Richmond, Virginia

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: North American Geography

Richmond, Virginia
Skyline of Richmond, Virginia
Official flag of Richmond, Virginia
Official seal of Richmond, Virginia

Nickname: "River City, Cap City, R-V-A"
Motto: Sic Itur Ad Astra

(Thus do we reach the stars)

Location in the Commonwealth of Virginia
Location in the Commonwealth of Virginia
Coordinates: 37°31′58.8″N, 77°28′1.2″W
Country United States
State Virginia
County Independent City
Mayor L. Douglas Wilder ( D)
 - City 62.5 mi² - 162.0 km²
 - Land 60.1 mi² - 155.6 km²
 - Water 2.5 mi² - 6.4 km²
Elevation 45.7 m
 - City (2005) 193,777
 - Density 1,271.3/km²
 - Metro 1,154,317
Time zone EST ( UTC-5)
 - Summer ( DST) EDT ( UTC-4)

Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, a state of the United States of America. Like all Virginia municipalities incorporated as cities, it is an independent city, not part of any county ( Richmond County is unrelated, and located more than 53 miles (85 kilometers) distant in a different region of the state). Richmond is located on the fall line of the James River in the Piedmont region of Virginia and is at the centre of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and the Greater Richmond Area.

Common colloquialisms for the city are: RVA, The 804 (its area code), and RIC (its airport code).


In 1607, James I granted a royal charter to the Virginia Company of London to settle colonists in North America. After the first permanent English settlement was established later that year at Jamestown, Captain Christopher Newport and Captain John Smith set sail ten days after landing at Jamestown, traveling northwest up Powhatan's River (now known as the James River) to Powhatan Hill. The first expedition consisted of 120 men from Jamestown, and made the first attempt to settle at the Falls of the James, located between the 14th Street Bridge in modern downtown Richmond and the Pony Pasture (a recreational area along the banks of the river south of the City of Richmond). The settlement was made at this location as it is the highest navigable site along the James River.

In 1673, William Byrd I was granted lands on the James River that included the area around Falls that would become Richmond and already included small settlements. Byrd became a well-connected fur trader in the area and established a fort on the site. William Byrd II inherited his father's land in 1704 and in 1737 he founded the town of Richmond at the Falls of the James and commissioned Major William Mayo to lay out the original town grid. Byrd named the city Richmond after the town of Richmond or Richmond-upon-Thames in England, a suburb of London. He gave the new town the name because the view of the James River in Richmond, Virginia is strikingly similar to the view of the Thames River from Richmond, England, where he had spent time during his youth. The new town became the seat of Henrico County in 1752 which had been located in nearby Varina (now a Richmond suburb) where John Rolfe and Pocahontas had established their farm the previous century and developed the new world's first commercially successful export product, tobacco.


Patrick Henry delivering his "Liberty or Death" speech at St. John's Church in Richmond, helping ignite the American Revolution.
Patrick Henry delivering his "Liberty or Death" speech at St. John's Church in Richmond, helping ignite the American Revolution.

In 1775, Patrick Henry delivered his famous “ Give me Liberty or Give me Death” speech in St. John's Church in Richmond that was crucial for deciding Virginia's (then the largest of the 13 colonies) participation in the First Continental Congress and setting the course for revolution and independence. Both Thomas Jefferson, who would soon write the Declaration of Independence and George Washington, who would soon command the Continental Army were in attendance at this critical moment on the path to the American Revolution.

The Virginia Capitol Building, designed by Thomas Jefferson. Renovations to the building and grounds are currently underway.
The Virginia Capitol Building, designed by Thomas Jefferson. Renovations to the building and grounds are currently underway.

In 1780, Virginia’s state capital was moved from the colonial capital of Williamsburg to Richmond because it was less vulnerable to attack by the British. In 1781, under the command of Benedict Arnold, Richmond was burned by British troops causing Governor Thomas Jefferson to flee the city. Yet Richmond shortly recovered and, by 1782, Richmond was once again a thriving city.


