Newport News was settled by Irish colonists c.1620 but did not grow appreciably until 1880, when it became the eastern terminus of the Chesapeake and Ohio RR. In 1862 the famous battle between the ironclad ships Monitor and Merrimack took place off Newport News. Points of interest include the Mariners Museum (including the U.S.S. Monitor Center), the War Memorial Museum of Virginia, the Virginia Living Museum and Planetarium, and the Victory Arch (1919, rebuilt 1962). Fort Eustis, with the Matthew Jones House (1660) on the fort's grounds, is there. Christopher Newport Univ. is in the city.
The area known as Newport News was part of Warwick County, one of the eight original shires of Virginia formed by the House of Burgesses in the British Colony of Virginia by order of King Charles I in 1634. The county was largely composed of farms and undeveloped land until almost 250 years later. In 1881, 15 years of explosive development began under the leadership of Collis P. Huntington, who built a new railroad and terminal, coal piers, and a large shipyard in the southeastern portion closest to the harbor.
In 1896, the new unincorporated town of Newport News, which had briefly replaced Denbigh as the county seat of Warwick County, became an independent city, separating from the county. In 1900, 19,635 people lived in Newport News, Virginia; in 1910, 20,205; in 1920, 35,596; and in 1940, 37,067.
In 1958, by mutual consent by referendum, Newport News was consolidated with the former Warwick County (itself a separate city from 1952 to 1958), rejoining the two localities to approximately their pre-1896 geographic size, The more widely-known name of Newport News was selected as they formed what was then Virginia's third largest independent city in population. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 180,150. A more recent 2006 estimate indicates the city's population has declined to 178,281, ranking it as Virginia's fifth largest incorporated city by population.
With many residents employed at the expansive Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding, the U.S. Army base at Fort Eustis, and other military bases and suppliers, the city's economy is very connected to the military. The location on the harbor and along the James River facilitates a large boating industry which can take advantage of its many miles of waterfront. Newport News also serves as a junction between the rails and the sea with the Newport News Marine Terminals located at the East End of the city.
The source of the name "Newport News" is not known with certainty. Several versions are recorded, and it is subject of popular speculation locally. Probably the best-known explanation holds that when an early group of Jamestown colonists left to return to England after the Starving Time during the winter of 1609–1610 aboard a ship of Captain Christopher Newport, they encountered another fleet of supply ships under the new Governor Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr in the James River off Mulberry Island with reinforcements of men and supplies. The new governor ordered them to turn around, and return to Jamestown. Under this theory, the community was named for Newport's "good news." (It is probable that not all of those intending to depart thought returning to the harsh conditions of Jamestown was "good" news, however). Another possibility is that the community may have derived its name from an old English word "news" meaning "new town." At least one source claims that the "New" arose from the original settlement's being rebuilt after a fire.
According to a 1901 article in the College of William and Mary's Quarterly Magazine, the original name was "New Port Newce", named for a person with the name Newce and the town's place as a new seaport. The namesake, Sir William Newce, was originally an English soldier and settler in Ireland where he had established Newcestown near Bandon in County Cork. Newce sailed to Virginia with Sir Francis Wyatt in October, 1621 and was granted 2,500 acres (10 km²) of land, but died two days after. His brother, Capt. Thomas Newce, was given "600 acres at Kequatan, now called Elizabeth Cittie." A partner Daniel Gookin, completed the establishment of the settlement.
Fiske in a footnote (page 92) in his book OLD VIRGINIA AND HER NEIGHBORS writes that he has seen several old maps where the name is given as Newport Ness, being the mariner's way of saying Newport Point.
Regardless of the origin of the name, the fact it was formerly written as "Newport's News" is verified by numerous early documents and maps, and by local tradition. The change to Newport News apparently was brought about by usage, for by 1851 the Post Office Department sanctioned "New Port News" (three words) as the name of the first post office, and in 1866 it approved the name as "Newport News", the current form.
