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Hampton Roads

Hampton Roads is a channel through which the waters of the James River, Nansemond River, and Elizabeth River of Virginia pass (between Old Point Comfort to the north and Sewell’s Point to the south) into Chesapeake Bay. It is an important highway of commerce, especially for the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Newport News, and is a chief rendezvous of the United States Navy. For a width of 500 feet the Federal government during 1902 through 1905 increased its minimum depth at low water from 25.5 feet to 30 feet. The entrance from Chesapeake Bay was defended by Fortress Monroe, built in 1819 on Old Point Comfort, and by Fort Wool, built as Fort Calhoun in 1829, on a small island called the Rip Raps near the middle of the channel; and at Portsmouth, a few miles up the Elizabeth River, is an important naval yard.

The famous battle between USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (ex-Merrimack) took place in the Roads.

(from an old encyclopedia)

Hampton Roads is also the common name for the metropolitan area in southeastern Virginia that surrounds that body of water. Locals subdivide the area into two regions. Most of the region's population lives in South Hampton Roads or, more often, the Southside, made up of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Suffolk. The northern portion of the area is typically called the Peninsula, after the Virginia Peninsula. The main cities on the Peninsula are Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, and Poquoson.