Seven Cities of Hampton Roads

Seven Cities of Hampton Roads

The Seven Cities of Hampton Roads are seven independent cities located in the Hampton Roads region of southeastern Virginia in the United States. Each is located along a portion of the circumferential route of the 56-mile long Hampton Roads Beltway of the Interstate Highway System, which crosses the massive harbor of Hampton Roads at two locations on bridge-tunnel structures.

Listing the Seven Cities

Alphabetically listed, the Seven Cities of Hampton Roads are:
* Chesapeake Pop. 220,560
* Hampton Pop. 145,579
* Newport News Pop. 178,281
* Norfolk Pop. 234,403
* Portsmouth Pop. 101,377
* Suffolk Pop. 81,071
* Virginia Beach Pop. 435,619

Total population about 1.5 million.

Counties in Hampton Roads

In addition to the seven major cities, the Hampton Roads region also consists of at least four counties:

* Isle of Wight County, established 1634, population 32,000 approx. (borders Surry County and cities of Suffolk, Franklin, and Newport News)
* James City County, established 1634, population approx. 60,867 (borders York and Surry counties, and cities of Williamsburg and Newport News).
* York County, established 1634, population approx. 58,000 (borders cities of Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson, and Williamsburg and James City County)
* Surry County, population approx. 7,100 (borders Prince George County, Sussex County, Isle of Wight County and James City County.)

Some of the more outlying areas from the harbor may or may not be included as part of "Hampton Roads", depending upon the organization or purpose. Additionally, the following Virginia counties are included in some definitions of the region:

* Gloucester County
* Mathews County
* Southampton County

Gloucester and Mathews Counties are included within the federal definition of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area (as is Currituck County, North Carolina). Southampton County is outside the federally defined metropolitan area.

Other cities in the Hampton Roads region

The Hampton Roads region also includes two other much smaller cities, but these are not located along the beltway. Alphabetically listed, they are:

* Poquoson is an independent city (borders the City of Hampton and York County)
* Williamsburg is an independent city (borders James City and York counties)

Additionally, the independent city of Franklin and the town of Smithfield are included in some definitions of the region. Smithfield lies within Isle of Wight County, placing it within the federally defined metropolitan area; Franklin is outside the federally defined metropolitan area.

Other notable locations

* Yorktown is a historically notable unincorporated town within York County.
* Jamestown is a historically notable place within James City County.
* several incorporated towns are located within some of the counties.


As the current communities in the Hampton Roads region were formed and grew from the Colonial period to statehood and modern times, the political structure of many areas in Virginia changed. Huge corporations known as citties [sic] became shires, and these became counties. Within counties, towns and cities sprung up. However, in 1871, Virginia came up with a new entity: the independent city. Not only were independent cities not located within counties (as incorporated towns in Virginia still are), but they were immune from annexation by adjacent localities, an action much-feared by those in many communities.

In the mid 20th century, a wave of consolidations of local governments led to almost the entire southeastern portion of Virginia progressively becoming a web of adjoining independent cities. Many incorporated (formally constituted) localities, including counties, cities, and towns, some over 250 years old, became legally extinct between 1952 and 1975. Of the 10 current independent cities of the Hampton Roads region, fully 8 of them adjoin others. Only the cities of Franklin and Williamsburg are surrounded by traditional counties.

However, this transition left the region with some oddities, such as the entire Virginia portion of the Great Dismal Swamp being located "entirely within cities" (Chesapeake and Suffolk). It is hard to imagine a less populated portion of a traditional city, save perhaps Central Park in New York City. Virginia Beach and Poquoson also have large unpopulated (by people) natural wildlife areas within their city limits.

"For a partial listing of defunct political subdivisions in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia with approximate formation and dissolution dates, see the Wikipedia article Lost counties, cities and towns of Virginia."

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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