About Portsmouth

Located along the Elizabeth River, opposite of Norfolk, Portsmouth is one of the coastal south’s oldest urbanized cities. Portsmouth was founded by Colonel William Crawford and established as a town by an act of the Virginia General Assembly in 1752. Named in honor of Portsmouth, England, the city has been a major shipbuilding center since the American Revolutionary War.

In 1858, the City of Portsmouth separated from Norfolk County and was incorportated as an independent city. In 1960, the 34 square mile city achieved its maximum population of 114,773. During the second half of the 20th century, the population declined as the city struggled with suburban growth becoming the dominant development pattern of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area. In 2020, Portsmouth’s population was estimated to be 97,915.

Located adjacent to downtown, Portsmouth’s Olde Towne Historic District is believed to feature one of the largest collections of historically significant homes between Alexandria, Virginia and Charleston, South Carolina.

The Ebenezer Baptist Church on Effingham Street.

High Street

High Street is the historic main commercial corridor for Portsmouth. It was named for the main commercial corridor in Portsmouth, England and is a one hundred foot wide thoroughfare.

The Commodore Theatre at 421 High Street was built in 1945 and was at the time considered the best-equipped theater in Hampton Roads.

The Tower 507 apartments at High and Dinwiddle Streets.

The Portsmouth Welcome Center.

The Children’s Museum of Virginia.

High and Washington Streets - Tall building

The Portsmouth Public Library was completed in 1914.

The Holley Pointe multifamily infill development.