About Hampton, Virginia
Hampton is located on the southeast end of the Virginia Peninsula, bordering the Chesapeake Bay to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. It's part of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, which encompasses six other cities — Norfolk, Chesapeake, Newport News, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Virginia Beach. Hampton is one of the oldest cities in the United States and is the sixth most populous city in Virginia, with approximately 145,579 residents. The city covers a total area of approximately 136 square miles according to the United States Census Bureau, with over fifty-one square miles of land and about eighty-four square miles of water.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel spans the area where the Chespeake Bay meets the James River, linking Hampton to many southside cities. These include Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Franklin and the counties of Isle of Wight and Southhampton. Hampton doesn't experience climatic extremes, but rather four moderate seasons. The city has an annual average of forty-seven inches of rainfall with a snowfall of six inches and an annual temperature of seventy degrees Fahrenheit.
In December of 1606, Captain Christopher Newport set sail along with 105 other men to establish what is now Virginia. Four months later, in April of 1607, the voyagers landed at Cape Henry in Virginia Beach. The Native American community of Kecoughtan, near the entrance to the Hampton River, was first part of Hampton taken over and settled by English colonists. In 1610, they established their own small town with an Anglican church building, which is still standing today. The city was named after Henry Wriothesley, an important leader of the Virginia Company of London and the third Earl of Southampton. During the American Civil War, Hampton and its surrouding areas played and important role in the nation's early freedom for slaves.
Although most of the state was part of the Confederate States of America, Fort Monroe near Hampton remained loyal to the Union. After the war was over, Jefferson Davis, the former Confederate President was imprisoned in an area now known as the Casemate Museum on the base. The city was later burned during both the American Revolutionary War and the American Civil War. After the Confederates evacuated the area in 1861, former slaves built the first self-contained African American Community in the United States. Many streets in Hampton today retain their names from that community.
Hampton is full of activities and entertainment for all ages. There are two specific areas with links to the Chesapeake Bay that welcome visitors and residents each year. Downtown there are shops, restaurants, pubs, cobblestone streets, galleries, museums, and parks. There are two public beaches in the city – Buckroe Beach and Grandview Beach. Buckroe is a lifeguarded beach that used to be a boardwalk amusement park and now has a fishing pier and holds concerts and outdoor movies during the summer months. The other, Grandview, is located in the Fox Hill section of the city and is accessed by a trail that runs through the Grandview Natural Preserve. It also has a fishing pier.
The Hampton Coliseum, located in the middle of the city, is also a big draw to the area. It's a large, mulit-purpose facility that hosts many events. These include concerts, conventions, trade shows and sporting events. It seats nearly 14,000 people. NASA's Langley Research Center is located nearby and brought The Virginia Air and Space Center to the downtown area of Hampton. This facility, visited for both educational and entertainment purposes, feautures an IMAX movie theater and teaches about aviation and space exploration.
The Syms-Eaton Academy, the nation's first free public school, was established in Hampton in 1634. This name was later changed to Hampton Academy and eventually became part of the public school system. One of the city's current schools, Hampton High School, is technically the oldest public school in the United States, as it can trace its roots to the Syms-Eaton Academy. The city currently runs thirty-seven public schools- both primary and secondary. For two years in row, Hampton City Schools recorded an increase in testing scores across the district, reaching ninety-seven percent accreditation.
The high schools improved their scores in every category, while elementary and middle schools also saw an overall increase. There are also three private schools in the area – Hampton Christian School, Saint Mary's Star of the Sea Catholic School and Calvary Classical School. Two colleges are also found within the city – Hampton University and Thomas Nelson Community College.