A Timeline and Modern History of Portsmouth, VA

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This article is brought to you by the child abuse attorneys in Portsmouth. We welcome you to learn more about our local cities, starting with the history of Portsmouth.

Timeline of Portsmouth

Portsmouth is an independent city in Southwest Virginia. Located across the Elizabeth River from Norfolk, it is within the Hamptons Roads metropolitan area. The city has a total area of 47 square miles and is bisected by the West Branch of the Elizabeth River. The historical timeline of the City of Portsmouth is the following:

  • 1620 - John Wood petitioned King James I of England for a land grant of the future site of Portsmouth.
  • 1752 - Portsmouth was founded by Virginia House of Burgesses' member William Crawford. The Virginia General Assembly established the town and named it after Portsmouth, England.
  • 1779 - British forces attacked Portsmouth during the Revolutionary War.
  • 1822 - The Norfolk-Portsmouth steam ferry began operating.
  • 1836 - The Town of Portsmouth was incorporated.
  • 1837 - Portsmouth & Roanoke Railroad began operation.
  • 1846 - Norfolk County Courthouse was constructed.
  • 1855 - A yellow fever outbreak killed one of every three people in town.
  • 1858 - The City of Portsmouth was incorporated as an independent city.
  • 1890 - The city became a stop on the Atlantic and Danville Railway.
  • 1949 - Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum was established.
  • 1952 - The Downtown Tunnel was opened.
  • 1955 - Portsmouth Historical Association was founded.
  • 1966 - The Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum was established.
  • 1981 - Portsmouth Times newspaper began publication.
  • 1998 - The Museum of Military History was established.
  • 2010 - There was a population of 95,535.

Portions of Norfolk County that surround the city have been annexed four times to Portsmouth. As of the 21st century, Downtown Portsmouth has been undergoing moderate urban renewal.

Historic Sites

Because the area of Portsmouth dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries, there are many landmarks and properties that depict its history. Some of these historic sites are the Olde Towne Historic District, Park View Historic District, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Seaboard Coastline Building, The Hill House and Cedar Grove Cemetary.

Olde Towne Historic District

The Olde Towne Historic District is home to one of the largest collections of historically significant houses that exist between Charleston, South Carolina and Alexandria, Virginia. Encompassing 89 buildings, notable establishments in the national historic district are the Ball-Nivison House, Watts House, Grece-Neeley House, Union Machinist Home, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (the second-oldest building in the city and its oldest black church), Monumental Methodist Church, Court Street Baptist Church, and St. John's Episcopal Church. In 1970, the district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

Park View Historic District

The Park View Historic District is located at the coordinates of 36.841944 degrees north latitude and 76.311111 degrees west longitude in Portsmouth. It encompasses 295 buildings that feature architectural styles of Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, and American Foursquare. In 1984, the historic district was designated on the Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR) and added to the NRHP.

Naval Medical Center Portsmouth

The Naval Medical Center Portsmouth was founded in 1827 as the Norfolk Naval Hospital. Serving as a United States Navy medical center in Portsmouth, it is the oldest running hospital in the medical system of the Navy. The three-story granite and Freestone establishment was designed by architect John Haviland. It was designated on the VLR in 1971 and listed on the NRHP in 1972.

Norfolk Naval Shipyard

The Norfolk Naval Shipyard is situated on the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth. In 1767, it was established as the Gosport Shipyard. The shipyard is the largest and oldest industrial facility of the U.S Navy. It is tasked with building, repairing and remodeling the Navy's ship.

Read on about Discovering Tuckahoe, Virginia.

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