The term "Hampton Roads" is a centuries-old designation that originated when the region was a struggling English outpost nearly four hundred years ago. The origin of the two words is noteworthy.
The word Hampton honors one of the founders of the Virginia Company of London and a great supporter of the colonization of Virginia, Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton. The early administrative center of the new colony was known as Elizabeth Cittie, named for Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of King James I, and formally designated by the Virginia Company in 1619. The town at the center of Elizabeth Cittie became known as Hampton, and a nearby waterway was designated Hampton Creek (also known as Hampton River).
Other references to the Earl include the area to the north across the bay (in what is now the Eastern Shore) which became known as Northampton, and an area south of the James River which became Southampton. As with Hampton, both of these names remain in use today.
The term Roads (short for roadstead) indicates the safety of a port; as applied to a body of water, it is "a partly sheltered area of water near a shore in which vessels may ride at anchor". Examples of other roadsteads are Castle Roads, in another of the Virginia Company's settlements, Bermuda, and Lahaina Roads, in Hawaii.
In 1755, the Virginia General Assembly recorded the name "Hampton Roads" as the channel linking the James, Elizabeth, and Nansemond rivers with the Chesapeake Bay.
Hampton Roads has become known as the world's largest natural harbor, in part because it is the northernmost major East Coast port of the United States which is ice-free year round. (This status is claimed with the notable exception of the extraordinarily cold winter of 1917, which was the entire U.S.'s coldest year on record.)
Over time, the entire region has come to be known as "Hampton Roads", a label more specific than its other moniker, "Tidewater Virginia", which could, by implication, include other areas of tidal land in eastern Virginia. The U.S. Postal Service changed the area's postmark from "Tidewater Virginia" to "Hampton Roads, Virginia" beginning in 1983.
The U.S. Census Bureau defines the Virginia Beach–Norfolk–Newport News, VA–NC MSA as 16 county-level jurisdictions—five counties and nine independent cities in Virginia, and two counties in North Carolina. While the borders of what locals call "Hampton Roads" may not perfectly align with the definition of the MSA, Hampton Roads is most often the name used for the metropolitan area.
Virginia Beach–Norfolk–Newport News, VA–NC MSA is a U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). According to the 2010 Census, its population is 1,676,822 and the 2014 estimated population is 1,716,624.
Since a state constitutional change in 1871, all cities in Virginia are independent cities and they are not legally located in a county. The OMB considers these independent cities to be county-equivalents for the purpose of defining MSAs in Virginia. Each MSA is listed by its counties, then cities, in alphabetical order and not by size.
The MSA consists of these locations in Virginia:Gloucester County
Isle of Wight County
James City County
City of Chesapeake
City of Hampton
City of Newport News
City of Norfolk
City of Poquoson
City of Portsmouth
City of Suffolk
City of Virginia Beach
City of Williamsburg
The MSA also includes the following locations in North Carolina:Currituck County
The Hampton Roads metropolitan area was first defined in 1950 as the Norfolk–Portsmouth Metropolitan Statistical Area. It comprised the independent cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth and South Norfolk and the counties of Norfolk and Princess Anne. In 1952, Virginia Beach separated from Princess Anne County.
In 1963, Virginia Beach and Princess Anne County merged, retaining the name Virginia Beach. The city was added to the MSA that year, while South Norfolk lost its metropolitan status. Also in 1963, Norfolk County and the City of South Norfolk merged to create the city of Chesapeake.
In 1973, Chesapeake and Currituck County were added to the MSA, while Virginia Beach became a primary city.
In 1983, the Newport News–Hampton Metropolitan Statistical Area, comprising the cities of Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson, Suffolk and Williamsburg, and the counties of Gloucester, James City and York, was combined with the Norfolk–Virginia Beach–Portsmouth MSA and renamed the Norfolk–Virginia Beach–Newport News MSA.
In 1993, Isle of Wight, Mathews and Surry counties were added. Although Virginia Beach had passed Norfolk as the state's largest city by 1990, it was not made the first primary city of the MSA until 2010.
As a result of the 2010 Census, Gates County, North Carolina was added to the MSA, while Surry County, Virginia was removed.
The Virginia Beach–Norfolk, VA–NC Combined Statistical Area additionally includes the Elizabeth City, North Carolina Micropolitan Statistical Area, comprising:Pasquotank County
and the Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina Micropolitan Statistical Area, comprising:Dare County
As of the 2010 census, the total population of this Combined Statistical Area was 1,779,243, with a 2013 estimate of 1,810,266, a growth of 1.74%. It is currently the 32nd largest in the country and the 2nd largest in Virginia, after the Northern Virginia portion of the Washington, D.C.–Arlington–Alexandria, DC–VA–MD–WV MSA.
