Introduction to Hampton, Virginia
Hampton is a Virginia city located on the southeast end of the Virginia Peninsula. It is bounded on the north and east by the Chesapeake Bay and on the south by the Hampton Roads Harbor. The city is situated about 16 miles north of Norfolk, to which it is connected by Interstate I-64. Hampton is served by two airports: the primary area airport is Norfolk International Airport in Norfolk; and the region's secondary airport is Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, located in Newport News.
Widely considered to be one of the nation's earliest settlements, Hampton dates its origins back to the early 1600s. Mainly a quiet trading port before the Civil War, Hampton found itself in the middle of the conflict when the Confederate army, in an attempt to stop Union troops from taking over the town, burned it to the ground in 1861. From the ruins left behind, former slaves who were under a degree of Union protection built the Grand Contraband Camp, the first self-contained African American community in the United States. Hampton achieved its city status in 1952 after a municipal consolidation which resulted in the City of Hampton essentially incorporating the boundaries of the former Elizabeth City County.
Hampton Cultural Attractions
The Hampton area features a wide variety of historical, cultural and recreational attractions. The Hampton University Museum is located on the grounds of one of the oldest African-American universities in the country. The University originated as the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, whose mission was to educate freed black men and women after the Civil War and teach them trades and skills. Also located at the site is the Emancipation Oak, the place where Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was read. Another Hampton landmark is the Virginia Air & Space Center, the official visitor center for NASA's Langley Research Center. Here visitors can see the Apollo 12 Command Capsule that journeyed to the moon, experience a state-of-the-art virtual-reality video on the pioneers of flying, and much more. The Hampton History Museum, located in historic downtown, tells the storied history of Hampton. Costumed interpreters are on-hand to help visitors understand the significance and context of the exhibits. Also located downtown is The Charles H. Taylor Arts Center, a 1925 structure which served as Hampton's public library for over 60 years. After careful renovation and restoration, the building now presents changing exhibitions of the best of local, regional, and national artists. And no Hampton attraction is more significant than the Casemate Museum at Fort Monroe (the largest stone fort ever built in the United States). The Museum chronicles the Fort's role during the Civil War and contains the cell in which Confederate President Jefferson Davis was imprisoned.
Fans of NCAA Division I collegiate athletics have teams in town to root for. The Hampton University Pirates compete in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), in which their teams have won titles in many sports, including football, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's track, and men's and women's tennis. Hampton also has a professional sports team, soccer's Hampton Roads Piranhas who compete in the United Soccer League's Premier Development League (PDL). Nearby Norfolk is home to the Tides, a minor-league AAA baseball affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles; and also to the American Hockey League's Norfolk Admirals, a farm team of the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL.