Newport News stretches for almost 35 miles along the James River from near Williamsburg to Hampton Roads. Known mostly for its coal shipping and huge shipbuilding industry, the city is largely residential and is a suburb for both Williamsburg and the Norfolk area. Newport News has a number of Civil War battle sites and a splendid municipal park. The fabulous Mariners' Museum may be the best museum in the state. Close by, the Virginia Living Museum has a boardwalk to view animals and is a popular destination for families.
Newport News first appeared in the Virginia Company's records in 1619. Accounts differ on how it got its name. The most accepted version is that it was named when Captain Christopher Newport's ship met up with ships from England that had food supplies for the starving Jamestown colonists; this "good news" gave the area its name. Newport News Shipbuilding is one of the largest privately owned shipyards in the world, and with approximately 18,000 employees, probably the second-largest employer in Virginia. It's the only shipyard in the country capable of building nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.