The first colonists arrived in 1607 when English Captain Christopher Newport landed at Cape Henry, today's City of Virginia Beach, an event now called the "First Landing." However, his party moved on, in search of a more defensible area upriver, mindful of competitors such as the Spanish, who had built a failed settlement on the Virginia Peninsula known as the Ajacán Mission.
After exploring the James River, they established the first successful English colony in the New World on Jamestown Island on May 14, 1607. But the low, marshy site proved unhealthy and most of the colonists died, before a new Governor, Lord De La Warr (Delaware) arrived with John Rolfe, who would establish the Virginia tobacco industry.
The harbor and rivers of Hampton Roads were immediately recognised as prime locations for commerce, shipbuilding and military installations, with the fortifications at Old Point Comfort established as early as 1610, and Gosport Navy Yard (later Norfolk Naval Shipyard) in 1767. The decisive battle of the Revolution was won at Yorktown in 1781, and the first naval action of the War of 1812 took place in Hampton Roads, when a Royal Naval vessel was seized by the American privateer Dash. Later the entrance from Chesapeake Bay was equipped with new fortifications (Fort Monroe and Fort Wool), much of the building work being supervised by a young military engineer Robert E. Lee.
During the American Civil War (1861–1865), the historic Battle of Hampton Roads between the first American ironclad warships, the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia, took place off Sewell's Point in 1862. The battle was inconclusive, but Union forces later took control of Hampton Roads, Norfolk, and the lower James River, though they were thwarted from venturing further upstream by a strong Confederate battery at Drewry's Bluff. Also in 1862, Fort Monroe was the launching place for Union General George McClellan's massive advance up the Virginia Peninsula, which almost reached the Confederate capital Richmond, before the Seven Days Battles forced him back. In 1865, as the Confederacy was near collapse, President Abraham Lincoln met with three senior Confederates at Hampton Roads in an unsuccessful bid for a negotiated peace.
Some former slaves had been camped near Fort Monroe, where they were declared to be Contraband of war, instead of being returned to their former owners. Booker T. Washington was among the freedmen who attended the local school, which evolved into the present-day Hampton University.
The Jamestown Exposition for the 300th anniversary of the 1607 founding of Jamestown was held at Sewell's Point in a rural section of Norfolk County in 1907.
President Theodore Roosevelt arrived by water in the harbor of Hampton Roads, as did other notable persons such as Mark Twain and Henry Huttleston Rogers, who both arrived aboard the latter's steam yacht Kanawha. A major naval display was featured, and the U.S. Great White Fleet made an appearance. The leaders of the U.S. Navy apparently did not fail to note the ideal harbor conditions, as was later proved.
Beginning in 1917, as the United States became involved in World War I under President Woodrow Wilson, formerly rural Sewell's Point became the site of what grew to become the largest Naval Base in the world which was established by the United States Navy and is now known as the Naval Station Norfolk.
Twice in the 20th century, inhabitants mostly African American were displaced when land along the northern side of the Peninsula primarily in York County west of Yorktown was taken in large tracts for military use during World War I and World War II, creating the present-day U.S. Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, which includes Cheatham Annex, and a former Seabee base which became Camp Peary.
Communities including "the Reservation", Halstead's Point, Penniman, Bigler's Mill, and Magruder were all lost and absorbed into the large military bases.
Although some left the area entirely, many of the displaced families chose to relocate nearby to Grove, an unincorporated town in southeastern James City County where many generations of some of those families now reside. From a population estimated at only 37 in 1895, Grove had grown to an estimated 1,100 families by the end of the 20th century. (To its north, Grove actually borders the Naval Weapons Station property and on its extreme east, a portion of the U.S. Army's land at Fort Eustis extends across Skiffe's Creek, although there is no direct access to either base).