During the 17th century, shortly after establishment of the Jamestown Settlement in 1607, English settlers explored and began settling the areas adjacent to Hampton Roads. In 1610, Sir Thomas Gates took possession of a nearby Native American village which became known as Kecoughtan.
In 1619, the area of Newport News was included in one of four huge corporations of the Virginia Company of London, and became known as Elizabeth Cittie, which extended west all the way to Skiffe's Creek (currently the border between Newport News and James City County. Elizabeth Cittie also included all of present-day South Hampton Roads.
By 1634, the English colony of Virginia consisted of a total population of approximately 5,000 inhabitants and was redivided into eight shires of Virginia, which were renamed as counties shortly thereafter. The area of Newport News became part Warwick River Shire, which became Warwick County in 1637. By 1810, the county seat was at Denbigh. For a short time in the mid-19th century, the county seat was moved to Newport News.
Newport News was merely an area of farm lands and a fishing village until the coming of the railroad and the subsequent establishment of the great shipyard. Following a huge growth spurt of railroad and shipyard development, the new "City of Newport News" was formally organized and became independent of Warwick County in 1896 by an act of the Virginia General Assembly. It was one of only a few cities in Virginia to be newly established without earlier incorporation as a town. (Virginia has had an independent city political subdivision since 1871). Walter A. Post served as the city's first mayor.
The area which formed the present-day southern end of Newport News had long been established as an unincorporated town. However, during the period after the American Civil War, the new City of Newport News was essentially founded by Collis P. Huntington. Huntington, who was one of the builders of the country's first transcontinental railroad, was recruited by former Confederate General Williams Carter Wickham to become a major investor and guiding light, and helped complete the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway to the Ohio River in 1873.
With the new railroad complete, Huntington was aware of the potential to ship eastbound coal from West Virginia's untapped natural resources. His agents began acquiring land in Warwick County in 1865, and in the 1880s, he oversaw extension of the C&O's new Peninsula Subdivision, which extended from the Church Hill Tunnel in Richmond southeast down the peninsula through Williamsburg to Newport News, where the company developed coal piers on the harbor of Hampton Roads.
His next project was to develop Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, which became the world's largest shipyard. Opened as Chesapeake Dry Dock & Construction Company, the Shipbuilding was originally meant to build boats to transition goods from the rails to the seas. With President Theodore Roosevelt's declaration to create a Great White Fleet, the company would enter the warship business by building seven of the first sixteen warships. Today, shipbuilding holds a dominant position in the American warship construction business. In addition to Collis, other members of the Huntington family also played major roles in Newport News. From 1912–1914, his nephew, Henry E. Huntington, assumed leadership of the shipyard. Huntington Park, developed after World War I near the northern terminus of the James River Bridge, is named for him.
Collis Huntington's son, Archer Milton Huntington and his wife, sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington, developed the Mariners' Museum beginning in 1932, creating a natural park and the community's Lake Maury in the process. A major feature of Newport News, the Mariners' Museum has grown to become one of the largest and finest maritime museums in the world.
Independent city status guarantees protection against annexation of territory by adjacent communities. After years of resisting annexation efforts by Newport News, in 1952, Warwick County was successful in petitioning the Virginia General Assembly to become the independent City of Warwick. In 1958, the citizenry of the cities of Warwick and Newport News voted by referendum to consolidate the two cities, choosing to assume the better-known name of Newport News, and forming the third largest city population-wise in Virginia with a area. The boundaries of the City of Newport News today are essentially the boundaries of the original Warwick River Shire and those of Warwick County for most of its existence, with the exception of minor border adjustments with neighbors.
The city's original downtown area, located on the James River waterfront, changed rapidly from a few farms to a new city in the last quarter of the 19th century as part of the development of the railroad terminal with its coal piers and other harbor-related facilities and the shipyard. Although fashionable housing and businesses developed there as well, gradually these moved outward to the west and north following a national trend suburban development during the 20th century. Despite some efforts at large-scale revitalization, by the beginning of the 21st century, the downtown area largely consisted of the coal export facilities, the shipyard, and municipal offices, bordered by some harbor-related smaller businesses and lower income housing.