In 1786, one of the most important and influential passages of legislation in American history was passed at the temporary state capital in Richmond, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Written by Thomas Jefferson and sponsored by James Madison, the statute was the basis for the separation of church and state, and led to freedom of religion for all Americans as protected in the religion clause in the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. Its importance is recognized annually by the President of The United States, with January 16th established as National Religious Freedom Day.

The Virginia State Capitol building was designed by Thomas Jefferson and completed in 1788. It is the second-oldest US statehouse in continuous use (Maryland's is the oldest) and was the first US government building built in the classical Roman style of architecture, setting the trend for other state houses and the federal government buildings (including the White House and The Capitol) in Washington, DC.

Richmond soon emerged an important industrial centre and crossroads of transportation and commerce. George Washington proposed and received the support of the Virginia legislature for the establishment of the James River and Kanawha Canal, the first canal system to be established in the U.S. The canal allowed goods and services coming up the James River to be navigated around the falls at Richmond and connect Richmond and the eastern part of Virginia with the west. As a result Richmond became home of some of the largest manufacturing facilities in the country, including iron works and flour mills, the largest facilities of their kind in the south. Canal traffic peaked in the 1860s and slowly gave way to railroads, allowing Richmond to become a major railroad crossroads, eventually including the site of the world's first triple railroad crossing. The Canal officially ceased operations in the 1880s and portions of the canal have been preserved and rebuilt in the late 1990s, spurring tourism and economic development along the old canal route in downtown Richmond.

Civil War

Shells of the buildings of Richmond, silhouetted against a dark sky after the destruction by Confederates fleeing advancing Union forces, 1865.
Shells of the buildings of Richmond, silhouetted against a dark sky after the destruction by Confederates fleeing advancing Union forces, 1865.

The aversion to the slave trade was growing by the mid-nineteenth century, and in 1848, Henry “Box” Brown made history by having himself nailed into a small box and shipped from Richmond to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, escaping slavery.

At the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, the strategic location of the Tredegar Iron Works was one of the primary factors in the decision to make Richmond the Capital of the Confederacy. From this arsenal came the 723 tons of armor plating that covered the CSS Virginia, the world’s first ironclad used in war, as well as much of the Confederates' heavy ordnance machinery. In February 1861, Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as President of the Confederate States of America in Montgomery, Alabama, the first Confederate capital. In the early morning of April 12, 1861, the Confederate army fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Civil War had begun. On April 17, 1861, Virginia seceded from the United States and joined the Confederate States, and soon thereafter the Confederate government moved its capital to Richmond. The Seven Days Battle, in which Union General McClellan threatened Richmond and came very near it but ultimately failed to take the city, followed in late June and early July of 1862. Three years later on April 3, 1865 Ulysses S. Grant and the Union Army captured Richmond, and six days later, Robert E. Lee's retreating Army of Northern Virginia surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House symbolically ending the war. On April 2, 1865, about 25% of the city's buildings were destroyed in a fire set by retreating Confederate soldiers.

Monument Avenue was laid out in 1887, with a series of monuments at various intersections honoring the city's Confederate heroes. Included (east to west) were J.E.B. Stuart, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and Matthew F. Maury. Richmond is the final resting place of both Stuart and Davis (see Hollywood Cemetery).

Richmond had the first successful electrically-powered trolley system in the United States. Designed by electric power pioneer Frank J. Sprague, the trolley system opened its first line in January, 1888. Richmond's hills, long a transportation obstacle, were considered an ideal proving ground. The new technology soon replaced horse-powered streetcars.

Twentieth Century

By the beginning of the Twentieth Century, the city's population had reached 85,050 in 5 square miles, making it the most densely populated city in the Southern US.

In 1903, African-American businesswoman and financier Maggie L. Walker chartered St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, and served as its first president, as well as the first female bank president in the United States. Today, the bank is called the Consolidated Bank and Trust Company, and it is the oldest surviving African-American bank in the U.S. The Governor's School in Richmond City is also dedicated to her name.

In 1910, the former city of Manchester was consolidated with the city of Richmond. In 1914, the city annexed the Barton Heights, Ginter Park, and Highland Park areas of Henrico County. In 1914, Richmond became the headquarters of the Fifth District of the Federal Reserve Bank. In 1919, at the end of World War I, Philip Morris was established in the city. The Fan district also began to develop during the 1920s.

Also during the 1920s, several entertainment venues developed that remain today. The city's first radio station, WRVA, first began broadcasting in 1925. The Mosque (now called the Landmark Theatre) also opened in 1925. The Byrd Theater and Loew's Theatre (now the Carpenter Centre) opened in 1928.

Modern city development

Between 1963 and 1965, there was a huge, "downtown boom," that led to the construction of more than 700 buildings in the city. In 1968, Virginia Commonwealth University was created by the merger of the Medical College of Virginia with the Richmond Professional Institute.

In 1984, the city completed the Diamond ballpark, a new home for the Richmond Braves, a AAA baseball team in the Atlanta Braves minor league system, replacing the old Parker Field. In 1985, Sixth Street Marketplace, a downtown shopping district, opened. Sixth Street Marketplace was closed and demolished in 2004-2005.

A multi-million dollar floodwall was completed in 1995, in order to protect the city and the Shockoe Bottom businesses from the rising waters of the James River. This very same flood wall is thought to have contributed to the severe flooding of the Shockoe Bottom area of downtown Richmond in August of 2004.

In 1996, a statue of Richmond native and tennis star Arthur Ashe was added amid controversy to the famed series of statues of Confederate heroes of the Civil War on Monument Avenue.

Recent renovations included the rebuilt James River and Kanawha Canal and Haxall Canal, now designed as a Canal Walk. The riverfront project has brought this 1.25-mile corridor back to life, with trendy loft apartments, restaurants, shops and hotels winding along the Canal Walk, along with canal boat cruises and walking tours. The National Park Service's Richmond Civil War Visitor Centre, in the Tredegar Iron Works, brought three floors of exhibits and artifacts, films, a bookstore, picnic areas and more. The Cordish Company also began construction of Riverside on the James, a power plant development project with shopping and entertainment venues.

Geography and climate


Richmond-Petersburg area
Richmond-Petersburg area

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 62.5 mi² (162.0 km²). 60.1 mi² (155.6 km²) of it is land and 2.5 mi² (6.4 km²) of it (3.96%) is water. The city is located in the Piedmont region of Virginia, at the highest navigable point of the James River. The Piedmont region is categorized by relatively low, rolling hills, and lies between the low, sea level tidewater region and the Blue Ridge mountains. Significant bodies of water in the region include the Chickahominy River, the James River, and the Appomattox River.

The Richmond-Petersburg Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), the 46th largest in the United States, includes the independent cities of Richmond, Colonial Heights, Hopewell, and Petersburg, as well as the counties of Amelia, Caroline, Charles City, Chesterfield, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, King and Queen, King William, Louisa, New Kent, Powhatan, Prince George, and Sussex. As of July 2004, the total population of the Richmond—Petersburg MSA was 1,154,317.


The city is made up of a number of neighborhoods, including the Fan district, Oregon Hill, Shockoe Bottom, the West End, Northside, and Church Hill – site of Patrick Henry's famous speech.

Most of the roads in the downtown area are arranged in a regular grid arrangement, with alternating one way streets. Several major roads lead outward from the city, and are actually former Indian trails, leading to other towns and sites in Virginia. For example, Three Chopt Road, was so named as it was an Indian trail marked by three chops on trees near the trail. The major highways leading into the city of Richmond are I-64, I-95 and U.S. Highway 360. I-295, combined with State Route 288 form an "outer loop", or bypass, around the metropolitan area. I-195 is a "spur" that, along with the Downtown Expressway and the Powhite Parkway, create thruways in the downtown, south-side, and near west-end regions that also serve as bypasses that connect I-95 and I-64 with US Highway 360 in the far southwest areas. Also Richmond is the eastern terminus of U.S. highways 250 and 33.

