Newport News

Railroad Station: 23rd St. and River Rd. for Chesapeake and Ohio Ry.

Bus Stations: NW. comer 28th St. and Washington Ave. for Greyhound and Peninsula Transit Lines; SE. corner 28th St. and Washington Ave. for Great Eastern Lines.

Taxis: Fare 10 cents and upward, according to distance.

Streetcars and Busses: Local and interurban; fare 50 within city limits, 50 for each zone outside city.

Traffic Regulations: No all-night parking in main part of city, i hr. parking 8-6 on Washington Ave.

Accommodations: 3 hotels; tourist homes.

Information Service: Tidewater Auto Ass'n, Warwick Hotel, 25th St. between Washington and West Aves.

Radio Station: WGH 1310 kc.). Motion Picture Houses: 3, including i for Negroes.

Golf: James River Country Club, 5.3 m. W. of city limits on US 60, 18 holes, open by arrangement, greens fee 82; Old Dominion Goff Club, 16th and Chestnut Sts., 18 holes, greens fee 40O for 18 holes, 250 for 9 holes.

Swimming: James River Country Club, open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, guest fee 40 cents.

Tennis: James River Country Club, 5.3 m. W. of city limits on US 60, no fee for guests; Huntington Park, 1 m. W. of city limits on US 60) 4 courts, no fee; Woodrow Wilson School Grounds, Maple Ave. and Kecoughtan St., 1 court, no fee; Newport News Baseball Park, 28th and Wicham Sts., 1 court, no fee.

Ice Skating: Old Dominion Skating Rink, near Old Dominion Golf Club, 16th and Chestnut Sts., open 8-11 p.m. in winter, adm. 40 cents.

Boating: Boats for hire at piers, S. end of Warwick Ave.

Annual Events: Newport News Regatta, usually in late summer.

NEWPORT NEWS (25 alt., 34,417 pop.), at the mouth of the James River and at the head of Hampton Roads, is the Tidewater terminus of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway and the home of one of the largest shipyards in the world. The area of the city is roughly triangular, with its base stretching across the marshy lowlands of Virginia's most historic peninsula and its sides the James River and Hampton Roads.

Overlooking the waters, new and comfortable homes present a sharp contrast to clustered slums. The better residential district, beginning at the northernmost limits, is contiguous to the shipyard. Southward, parks stretch to meet the great railway terminal, which dips into the city behind more than a mile of river front. At the apex of the triangle is the terminus of the Chesapeake Ferry Company and close by are the municipal pier and a harbor for small boats. On the Hampton Roads shore line is a confusion of industrial plants and warehouses. A residential section at the eastern edge of the city has been named Kecoughtan for its remote ancestor.

Men in uniform frequent the streets of Newport News--sailors and naval officers from Norfolk or from cruisers anchored in the bay; army officers and enlisted men from Langley Field and Fort Monroe. Newport News has a festive air when the shipyard launches a new vessel or when a man-of-war casts anchor in Hampton Roads and sends ashore its pleasureseeking crew.

Negroes make up 39 per cent of the population of Newport News. Most of the men have stable and comparatively well-paid employment in industry, particularly in the shipyard, where many hold skilled jobs, and the Negro business and professional group is increasing.

Newport News, though on the site of a very old settlement, became a city in recent years. It lies within the original Kecoughtan area, which extended from the Chesapeake Bay westward to Skiffe's Creek and northward to Back River. In 1607 the first English settlers entering the James River named the apex of the triangle Point Hope. In 1611 Robert Salford, with his wife and son, came to the creek now in the eastern part of the city. The name of the stream, Salford Creek, was changed through usage to Salter's. Other land within the limits of present Newport News was patented in 1621 by the Newce brothers, Thomas and Sir William, who came from Ireland. Sir William Newce had offered to transport 1000 persons to Virginia, but brought 'only a few weak and unserviceable people, ragged and not above a fortnight's provisions, some bound for three years, and most upon wages.' For his failure William Capps impatiently dubbed him 'Sir William Naughtworth.' But there was some reason for Sir William's failure to bring the thousand persons-he died in 1621.