It was the dream of an Episcopal priest to save his 18th-century church building by turning Williamsburg into the world's largest living museum. Wlliamsburg replaced Jamestown at the very end of the 17th century after a disastrous fire. It was the capital of the colony and the new State of Virginia from 1699 to 1780. The capital was moved to Richmond in 1780. Williamsburg became a "sleepy" small town. During the Civil War the Battle of Williamsburg was fought nearby during the Peninsula Campaign in the Spring months of 1862.. The decaying town was not located along any major waterway and did not have railroad access until 1881. Perhaps due to the secure inland location originally known as Middle Plantation Williamsburg missed growth and economic expansion in the 19th century. The main economic engines were The College of William & Mary and Eastern State Hospital. The College of William and Mary was chartered by the Crown and is the only pre-Independence college to have kept it. In addition to the city's historic past, quite a few buildings of antiquity from the 18th century were still extant, although time was taking a toll by the early 20th century. The Reverend Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin of Bruton Parish Church motive was to only to save historic church building which was secured by 1907. He subsequently served in Rochester, New York for many years. Upon returning to Williamsburg in 1923 he realized that many of the other colonial-era buildings were deteriorating and their existence was at risk.
Goodwin dreamt of a much larger restoration of the colonial town. A cleric of modest means, he first sought support and financing from a number of sources before successfully drawing the interests before receiving major financial support from Standard Oil heir and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. The result is the creation of Colonial Williamsburg with extensive restoration of buildings such as the Wren Building of the College of William & Mary and the Governor's Palace, and the transformation of downtown Williamsburg area into Historic District of restored buildings. Many 19th century buildings were removed.
By the 1930s, Colonial Williamsburg had become the centerpiece of the Historic Triangle of Colonial Virginia. These were, of course, Jamestown, where the colony started, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, where independence from Great Britain was won. The three points were joined by the U.S. National Park Service's Colonial Parkway, a remarkable accomplishment in course of 27 years. The Historic Triangle area of the Hampton Roads region became one of the largest tourist attractions in the entire world.
In Dr. Goodwin's words: "Williamsburg is Jamestown continued, and Yorktown is Williamsburg vindicated."
America's first free public schools, the Syms and Eaton free schools (later combined as Syms-Eaton Academy), were established in Hampton in 1634 and 1659 respectively. The Syms-Eaton Academy was later renamed Hampton Academy and in 1852 became part of the public school system, thus Hampton High School lays claim to being the oldest public school in the United States. The trust fund created from the Syms and Eaton donations has remained intact since the 17th century and was incorporated into support for the Hampton public school system.
In 1957, the Hampton Roads Bridge–Tunnel was the first bridge–tunnel complex in the world, to be followed by the area's much longer Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel in 1963. This was followed by the Monitor–Merrimac Memorial Bridge–Tunnel in 1992. The prevalence of bridge–tunnels in the area is due to the number of shipbuilding and naval bases in the area. Access to the open ocean from Norfolk Naval Shipyard (in Portsmouth), Naval Station Norfolk, Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek – Fort Story, and Newport News Shipbuilding (where all U.S. nuclear aircraft carriers have been built) do not pass under any bridges. Passing under bridges was considered a potential threat to the U.S. fleet.
In the 1960s, the first astronauts of Project Mercury trained at the NASA facility adjacent to Hampton's Langley Air Force Base. Local features including Mercury Boulevard and a succession of astronaut-name bridges over the Hampton creek commemorate this fact.
The military has a large presence in the region. Area military facilities (alphabetically) include:
Camp Allen, in Norfolk
Camp Peary, in York County
Coast Guard 5th District, in Portsmouth
Coast Guard Training Center, in York County
Fleet Training Center Dam Neck, in Virginia Beach
Fort Eustis, in Newport News
Fort Monroe, in Hampton (closed in September 2011)
Joint Expeditionary Base East, in Virginia Beach
Lafayette River Complex (LRC), in Norfolk
Langley Air Force Base, in Hampton
Naval Air Station Oceana, in Virginia Beach
Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, in Virginia Beach
Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, in Portsmouth
Naval Station Norfolk, in Norfolk
Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads, in Chesapeake
Naval Consolidated Brig, Chesapeake
Naval Support Activity Northwest Annex, in Chesapeake
Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, in York County
Norfolk Naval Shipyard, in Portsmouth (not to be confused with Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, in Kittery, Maine)
Saint Julian's Creek Naval Depot Annex, in Chesapeake
The area consists of ten independent cities and seven counties. Each independent city has the powers and responsibilities of a county, including maintaining roads, courts, schools, and public safety. Some cities share these responsibilities with an adjoining county. Incorporated towns located within counties in Virginia do not operate independently.
The localities come together to consult on regional issues. Virginia defines regional planning districts by law. District members are usually independent cities and counties. Localities around the state may belong to more than one Planning District, as their constituents may have interests which cross over individual planning district boundaries.
The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) currently includes 16 cities and counties in Virginia, and represents over 1.6 million people.
