About 22 miles long and only 4 miles wide, the area that became Newport News was first settled in 1619. In 1896, that community -- the former seat of Warwick County -- became the separate city of Newport News. Warwick County was one of the eight original shires that was formed in 1634 in the British Colony of Virginia by order of King Charles I. The shires later became counties.
Today, Newport News remains steeped in history.
The famous "Battle of the Ironclads" -- the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia, also known as the Merrimac -- took place off the shores of Newport News in 1862. Lee Hall Mansion and the Endview Plantation in north Newport News also account for two of the city's numerous historic landmarks.
In 1881, railroad tycoon Collis P. Huntington brought the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad to Newport News and founded the city's shipyard, which remains a major economic engine in Newport News.
The shipyard -- now owned by Northrop Grumman Newport News -- has built aircraft carriers such as the Enterprise, Kennedy, Washington, Vinson and Roosevelt. It is also the only shipyard in the country to build nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, and one of two that builds nuclear-powered submarines.
At the other end of the city, Fort Eustis, formerly Camp Eustis, was named after Brevet Brig. Gen. Abraham Eustis, a veteran of the War of 1812.
Surrounding those two historic landmarks, Newport News is in the midst of a continuing transformation.
The Port Warwick development off Jefferson Avenue, just north of J. Clyde Morris Boulevard, has introduced the architectural trend of New Urbanism -- a new take on the small-town concept of building houses within walking distance of shops and workplaces. It offers upscale eateries, trendy shops, outdoor artwork and new housing.
And at City Center, just across the road from Port Warwick, a new hotel and a conference center -- along with restaurants, retailers and condominiums -- is emerging as a new draw for the city.
This year, Newport News has approved plans for its largest subdivision and mixed-use development, Huntington Pointe, which is expected to add 2,550 new homes to north Newport News.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun