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Williamsburg, Virginia: History Main Street in Colonial Williamsburg. The city is a popular tourist destination and a major center of tourism in the United States. Main Street in Colonial Williamsburg. The city is a popular tourist destination and a major center of tourism in the United States. The area's early residents were Native Americans, evidenced by artifacts discovered in the vicinity from various prehistoric tribes; two sites just outside town feature large shell middens dating to 5000 BC or earlier (one site on each side of York River). These peoples subsisted largely on fish and shellfish; they built oyster-shell mounds for processing their food waste that still stand today near Lake Maury at Middle Plantation (the site was occupied until about 1730). In 1607, English colonists sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh established their first permanent settlement here at what was called "Citie of Ralegh.