The Evolution of the Hampton Roads Area

The Evolution of the Hampton Roads Area

The metropolitan area of Hampton Roads was originally referred to as the Norfolk-Portsmouth Metropolitan Statistical Area in 1950. Per this definition, the area comprised of Norfolk, Portsmouth, and South Norfolk independent cities as well as Norfolk and Princess Anne counties. Virginia Beach then separated itself from Princess Anne County in 1952. In 1963, Virginia Beach and Princess Anne County merged once again, with the entire area changing its name to the city of Virginia Beach. The city obtained the MSA status in the same year but Norfolk relinquished its metropolitan status. The county of Norfolk and the city of South Norfolk merged, forming Chesapeake City.

The City of Chesapeake obtained its MSA status in 1970 and Virginia Beach became a major city. The county of Currituck in North Carolina obtained its MSA status in 1973. The Newport News-Hampton Metropolitan Area (consisting of Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson, Williamsburg cities and Gloucester, James City, York counties) was merged with the Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Portsmouth MSA, forming the Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News MSA. Surry, Mathews, and Isle of Wight counties joined the MSA in 1993. Virginia Beach was designated the MSA’s primary city in 2010 despite having surpassed Norfolk as the largest city in 1990.

The Evolution of the Hampton Roads AreaThe Census of 2010 resulted in the removal of Surry County and the inclusion of Gates County in North Carolina. The Virginia Beach-Norfolk, VA—NC Combined Statistical Area, on the other hand, adds three more counties in the Elizabeth City, North Carolina namely Pasquotank County, Perquimans County, and Camden County. It also adds the Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina with one county, Dare County. The total population number of this Combination Statistical Area was 1,779,243 according to a census. With a growth of 1.74%, the total population number in this area is expected to rise to 1,810,266 in 2013.

Observing the Origin of the Term Hampton Roads

Observing the Origin of the Term Hampton Roads

Hampton Roads is a term that is centuries-old. The designation came from a time in the past when the area was still an English outpost, about 4 centuries ago.

The word Hampton was assigned to commemorate Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, the owner of the Company in London and an avid advocate of the colonization of Virginia. Elizabeth Cittie was established as the area’s administrative center in its early years, named after Princess Elizabeth, King James I’s daughter. The Cittie was formally designated as so by the Virginia Company in 1619. A small town in the middle of Elizabeth Cittie came to be known as Hampton while the waterway near it was designated as Hampton Creek or Hampton River.

The Earl of Southampton is also referred to in the northern area of the bay (known as the Eastern Shore today). This area was named Northampton while Southampton encompasses area south of the James River. These names are still in use up until this day. The origin of the word Roads is more technical in nature.

Observing the Origin of the Term Hampton RoadsThe word is a shortened version of roadstead, which means a port’s safety. In relation to a body of water, the word means an area of water near a shore that is partly sheltered where vessels can safely ride at anchor. The Virginia General Assembly put the name Hampton Roads on record in 1755. It determined that the term refers to a channel that links the Chesapeake Bay with Nansemond River, Elizabeth River, and James River. Hampton Roads is one of the largest natural harbors in the world. This is due to its being the US northernmost East Coast port but is still ice-free throughout the year. The area also has another nickname to it, the Tidewater Virginia, but the name Hampton Roads sticks to it the most.

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