Daniel Gookin, an Englishman who had moved to Port Newce in County Cork, Ireland, followed the Newces to this area, bringing with him 'fifty men of his owne, and thirty Passengers, exceedingly well furnished with all sorts of Prouision.' It was he who probably named the community -some say for his home in Ireland; others, to honor Newce and Captain Christopher Newport; - and still others, for the good news that Newport brought the starving colonists-the most likely origin since old inhabit- ants still call the city Newport's News. That the name was current in 1626 is attested by the minutes of the general court, which record a trans- fer to Daniel Gookin of land 'situate above Newport's News at a place called Marie's Mount.'

Though tracing its ancestry to Kecoughtan and sharing in Colonial and American vicissitudes, Newport News was merely an area of farm lands and a fishing village until the coming of the railroad and the subsequent establishment of the great shipyard. In 1852 an act of the general assembly 'to legalize a wharf at Newports News,' gave the Warwick County Court 'the same powers in regard to said wharf as are possessed by the county court of James City in regard to the Grove Wharf on the lands of Thomas Wynne.' In 1873 Major Robert H. Temple surveyed a railway line from Richmond to the mouth of the James River. Seven years later Collis P. Huntington, the industrialist, found Major Temple's wooden markers intact and undertook to build the road along that route. The railroad was completed in 1882, and a town was plotted without formal authorization by the general assembly. Four years later the Chesapeake Dry Dock and Construction Company, now the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, was begun and boom years followed. In 1900 the population was 19,635; and in 1920, 35,596.

Humanity's flotsam and jetsam landed upon an area that came to be known significantly as Hell's Half Acre, a district between 18th and 23rd Streets now occupied by a railway yard. When Newport News was incorporated as a city in 1896, Hell's Half Acre lay outside its limits. Shacks were hurriedly built to house its motley population, estimated during the World War at about 2,000 persons almost equally divided between Negroes and whites, whose barrooms, and brothels catered to water-front workers and visiting seamen. It is said that the area then averaged a murder a week. At the end of the war, however, Newport News annexed Hell's Half Acre and the adjacent Negro district known as Poverty Row, and instituted a program of law enforcement. Between 1925 and 1927 all the land of both sections was bought by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, and the disreputable shacks were razed.

Now, in addition to the giant shipyard and the sea terminus of a great',, railway, the city's industries include the manufacture of soft drinks, ice.and ice cream, mattresses and pillows, metal fixtures, automobile parts,' caskets, hotel and hospital supplies, and building accessories.

POINTS OF INTEREST

The COURTHOUSE (open 9-5 Mon.-Fri., 9-1 Sat.), NW. comer Huntington Ave. and 25th St., is a red brick structure, built in 1891-93 and used for only three years as the courthouse of Warwick County. In 1896, the year of its incorporation as a city, Newport News held its courts in this building. The courthouse, later bought by the city, is now used by the corporation court of Newport News and the circuit courts of Warwick and Elizabeth City Counties.

The PUBLIC LIBRARY (open 9-5, 7-9 weekdays), SW. comer West Ave. and 30th Sts., is of modified Federal architecture with pink brick and white pilasters. It was designed by Charles Robinson and built in 1928 under the direction of the Newport News Library, Inc., organized in 1908 through the efforts of local clubwomen. The library contains nearly 24,000 volumes.

The PLANT OF THE NEWPORT NEWS SHIPBUILDING AND DRY DOCK COMPANY (open by arrangement), Washington Ave. between 35th and 49th Sts., stretching nearly a mile along the James and covering 125 acres, has been an important factor in the development of Newport News. The vast plant of red brick shops is dominated by the numerous giant trellises of two steel cradles and three dry docks-one capable of accommodating the largest ships afloat. The clean and orderly appearance of the whole yard displays the high standards of the founder, Collis Potter Huntington, whose statement, 'We shall build good ships here at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always good ships, 'is inscribed in bronze on a giant rock within the entrance. Organized in 1886, it is one of the largest private shipbuilding yards in the world. It occupies a perfect situation with respect to tides, deep water, and proximity to the sea. The first dry dock was completed in 1889. Normally employing about 7,000 men, it enlarged its working force to 14,ooo during the World War. More than 350 vessels have been constructed here for the Merchant Marine and United States Navy. After the World War the equipment was modified to produce locomotives and other heavy machinery, particularly hydraulic turbines. Some of these turbines, among the largest in the world, were built for Boulder Dam, Muscle Shoals, and for Dnepropetrovsk, the huge power development project of the Soviet Republics on the Dnieper River. Safety regulations, medical and surgical services, noncontributory pensions, and workers' insurance have functioned since about 1916, and recreational activities are sponsored by the plant. A system of employee representation has been in operation since 1927. In 1919 an apprentice school was established, providing a four-year course in craft training with wages. Increased naval appropriations of 1938-39 resulted in immediate acceleration of work at the shipyard, where the largest passenger vessel ever built in America is under construction (1939).