Ever since the first electric trolley was installed in 1888, Richmond urban sprawl has been steadily expanding westward and southward. Development along Monument Avenue and Broad Street has led to the most affluent people moving farther and farther west, towards a part of the metro area known to some as " The Far West End" & to others as simply " West End".


Richmond has a mild subtropical climate with four distinct seasons. Spring arrives in April with mild days and cool nights, and by late May, the temperature has warmed up considerably to herald warm summer days. Summer temperatures can be unpleasantly hot, often topping 90 degrees with high humidity. Richmond is notorious for its humidity, which creates high heat index values. Days stay warm to mild until October, when hurricanes are less likely and Fall is marked by nights once again becoming cooler. Winter is usually mild in Richmond, but some winters differ from others. Snowfall can occur during the winter, and the most likely month is January. The average annual snowfall is 12 inches. Heavy snowstorms of over 10 inches are not common, and the last occurrence of such a storm was in 2000.


Richmond skyline
Richmond skyline

As of the census GR2 of 2000, there were 197,790 people, 84,549 households, and 43,627 families residing in the city. A more recent census estimate indicates that the city's population has fallen to 193,777. The population density was 1,271.3/km² (3,292.6/mi²). There were 92,282 housing units at an average density of 593.1/km² (1,536.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 38.30% White, 57.19% African American, 0.24% Native American, 1.25% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 1.49% from other races, and 1.46% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.57% of the population.

There were 84,549 households out of which 23.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.1% were married couples living together, 20.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 48.4% were non-families. 37.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.8% under the age of 18, 13.1% from 18 to 24, 31.7% from 25 to 44, 20.1% from 45 to 64, and 13.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 87.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,121, and the median income for a family was $38,348. Males had a median income of $30,874 versus $25,880 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,337. About 17.1% of families and 21.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.9% of those under age 18 and 15.8% of those age 65 or over.

Much of Richmond’s political and social history was influenced by its high society origins. In the 1920s, Ellen Glasgow and James Branch Cabell wrote novels that included thinly veiled mocking of elite institutions like the FFV, the Commonwealth Club, and the Richmond German débutante dance. Even today, Richmonders speak of “Come-heres” ( carpetbaggers) versus “from-heres.”


Historic development as a commercial centre

Richmond's strategic location on the James River, built on undulating hills at the rocky fall line separating the piedmont and tidewater regions of Virginia provided a natural site for the development of commerce. For centuries, the native peoples of the powerful Powhatan tribe recognized the value of this site, rich in natural beauty. They knew it as a place to hunt, fish, play, and trade, and they called it "Shocquohocan,", or Shockoe.

The first European explorers came in 1607, from the Virginia Company of London. They discovered a fragrant weed grown by the natives, and tobacco became a lucrative commodity in the area. The trading post developed into a village, and by 1733 a town was laid out by William Byrd II and William Mayo. Its early buildings were clustered around the Farmers' Market, existing today at 17th Street.

Early trade grew rapidly, primarily in the agriculture sector, but also in the slave trade. Slaves were imported to Richmond's Manchester docks from Africa, and were bought and sold at the same market.

To facilitate the transfer of cargo from the flat-bottomed bateaux above the fall line to the ocean-faring ships below, George Washington helped design the James River and Kanawha Canal in the 1700s to bypass Richmond's rapids. The canal was later superseded by rail in the 1800s, and the railroads were laid on the original canal towpaths. In the 1900s highways were constructed in the air over the same area.

