The city is also famous as the birthplace of legendary jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, author William Styron, and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. Newport News Shipbuilding and the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility are located here.
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According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 308.3 km² (119.1 mi²). 176.9 km² (68.3 mi²) of it is land and 131.5 km² (50.8 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 42.64% water.
As of the census of 2000, there are 180,150 people, 69,686 households, and 46,341 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,018.5/km² (2,637.9/mi²). There are 74,117 housing units at an average density of 419.0/km² (1,085.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 53.50% White, 39.07% African American, 0.42% Native American, 2.33% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 1.79% from other races, and 2.77% from two or more races. 4.22% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 69,686 households out of which 35.7% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% are married couples living together, 17.9% have a female householder with no husband present, and 33.5% are non-families. 27.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.1% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.50 and the average family size is 3.04.
The age distribution is: 27.5% under the age of 18, 11.5% from 18 to 24, 32.2% from 25 to 44, 18.8% from 45 to 64, and 10.1% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 32 years. For every 100 females there are 93.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 90.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $36,597, and the median income for a family is $42,520. Males have a median income of $31,275 versus $22,310 for females. The per capita income for the city is $17,843. 13.8% of the population and 11.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 20.6% are under the age of 18 and 9.8% are 65 or older.
Newport News is served by two airports. The primary airport for the Hampton Roads area is Norfolk International Airport, on the opposite side of Hampton Roads in Norfolk. The region's secondary airport, Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, is located within the city of Newport News.