The name “Hampton Roads” originated nearly four hundred years ago when Virginia was a British Colony. Hampton Roads refers to both a body of water and the region of land bordered by the Elizabeth and James Rivers, the Western edge of the Chesapeake Bay and the Waterfronts of Virginia Beach and Sandbridge.
The waterways of Hampton Roads create one of the world’s biggest natural harbors. The area is occupied by the United States Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, NASA, 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.
Hampton Roads is populated by seven cities and a host of smaller communities. The seven cities are Norfolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Chesapeake, Hampton, Virginia Beach and Suffolk. The region is an extremely popular vacation and tourism destination and is within a few hours of Richmond, Williamsburg, Washington D.C., Southern Maryland and Northern Virginia.
Norfolk consists of a mixture of the old and new architecture. Much of the the waterside area has undergone renovations with modern shopping and dining locales but the area still retains many of the older buildings which lend character and historical significance to the neighborhood. Visitors are taken aback by the centuries old churches which occupy the downtown area. Norfolk’s waterside is striking, with its population of banking centers, luxury hotels, fine dining, museums and parks.
Portsmouth is a community along the Elizabeth River. Portsmouth is closely connected with Norfolk, both physically and in spirit. It’s tunnel is known for traffic backups although local residents take a variety of paths around rush hour traffic. The city is a mix of shopping, museums, historical buildings, industrial complexes and residential neighborhoods. Portsmouth has a waterside park which is extremely popular among residents.
Newport News is one of the independent cities of Hampton Roads, Virginia. It lies along the James River waterfront to the river’s mouth at Newport News Point. Newport News contains the U.S. Army base at Fort Eustis and other military bases and suppliers. Fort Eustis, and other military installations have a huge impact on the city’s economy. The harbor and miles of waterfront attract the shipping and boating industries. Another asset of the city is Newport News Seafood Industrial Park, off interstate 664. The harbor is said to be one of the busiest small ports in the East Coast.
Chesapeake is a another city in Southern Hampton Roads. The community is a mix of urban areas, forests and wetlands, including a substantial portion of the Great Dismal Swamp. Chesapeake is the third largest city in Virginia in terms of population. Chesapeake is bordered by Portsmouth, Suffolk and Virginia Beach.