Throughout these three centuries and three modes of transportation, downtown has always been a hub, with the Great Turning Basin for boats, the world's only triple crossing of rail lines, and the intersection of two major interstates. (See also Transportation in Richmond, Virginia)

Industries that defined Richmond

Richmond emerged from the smoldering rubble of the Civil War as an economic powerhouse, with iron front buildings and massive brick factories. Innovations of this era included the world's first cigarette-rolling machine, invented by James Albert Bonsack of Roanoke in 1880/81, and the world's first successful electric street car system.

Freed slaves and their descendants created a thriving African-American business community, led by such influential people as Maggie L. Walker and John Mitchell, Jr. The city's historic Jackson Ward became known as the "Wall Street of Black America."

Law and finance have long been driving forces in the economy. Because the city is home to both a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and a Federal Reserve Bank, as well as offices for international firms such as Hunton & Williams LLP, McGuireWoods LLP, Troutman Sanders LLP, CapitalOne, and numerous other banks and brokerages, Richmond was cited as having minimal evidence of being a Global city.

Since the 1960s Richmond has been a prominent hub for advertising agencies and advertising related businesses, including The Martin Agency. As a result of local advertising agency support, VCU's graduate advertising school (VCU AdCenter) is consistently ranked the #1 advertising graduate program in the country.

Business rankings

In 2005, Forbes ranked the Richmond area as the #14 Best Place for Business and Careers, primarily due to its highly educated labor force and relatively low business costs. Other areas of the economy that have developed recently in the city include pharmaceuticals, insurance, advertising, biotechnology, education, tourism health services, or semi-conductors. In 2006, Forbes also named Richmond as the sixth best city in which to find employment among the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the nation.

Fortune 500 Companies and other large corporations

The Richmond Metro area is the home of eight Fortune 500 companies (soon to be nine with the announced relocation of Connecticut-based MeadWestvaco to Richmond), including electric utility Dominion Resources; consumer electronics retailer Circuit City, which also spun off the used car retailer CarMax, now a separate Fortune 500 company; Performance Food Group; LandAmerica Financial Group; Owens & Minor; Brink's Company, a security services outfit; Genworth Financial, the former insurance arm of GE and the recently relocated MeadWestvaco, a leading global producer of packaging, coated and specialty papers, consumer and office products and specialty chemicals. Only five metro areas in the US have more Fortune 500 headquarters than the Richmond area.

Other Fortune 500 companies, while not headquartered in the area, do have a major presence here. These include Wachovia Securities headquarters (a subsidiary of Charlotte, North Carolina based Wachovia Corporation), SunTrust Banks Incorporated (based in Atlanta, Georgia), credit card agency Capital One Financial Corporation (officially based in McLean, Virginia, but founded in Richmond with its opporations centre and most employees in the Richmond area), the medical and pharmaceutical giant, McKesson Corporation (based in San Francisco, California). Philip Morris USA (a division of Altria Group), one of the world's largest food, beverage, and tobacco companies, maintains their corporate headquarters in Henrico County just outside the city, and has several other facilities in the area. Universal Corporation, also in the tobacco industry, has its corporate headquarters here as well. Capital One and Phillip Morris USA are two of the largest private Richmond-area employers.

DuPont also maintains a production facility known as the Spruance Plant, and Qimonda, formerly Infineon Technologies has a facility located at Elko Tract (a former WWII airfield and ghost town) near Richmond International Airport, and produces DRAM computer memory in the area.

Richmond is also home to the rapidly developing Virginia BioTechnology Research Park, which opened in 1995 as an incubator facility for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Located adjacent to the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) Campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, the park currently has more than 575,000 square feet (53,000 m²) of research, laboratory and office space for a diverse tenant mix of companies, research institutes, government laboratories and non-profit organizations. The United Network for Organ Sharing, which maintains the nation's organ transplant waiting list, occupies one building in the park. Philip Morris USA also recently announced their plans to build a $350 million research and development facility in the park as well. Once fully developed in the next five to 10 years, park officials expect the site to employ roughly 3,000 scientists, technicians and engineers. Philip Morris will add roughly 600 employees once it opens in 2007.

