Boom & Bust: Newport News, Virginia

Boom & Bust: Newport News, Virginia

Resting at the tip of the Virginia Peninsula, Newport News currently stands as Virginia’s 5th most populous city, with a 2013 population around 182,000.

Newport News: Once Vibrant, Now Neglected

During Virginia’s earliest days, the colony was actually divided up into 8 “shires,” a form of local government borrowed from 17th century English legal practices. The land that would become Newport News was part of Warwick, which became Warwick County in 1634.

The change from “shire” to “county” was only one sign that America’s early colonial settlers were breaking away from England, but the land itself changed very little. For the next 200 years, Warwick would be composed almost entirely of wilderness and farm land, with a village of fishers living along the James River.

A Visionary Brings Railroads, Coal & Commerce

That all changed in 1881, when the railroad came to town. Collis P. Huntington, who made his wealth in California during the Gold Rush, was set on expanding his Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) to the sea. Newport News (which had been referred to as Newportes Newes since at least 1621) seemed the perfect place to achieve his goal. A shipyard opened up and huge trains loaded with West Virginia coal began unloading their cargo in Newport News. From there, the precious stuff was shipped out along the East Coast and for sales worldwide.

Thousands of families were drawn to the explosion of industry, and Newport News officially became a city during Reconstruction, the period immediately following the Civil War. Collis Huntington is often credited with building the city of Newport News on his own. Under his guidance, the shipyard became the largest in the world, eventually contributing 7 warships to Teddy Roosevelt’s naval fleet at the turn of the century. One of Huntington’s sons established the Mariners’ Museum. Today, Newport News Shipbuilding is Virginia’s largest industrial employer. The shipyard is currently owned by Northrop Grumman, one of America’s biggest defense contractors.

Newport News Today

Despite its growth during the late 1800s, Newport News did not see further expansion in the 20th century. Suburbs to the north and west sprang up, spurred by federal subsidies for highway construction. This drew wealthier residents out of Newport News proper, leaving little but the shipyard, coal warehouses and low-income housing in the city’s downtown.

Old Train Car Newport News

Public developments like Oyster Point and Port Warwick have gone some way to beautify the city, residents say city officials haven’t kept up with basic infrastructure improvements. While numerous businesses and homes have been added to the area, the school system has become overburdened and the roads haven’t been updated. Traffic is a common complaint (described as “HORRID” and “a complete NIGHTMARE” on BestPlaces.net). Poverty and its result, crime, remain a persistent problem.

Free Prenatal Care On The Peninsula

To learn more about finding free prenatal care in Newport News, contact the Virginia Department of Health‘s office at:

416 J Clyde Morris Blvd.
Newport News, VA 23601
(757) 594-7400

The clinic offers free pregnancy tests on a walk-in basis, and will be able to connect you with the services you need. They also administer the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) program on the Peninsula, allowing families to get the foods they need to stay healthy.

Newport News is also home to Care Net Resource Pregnancy Center, a health clinic that offers free urine pregnancy tests and limited pregnancy-related services, including ultrasounds.

Free Counseling For Pregnant Women In Newport News

For no-cost pregnancy counseling, women can come to Adoptions From The Heart’s Chesapeake office, conveniently located only 40 minutes south of Newport News.

In our comfortable, confidential offices, pregnant women can learn more about their options going forward from our staff of experienced social workers and adoption professionals. There’s no pressure, and no expectation that you’ll end up working with this. We’re not here to push a decision on you. We only want to help you make the best choice for you and your baby, whatever that choice ultimately is.

By |2016-04-07T09:46:54-04:00March 31st, 2016|Adoptions, For Pregnant Women|Comments Off on Boom & Bust: Newport News, Virginia

About the Author:

Heidi Gonzalez works at Adoptions From The Heart. Since 1985 we have successfully placed over 5,081 infants and toddlers across the United States of America. Contact us today if you are looking for information on adoption.