The 16 jurisdictions include:the Cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg,
the Counties of Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Southampton, Surry, and York
There are incorporated towns in three of the counties (Isle of Wight, Southampton and Surry) within the district.
The differences between the service area of the HRPDC and the federally defined metropolitan statistical area (MSA) are:Southampton County and the City of Franklin are not in the MSA.
Mathews County is in the MSA but not the HRPDC.
The MSA includes Currituck County, North Carolina, but the HRPDC does not.
The federal government has two major research laboratories in the area. NASA-Langley, on the northeast edge of Hampton near Poquoson, is the home of a variety of aeronautics research, including several one-of-a-kind wind tunnels. The Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (known as 'Jefferson Lab') conducts cutting edge physics research in Newport News; the lab hosts the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) and a kilowatt-class free-electron laser.
The water area known as Hampton Roads is a wide channel through which the waters of the James River, Nansemond River, and Elizabeth River pass (between Old Point Comfort to the north and Sewell's Point to the south) into the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
Norfolk and Hampton Roads are among the worst-hit parts of the United States regarding effects of global warming. As of 2016, the region is a few decades ahead in feeling the effects of sea-level rise compared to many American coastal areas.
The geology and topography of the Hampton Roads region is influenced by the Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater which is one of three factors contributing to the sinking of Hampton Roads at a rate between 15 and 23 centimeters (5.9 and 9.1 inches) per century.
The region has extensive natural areas, including 26 miles (42 km) of Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay beaches, the Great Dismal Swamp, picturesque rivers, state parks, wildlife refuges, and botanical gardens. Inland from the bay, the region includes Lake Drummond, one of only two natural lakes found in Virginia, and miles of waterfront property along the various rivers and waterways. The region's native flora is consistent with that of the Southeast Coastal Plain and the lower Southeast Maritime Forest.
The land area which constitutes "Hampton Roads" varies depending upon perspective and purpose. Most of the land area of Hampton Roads is geographically divided into 2 smaller regions: the eastern portion of the Virginia Peninsula (the Peninsula) and South Hampton Roads (locally known as "the Southside"), which are separated by the harbor. When speaking of communities of Hampton Roads, virtually all sources (including the three discussed in the following paragraphs) include the seven major cities, two smaller ones, and three counties within those two subregions.
In addition, the Middle Peninsula counties of Gloucester and Mathews, while not part of the geographical Hampton Roads area, are included in the vast metropolitan region's population. Also, a small portion of northeastern North Carolina (Currituck County) is included in the region's statistics. Due to a peculiarity in the drawing of the Virginia-North Carolina border, Knott's Island in that county is connected to Virginia by land, but is only accessible to other parts of North Carolina across waterways via a ferry system.
Each of the following current cities, counties and towns is included by at least one of the three organizations that define "Hampton Roads"
The Hampton Roads area consists of nine independent cities (which are not part of any county). Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach cover the Southside of Hampton Roads while Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, and Williamsburg reside on the Peninsula. Franklin borders Suffolk but the Census Bureau does not consider it as a part of the metro area.
The metro area has one county in North Carolina, Currituck. The remaining counties, in Virginia, include Isle of Wight and Surry on the Southside, James City and York on the Virginia Peninsula, and Gloucester and Mathews on the Middle Peninsula. While Southampton is adjacent to Surry, Isle of Wight, and the City of Suffolk, the Census Bureau does not consider it part of the metro area.
Five incorporated towns reside in the metro area including Claremont in Surry County, Dendron in Surry County, Smithfield in Isle of Wight County, Surry, Surry County's seat, and Windsor in Isle of Wight County. (Two other incorporated towns, Boykins and Courtland are located in Southampton County, and therefore, like the county within which they are located, are not part of the federally defined metropolitan area).
Other unincorporated towns and communities in the metropolitan area which are not within its cities include Gloucester Courthouse and Gloucester Point in Gloucester County, Isle of Wight Courthouse, Rushmere, Rescue, Carrollton, Benns Church, and Walters in Isle of Wight County, Yorktown, Grafton, Seaford, and Tabb in York County, Jamestown, Ford's Colony, Grove, Lightfoot, Toano, and Norge in James City County, Moyock, Knotts Island, and Currituck in Currituck County, North Carolina.
The Hampton Roads MSA, with a population of about 1.7 million, is the seventh largest metropolitan area in the Southeastern United States after Washington metropolitan area, Miami–Fort Lauderdale–Pompano Beach, FL MSA, Atlanta–Sandy Springs–Marietta, GA MSA, Tampa–St. Petersburg–Clearwater, FL MSA, Orlando–Kissimmee, FL MSA, and Charlotte–Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC–SC MSA.
