A major naval display was featured, and the U.S. Great White Fleet made an appearance. The leaders of the U.S. Navy apparently did not fail to note the ideal harbor conditions, as was later proved.

Beginning in 1917, as the United States became involved in World War I under President Woodrow Wilson, formerly rural Sewell's Point became the site of what grew to become the largest Naval Base in the world which was established by the United States Navy and is now known as the Naval Station Norfolkmarker.

Twice in the 20th century, families of mostly African American heritage were displaced in entire communities when land along the northern side of the Peninsulamarker primarily in York Countymarker west of Yorktown was taken in large tracts for military use during World War I and World War II, creating the present-day U.S. Naval Weapons Station Yorktownmarker, which includes Cheatham Annex, and a former Seabee base which became Camp Pearymarker.

Communities including "the Reservation"marker, Halstead's Point, Penniman, Bigler's Mill, and Magruder were all lost and absorbed into the large military bases.

Although some left the area entirely, many of the displaced families chose to relocate nearby to Grovemarker, an unincorporated town in southeastern James City Countymarker where many generations of some of those families now reside. From a population estimated at only 37 in 1895, Grove had grown to an estimated 1,100 families by the end of the 20th century. (To its north, Grove actually borders the Naval Weapons Station property and on its extreme east, a portion of the U.S. Army's land at Fort Eustismarker extends across Skiffe's Creek, although there is no direct access to either base).

Colonial Williamsburg

A dream of one Episcopalian priest to save his 18th century church building was to expand to create the world's largest living museum. Replacing Jamestown at the end of the 17th century, Williamsburgmarker had been capital of the Colony and the new State of Virginia from 1699-1780. After the capital moved to Richmond in 1780, Williamsburg became a quieter and sometimes described as "sleepy" small town. It saw some action during the Battle of Williamsburgmarker of the 1862 Peninsula Campaign during the Civil War. However, it was not located along any major waterway and did not have railroad access until 1881. Perhaps due to the secure inland location originally known as Middle Plantation, for Williamsburg, growth and great expansion of commerce in the 19th century did not occur as rapidly as in many other Virginia cities. The main activities were the College of William and Marymarker and Eastern State Hospital, each historic institutions in their own right. In addition to the city's historic past, quite a few buildings of antiquity from the 18th century were still extant, although time was taking a toll by the early 20th century.

The Reverend Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin of Bruton Parish Churchmarker initially had wanted merely to save his historic church building. This he accomplished by 1907. He later served in Rochester, New Yorkmarker for many years. Upon returning to Williamsburg in 1923, he began to realize that many of the other colonial-era buildings also remained, but were in deteriorating condition, and their continued longevity was at risk.

Goodwin dreamed of a much larger restoration along the lines of what he had accomplished with his historic church. A cleric of modest means, he sought support and financing from a number of sources before successfully drawing the interests and major financial support of Standard Oil heir and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. The result of their combined efforts was the creation of Colonial Williamsburgmarker, which included a restoration of the Wren Buildingmarker at the College of William and Marymarker and a change of much of the downtown Williamsburg area into a Historic Area of restored and replica buildings and surrounds to celebrate the patriots and the early history of America.

By the 1930s, Colonial Williamsburg had become the centerpiece of the Historic Triangle of Colonial Virginia. These were, of course, Jamestown, where the colony started, Williamsburg, and Yorktownmarker, where independence from Great Britainmarker was won. The three points were joined by the U.S. National Park Service's Colonial Parkwaymarker, a remarkable accomplishment built over a period of 27 years. The Historic Triangle area of the Hampton Roads region became one of the largest tourist attractions in the entire world.

In Dr. Goodwin's words: "Williamsburg is Jamestown continued, and Yorktown is Williamsburg vindicated."

Other notable Hampton Roads "firsts"

America's first free public schools, the Syms and Eaton free schools (later combined as Syms-Eaton Academy), were established in Hampton in 1634 and 1659 respectively. The Syms-Eaton Academy was later renamed Hampton Academy and in 1852 became part of the public school system, thus Hampton High School lays claim to being the oldest public school in the United States. The trust fund created from the Syms and Eaton donations has remained intact since the 17th century and was incorporated into support for the Hampton public school system.

In 1957, the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnelmarker was the first bridge-tunnel complex in the world, to be followed by the area's much longer Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in 1963.

In the 1960s, the first astronauts of Project Mercury trained at the NASAmarker facility adjacent to Hampton's Langley Air Force Basemarker. Local features including Mercury Boulevardmarker commemorate this fact.


The area consists of ten independent cities and seven counties. Each city is independent and has the powers and responsibilities of a county, including maintaining courts, schools, and a sheriff. Some cities do share these responsibilities with an adjoining county. These localities do come together to consult on regional issues.

The military has a large presence in the region. Area military facilities (alphabetically) include Camp Pearymarker in York County, Fleet Training Center Dam Neckmarker in Virginia Beach, Fort Eustismarker in Newport News, Langley Air Force Basemarker in Hampton, Naval Amphibious Base Little Creekmarker in Virginia Beach, Fort Monroemarker in Hampton (scheduled to be closed by 2011), Norfolk Naval Shipyardmarker in Portsmouth (not to be confused with Portsmouth Naval Shipyardmarker, in Kitterymarker, Mainemarker), Naval Station Norfolkmarker, Naval Air Station Oceanamarker in Virginia Beach, the Coast Guard Integrated Support Command Portsmouth.Saint Julian Creek Naval Depot Annex in Chesapeake, Fort Storymarker in Virginia Beach, and Naval Weapons Station Yorktownmarker in York County.