Newport News grew in population from the 1960s through the 1990s. The city began to explore New Urbanism as a way to develop areas midtown. City Center at Oyster Point was developed out of a small portion of the Oyster Point Business Park and opened in phases from 2003 through 2005. The city invested $82 million of public funding in the project. Closely following Oyster Point, Port Warwick opened as an urban residential community in the new midtown business district. 1500 people now reside in the Port Warwick area which also includes a three acre city square where festivals and events take place.
Newport News is located at (37.071046, -76.484557).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 119.1 square miles (308.3 km²), of which, 68.3 square miles (176.9 km²) of it is land and 50.8 square miles (131.5 km²) of it (42.64%) is water.
The city is located at the Peninsula side of Hampton Roads in the Tidewater region of Virginia, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. The Hampton Roads Metropolitan Statistical Area (officially known as the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA) is the 34th largest in the United States, with a total population of 1,576,370. The area includes the Virginia cities of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Williamsburg, and the counties of Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Mathews, Surry, and York, as well as the North Carolina county of Currituck. Newport News serves as one of the business centers on the Peninsula. The city of Norfolk is recognized as the central business district, while the Virginia Beach oceanside resort district and Williamsburg are primarily centers of tourism.
Newport News shares land borders with James City County on the northwest, York County on the north and northeast, and Hampton on the east. Newport News shares water borders with Portsmouth on the southeast and Suffolk on the south across Hampton Roads, and Isle of Wight County on the southwest and west and Surry County on the northwest across the James River.
The older "downtown" area was part of the earlier portion which became a city in 1896. The earlier city portions includes the traditional downtown area, the shipyard and coal piers, with public housing projects and lower income housing nearby in what came to be known as the East End as the city expanded primarily westward. While the shipyard and coal facilities, and other smaller harbor-oriented businesses have remained vibrant, the downtown area went into substantial decline, and crime problems have plagued the nearby lower-income residential areas.
West of the traditional downtown area, another early portion of the city was developed as Huntington Heights, and is known during modern times as the North End. Developed primarily between 1900 and 1935, North End is features a wealth of architectural styles and eclectic vernacular building designs. Extending along west to the James River Bridge approaches, it includes scenic views of the river. A well-preserved community, the North End is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.
The 1958 merger by mutual agreement with the former Warwick County removed the political boundary between them which was adjacent to Mercury Boulevard, a major north-south roadway which carries State Route 258 between the James River Bridge and the Coliseum-Central area of adjacent Hampton.
At the time, the county was mostly rural, although along Warwick Boulevard north of the Mercury Boulevard, Hilton Village was developed during World War I as a planned community. Beyond this point to the west, much of the city takes on a suburban nature. Many neighborhoods have been developed, some around a number of former small towns, with miles of waterfront along the James River and tributaries such as Deep Creek and Lucas Creek occupied by higher-end single family homes. In many sections, wooded land and farms gave way to subdivisions. Even at the northwestern reaches, furthest from the traditional downtown area, some residential development has occurred in an area where much land has been set aside for natural protection with recreational and historical considerations. Along with some newer residential areas, major features of the northwestern end include the reservoirs of the Newport News Water System (which include much of the Warwick River), the expansive Newport News Park, a number of public schools, and the military installations of Fort Eustis and a small portion of the Naval Weapons Station Yorktown.
At the extreme northwestern edge adjacent to Skiffe's Creek and the border with James City County is the Lee Hall community, which retains historical features including the former Chesapeake and Ohio Railway station which served tens of thousands of soldiers based at what became nearby Fort Eustis during World War I and World War II. The larger-than-normal rural two-story frame depot is highly valued by rail fans and rail preservationists.