According to the 2010 Census, the overall racial composition of Hampton Roads was as follows:White or Caucasian: 59.6%
Black or African American: 31.3%
American Indian: 0.4%
Some other race: 1.7%
Two or more races: 3.4%
In addition, 5.4% of the population were Hispanic or Latino (of any race). 57.2% of the population were of non-Hispanic White background.
Historically, from the earliest times, the harbor was the key to the Hampton Roads area's growth, both on land and in water-related activities and events. Ironically, the harbor and its tributary waterways were (and still are) both important transportation conduits and obstacles to other land-based commerce and travel. Yet, the community leaders learned to overcome them.
In modern times, the region has faced increasing transportation challenges as it has become largely urbanized, with additional traffic needs. In the 21st century, the conflicts between traffic on vital waterways and land-based travel continue to present the area's leaders with extraordinary transportation challenges, both for additional capacity, and as the existing infrastructure, much of it originally built with toll revenues, has aged without an adequate source of funding to repair or build replacements. The now-closed Kings Highway Bridge in Suffolk and the Jordan Bridge closed by neighboring Chesapeake in 2008 were each built in the 1920s. These were considered locally prime examples of this situation.
In 2007, the new Hampton Roads Transportation Authority (HRTA) was formed under a controversial state law to levy various additional taxes to generate funding for major regional transportation projects, including a long-sought and costly additional crossing of the harbor of Hampton Roads (The Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, Monitor-Merrimac Bridge Tunnel, and the James River Bridge are the existing crossings). As of March 2008, although its projects were considered to be needed, the agency's future was in some question while its controversial sources of funding were being reconsidered in light of a Virginia Supreme Court decision.
Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, located in Newport News, and Norfolk International Airport, in Norfolk, both cater to passengers from Hampton Roads. The primary airport for the Virginia Peninsula is the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport. The Airport experienced a 4th year of record, double-digit growth through 2011, making it one of the fastest growing airports in the country. In 2012 however, the airport lost its biggest carrier and has seen massive declines in passenger service, culminating in layoffs of police officers and many other staff. Norfolk International Airport (IATA: ORF, ICAO: KORF, FAA LID: ORF), serves the region. The airport is located near Chesapeake Bay, along the city limits of Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Seven airlines provide nonstop services to twenty five destinations. ORF had 3,703,664 passengers take off or land at its facility and 68,778,934 pounds of cargo were processed through its facilities. The Chesapeake Regional Airport provides general aviation services and is located on the other side of the Hampton Roads Harbor.
Amtrak serves the region with Northeast Regional trains to its Norfolk, Williamsburg and Newport News stations. The lines run west to Richmond then north to Washington, D.C. and major cities north to Boston. Connecting buses are available between the Norfolk and Newport News stations and from both stations to Virginia Beach. A high-speed rail connection at Richmond to both the Northeast Corridor and the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor are also under study.
Intercity bus service is provided by Greyhound Lines (Carolina Trailways) with bus stations in Newport News, Hampton, and Norfolk. Transportation within Hampton Roads is served by a regional bus service, Hampton Roads Transit. Local routes serving Williamsburg, James City County, and upper York County is operated by Williamsburg Area Transit Authority.
A light rail service known as The Tide was constructed in Norfolk. It began service in August 2011. Operated by Hampton Roads Transit, it is the first light rail service in the state. It is projected to have a daily ridership of between 7,130 and 11,400 passengers a day. There has also been a light rail study in the Hampton – Newport News areas.
The Hampton Roads area has an extensive network of Interstate Highways, including the Interstate 64, the major east-west route to and from the area, and its spurs and bypasses of I-264, I-464, I-564, and I-664.
The Hampton Roads Beltway extends 56 miles (90 km) on a long loop through the region, crossing the harbor on two toll-free bridge-tunnel facilities. These crossings are the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel between Phoebus in Hampton and Willoughby Spit in Norfolk and the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel between Newport News and Suffolk. The Beltway connects with another Interstate highway and three arterial U.S. Highways at Bower's Hill near the northeastern edge of the Great Dismal Swamp. Other major east-west routes are U.S. Route 58, U.S. Route 60, and U.S. Route 460. The major north-south routes are U.S. Route 13 and U.S. Route 17.