The federal government also has two major research laboratories there. NASA/Langley is the home of a variety of aircraft-related research, including several one-of-a-kind wind tunnels. It is on the northeast edge of Hampton, near Poquoson. Also, the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facilitymarker (known as 'Jefferson Lab') conducts cutting edge physics research in Newport Newsmarker; the lab hosts the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) and a kilowatt-class Free-Electron Laser.

Virginia defines regional planning districts by law. Generally, members are independent cities and counties; incorporated towns are located within counties in Virginia. Localities around the state are allowed to belong to more than one Planning District, as their constituents may have interests which crossover individual planning district boundaries.

The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) currently includes 16 cities and counties, all in Virginia, and represents over 1.6 million people.

The 16 jurisdictions include: the Cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg, and the Counties of Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Southampton, Surry, and York. It is noteworthy that there are incorporated towns located in three of the counties within the district (Isle of Wight, Southampton and Surry).


The water area known as Hampton Roads is a wide channel through which the waters of the James River, Nansemond River, and Elizabeth River pass (between Old Point Comfort to the north and Sewell's Point to the south) into the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Oceanmarker.

The region has extensive natural areas, including of Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay beaches, the Great Dismal Swampmarker, picturesque rivers, state parks, wildlife refuges, and botanical gardens. Inland from the bay, the region includes Lake Drummondmarker, one of only two natural lakes found in Virginia, and miles of waterfront property along the various rivers and waterways.

The land area which constitutes "Hampton Roads" varies depending upon perspective and purpose. Most of the land area of Hampton Roads is geographically divided into 2 smaller regions: the eastern portion of the Virginia Peninsulamarker (the Peninsula) and South Hampton Roads (locally known as "the Southside"), which are separated by the harbor. When speaking of communities of Hampton Roads, virtually all sources (including the three discussed in the following paragraphs) include the seven major cities, two smaller ones, and three counties within those two subregions.

In addition, the Middle Peninsula counties of Gloucester and Mathews, while not part of the geographical Hampton Roads area, are included in the vast metropolitan region's population. Also, a small portion of northeastern North Carolina (Currituck Countymarker) is included in the region's statistics. Due to a peculiarity in the drawing of the Virginia-North Carolina border, Knott's Islandmarker in that county is connected to Virginia by land, but is only accessible to other parts of North Carolina across waterways via a ferry system.

Each of the following current cities, counties and towns is included by at least one of the three organizations that define "Hampton Roads"

Hampton is a Hampton Roads community.
The Hampton Roads area consists of nine independent cities (which are not part of any county). Chesapeakemarker, Norfolkmarker, Portsmouthmarker, Suffolkmarker, and Virginia Beachmarker cover the Southside of Hampton Roads while Hamptonmarker, Newport Newsmarker, Poquosonmarker, and Williamsburgmarker reside on the Peninsula. Franklinmarker borders Suffolk but the Census Bureau does not consider it as a part of the metro area.

The metro area has one county in North Carolina, Currituckmarker. The remaining counties, in Virginia, include Isle of Wightmarker and Surrymarker on the Southside, James Citymarker and Yorkmarker on the Virginia Peninsula, and Gloucestermarker and Mathewsmarker on the Middle Peninsula. While Southamptonmarker is adjacent to Surry, Isle of Wight, and the City of Suffolk, the Census Bureau does not consider it part of the metro area.

Seven towns reside in the metro area including Claremontmarker in Surry County, Courtlandmarker in Southampton County, Dendronmarker in Surry County, Smithfieldmarker in Isle of Wight County, Surrymarker, Surry County's seat, Windsormarker in Isle of Wight County, and Boykinsmarker in Southampton County.

Other unincorporated towns and communities not in cities include Gloucester Courthousemarker and Gloucester Pointmarker in Gloucester County, Isle of Wight Courthouse, Rushmeremarker, Rescue, Carrolltonmarker, Benns Churchmarker, and Waltersmarker in Isle of Wight County, Yorktownmarker, Grafton, Seafordmarker, and Tabbmarker in York County, Jamestown, Ford's Colony, Grovemarker, Lightfootmarker, Toanomarker, and Norge in James City County, Moyockmarker, Knotts Islandmarker, and Currituckmarker in Currituck County, North Carolina.

The Hampton Roads MSA has a population of about 1.7 million and is the fifth largest metropolitan area in the southeastern USA after Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL MSAmarker, Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA MSA, the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL MSAmarker, and Orlando-Kissimmee, FL MSA.


Ferry Between Norfolk and Portsmouth
Historically, from the earliest times, the harbor was the key to the Hampton Roads area's growth, both on land and in water-related activities and events. Ironically, the harbor and its tributary waterways were (and still are) both important transportation conduits and obstacles to other land-based commerce and travel. Yet, the community leaders learned to overcome them.

In modern times, the region has faced increasing transportation challenges as it has become largely urbanized, with additional traffic needs. In the 21st century, the conflicts between traffic on vital waterways and land-based travel continue to present the area's leaders with extraordinary transportation challenges, both for additional capacity, and as the existing infrastructure, much of it originally built with toll revenues, has aged without an adequate source of funding to repair or build replacements. The now-closed Kings Highway Bridgemarker in Suffolkmarker and the Jordan Bridge closed by neighboring Chesapeakemarker in 2008 were each built in the 1920s. These were considered locally prime examples of this situation.

In 2007, the new Hampton Roads Transportation Authority (HRTA) was formed under a controversial state law to levy various additional taxes to generate funding for major regional transportation projects, including a long-sought and costly so-called third crossing of the harbor of Hampton Roads. As of March 2008, although its projects were considered to be needed, the agency's future was in some question while its controversial sources of funding were being reconsidered in light of a Virginia Supreme Court decision.