In downtown Newport News, the Victory Arch, built to commemorate the Great War, sits on the downtown waterfront. The "Eternal Flame" which sits under the arch was cast by Womack Foundry, Inc. in the 1960s, and was hand crafted by the Foundry's founder and president, Ernest D. Womack. There are a number of landmarks and architecturally interesting buildings in the downtown area that seem to have been largely abandoned in favor of building new areas in the northwest areas of the city. City leaders are working to bring new life into this area, by renovating and building new homes and attracting businesses. The completion of Interstate 664 restored the area to access and through traffic which had been largely rerouted with the completion of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel in 1958 and discontinuance of the Newport News-Norfolk ferry service at that time. The larger capacity Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel and the rebuilt James River Bridge each restored some accessibility and through traffic to the downtown area.
Much of the newer commercial development has been along the Warwick Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue corridors, with newer planned industrial, commercial, and mixed development such as Oyster Point, Kiln Creek and the City Center. While the downtown area had long been the area of the city that offered the traditional urban layout, the idea is being revisited with the introduction of a number of New Urbanism projects. One is Port Warwick, named after the fictional city in William Styron's novel, Lie Down in Darkness. Port Warwick includes housing for a broad variety of citizens, from retired persons to off-campus housing for Christopher Newport University students. Also included are several high-end restaurants and upscale shopping.
The Oyster Point City Center, located near Port Warwick, has been touted as the new "downtown" because of its new geographic centrality on the Virginia Peninsula, its proximity to the retail/business nucleus of the city, etc. Locally, it is often called simply "City Center". Nearby, the Virginia Living Museum recently completed a $22.6 million expansion plan.
Currently under planning stages are a number of other New Urbanism projects, including "Asheton", a mega-development at the north end of the city bordering the city’s historic attraction of that area.
Newport News has many distinctive communities and neighborhoods within its boundaries, including City Center, Colony Pines, Christopher Shores-Stuart Gardens, Denbigh, East End, Glendale, Hidenwood, Hilton Village, Huntington Heights (Overtown), Jefferson Park, Kiln Creek, Lee Hall, Menchville, Morrison (also known as Harpersville), Newmarket, North End (roughly from 50th to 70th streets, east of Mercury Boulevard and James River Bridge), Oyster Point, Parkview, Port Warwick, Richneck, Riverside, Summerlake, Village Green, and Warwick.
Additionally, the geographic location of the city, with respect to the principal storm tracks, is especially favorable, as it is south of the average path of storms originating in the higher latitudes, and north of the usual tracks of hurricanes and other major tropical storms.
|Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures|
|Rec High °F (°C)||79 (26)||82 (27)||87 (31)||90 (34)||95 (37)||102 (37)||103 (39)||105 (39)||99 (40)||95 (34)||85 (31)||79 (27)|
|Avg High °F (°C)||47 (10)||49 (12)||57 (15)||66 (20)||73 (24)||81 (28)||85 (31)||84 (30)||78 (27)||68 (22)||60 (17)||51 (12)|
|Avg Low °F (°C)||32 (0)||34 (1)||41 (4)||49 (8)||58 (13)||67 (18)||72 (21)||71 (21)||65 (18)||53 (12)||44 (7)||36 (3)|
|Rec Low °F (°C)||-3 (-24)||4 (-12)||11 (-9)||28 (-3)||35 (n/a)||43 (8)||54 (11)||50 (8)||44 (7)||26 (-1)||20 (-9)||6 (-15)|
|Source: The Weather Channel|
As of the census of 2000, there were 180,150 people, 69,686 households, and 46,341 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,637.9 people per square mile (1,018.5/km²). There were 74,117 housing units at an average density of 1,085.3/sq mi (419.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 53.50% White, 39.07% African American, 0.42% Native American, 2.33% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 1.79% from other races, and 2.77% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.22% of the population.
There were 69,686 households out of which 35.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 17.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.5% were non-families. 27.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.04.
