A Timeline and Modern History of Hampton, VA

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This article is sponsored by the child abuse attorneys in Hampton. We hope you enjoy learning about the history of Hampton and its many features.

History of Hampton

Hampton is one of the independent cities in the Hampton Roads Statistical Area. Part of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the city includes the neighborhoods of Aberdeen Gardens, Buckroe Beach, Farmington, Fox Hill, Hampton Woods, Northampton, Newmarket, Phoebus, Victoria Boulevard Historic District, Wythe and Olde Wythe Historic District. The area was settled in 1610 by English colonists from the nearby Jamestown colony. The history of Hampton is said to date back to Old Point Comfort – a point of land that Captain Christopher Newport and his crew identified as a strategic defensive location at the entrance of the Hampton Roads body of water. In 1619, the first African slaves landed in America at this site. Two centuries later, the US Army constructed the largest stone fort ever to be built in the U.S. at Old Point Comfort. Named after former President Hames Monroe, Fort Monroe guarded the navigation channel between Hampton Roads and the Chesapeake Bay. In 2011, the active army base was decommissioned and named a national monument by former President Barack Obama.

However, before this construction, the area that is the present day city of Hampton was incorporated as a town. The Town of Hampton, Fort Monroe and other surrounding areas played important roles in the American Civil War. During the time, Fort Monroe was notable as being the historic and symbolic site of early freedom for former slaves. As for Hampton, the town was burnt down during the American Revolutionary War and the American Civil War. "Contraband" slaves utilized the ruins of the town to build the first self-contained African American community in the U.S., the Grand Contraband Camp.

In 1849, the town of Hampton was incorporated as a city and later separated from Elizabeth City County to become an independent city in 1908. On July 1, 1952, the city of Hampton, the incorporated town of Phoebus, and Elizabeth City County merged into the independent Hampton city of today, which has a population of 137,438 people as of the 2010 census.

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Because Hampton is home to Fort Monore, Langley Air Force Base, NASA Langley Research Center and the Virginia Air and Space Center, the area is rich in its military history.  The Langley Air Force Base was built in 1917 as one of the 32 Air Service training camps for the U.S. in World War I. Home to the U.S. Air Force's 633rd Air Base Wing, the 1st Fighter Wing, and the 192nd Fighter Wing, the base is the first military installation dedicated only to air power in the nation. The city has been a center for military aviation training, research and development for around a hundred years. Many Navy and Air Force families have made the area their homes. During the Vietnam War, thousands of military families transferred to Hampton because Langley Air Force Base was designated as the waiting base for their loved ones fighting in the war.

Arts and Culture

Besides the Virginia Air & Space Center, Hampton is home to a number of museums and art venues that showcase the rich history of the city. Other notable venues of the area are:

  • The American Theatre
  • Casemate Museum
  • Charles Taylor Visual Arts Center
  • Hampton History Museum
  • Hampton University Museum
  • Performing & Creative Arts Center

Another popular venue in the city is the Hampton Coliseum. Built in 1968, the multi-purpose arena has a seating capacity from 9,800 to 13,800 people. Major events it has hosted include wrestling shows from the National Wrestling Alliance, WCW and WWE, sporting games from the Eastern College Athletic Conference, Northern and Eastern Hockey League, Sun Belt Conference and Colonial Athletic Association, and music acts from the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Madonna, Metallica and many more.

Some of the other points of interest in Hampton are Air Power Park, Bluebird Gap Farm, Emancipation Oak, Hampton University, Capel of the Centurion, Fort Wool, Hampton National Cemetary, and Langley Speedway.

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