Newport News/Williamsburg International Airportmarker, located in Newport News, and Norfolk International Airportmarker, in Norfolk, both cater to passengers from Hampton Roads. The primary airport for the Virginia Peninsula is the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport. The Airport is experiencing a 4th year of record, double-digit growth, making it one of the fastest growing airports in the country. In January 2006, the airport reported having served 1,058,839 passengers.Norfolk International Airportmarker , serves the region. The airport is located near Chesapeake Bay, along the city limits of Norfolkmarker and Virginia Beachmarker. Seven airlines provide nonstop services to twenty five destinations. ORF had 3,703,664 passengers take off or land at its facility and 68,778,934 pounds of cargo were processed through its facilities. The Chesapeake Regional Airportmarker provides general aviation services and is located on the other side of the Hampton Roads Harbor.

Amtrak serves the region with three trains a day to its Williamsburg and Newport News stations. The line runs west along the Virginia Peninsulamarker to Richmondmarker and points beyond. Connecting buses are available to Norfolk and Virginia Beach. A high speed rail connection at Richmond to both the Northeast Corridor and the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor are also under study.

Intercity bus service is provided by Greyhound Lines (Carolina Trailways) with bus stations in Newport News, Hampton, and Norfolk. Transportation within the Seven Cities of Hampton Roads is served by a regional bus service, Hampton Roads Transit. Local routes serving Williamsburg, James City County, and upper York County is operated by Williamsburg Area Transport.

A light rail service to be known as The Tide is under construction in Norfolk. It is set to begin service in 2010. Operated by Hampton Roads Transit, it will become the first major light rail service in the region. It is projected to have a daily ridership of between 7,130 to 11,400 passengers a day upon completion. There has also been a light rail study in the Hampton - Newport News areas.

The Hampton Roads area has an extensive network of Interstate Highways, including the Interstate 64, the major east-west route to and from the area, and its spurs and bypasses of I-264, I-464, I-564, and I-664.

The Hampton Roads Beltway extends on a long loop through the region, crossing the harbor on two toll-free bridge-tunnel facilities. These crossings are the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnelmarker between Phoebusmarker in Hampton and Willoughby Spitmarker in Norfolk and the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnelmarker between Newport News and Suffolk.The Beltway connects with another Interstate highway and three arterial U.S. Highways at Bower's Hillmarker near the northeastern edge of the Great Dismal Swampmarker. Other major east-west routes are U.S. Highway 58, U.S. Highway 60, and U.S. Highway 460. The major north-south routes are U.S. Highway 13 and U.S. Highway 17.

There are also two other tunnels in the area, the Midtown Tunnel, and the Downtown Tunnelmarker joining Portsmouth and Norfolk, as well as the -long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, a toll facility which links the region with Virginia's Eastern Shore which carries US 13. The original Downtown Tunnel in conjunction with the Berkley Bridge were considered a single bridge and tunnel complex when completed in 1952, perhaps stimulating the innovative bridge-tunnel design using man-made islands when the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel was planned, first opening in 1957. The George P. Coleman Memorial Bridge is a major toll bridge connecting U.S. Highway 17 on the Peninsulamarker at Yorktownmarker with Virginia's Middle Peninsula region. Another major crossing of waterways is the James River Bridgemarker, carrying US 17 US 258, and SR 32 from Newport News to Isle of Wight Countymarker.

The region is notable in that it has 2 types of public transport services via ferrys. A passenger ferry is operated on the Elizabeth River between downtown areas of Norfolk and Portsmouth by HRT. The Jamestown Ferrymarker (also known as the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry) is an automobile ferry system on the James River connecting Jamestown in James City Countymarker with Scotland in Surry Countymarker. It carries State Route 31. Operated by VDOT, it is the only 24-hour state-run ferry operation in Virginia and has over 90 employees. It operates four ferryboats, the Pocahontas, the Williamsburg, the Surry, and the Virginia. The facility is toll-free.


Hampton Roads' individual cities and counties administer their own K-12 education for their localities. In addition to public education, area residents have many private and religious school options.

The area also has a number of higher education options for area residents. The College of William and Marymarker in Williamsburg was founded in 1693 and has served as the second oldest institution of higher education in the United States. Old Dominion Universitymarker, founded as the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Marymarker in 1930, became an independent institution in 1962 and now offers degrees in 68 undergraduate and 95 (60 masters/35 doctoral) graduate degree programs. Norfolk's Eastern Virginia Medical Schoolmarker, founded as a community medical school by the surrounding jurisdictions in 1973, is noted for its research into reproductive medicine and is located in the region's major medical complex in the Ghent district. Norfolk State Universitymarker is the largest majority black university in Virginia and offers degrees in a wide variety of liberal arts. Virginia Wesleyan College is a small private liberal arts college on the border of Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Hampton Universitymarker, a private HBCU university, has a long history serving Hampton. Christopher Newport Universitymarker serves as a public university and is located in Newport News.Regent Universitymarker, a private university founded by Christian Evangelist and Leader Pat Robertson which has historically focused on graduate education but is attempting to establish an undergraduate program as well. Atlantic Universitymarker, associated with the Edgar Cayce organization, the Association for Research and Enlightenmentmarker (ARE), offers M.A. degrees in Transpersonal Studies, with many New Age subjects thanks to its Edgar Cayce link.
Crim Dell in the heart of William & Mary's wooded campus
Area residents also have options for training for technical professions. ECPI College of Technology has campuses in Virginia Beach and Newport News while ITT Technical Institute has a campus in Norfolk. Bryant and Stratton College has a campus in Virginia Beach's Town Center. The Newport News Shipbuilding's Apprentice School offers a two year program in mechanical fields. Graduates from the Apprentice School go on to work at the Newport News Shipbuilding.

