• Portsmouth is an independent city located in the U.S. commonwealth of Virginia, and is part of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area.
  • The Norfolk Naval Shipyard, often called the Norfolk Navy Yard, is a historic and active U.S. Navy facility that is actually located in Portsmouth rather than Norfolk; the original name “Gosport” was changed to “Norfolk” to reflect its location in Norfolk County, VA. The shipyard upgrades, remodels, and repairs ships of the US Navy and is one of the few facilities in the world with the capability to dry dock an aircraft carrier.
  • Directly opposite Norfolk, the city of Portsmouth also has miles of waterfront land on the Elizabeth River as part of the harbor of Hampton Roads. There is a ferry boat that takes riders back and forth across the water between Downtown Norfolk and Olde Towne Portsmouth.
  • During the American Civil War, in 1861, Virginia joined the Confederate States of America. Fearing that the Confederacy would take control of the shipyard at Portsmouth, the shipyard commander ordered the burning of the shipyard.
  • The Confederate forces did in fact take over the shipyard, and did so without armed conflict through an elaborate ruse orchestrated by civilian railroad builder William Mahone (soon to become a famous Confederate officer). The Union forces withdrew to Fort Monroe across Hampton Roads, which was the only land in the area which remained under Union control.
  • Portsmouth was the county seat of Norfolk County until 1963 when the new city of Chesapeake was formed in a political consolidation with the city of South Norfolk. Portsmouth’s other county neighbor, the former Nansemond County, also consolidated with a smaller city, forming the new city of Suffolk in 1974.