Richmond is also the home of the Ukrop's Super Market, a regional, family-owned chain of supermarkets, known for its remarkable customer service and friendly employees, as well as its closed-on-Sundays and no-alcohol-on-the-shelves policies. Ukrops is a high-profile sponsor of community events like the Monument Avenue 10K, Easter on Parade, and the Ukrop's Christmas Parade. The Ukrop family has been criticized by some for various conservative political actions, such as banning the group GWAR from playing concerts in Richmond and having Howard Stern's syndicated radio show taken off local airwaves.

Recent economic developments

In recent years, Richmond has been attempting to revive its downtown. Recent downtown initiatives include the Canal Walk, a new Greater Richmond Convention Centre and expansion on both VCU campuses. Other proposed ititiatives that have not materialized include a new baseball stadium for the AAA Class Richmond Braves and the Virginia Centre for the Performing Arts. The Centre has not received funding from the city and state as of yet and a giant hole lies on the proposed streetcorner

In February, 2006, MeadWestvaco announced that they would move from Stamford, Connecticut to Richmond in 2008.


Annual cultural events and fairs

The city is home to several annual cultural events. As the capital of the commonwealth of Virginia, the state fair is held at the end of September at the state fairgrounds, located just outside of the city near the Richmond International Raceway. In November, the Suntrust Richmond Marathon and 8K Race is held downtown, and the James River Writers Festival also takes place. During the month of December, the Grand Illumination takes place, in which the buildings of the downtown area light up for the Christmas holiday season. This usually occurs on the same weekend as the Richmond Christmas Parade, which travels along Broad Street.

In April, the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10K race is held, as well as the "Easter on Parade" street festival. The James River Film Festival also takes place during this month, and the VCU French Film Festival is also becoming very popular, and features foreign films.

Other notable events during the year include the 2nd Street Festival and the Carytown Watermelon Festival. The monthly Artwalk takes place on the first Friday of every month between September and June, in the downtown gallery district.

Richmond hosts the National Folk Festival in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

Museums, galleries, and historical attractions

The Jefferson Davis Monument, located at the intersection of Monument Avenue and Davis Avenue in Richmond.
The Jefferson Davis Monument, located at the intersection of Monument Avenue and Davis Avenue in Richmond.

Richmond has a significant art community, and the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts is consistently ranked as one of the best in the nation. In addition to many art venues associated with the university, there are also several attractions nearby, including the Valentine Richmond History Centre, Virginia Historical Society, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Richmond Symphony, and the Richmond Ballet. The Byrd Theatre in Carytown is a classical movie theatre from the 1920s era that still features second-run movies on a regular basis, and is popular among the college student population, particularly due to its low ticket price of $2.00.

The Science Museum of Virginia, is also located on Broad Street near the Fan district. It is housed in the neoclassical Union Station, designed by Beaux-Arts-trained John Russell Pope in 1919. Adjacent to the Science Museum is the Richmond Children's Museum, a fun-filled museum with many hands-on activities.

As the former Capital of the Confederate States of America, Richmond is home to many museums and battlefields of the American Civil War. The Museum of the Confederacy, located near the Virginia State Capitol and the MCV Campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, once served as the White House of the Confederacy, and today features a wide variety of objects and material from the era. Near the riverfront is the Tredegar Iron Works and Civil War Battlefields National Park Visitors Centre. There is also a Slave Trail along the river as well.

Other historical points of interest include St. John's Church, the site of Patrick Henry's famous, " Give me liberty or give me death" speech, and the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, which features many of his writings and other things from his life, particularly when he lived in the city. The John Marshall House, the home of the former Chief Justice of the United States, is also located downtown and features many of his writings and objects from his life. Hollywood Cemetery is also the burial grounds of two U.S. Presidents as well as many other civil war officers and soldiers.