There are also two other tunnels in the area, the Midtown Tunnel, and the Downtown Tunnel joining Portsmouth and Norfolk, as well as the 17-mile (27 km)-long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, a toll facility which links the region with Virginia's Eastern Shore which carries US 13. The original Downtown Tunnel in conjunction with the Berkley Bridge were considered a single bridge and tunnel complex when completed in 1952, perhaps stimulating the innovative bridge-tunnel design using man-made islands when the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel was planned, first opening in 1957. The George P. Coleman Memorial Bridge is a major toll bridge connecting U.S. Highway 17 on the Peninsula at Yorktown with Virginia's Middle Peninsula region. Another major crossing of waterways is the James River Bridge, carrying US 17 US 258, and SR 32 from Newport News to Isle of Wight County.
The region is notable in that it has 2 types of public transport services via ferries. A passenger ferry is operated on the Elizabeth River between downtown areas of Norfolk and Portsmouth by HRT. The Jamestown Ferry (also known as the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry) is an automobile ferry system on the James River connecting Jamestown in James City County with Scotland in Surry County. It carries State Route 31. Operated by VDOT, it is the only 24-hour state-run ferry operation in Virginia and has over 90 employees. It operates four ferryboats, the Pocahontas, the Williamsburg, the Surry, and the Virginia. The facility is toll-free.
Hampton Roads' individual cities and counties administer their own K-12 education for their localities. In addition to public education, area residents have many private and religious school options.
The area also has a number of higher education options for area residents. Some offer only associates and technical degrees and certificates, while others award advanced degrees, including doctorates. Some are publicly funded, but the region also has a number of private and for-profit colleges. Additionally, a number of universities have established satellite campuses in the region.
The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg was founded in 1693 and has served as the second oldest institution of higher education in the United States. Old Dominion University, founded as the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary in 1930, became an independent institution in 1962 and now offers degrees in 68 undergraduate and 95 (60 masters/35 doctoral) graduate degree programs. Norfolk's Eastern Virginia Medical School, founded as a community medical school by the surrounding jurisdictions in 1973, is noted for its research into reproductive medicine and is located in the region's major medical complex in the Ghent district. Norfolk State University is the largest majority black university in Virginia and offers degrees in a wide variety of liberal arts. Christopher Newport University serves as a public university and is located in Newport News.
Regent University, a private university founded by Christian evangelist, television host and leader Pat Robertson, has historically focused on graduate education but is attempting to establish an undergraduate program as well. Atlantic University, associated with the Edgar Cayce organization's Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE), offers instruction in New Age subjects and an M.A. in Transpersonal Studies. Virginia Wesleyan College is a small private liberal arts college on the border of Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Hampton University, a private HBCU university, has a long history serving Hampton.
Several universities based outside Hampton Roads offer a limited selection of classes in the area. Virginia Tech and University of Virginia have established a joint teaching center in Newport News. George Washington University and Averett University also maintain campuses there. Troy State University, Florida International University, and Saint Leo University offer classes, primarily connected to one or more of the area's military bases.
The National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) is a consortium of member universities: Georgia Tech, Hampton University, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina State, Old Dominion University, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, the College of William and Mary, and Christopher Newport University. Their unique approach allows students pursuing M.S. and Ph.D. degrees the opportunity to take classes from any member university taught at the Institute.
Area residents also have options for training for technical professions. The Apprentice School was founded in 1919 and offers four/five-year programs in mechanical and technical fields associated with the shipbuilding industry. Graduates from the Apprentice School go on to work at the Newport News Shipbuilding. Technology-focused ECPI University has campuses in Virginia Beach and Newport News while ITT Technical Institute has a campus in Norfolk. Bryant & Stratton College has campuses in Virginia Beach Town Center and Peninsula Town Center. The Culinary Institute of Virginia is located in Norfolk. The Art Institute of Virginia Beach offers programs in the media arts, design and culinary arts fields.
Three institutions in the Virginia Community College System offer affordable higher education options for area residents. Tidewater Community College in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Portsmouth, Paul D. Camp Community College in Suffolk, Franklin, and Smithfield, and Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton and Williamsburg offer two-year degrees and specialized training programs.
Bible training schools include Hampton University and Regent University, but also Canaan Theological College & Seminary, Bethel College and Victory Baptist Bible College and Seminary in Hampton, Tabernacle Baptist Bible College & Theological Seminary, Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Virginia Beach, Providence Bible College & Theological Seminary in Norfolk and the Hampton Roads campus of the John Leland Center for Theological Studies.
Hampton Roads is home to four Fortune 500 companies. Representing the food industry, transportation, retail and shipbuilding, these four companies are located in Smithfield, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Newport News.