The age distribution is: 27.5% under the age of 18, 11.5% from 18 to 24, 32.2% from 25 to 44, 18.8% from 45 to 64, and 10.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 93.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $36,597, and the median income for a family was $42,520. Males had a median income of $31,275 versus $22,310 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,843. About 11.3% of families and 13.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.6% of those under age 18 and 9.8% of those age 65 or over.
Among the city's major industries are shipbuilding, military, and aerospace. Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, owned by Northrop Grumman, and the large coal piers supplied by railroad giant CSX Transportation, the modern Fortune 500 successor to the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O). Miles of the waterfront can be seen by automobiles crossing the James River Bridge and Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel, which is a portion of the circumferential Hampton Roads Beltway, linking the city with each of the other Seven Cities of Hampton Roads via Interstate 664 and Interstate 64. Many U.S. defensive industry suppliers are based in Newport News, and these and nearby military bases employ many residents, in addition to those working at the shipyard and in other harbor-related vocations.
Newport News plays a role in the maritime industry. At the end of CSX railroad tracks lies the Newport News Marine Terminal. Covering , the Terminal has heavy-life cranes, warehouse capabilities, and container cranes.
Newport News' location next to Hampton Roads along with its rail network has provided advantages for the city. The city houses two industrial parks which enabled manufacturing and distribution to take root in the city. As technology-oriented companies flourished in the 1990s, Newport News became a regional center for technology companies.
Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding serves as the city's largest employer with over 15,000 employees. Fort Eustis employs over 10,000, making it the second largest employer in the city. Newport News School System creates over 5000 jobs and acts as the city's third largest employer.
Established during World War I at historic Mulberry Island, the large base at Fort Eustis in modern times hosts the U.S. Army's Transportation Corps and other important activities. In adjacent localities, other U.S. military facilities include Fort Monroe, Langley Air Force Base, Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, and Camp Peary. Across the harbor in South Hampton Roads, the world's largest naval base, the Naval Station Norfolk and other installations are also located.
Research and education play a role in the City's economy. The Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (TJNAF) is housed in Newport News. TJNAF employs over 675 people and more than 2,000 scientists from around the world conduct research using the facility. Formerly named the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF), its stated mission is "to provide forefront scientific facilities, opportunities and leadership essential for discovering the fundamental structure of nuclear matter; to partner in industry to apply its advanced technology; and to serve the nation and its communities through education and public outreach.
As with most of Virginia (the Northern Virginia/Washington D.C metro area being the notable exception), Newport News is most often associated with the larger American South. People who have grown up in the Hampton Roads area have a unique Tidewater accent which sounds different than a stereotypical Southern accent. Vowels have a longer pronunciation than in a typical southern accent.
Near the city's western end, a historic C&O railroad station, as well as American Civil War battle sites near historic Lee Hall along U.S. Route 60 and several 19th century plantations have all been protected. Many are located along the roads leading to Yorktown and Williamsburg, where many sites of the Historic Triangle are of both American Revolutionary War and Civil War significance. The first modern duel of ironclad warships, the Battle of Hampton Roads, took place not far off Newport News Point in 1862.
Recovered artifacts from the USS ''Monitor are displayed at the Mariners' Museum, one of the more notable museums of its type in the world. The Museum’s collection totals approximately 35,000 artifacts, of which approximately one-third are paintings and two-thirds are three-dimensional objects. The scope of the Museum's collection is international. Included are 10 permanent galleries, changing and traveling exhibits, and virtual galleries available through the museum website. The collection of over 600,000 prints and 35,000 maritime artifacts is international in scope and includes miniature ship models, scrimshaw, maritime paintings, decorative arts, carved figureheads, and working steam engines.
The Virginia War Museum covers American military history. The Museum's collection includes, weapons, vehicles, artifacts, uniforms and posters from various periods of American history. Highlights of the Museum's collection include a section of the Berlin Wall and the outer wall from Dachau Concentration Camp.