Three institutions in the Virginia Community College System offer affordable higher education options for area residents. Tidewater Community College in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Portsmouth, Paul D. Camp Community College in Suffolk, Franklin, and Smithfield, and Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton and Williamsburg offer two-year degrees and specialized training programs.


Hampton Roads from space
Hampton Roads has become known as the "world's greatest natural harbor". The port is located only from open ocean on one of the world's deepest, natural ice-free harbors. Since 1989, Hampton Roads has been the mid-Atlantic leader in U.S. waterborne foreign commerce and is ranked second nationally behind the Port of South Louisiana based on export tonnage. When import and export tonnage are combined, the Port of Hampton Roads ranks as the third largest port in the country (following the ports of New Orleans/South Louisiana and Houston. In 1996, Hampton Roads was ranked ninth among major U.S. ports in vessel port calls with approximately 2,700. In addition, this port is the U.S. leader in coal exports. The coal loading facilities in the Port of Hampton Roads are able to load in excess of 65 million tons annually, giving the port the largest, most efficient and modern coal loading facilities in the world.

It is little surprise therefore that the Hampton Roads region's economic base is largely port-related, including shipbuilding, ship repair, naval installations, cargo transfer and storage, and manufacturing related to the processing of imports and exports. Associated with the ports' military role are almost 50,000 federal civilian employees.

The harbor of Hampton Roads is an important highway of commerce, especially for the cities of Norfolkmarker, Portsmouthmarker, and Newport Newsmarker.

Northrop Grumman Newport Newsmarker (formerly Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company), the world's largest shipyard, is located a short distance up the James River. In Portsmouth, a few miles up the Elizabeth River, the historic Norfolk Naval Shipyardmarker is located. BAE Systems, formerly known as NORSHIPCO, operates from sites in the City of Norfolk. There are also several smaller shipyards, numerous docks and terminals.

Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding
Massive coal piers and loading facilities were established in the late 19th and early 20th century by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O), Norfolk and Western Railway (N&W), and Virginian Railway (VGN). The latter two were predecessors of the Norfolk Southern Railway, a Class I railroad which has its headquarters in Norfolk, and continues to export coal from a large facility at Lambert's Pointmarker on the Elizabeth River. CSX Transportation now serves the former C&O facility at Newport News. (The VGN's former coal facility at Sewell's Point has been gone since the 1960s, and the property is now part of the expansive Norfolk Navy Basemarker).

Hampton Roads is also a chief rendezvous of the United States Navy. The Hampton Roads area has the largest concentration of military bases and facilities of any metropolitan area in the world. The area is home to the Allied Command Transformation, which is the only major military command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organizationmarker (NATOmarker). Langley Air Force Basemarker is home to Air Combat Command (ACC). The Norfolk Navy Basemarker is located at Sewell's Point near the mouth, on the site used for the tercentennial Jamestown Exposition in 1907. For a width of the Federal government during 1902 through 1905 increased its minimum depth at low water from to , and the channel has now been dredged to a depth of in some places.

NASA Langley Research Center
NASAmarker's Langley Research Centermarker, located on the Peninsula adjacent to Langley Air Force Basemarker in Hampton, is home to scientific and aerospace technology research. The Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facilitymarker (commonly known as Jefferson Labs) is located nearby in Newport News.

The area's experiences with commercial and retail centers began early in 1918. Afton Square, located in the Cradock naval community of Portsmouth, was the first planned shopping center in the USA and has served as template for future developments throughout the nation.

Hampton Roads experienced tremendous growth during and after World War II. In the 1950s, a trend in retail was the shopping center, a group of stores along a common sidewalk adjacent to off-street parking, usually in a suburban location.
Lynnhaven Mall, opened in 1981, has 1.4 million square feet and 180 stores.
In 1959, one of the largest on the east coast of the USA was opened at the northeast corner of Military Highway and Virginia Beach Boulevard on property which had formally been used as an airfield. The new JANAF Shopping Center, located in Norfolk, featured acres of free parking and dozens of stores. Backed by retired military personnel, the name JANAF was an acronym for Joint Army Navy Air Force.

During the 1950s and early-1960s, other shopping centers in Hampton Roads were developed, such as Wards Corner Shopping Center, Downtown Plaza Shopping Center and Southern Shopping Center in Norfolk; Mid-City Shopping Center in Portsmouth; Hilltop Shopping Center (now known as The Shops at Hilltop) in Virginia Beach; Riverdale Shopping Center in Hampton and the Warwick-Denbigh Shopping Center in Newport News.

In the late-1960s, a new type of shopping center came to Hampton Roads: the Indoor Shopping Mall. In 1965, South Hampton Roads broke ground on its first shopping mall in Virginia Beach, known as Pembroke Mall. The mall opened in 1966, and became Hampton Road's newest indoor shopping destination. The Virginia Peninsulamarker had its first indoor shopping mall in 1973, with Coliseum Mallmarker. Coliseum Mall drew so much traffic from Interstate 64, that a towering flyover was built at the Mercury Boulevard and Coliseum Drive intersection, to accommodate eastbound mall traffic, from the Mercury Boulevard interchange. Coliseum Mall was demolished to make way for the open air mixed-use development Peninsula Town Centermarker. Also in the 1970s, Tower Mall was built in Portsmouth. In Norfolk, Military Circle Mall on Military Highway was built across Virginia Beach Boulevard from the large JANAF Shopping Center with its own high-rise hotel right in the center. In 1981, Greenbrier Mall gave Chesapeake a shopping mall of its own as well, and Virginia Beach got the massive Lynnhaven Mall the same year.

