Historic Moment

Portsmouth, Virginia, celebrated its 250th birthday in 2002.


Portsmouth was founded as a town in 1752, on 65 acres of land on the shores of the Elizabeth River. The town was founded by William Crawford, a wealthy merchant and ship owner who at various times had held office as the Norfolk County presiding court judge, high sheriff, militia lieutenant colonel and representative to the House of Burgesses. Because of his militia service, he is frequently referred to as "Colonel Crawford." The 65 acres were part of Colonel Crawford's extensive plantation and were constituted as a town by an enabling act of the General Assembly of Virginia. The town was named after the English naval port of that name, and many of the streets of the new town reflected the English heritage.
Medallion or marker commemorating Portsmouth at 250 years old in 2002
The town already had a rich history by the time it was separated from the county government and given status as an independent city in 1858. Its location as an East Coast deepwater port has been the common denominator of the City's development throughout its centuries of growth.