Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Fall 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Department of History

Advisor(s)

Steven Reich

Evan Friss

Phillip Herrington

Abstract

The Hampton Roads area of Virginia changed dramatically during the 20th century as it transformed from rural farmland to suburban sprawl. Two cities in the region, Newport News and Warwick, employed a policy known as consolidation. While many cities throughout the United States utilized consolidation in the post-war era, the merging of Newport News and Warwick illustrates how consolidations manipulated and altered the landscape of the city. The modern city of Newport News is split between a large, prosperous, suburban area mainly populated by whites, and a small urban, declining, urban area mainly populated by blacks. The Newport News/Warwick consolidation illuminates the policies of white flight and suburbanization.

The first chapter explores the history of Newport News and Warwick and the move towards consolidation. While Warwick had been a rural county for centuries, Newport News became an established city in 1896. During the post-war era, problems arose between the two polities. Newport News began to suffer from overcrowding, while Warwick was politically and economically weak. At first, Warwick opposed merging with Newport News, even establishing itself as a city. Eventually, the civic leaders of the two cities realized that they needed each other. The second chapter delves into the consolidation effort between Newport News and Warwick. While the majority of people from both cities approved the merger, the rural white population of Warwick and the urban black population of Newport News opposed consolidation as a threat to their political power. Ultimately, the pro-consolidation forces won, and the two cities merged. The third chapter analyzes the immediate effects from the consolidation. While the white population left the former Newport News area, the black population were forced to stay within the confines of the old city. The black population moved into public housing, and the former Newport News area suffered from a lack of city benefits. By contrast the former Warwick area grew in both population and power, until the old county became the dominant section of the city. The forth chapter explains modern day Newport News, a city that is still divided into two separate areas.

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