MacArthur Center, opened in 1999, has 1.1 million square feet and 140 stores.
MacArthur Centermarker opened in March 1999, which made downtown Norfolk a prime shoppers destination, with the region's first Nordstrommarker department store anchor. MacArthur Center is compared to other downtown malls, such as Baltimore's Harborplacemarker, Indianapolis' Circle Centremarker Mall, Atlanta's Lenox Squaremarker Mall and most comparably to The Fashion Centre at Pentagon Citymarker near Washington, D.C.marker, in Arlington, Virginiamarker.

Currently, Virginia Beach's Lynnhaven Mallmarker is the region's largest shopping center with nearly 180 stores, and is one of the region's biggest tourist draws, with the Virginia Beach oceanfront, Colonial Williamsburgmarker, Busch Gardens Williamsburgmarker: The Old Country and MacArthur Center.

For a long time, the indoor shopping malls were seen as largely competitive with small shopping centers and traditional downtown type areas. However, in the 1990s and since, the "big-box stores" on the Peninsula and Southside, such as Wal-mart, Home Depot, and Target have been creating a new competitive atmosphere for the shopping malls of Hampton Roads.
Patrick Henry Mall, opened in 1987, has 700,000 square feet and 120 stores
Several older malls such as Pembroke and Military Circle have since their grand openings have been renovated several, and others have been closed and torn down. Newmarket North Mall is now NetCenter, a business center. Coliseum Mallmarker, in Hampton, is being redeveloped as Peninsula Town Centermarker in a new style, in step with the latest commercial real estate trend: the nationwide establishment of "lifestyle centers". Additional malls which have closed include Mercury Mall in Hampton (converted to Mercury Plaza Shopping Center in the mid-1980s, then completely torn down in 2001), and Tower Mall in Portsmouth (Built in the early 1970s, then torn down in 2001).

Shopping mall Location Number of stores Area Year opened
Lynnhaven Mallmarker Virginia Beachmarker 180 1981
MacArthur Centermarker Norfolkmarker 140 1999
Chesapeake Square Mallmarker Chesapeakemarker 130 1989
Greenbrier Mall Chesapeakemarker 120 1981
Patrick Henry Mallmarker Newport Newsmarker 120 1987
The Gallery at Military Circle Norfolkmarker 120 1970
Pembroke Mall Virginia Beachmarker 100 1966

America's First Region

In late 2006, the Hampton Roads Partnership, a non-profit organization representing 17 localities (ten cities, six counties, and one town), all local universities and major military commands as well as leading businesses in southeastern Virginia, commenced a campaign aimed at branding land area of Hampton Roads as "America's First Region".

The new title is based on events in 1607 when English Captain Christopher Newport's three ships - the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery landed at Cape Henry along the Atlantic Coast at Cape Henry in what is today Virginia Beach. After 18 days of exploring the area, the ships and their crews arrived at Jamestown Island where they established the first English speaking settlement to survive in the New World on 14 May 1607.

Because the region's east-west boundaries (now the City of Virginia Beach and James City County) have not changed since 1607, the Partnership felt justified in labeling Hampton Roads "America's First Region". It unveiled the new brand before 800 people at the annual meeting of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce on December 13, 2006. A video shown that afternoon included endorsements from mayors and county board of supervisors chairs representing Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg and James City County as well as the Governor of Virginia, Timothy Kaine.

The mission of Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance (HREDA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to business attraction—marketing the Hampton Roads region as the preferred location for business investment and expansion. HREDA represents the cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg and Franklin, as well as the counties of Gloucester, James City, Isle of Wight, York and Southampton County.


Hampton Roads flag, adopted 1998
In 1998, a flag representing the Hampton Roads region was adopted. The design of the flag was created by a contest. The winner, sixteen year-old Andrew J. Wall of Frank W. Cox High School in Virginia Beach, raised the new regional flag for the first time on the mast of a ship moored in the harbor.

As conceived by student Andrew Wall and embellished by the selection committee, his flag is highly symbolic:
The ring of sixteen white stars stands for the cities and counties that comprise the region of Hampton Roads. The blue upper panel refers to the sea and sky, recalling the first European settlers at Jamestown in 1607, the first battle between ironclad ships in 1862, the importance of shipbuilding and ship repair in the area, as well as maritime commerce, fishing, recreational boating, and the major military and government installations around the area’s shores. Agriculture, the environment, tourism, industry, and a healthy quality of life are suggested by the lower panel of green. The wavy white central band with three crests suggests past, present, and future. The wave also recalls the surf and sand dunes of the area as seen from the sea. Water is the central theme. It touches all the components and binds them together.


Virginia's Historic Triangle
The area is most often associated with the larger American South. People who have grown up in the Hampton Roads area have a unique Tidewater accent which sounds different than a stereotypical Southern accent. Vowels have a longer pronunciation than in a regular southern accent.

Historic Triangle

The Historic Triangle is located on the Virginia Peninsulamarker and includes the colonial communities of Jamestown, Williamsburgmarker, and Yorktownmarker, with many restored attractions linked by the Colonial Parkwaymarker.

The National Park Service's Colonial Parkwaymarker joins the three popular attractions of Colonial Virginia with a scenic and bucolic roadway carefully shielded from views of commercial development. This helps visitors mentally return to the past, and there are often views of wildlife and waterfowl. This two lane roadway is the best (but not quickest) way to move between the three points. Near the James River and York River ends of the parkway, there are several pull-offs, where some families allow their children to feed bread to the seagulls. (Warning: No trucks are allowed).

