If you’ve ever lived in the Norfolk area, you’ve probably been asked the question that inevitably comes from newcomers to the region, “Where, exactly, are the ‘Hampton Roads’?” It’s an understandable mistake. Of course, Virginians know that the name originally defined the body of water that the James, Nansemond, and Elizabeth rivers flow into. One of the world’s largest natural harbors (actually, it’s a roadstead), the waterway is located between Old Point Comfort and Sewell’s Point at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
But long ago, the name Hampton Roads also came to define to the large metropolitan area around Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News, and Hampton. The entire region is known for its shipyards, military presence, ice-free harbor, and its miles and miles of sandy beaches and waterfront properties — all of which contribute to a thriving economy and diverse population.
But, according to Bryan Stephens, president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber, there’s a problem with the moniker. He says that very few people who live in the region actually call it Hampton Roads. And, the name has little recognition outside the state, apparently.