The Peninsula Fine Arts Center contains a rotating gallery of art exhibits. The Center also maintains a permanent "Hands On For Kids" gallery designed for children and families to interact in what the Center describes as "a fun, educational environment that encourages participation with art materials and concepts.
The U.S. Army Transportation Museum is a United States Army museum of vehicles and other U. S. Army transportation-related equipment and memorabilia. Located on the grounds of Fort Eustis, The museum reflects the history of the Army, especially of the United States Army Transportation Corps, and includes close to 100 military vehicles such as land vehicles, watercraft and rolling stock, including stock from the Fort Eustis Military Railroad. It is officially dedicated to General Frank S. Besson, Jr., who was the first 4 star general to lead the transportation command, and extends over of land, air and sea vehicles and indoor exhibits. The exhibits cover transportation and its role in US Army operations, including topic areas from the American Revolutionary War through operations in Afghanistan.
The Ferguson Center for the Arts is a theater and concert hall on the campus of Christopher Newport University. The complex fully opened in September of 2005 and contains three distinct, separate concert halls: the Concert Hall, the Music and Theatre Hall, and the Studio Theatre.
The Port Warwick area hosts the annual Port Warwick Art and Sculpture Festival where art vendors gather in Styron Square to show and sell their art. Judges have the chance to name art work best of the Festival.
The Virginia Living Museum is an outdoor living museum combining aspects of a native wildlfe park, science museum, aquarium, botanical preserve, and planetarium.
High school sports play a large role in the City's culture. Sporting stars such as Michael Vick, Allen Iverson, Mike Tomlin, Antoine Bethea, and Preston Willett have all spent time in Newport News. The City's stadium, John B. Todd Stadium, houses five high schools' worth of football games usually spread over Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The stadium also holds the schools' track and field meets.
Additional sports options can be found just outside Newport News. On the collegiate level, the College of William and Mary, Hampton University, Norfolk State University and Old Dominion University offer NCAA Division I athletics. Virginia Wesleyan College also provides sports at the NCAA Division III level. The Peninsula Pilots play just outside the city limits at War Memorial Stadium in Hampton. The Pilots play in the Coastal Plain League, a summer baseball league. In Norfolk, the Norfolk Tides of the International League and the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League. In Virginia Beach, the Hampton Roads Piranhas field men's and women's professional soccer teams.
Newport News Parks is responsible for the maintenance of thirty-two city parks. The smallest is less than half an acre (2,000 m²). The largest, Newport News Park, is 8,065 acres (33 km²), the second-largest city park in the United States. The parks are scattered throughout the city, from Endview Plantation in the northern end of the city to King-Lincoln Park in the southern end near the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel. The parks offer a variety of services to visitors, ranging from traditional park services like camping and fishing to activities like archery and disc golf.
Newport News Park is located in the northern part of the city of Newport News. The city's golf course also lies within the Park along with camping and outdoor activities. There are over 30 miles (50 km) of trails in the Newport News Park complex. The park has a 5.3 mile (8.5 km) multi-use bike path. The park offers bicycle and helmet rental, and requires helmet use by children under 14. Newport News Park also offers an archery range, disc golf course, and an "aeromodel flying field" for remote-controlled aircraft, complete with a 400 ft (120 m) runway.
The city also supplies two public boat ramps for its citizens, Denbigh Park Boat Ramp and Hilton Pier/Ravine. Denbigh Park allows access into the Warwick River, a tributary of the James River. Denbigh Park also offers a small fishing pier. Hilton Pier offers a small beach at the location of the park in addition to a Ravine. Croaker and trout are the fish primarily caught during the summer months and the pier is accessible to visitors in wheelchairs.
Christopher Newport University publishes its own newspaper, The Captain's Log. Hampton Roads Magazine serves as a bi-monthly regional magazine for Newport News and the Hampton Roads area. Newport News is served by a variety of radio stations on the AM and FM dials, with towers located around the Hampton Roads area.