For an even better experience, approach the area from the south by water from Surry Countymarker with a ride aboard one of the Jamestown Ferrysmarker, which include the Pocahontas and Williamsburg. As passengers cross, they can walk about the boat or go up to an enclosed viewing level with restrooms. Weather and daylight permitting, passengers usually see Jamestown Island much as the first colonists may have approached it. In fact, the replicas of Christopher Newport's the three tiny ships, Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery are docked near the northern ferry landing at Glass House Point. Both the Jamestown Ferry and Colonial Parkway are toll-free.

The first permanent English settlement in the New World which was established at Jamestown in 1607. The 350th anniversary celebration at Jamestown Festival Park in 1957 was so popular, tourism has been continuously increasing ever since. The 400th anniversary is being celebrated with an 18-month long celebration called Jamestown 2007.

Today, at Jamestown, you can visit recreations of an American Indian village and colonial fort, and archaeological sites where current work is underway by archeologists from the Jamestown Rediscovery project, with recently recovered archaeological artifacts in a new display building. Replicas of the three ships, Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery are docked nearby.

The two major attractions, which are complementary to each other, are the state-sponsored Jamestown Settlementmarker near the entrance to Jamestown Island, and the National Parks Service's Historic Jamestownemarker, on Jamestown Island itself.

In 1699, the first capital of Virginia was moved to Middle Plantation at the suggestion of students from the College of William and Marymarker (established 1693). It was soon renamed to Williamsburgmarker, but became a largely forgotten little town after the capital was moved to Richmondmarker in 1780. Largely due to the 20th century preservation efforts of the Reverend Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin, rector of Bruton Parish Churchmarker and the generosity of Standard Oil heir John D. Rockefeller Jr., today Colonial Williamsburgmarker is a large living museum of early American life. It has dozens of restored and recreated buildings and reenactors. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The Visitor's Center (right off the Colonial Parkway) features a short movie and is an excellent place to start (and leave automobiles, which are restricted from the restored area, where wheelchair-accessible shuttle bus service is provided).

The third point of the triangle is Yorktownmarker where General Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington in 1781, ending the American Revolution. There are two large visitor centers, battlefield drives, and a waterfront area.

Notwithstanding the amazingly successful efforts to provide a non-commercial atmosphere at the three Historic Triangle areas (and on the Colonial Parkway between them), there are many hotels, motels, campgrounds, restaurants, shops and stores, gasoline stations, and amusements close by.


There's also a wealth of other points of history to explore in the Hampton Roads area.

Recovered artifacts from the USS Monitor are displayed at the Mariners' Museum, one of the more notable museums of its type in the world. The Museum’s collection totals approximately 35,000 artifacts, of which approximately one-third are paintings and two-thirds are three-dimensional objects. The scope of the Museum's collection is international. Included are 10 permanent galleries, changing and traveling exhibits, and virtual galleries available through the museum website. The collection of over 600,000 prints and 35,000 maritime artifacts is international in scope and includes miniature ship models, scrimshaw, maritime paintings, decorative arts, carved figureheads, and working steam engines.

Virginia War Museummarker covers American military history. The Museum's collection includes, weapons, vehicles, artifacts, uniforms and posters from various periods of American history. Highlights of the Museum's collection include a section of the Berlin Wallmarker and the outer wall from Dachau Concentration Campmarker.

The Peninsula Fine Arts Center contains a rotating gallery of art exhibits. The Center also maintains a permanent "Hands On For Kids" gallery designed for children and families to interact in what the Center describes as "a fun, educational environment that encourages participation with art materials and concepts."

The Chrysler Museum of Artmarker, located in the Ghent district, is the region's foremost art museum and is considered by the New York Times to be the finest in the state. Of particular note is the extensive glass collection and American neoclassical marble sculptures.

Nauticusmarker, the National Maritime Center, opened on the downtown waterfront in 1994. It features hands-on exhibits, interactive theaters, aquaria, digital high-definition films and an extensive variety of educational programs. Since 2000, Nauticus has been home to the battleship USS Wisconsinmarker, the last battleship to be built in the United States. It served briefly in World War II and later in the Korean and Gulf Wars.The General Douglas MacArthur Memorial, located in the 19th century Norfolk court house and city hall in downtown, contains the tombs of the late General and his wife, a museum and a vast research library, personal belongings (including his famous corncob pipe) and a short film that chronicles the life of the famous General of the Army.

Two former Civil War forts reside on the coast or in the Hampton Roads harbor. The Casemate Museum (where former Confederate President Jefferson Davis was imprisoned) is at Fort Monroemarker in the historic Phoebusmarker area at Old Point Comfort in Hamptonmarker. Fort Wool is located in the middle of the harbor and harbor tours departing from Hamptonmarker and Newport Newsmarker provide access to Fort Wool and Northrop Grumman Newport News, the world's largest shipyard.

NASAmarker Langley Research Centermarker in Hampton, the original training ground for the Mercury Seven, Gemini, and Apollo Astronauts. Visitors are able to learn about the region's aviation history at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hamptonmarker.

Other area attractions include the USS Cole in Norfolkmarker and the Children's Museum of Virginia in Portsmouthmarker having one of the largest collection of model electric trains and other toys. The Norfolk Naval Shipyardmarker in Portsmouthmarker is one of the oldest shipyards and has the first dry dock on display. The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refugemarker (in Suffolk and Chesapeake) is accessed from U.S. Route 17 in Chesapeakemarker. The Suffolk-Nansemond Museum is in the restored Seaboard and Virginian Railway passenger train station in Suffolkmarker. The Isle of Wight Museum is in Smithfieldmarker and the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia located in Virginia Beach features the significant art of our time.

The Hampton Roads region has a thriving music scene, with a heavy concentration thereof in the Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk areas. Many clubs, venues, and festivals exist within the region, all playing host to a wide variety of musical styles. There are a few hundred bands that play routinely in the region, spanning multiple genres.

