The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) holds a vast library of historic aerial photography (over 13,000 images) covering the Hampton Roads region. The original prints have been scanned in order to preserve this resource for the future. Aerial imagery is available to the public on request. Please read through the following information and submit your requirements via the request form.
Geographic and Temporal Availability
The Southside Hampton Roads localities (Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Isle of Wight, Southampton, Suffolk, Franklin, and Surry) were flown every five years from 1970 to 1990 when the Southeastern Virginia PDC was in existence. After merging with the Peninsula PDC, all Hampton Roads localities were flown in 1995 and 2000 via the HRPDC.
The Peninsula Hampton Roads localities (Newport News, Hampton, York, Poquoson, Williamsburg, James City, and Gloucester) are available every five years from 1976 to 1990. Our copies are duplicates of images flown by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
We also have photos of the City of Chesapeake which were flown by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program. These are available for 1937, 1949, 1958, 1964, and 1981.
The scale of the imagery is summarized in these tables:
Scanned Imagery Format
To request digital copies, please review the detailed inventory of available photos and submit this form below. Turnaround time can be up to two weeks depending on staff availability.
Other Historic Aerial Imagery Resources
Hampton Roads Localities
A few localities have their own historic aerial images available on their interactive mapping applications (pre-2000 are listed):
City of Hampton – 1937, 1953, 1960, 1968, 1973, 1981, 1995, 1999
James City County – 1937, 1953, 1970, 1976, 1980, 1986, 1990, 1996
City of Newport News – 1937, 1959, 1995
City of Norfolk – 1999
Commonwealth of Virginia
In 2002, the Commonwealth began its Virginia Base Mapping Program (VBMP) through the Virginia Geographic Information Network (VGIN). The entire state is flown on an alternating four-year cycle by region. The most current imagery can be accessed through the Virginia GIS Clearinghouse under Base Map Data Services or through ArcGIS Online. Any previous years (beginning in 2002) must be accessed through the Virginia Garden Site at Virginia Tech. These can also be viewed in ArcGIS Online.
The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has a large collection of historic aerials covering the US beginning in the 1930s. Visit the NRCS website find an inventory and learn how to order photos.
The USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has the National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) with images from 2003 – present.
The USGS hosts their High Resolution Orthoimagery (2000 – 2016) online.
The EarthExplorer app provides a gateway to several of the federal imagery collections.
This resource from Penn State lists various resources to find historic aerial imagery.