In 1752, the General Assembly of Virginia passed an act approving Col. William Crawford's survey for a town, which he would name Portsmouth after his hometown in England. Crawford envisioned a port that would be known for its commerce and naval capabilities. Today Portsmouth is home to the nation's oldest naval shipyard and naval hospital. The roots of the U.S. Coast Guard were established here when the nation's first lightship was placed offshore at Craney Island in 1820. "Olde Towne" and other residential sections of the city remain mostly intact, with picturesque dwellings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Strolling around the downtown district, one can still admire the many churches, theaters, and commercial structures that have been a part of Portsmouth's history and culture.
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