In addition, plenty of well known acts have come from the area. Some of the major rock/pop artists include Bruce Hornsby, Gary "U.S." Bonds, Juice Newton, Mae, Seven Mary Three, Gene Vincent, Keller Williams, and Steve Earle. Ella Fitzgerald is the most recognizable jazz musician from the area. Robert Cray and Ruth Brown are both prominent blues and R&B artists. Tommy Newsom is another famous jazz musician. Many prominent rap and hip hop artists come from the area including Chad Hugo, Clipse, Magoo, Missy Elliott, Nicole Wray, Pharrell Williams, Quan, Teddy Riley, and Timbaland.

The region has a number of venues hosting live music and performances. Most notably, the Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheatremarker in Virginia Beach (seating 20,000), the nTelos Pavilion at Harbor Center in Portsmouth (seating 7,500), Le Palais Royal Theatre at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg (seating 5,600), and the Lake Matoaka Amphitheatre at The College of William & Marymarker in Williamsburg (seating 1,700).

Parks and recreation

The Norfolk Botanical Gardenmarker, opened in 1939, is a botanical garden and arboretum located near the Norfolk International Airport. It is open year round.

The Virginia Zoological Parkmarker, opened in 1900, is a zoo with hundreds of animals on display, including the critically endangered Siberian Tiger and threatened White Rhino.

First Landing State Parkmarker and False Cape State Parkmarker are both located in coastal areas in Virginia Beach. Both offer camping facilities, cabins, and outdoor recreation activities in addition to nature and history tours. First Landing is the site of Cape Henry while False Cape is located at the southeastern end of Virginia Beach.

Newport News Park is located in the northern part of the city of Newport News. The city's golf course also lies within the Park along with camping and outdoor activities. There are over 30 miles (50 km) of trails in the Newport News Park complex. The park has a 5.3 mile (8.5 km) multi-use bike path. The park offers bicycle and helmet rental, and requires helmet use by children under 14. Newport News Park also offers an archery range, disc golf course, and an "aeromodel flying field" for remote-controlled aircraft, complete with a 400 ft (120 m) runway.

The region also has amusement parks which attract tourists and locals alike. Ocean Breeze Waterpark, Shipwreck Golf, and Motor World are Virginia Beach's amusement parks, which were formerly called Ocean Breeze Fun Park. As separate parks, they provide miniature golf, go-karts, water slides, pools, climbing wall, paintball area, and kiddie rides. Busch Gardens Williamsburgmarker and Water Country USAmarker are the major theme parks in Williamsburg.

Sports, entertainment, and mass assembly venues

normal seating capacity in parentheses

Collegiate and other indoor arenas

Collegiate and other stadiums

  • William "Dick" Price Stadium at Norfolk State University (30,000) football
  • Alvin H.marker Foreman Fieldmarker at Old Dominion University – Norfolk (20,300) football and field hockey
  • Walter J.marker Zable Stadiummarker at The College of William and Mary – Williamsburg (15,279) football
  • Samuel C.marker Armstrong Stadiummarker at Hampton University (14,000) football
  • Norfolk Scopemarker - Norfolk (12,600) - Hockey, opened in 1971
  • John B. Todd Stadium – Newport News (11,000) football
  • Joseph S. Darling Memorial Stadium – Hampton (8,000) football
  • B. Herman Bailey Field – Yorktown (6,000) football
  • Cooley Field - Williamsburg (3,000) football
  • Old Dominion University Soccer Stadium – Norfolk (6,000)
  • Union Kempsville Stadium – Virginia Beach (5,100) football
  • Anheuser-Busch Fieldmarker at The College of William and Mary – Williamsburg (4,450) soccer
  • Pomoco Stadium at Christopher Newport University – Newport News (4,200) football
  • District Park Sports Complex – Williamsburg (4,000) proposed
  • Powhatan Stadium – Norfolk (4,000) - football, opened in fall 2006
  • Bud Metheny Sports Complex at Old Dominion University – Norfolk (3,000) baseball
  • Marty L. Miller Baseball Field at Norfolk State University (1,600)
  • Joe Plumeri Park at The College of William and Mary – Williamsburg (1,200) baseball
  • Mark McCormack-Betsy Nagelsen Tennis Center at The College of William and Mary – Williamsburg

Convention centers

Auditoriums and performing arts theatres


Two major newspapers serve Hampton Roads: The Virginian-Pilot in the Southside, and The Daily Press on the Peninsula. Smaller publications include the Williamsburg-James City County area's twice-weekly Virginia Gazette (the state's oldest newspaper), the weekly New Journal and Guide, and the Smithfield Times which publishes a weekly edition in the Isle of Wight County town of the same name.

Hampton Roads Magazine is the region's only city and lifestyle magazine. The publication is published ten times a year and covers all of Hampton Roads, Williamsburg and the Eastern Shore.

The Hampton Roads designated market area (DMA) is the 42nd largest in the U.S. with 712,790 homes (0.64% of the total U.S.). The major network television affiliates are WTKR-TVmarker 3 (CBS), WAVYmarker 10 (NBC), WVEC-TVmarker 13 (ABC), WGNTmarker 27 (CW), WTVZmarker 33 (MyNetworkTV), WVBTmarker 43 (Fox), and WPXVmarker 49 (ION Television). The Public Broadcasting Service station is WHRO-TVmarker 15. WUND 2(UNC-TV/PBS member station), broadcasting out of Edenton, NCmarker, serves as another PBS affiliate for the area. Area residents also can receive independent stations, such as WSKYmarker broadcasting on channel 4 from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, WGBS broadcasting on channel 7 from Hampton, and WHRE 21marker, a TBN affiliate out of Virginia Beach. Most Hampton Roads localities are served by Cox Cable which provides LNC 5, a local 24-hour cable news network. Suffolk, Franklin, Isle of Wight, and Southampton are served by Charter Communications.DirecTV and Dish Network are also popular as an alternative to cable television.

