Portsmouth is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 95,535. It is part of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area.
The Norfolk Naval Shipyard and Naval Medical Center Portsmouth are historic and active U.S. Navy facilities located in Portsmouth.
Portsmouth is located on the western side of the Elizabeth River directly across from the City of Norfolk. In 1620, the future site of Portsmouth was recognized as suitable shipbuilding location by John Wood, a shipbuilder, who petitioned King James I of England for a land grant. The surrounding area was soon settled as a plantation community.
Portsmouth was founded by Colonel William Crawford, a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. It was established as a town in 1752 by an act of the Virginia General Assembly and was named for Portsmouth, England.
In 1767, Andrew Sprowle, a shipbuilder, founded the Gosport Shipyard adjacent to Portsmouth. The Gosport Shipyard at Portsmouth was owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia after the American Revolutionary War and was sold to the new United States federal government.
In 1855, the Portsmouth and Norfolk area suffered an epidemic of yellow fever which killed 1 of every three citizens. It became an independent city from Norfolk County in 1858.
During the American Civil War, in 1861, Virginia joined the Confederate States of America.