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 formed in 1634 by the House of Burgesses in the British Colony of Virginia by order of King Charles I.
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 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 has built aircraft carriers such as the Enterprise, Kennedy, Washington, Vinson and Roosevelt. It is 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.
Today Newport News finds itself amid dramatic transformations. Major developments that mix housing and retail include:
Off Jefferson Avenue, Port Warwick introduced the architectural trend of New Urbanism — a new take on the old, small-town concept of building houses within walking distance of shops and workplaces. It offers upscale eateries, trendy shops, outdoor artwork and new housing.
Just across Jefferson from Port Warwick is City Center. With its fountain which hosts the Peninsula's largest fireworks display in Hollydazzle, a hotel and conference center along with restaurants, retailers and housing, City Center is a crown jewel for Newport News. The development is a mini-hub of night-life and restaurants, including The Cove Tavern and The Pearl, an upscale French bistro. Paragon, a high-end movie theater with a connected bar and pizza kitchen, is set to open in May.
Area: 69.2 square miles
Median age: 33.5 years
Mayor: McKinley L. Price, 757-926-8618