Newport News is also served by several television stations. The Hampton Roads designated market area (DMA) is the 43rd largest in the U.S. with 712,790 homes (0.64% of the total U.S.). The major network television affiliates are WTKR-TV 3 (CBS), WAVY 10 (NBC), WVEC-TV 13 (ABC), WGNT 27 (CW), WTVZ 33 (MyNetworkTV), WVBT 43 (FOX), and WPXV 49 (ION Television). The Public Broadcasting Service station is WHRO-TV 15. Newport News residents also can receive independent stations, such as WSKY broadcasting on channel 4 from the Outer Banks of North Carolina and WGBS broadcasting on channel 7 from Hampton.
Newport News is an independent city with services that both counties and cities in Virginia provide, such as a sheriff, social services, and a court system. Newport News operates under a council-manager form of government.
Newport News city government consists of a city council with representatives from three districts serving in a legislative and oversight capacity, as well as a popularly elected, at-large mayor. The city manager serves as head of the executive branch and supervises all City departments and executing policies adopted by the Council. Citizens in each of the three wards elect two council representatives each to serve a four-year term. The city council meets at City Hall twice a month and, as of July, 2008, consists of: Mayor Joe S. Frank, Madeline McMillan, Herbert H. Bateman, Jr., Sharon P. Scott, Dr. Patricia "Pat" Woodbury, Jr., Tina L. Vick, and Vice Mayor Joseph C. Whitaker. The City Manager is Randy W. Hildebrandt. For the first time in the history of Newport News there is a female majority on the city council.
Newport News also has a federal courthouse for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. A new courthouse will be constructed in the future. Additionally, Newport News has its own General District and Circuit Courts which convene downtown.
The main provider of primary and secondary education in the city is Newport News Public Schools. The school system includes many elementary schools, six middle schools, and the high schools, Heritage High School, Warwick High School, Menchville High School, Denbigh High School, and Woodside High School. All high schools and many middle schools are fully accredited.
Several private schools are located in the area, including Denbigh Baptist Christian School, Hampton Roads Academy, Peninsula Catholic High School, and Warwick River Christian School.
The city contains Christopher Newport University, a public university. Other nearby public universities include Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University and The College of William and Mary. Hampton University, a private university, also sits a few miles from the City limits. Thomas Nelson Community College serves as the community college. Located in neighboring Hampton and in nearby Williamsburg, Thomas Nelson offers college and career training programs.
Newport News has an elaborate transportation network, including interstate and state highways, bridges and a bridge-tunnel, freight and passenger railroad service, local transit bus and intercity bus service, and a commercial airport. There are miles of waterfront docks and port facilities.
Newport News is served by two airports. 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 is experiencing a 4th year of record, double-digit growth, making it one of the fastest growing airports in the country. In January 2006, the airport reported having served 1,058,839 passengers. Norfolk International Airport , 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 city with three trains a day. The line runs west along the Virginia Peninsula to Richmond and points beyond. Connecting buses are available to Norfolk and 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). The bus station is located on Warwick Boulevard in the Denbigh area. Transportation within the city, as well as with other Seven Cities of Hampton Roads is served by a regional bus service, Hampton Roads Transit. A connecting service for local routes serving Williamsburg, James City County, and upper York County is operated by Williamsburg Area Transport at Lee Hall.
The Newport News Waterworks was begun as a project of Collis P. Huntington as part of the development of the lower peninsula with the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, the coal piers on the harbor of Hampton Roads, and massive shipyard which were the major sources of industrial growth which helped found Newport News as a new independent city in 1896. It included initially an impingement of the Warwick River in western Warwick County. Later expansions included more reservoirs, including one at Skiffe's Creek and another near Walker's Dam on the Chickahominy River. A regional water provider, in modern times it is owned and operated by the City of Newport News, and serves over 400,000 people in the cities of Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, and portions of York County and James City County.
The City provides wastewater services for residents and transports wastewater to the regional Hampton Roads Sanitation District treatment plants.