The CHESAPEAKE AND OHIO RAILWAY TERMINAL, bounded by 23rd St., the river, Newport News Ave., and Warwick Ave., spreads over more than 300 acres and is the largest single terminus in the world. Ten piers, including four covered merchandise piers, two coal piers, and a passenger pier, extend into the river along a mile and a half of frontage. Two piers have facilities for emptying an entire gondola carload of coal into a ship in one rapid operation. There are extensive warehouses, especially for tobacco, of which the volume moving through Hampton Roads is unrivaled. This section was chosen in 188o by Collis P. Huntington as the deep-water terminal for his railroad. Coal dumpings rose from 575,000 tons in 1882 to 51,488,060 in 1935. More than 62,000,000 tons of other commodities were moved in 1935 as against 1,150,000 tons in 1882.

The SOLOMON LIGHTFOOT MICHAUX TEMPLE, SW. comer Jefferson Ave. and 19th St., a blue-painted brick building, is the headquarters of Elder Michaux, Negro evangelist, who once sold fish on the streets of Newport News. By sharp business acumen, particularly in becoming chief local purveyor of fish to the United States Navy during the World War, he accumulated a fortune, which he expends liberally in charity to black and white unfortunates. He has large congregations in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, besides local followers, who meet most often on the shore at the foot of Jefferson Avenue in an open-air tabernacle seating 5,000.

The SITE OF CEELEY'S, 225 Chesapeake Ave., is occupied by a residence. First the home of Thomas Ceeley, it was later the plantation seat of the Cary family. Thomas Ceeley, the younger, a burgess from Warwick Plantation in 1629 and from Warwick County in 1639, sold the property to William Wilson, from whom it passed with his daughter's hand to Miles Cary and to Miles's son, Wilson Miles Cary. George Washington is supposed to have courted one of Wilson Miles Cary's daughters until he was discouraged by her father. Considering young George too poor a match, Mr. Cary is reported to have told him rather haughtily that she had a coach of her own to drive.

The VIRGINIA STATE SCHOOL FOR COLORED DEAF AND BLIND CHILDREN, NW. end of Pear (Sampson) Ave., occupies a group of seven brick buildings on spacious grounds, including on its 140 acres a farm, workshops, and an infirmary. It was founded in 1906 through the efforts of William C. Ritter, himself deaf, who was superintendent until 1937. Opened in 1908 with 2 5 children, the school had an enrollment of 100 in 1937 with 9 instructors. The ratio of blind to deaf is about 40-60. Training is provided in farming, arts, crafts and trades, and in the 'three R's.' There is also a creditable school orchestra.

The NEWPORT NEWS HOMESTEADS, around the intersection of Aberdeen and Newmarket Rds., is a model community built by the Farm Security Administration to provide low-cost housing for Negro industrial workers. Seventy-nine double houses are scattered over a 436-acre tract of rich trucking land well drained and planted with trees. The 158 semi-detached units, on half-acre lots providing garden space, are constructed of red brick, and are connected by double garages. They range in size from three to five rooms and are uniform in design except for minor variations. They rent from $11.50 to $18 per month, and, after their first year of occupancy, are offered to renters for sale upon payments spread over 40, years. A large brick community house, including an auditorium and school rooms, provides a center for recreation and education. A guidance and supervisory program includes instruction in vegetable gardening and in living under modem conditions. Except for architectural design, the project has been carried out entirely by Negroes.

POINTS OF INTEREST IN ENVIRONS

Mariner's Museum, 5.3 m.; James River Country Club and Golf Museum, 7.1 m.; Old Point Comfort and Fort Monroe, 9.8 m.; Buckroe Beach, 10.5 m. (see Tour 8a).

Newport News City HomePage
Aberdeen Gardens: Building a Community "For blacks, by blacks"
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