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Portsmouth

Portsmouth. 1 City (1990 pop. 25,925), Rockingham co., SE N.H., a port of entry with a good harbor and a state-owned port terminal at the mouth of the Piscataqua River opposite Kittery, Maine; inc. 1653. A regional trade center, it has a fishing industry and seafood processing. Manufactures include steel, glass, and paper products; machinery; and topsoil. Tourism is important, and the city's population nearly doubles in the summer. Portsmouth is the oldest community in New Hampshire (settled c.1623). It was a point for exporting lumber and fish and served as colonial capital until the American Revolution. Shipbuilding was an early and important industry.

The city gives its name to the great Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (est. 1800), but geographically it is in Kittery, on two islands (now joined together) in the Piscataqua River. It is also a significant submarine base and repair yard. The Treaty of Portsmouth, ending the Russo-Japanese War, was signed (1905) at the base. The former Pease Air Force Base is now an airport.

Many old houses are in "Strawbery Banke," a restored colonial community on the original seaport; they include the Richard Jackson house (1664), the Warner house (1716), and the John Paul Jones house (1758), where the naval hero once lived. The first newspaper in the state, the New Hampshire Gazette, was published there.

2 City (1990 pop. 22,676), seat of Scioto co., S Ohio, in a hilly area on the Ohio River at the mouth of the Scioto, across from South Portsmouth, Ky.; inc. 1814. Once a steel and shoe manufacturing center, current manufactures include chemicals, plastics, and bricks. Completion of the Ohio Canal (1832), linking Portsmouth with Cleveland, and the discovery of iron ore in the area started the city's industrial growth. Of interest are the 1810 house; Mound Park, with ancient Native American burial grounds; floodwall murals of historic scenes; a civic center; and traces of the old Ohio River Canal. Shawnee State Univ. and a state prison are there. Nearby are a uranium enrichment facility, Shawnee State Park, and Wayne National Forest.

3 Town (1990 pop. 16,857), Newport co., SE R.I., on Rhode Island; founded by William Coddington, John Clarke, Anne Hutchinson, and others in 1638, inc. 1644. It is mainly residential with some light industry and also serves as a summer resort. The Native Americans called this area Pocasset. The second white settlement in the state, it was an early fishing, shipping, and shipbuilding center, with some farming. The first general assembly of the new colony met at Portsmouth in 1647. The British general Richard Prescott was captured (1777) at his own headquarters in the town by American raiders, and the battle of Rhode Island was fought there (1778). Coal mining was important in the 19th cent. The Mt. Hope Bridge (1929) and the Sakonnet Bridge (1956) connect the towns to Bristol and Tiverton, respectively.

4 City (1990 pop. 103,907), SE Va., on the Elizabeth River and Hampton Roads, adjacent to and opposite Norfolk, with which it is connected by two bridges and two tunnels; founded 1752 on the site of a Native American village, inc. 1858. The city, one of the ports of Hampton Roads, forms with Norfolk one of the largest operating naval installations in the world. In Portsmouth itself are one of the world's largest shipyards; a huge naval hospital; a naval ammunitions dump; and the headquarters of the Fifth U.S. Coast Guard district. Portsmouth is also a busy commercial seaport and a rail center, with railroad shops and terminals. Industries include food processing, tool and die manufacture, machining, and scrap metal processing. Furniture, chemicals, clothing, electronic equipment, plastic products, and machines are also manufactured.

A private shipyard was built there in 1767; it served as a British base in the American Revolution, after which it became a U.S. base (the U.S.S. Chesapeake was built there). In the Civil War the navy yard was burned and evacuated by the Federals in 1861 and then retaken in 1862. During the brief Confederate occupation, the steamship Merrimack was converted into the world's first ironclad (see Monitor and Merrimack). The nation's first battleship ( Texas ) was built there in 1892 and the first aircraft carrier ( Langley ) in 1922. Of interest in Portsmouth are Trinity Episcopal Church (1762); Monumental Church (1772; Methodist); the Shipyard Museum, with a model of the Merrimack; the U.S. Naval Hospital (1830); and the Old Towne Historic District. A floodwall also serves as a pedestrian promenade along the waterfront.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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