The birthplace of Colonial America, Hampton is where centuries of American history blend with the most modern technology, rich culture, lively nightlife and a breathtaking landscape. Few cities in the country offer the history and heritage that await you when moving to Hampton.
In 1610, the construction of Fort Henry and Fort Charles at the mouth of Hampton Creek marked the beginnings of The City of Hampton. In 1619, settlers chose an English name for the community: Elizabeth City. The settlement was known Hampton by 1680, and in 1705, Hampton was recognized as a town. The city was first incorporated in 1849 and later classified as a city of the second class in 1908. Benjamin Syms and Thomas Eaton founded the first free public schools in the U.S. in Hampton. The city is the site of Hampton University, established in 1868 to educate freed slaves. During the Civil War, the city was burned down by its own troops rather than surrender to Federalist troops in 1861. Before the fire, Hampton had 30 businesses and over 100 homes, all of which were sacrificed. Fewer than six buildings remained intact after the fire. In 1884, fire again besieged Hampton and destroyed the downtown business district. Today, the city of Hampton, Virginia is a thriving city of over 143,000 residents
Strategically located in the middle of the eastern seaboard of the U.S., Hampton's economy is supported by its large natural deepwater harbors, with ports capable of accommodating the worlds largest cargo ships. The city's modern road and rail systems connect the city with the interior of the country, making the city and attractive location for many commuters looking for opportunities in surrounding areas. Major industries in the city of Hampton include NASA and high-tech firms, seafood processing, military and tourism. In 1992, the Virginia Air and Space Center opened on the downtown waterfront with almost 300,000 visitors a year coming through its doors. Hampton's local economy has made recent progress thanks to a skilled and educated workforce, attractive labor laws, low cost of doing business and communities committed to success. The city's beautiful beaches, scenic waterways, numerous parks, historical sites and town centers make Hampton an ideal starting point for people commuting to nearby Washington D.C and other surrounding cities. Hampton's economy continues to benefit from the heavy flow of defense spending and having a diverse job base in such sectors as leisure and hospitality and port activity.
The Hampton History Museum serves to increase the awareness and understanding of the history of Hampton by maintaining an educational and research center for the collection, exhibition, interpretation, preservation and promotion of the vast historic resources of the City. Hampton's premier park is a 456-acre environmental education and wildlife management facility. Born from borrow pits and garbage dumps, the park is truly a success story of reclamation of our natural resources. Visit the Sandy Bottom Nature Park and experience the 10,000-square-foot nature center overlooking Sandy Bottom Lake. The park is home to elusive creatures that inhabit the wetland marshes, and offers sightseeing, hiking and awe-inspiring views. Hampton's downtown waterfront area has been renovated and welcomes locals and visitors alike. Attractions downtown include shops, restaurants, pubs, galleries, an air and space museum, restored antique carousel and a waterfront park.