Introduction to Portsmouth, Virginia
Portsmouth is a city in southeastern Virginia situated on the Elizabeth River. The city is located less than three miles from the city of Norfolk. In fact the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, one of the Navy's premiere shipbuilding facilities, is actually located in Portsmouth. Major highways servicing Portsmouth include Interstates I-264 and I-664; as well as U.S. Routes 17 and 58.
Portsmouth's location as an East Coast deep water port has influenced its history throughout its centuries of growth. Founded as a town in 1752 by William Crawford, a wealthy merchant and ship owner, Portsmouth derived its name from the English naval port of the same name. In fact, many of the streets of the new town reflected its English heritage. The town suffered an epidemic of yellow fever in 1855 which killed 1 of every 3 citizens. Three years later it became an independent city, separating from Norfolk County. Portsmouth played a key role in the Civil War. In 1862, the Confederate ironclad warship CSS Virginia, rebuilt using the burned-out hulk of the former USS Merrimack, engaged the Union ironclad USS Monitor in the famous Battle of Hampton Roads. Until 1963 Portsmouth had served as the county seat of Norfolk County but in that year the County consolidated with the City of South Norfolk to form the new City of Chesapeake. Plans are currently being discussed to forge a measure of consolidation between the neighboring cities of Portsmouth and Norfolk.
Things to See and Do in Portsmouth
Portsmouth has lots of attractions, many of which are clustered within easy walking distance of each other. The Cedar Grove Cemetery, established in 1832, is the oldest city-owned cemetery in Portsmouth and is listed on the Virginia and national registers of historic sites. The Children’s Museum of Virginia includes a planetarium, a rock-climbing wall, a giant bubble-making station, and features the Lancaster Antique Toy and Train Collection, one of the most incredible model train collections in the world. The Naval Shipyard Museum contains a vast array of vessels from pleasure craft to carriers as well as an interesting collection of antique cannons. The Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum offers visitors the opportunity to feel what it's like to drive a stock car on a professional track or announce the play-by-play of an historic game from a broadcast booth. For performance arts, the city boasts the Commodore Theatre, a luxuriously restored 1945 Art Deco-style motion picture theater with upholstered seating and crystal chandeliers, which shows first-run movies while serving light dinners. One of Portsmouth's annual events is the TodiMusicFest, the American counterpart to the UmbriaMusicFest in Italy. The summer festival features lots of music and high quality entertainment.
Fans of pro sports in Portsmouth can root for a Class Triple-A minor league baseball team headquartered in neighboring Norfolk. The Norfolk Tides, who compete in the International League, serve as the principal farm team for Major League Baseball's Baltimore Orioles. Until 2007, the team had been a longtime affiliate of the New York Mets, an affiliation which lasted from 1969 to 2006. The Tides play their home games at Norfolk's Harbor Park. Also in Norfolk are the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League (AHL). The Admirals, a farm team of the National Hockey League's Tampa Bay Lightning, play at the city's Norfolk Scope arena.