Overview & Fun Facts

How did Newport News get its name?

West Ave. Public Library mural: Christopher Newport

No one knows for sure where Newport News got its name, but "Newportes

Newes" first appears in the Virginia Company records in 1619, making it one of the oldest place names in the New World. The most widely accepted folktale is that our city is the namesake of Captain Christopher Newport, commander of Susan Constant, which was the flagship of the three-ship English fleet that landed on Jamestown Island in 1607. He made several voyages to Newport News in the early days of the Jamestown Colony, bringing "good news" of supplies and settlers.

Take a virtual tour of the Newport News Timeline


Historical Overview

Newport News, settled in 1621, is approximately 23 miles long and three miles wide. It is the fourth largest city in size in the state, with its boundaries encompassing 69 square miles. Newport News has a population of 186,247 people (2020 Census Bureau). Newport News played a major role in the Peninsula Campaign during the Civil War. Numerous earthen fortifications and attractions that relate to the Civil War can be experienced in Newport News. In addition, the famous "Battle of the Ironclads" took place off the shores of Newport News in 1862.

Collis P. Huntington, a Northern railroad tycoon from Connecticut, brought two magnet industries to Newport News: the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad and Newport News Shipbuilding. Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, established in 1886, built many of the U.S. super aircraft carriers including the Enterprise, Kennedy, Washington, Vinson, and Roosevelt.

Newport News was designated as a Port of Embarkation by the U.S. Army immediately after America's entry into WWI. The final major military base during WWI was Camp Eustis, which later came to be known as Fort Eustis. Named after the founder of Fort Monroe's Artillery School of Practice (and War of 1812 veteran), Brigadier General Abraham Eustis, the camp was created in 1918 to meet the need for an artillery firing range.

Hilton Village, the first government-subsidized "planned community" was constructed as a pilot program due to the shortage of housing related to the war effort. Hilton Village was dedicated on July 7, 1918.


How's the weather in Newport News?

Here in Newport News, we experience all four seasons. The summer temperatures average in the mid-80s: perfect for sunning, swimming, boating, and fishing. Fall's pleasant temperatures average in the mid-60s: ideal weather for viewing our fall foliage while cruising the James River, hiking along one of our many trails, or canoeing on one of our lakes. In the winter, our average annual snowfall is less than two inches, so do not expect too many sleigh rides. Spring brings some showers for our blooming flowers; therefore, expect a little less than four inches of rainfall as the average per month.  


Hometown Celebrities

In Newport News, we enjoy a rich history of entertainers, athletes, and Hollywood stars that hail from our great city. One of the most well-known artists from Newport News is none other than the “First Lady of Song," Jazz Vocalist, Ella Jane Fitzgerald!  She was born on April 25, 1917, in Newport News Virginia. In 2017, we honored her memory in the Ella Fitzgerald Centennial Celebration. We hope you'll join us in some of the many events to come! Other famous Newport News natives include:

Tony award-winning actress and singer Pearl Mae Bailey, born on March 29, 1918.

John L (Johnny) Gilbert III, born July 13, 1924, is an American television personality who has worked primarily on game shows. Originally a game show host, he has become known primarily as an announcer for several game show series, dating back to the 1950s. Since 1984, he has been the announcer of the quiz show Jeopardy!, and introduces each show with "This is Jeopardy!"

William Styron was born on June 11, 1925. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who wrote “The Confessions of Nat Turner” and “Sophie’s Choice”

In 1935, Ava Gardner, who became an American singer and actress, moved to Newport News when she was 13 years old and attended Elementary and High School here.

Joyce Bulifant, (born December 16, 1937), was an actress and appeared on Broadway and Television (Perry Mason, The Bill Cosby Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Flo.)

Frankie Faison, (born June 10, 1949), was a well-known actor and star of the Hannibal Lecter films. He played Lt. Fisk in Manhunter, and Barney in The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal and Red Dragon. Most recently Faison played in Tyler Perry's Meet The Browns

Austin Roberts, (born September 17, 1945), Singer and Songwriter: noted for work on Hanna-Barbera Saturday Morning Cartoons; Josie and the Pussycats and the second season of Scooby-Doo, Where are you!

Marvin Leroy Keyes, (born February 18, 1947), is a former American football running back and safety who played five seasons in the National Football League for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Five Keys is an American rhythm and blues vocal group that was instrumental in shaping this genre in the 1950s. Three of the five “keys” were from Newport News.

Lutrelle “Pete” Horne – Children’s Television Producer and Associate Producer of Sesame Street who won the 1970 Emmy Award.

Michael L. Maguire (born February 20, 1955) is an American actor, best known for his role as Enjolras in the Broadway production of the musical Les Misérables. This role won him a Tony Award in 1987.

Willie Armstead, (born April 10, 1952), is a former slotback and wide receiver who played seven seasons in the Canadian Football League for the Calgary Stamped.

Tommy Reamon, (born March 12, 1952), He was drafted in 1974 by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Reamon went on to stardom in the World Football League and was named the league MVP in 1975. A year later, he joined the Kansas City Chiefs.

Mike Tomlin, (born March 15, 1972), is an American football head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League. Tomlin is the third African-American to coach to participate in the Super Bowl and the second to win it. With the Steelers' victory in Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009, Tomlin became the youngest head coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory.

Aaron Lafette Brooks, (born March 24, 1976, is a former American football quarterback in the National Football League. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the fourth round of the 1999 NFL Draft. Brooks played for the New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders. Brooks retired in 2007 as the Saints' franchise leader in touchdown passes.

David Thurman Macklin, (born July 14, 1978), is a former American football quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the third round of the 2000 NFL Draft.

Michael Vick (born June 26, 1980) is a former National Football League quarterback who began his NFL career in 2001 on the Atlanta Falcons.

Marques Hagans, (born December 29, 1982), is a former American football wide receiver for the Washington Redskins of the National Football League. He was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the fifth round of the 2006 NFL Draft.

Nick "The Goat" Thompson, (born June 23, 1981), is an American mixed martial artist. As of February 20, 2008, he holds a professional mixed martial arts record of 36-10-1. He has fought professionally in both the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Bodog Fight.

Darryl Blackstock, (born May 30, 1983), is a former American football linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League.


Helpful Links

Major Corporations

Newport News Shipbuilding

Canon Virginia Inc.

Jefferson Lab