Norfolk is served by a variety of radio stations on the and dials, with towers located around the Hampton Roads area. These cater to many different interests, including news, talk radio, and sports, as well as an eclectic mix of musical interests.


Norfolk serves as home to two professional franchises, the Norfolk Tides of the International League and the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League. The Tides play at Harbor Parkmarker, seating 12,067 and opened in 1993. The Admirals play at Norfolk Scopemarker Arena, seating 12,600 or 13,800 festival seating, which opened in 1971.

On the collegiate level, the Old Dominion Monarchs and the Norfolk State Spartans provide many sports including football (coming to Old Dominion in 2009), basketball, and baseball. Virginia Wesleyan College also provides sports at the NCAA Division III level. Newport News' Christopher Newport University Captains field fourteen sports and compete in the USA South Athletic Conference in Division III of the NCAA. The College of William and Mary Tribe in Williamsburg and Hampton University Pirates in Hampton compete in Division I of the NCAA.

The Hampton Coliseummarker, seating 10,761 ot 13,800 festival seating, hosts the annual Virginia Duals wrestling events, and the annual Hampton Jazz Festival. The arena opened in 1970 and has previously hosted Hampton Universitymarker basketball along with NBA and NHL preseason exhibition games.

Virginia Beach serves as home to two soccer teams, the Hampton Roads Piranhas, a men's team in the USL Premier Development League, and a women's team by the same name in the W-League, the de facto top women's league after the suspension of the Women's United Soccer Association. The Piranhas play at the Virginia Beach Sportsplexmarker. The Virginia Beach Sportsplexmarker, seating 11,541 and opened in 1999, contains the central training site for the U.S. women's national field hockey team. The North American Sand Soccer Championships, a beach soccer tournament, is held annually on the beach in Virginia Beach.

Virginia Beach is also home to the East Coast Surfing Championships, an annual contest of more than 100 of the world's top professional surfers and an estimated 400 amateur surfers. This is North America's oldest surfing contest, and features combined cash prizes of $40,000.

The Peninsula Pilots play in the Coastal Plain League, a summer baseball league. The Pilots play in Hampton at War Memorial Stadiummarker seating 5,125 and opened in 1948.

Langley Speedwaymarker in Hampton, seating 6,500, hosts stock car races every weekend during Spring, Summer, and early Fall.

The Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill, an event on the LPGA Tour, is contested annually on Mother's Day weekend at Kingsmill Resort near Williamsburg.

The Norfolk Nighthawks were a charter member of the Arena Football League's minor league, af2. They ceased operations in 2003 after their fourth season. Also, the Virginia Beach Mariners of soccer's USL First Division were active from 1994 until 2006.

In 1997, Norfolk presented a proposal to bring an expansion hockey team to Hampton Roads. But that initiative failed. The team was going to be called the Hampton Roads Rhinos.

In 2002, Norfolk presented a proposal to bring the Charlotte Hornets basketball team to southeastern Virginia, but New Orleansmarker won the bid for the team, renaming it the New Orleans Hornets.

In 2005, Norfolk presented a proposal to bring the Montreal Expos baseball team to the metro area, but Washington, D.C.marker won the bid for the team, renaming it the Washington Nationals.

Tallest buildings

Name Stories Height City Year Built
The Westin Virginia Beach Town Center (Virginia Beach Town Center) 38 508 Virginia Beach 2007
Armada Hoffler Tower (Virginia Beach Town Center) 23 396 Virginia Beach 2002
Dominion Tower 26 340 Norfolk 1987
Westin Hotel and Conference Center 26 315 Norfolk (planned)
Bank of America Center 23 304 Norfolk 1967

See also


  1. Dictionary. com
  2. What's in a name? Hampton Roads | |
  3. Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities: Jamestown History
  4. Coast Guard Integrated Support Command Portsmouth
  5. [1]
  6. O'Dell, Larry. "Supreme Court ruling voids Hampton Roads Transportation Authority", Associated Press,,0,6977613.story Retrieved 2008-03-13.
  7. Amtrak Newport News Station Amtrak. Accessed April 3, 2008.
  9. Bus Routes Hampton Roads Transit. Accessed April 3, 2008.
  11. Virginia Department of Transportation Travel Center - Hampton Roads Tunnels and Bridges
  12. About W&M College of William and Mary. Accessed April 3, 2008.
  13. Hampton Facts Hampton University. Accessed April 3, 2008.
  14. About CNU Christopher Newport University. Accessed April 3, 2008.
  15. Why TNCC? Thomas Nelson Community College. Accessed April 3, 2008.
  16. Cradock
  17. About JANAF Shopping Center
  18. Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance
  19. Exhibitions The Mariner's Museum. Accessed April 3, 2008.
  20. ExhibitsVirginia War Museum. Accessed April 3, 2008.
  21. Hands on For Kids GalleryPeninsula Fine Arts Center. Accessed April 3, 2008.
  22. Newport News ParkNewport News Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. Accessed April 3, 2008.
  23. Holmes, Gary. " Nielsen Reports 1.1% increase in U.S. Television Households for the 2006-2007 Season." Nielsen Media Research. September 23, 2006. Retrieved on September 28, 2007.
  24. [2] Charter Communications
  25. CNU AthleticsChristopher Newport University. Accessed April 4, 2008.

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