The city is also home to many monuments, most notably several along Monument Avenue in the fan district. Other monuments of interest in the city include the A.P. Hill monument, the Bill "Bojangles" Robinson monument, the Christopher Columbus monument, and the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument. The Virginia War Memorial is also located on Belvedere near the riverfront, and is a monument to Virginians who died in battle in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Iraq War. Located near Byrd Park is the famous World War I Memorial Carillon, a 56 bell carillon tower.

Parks and outdoor recreation

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

The city operates one of the oldest municipal park systems in the country. The park system began when the city council voted in 1851 to acquire 7.5 acres (3 hectare), now known as Monroe Park. Today, Monroe Park sits adjacent to the Virginia Commonwealth University campus and is one of more than 40 parks comprising a total of more than 1,500 acres (610 hectare).

Several parks are located along the James River, and the James River Parks System offers bike trails, hiking and nature trails, and many scenic overlooks along the river's route through the city. The mountain bike trail system in James River and Forest Hill parks is considered by professional riders to be one of the best urban trail systems in the country. The trails are used as part of the Xterra East Championship course for both the running and mountain biking portions of the off-road triathlon.

There are also parks on two major islands in the river: Belle Isle and Brown's Island. Belle Isle, at various former times a Powhatan fishing village, colonial-era horse race track, and Civil War prison camp, is the larger of the two, and contains many bike trails as well as a small cliff that is used for rock climbing instruction. One can walk the island and still see many of the remains of the Civil War prison camp, such as an arms storage room and a gun emplacement that was used to quell prisoner riots. Brown's Island is a smaller island and a popular venue of a large number of free outdoor concerts and festivals in the spring and summer, such as the weekly Friday Cheers concert series or the James River Beer and Seafood Festival.

Two other major parks in the city are Byrd Park and Maymont, located near the fan district of Richmond. Byrd Park features a one mile running track, with exercise stops, a public dog park, and a number of small lakes for small boats, as well as two monuments and an amphitheatre. Prominently featured in the park is the World War I Memorial Carillon, built in 1926 as a memorial to those that died in the war. Maymont, located adjacent to Byrd Park, is a 100 acre (40 hectares) Victorian estate with a museum, formal gardens, native wildlife exhibits, nature centre, carriage collection, and children's farm. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is also located in the city.

Other parks in the city include Joseph Bryan Park (with the Joseph Bryan Park Azalea Garden), Forest Hill Park (former site of the Forest Hill Amusement Park), Chimborazo Park (site of the National Battlefield Headquarters), among others.

Several theme parks are also located near the city, including Paramount's King's Dominion to the north, and Busch Gardens to the east, near Williamsburg. UK-based Diggerland will soon begin construction on a construction-themed park planned to open in 2007.


Richmond does not have any major, professional sports teams. However, there are several minor league teams. The city is the home of the Richmond Braves, a AAA minor league baseball team (the farm team of the Atlanta Braves). The Braves play at The Diamond. The Richmond Lions, a USA Rugby Division 2 rugby union team, play at Dorey Park. The Richmond Kickers, a United Soccer Leagues Second Division soccer team, play at the University of Richmond Stadium. The Richmond Bandits are an AIFl team. On April 25, 2006, after Richmond lost its RiverDogs, the former UHL franchise, to relocation, the Richmond Renegades returned to the city of Richmond in the Southern Professional Hockey League. The Renegades are owned by the original Renegades owner from the ECHL franchise, Allan Harvie. The Renegades began play at the Richmond Coliseum in the fall of 2006.

The Richmond Coliseum is the home of a large number of concerts, festivals, and trade shows. The Colonial Athletic Association of college basketball has also hosted its annual tournament at the coliseum since 1990, and the 1994 NCAA women's basketball Final Four was held here.

Auto racing is also very popular in the area, and the Richmond International Raceway also hosts two annual NASCAR Nextel Cup races, the Suntrust Indy Challenge, as well as the Virginia State Fair and other community and sporting events. Southside Speedway also sits just southwest of Richmond in Chesterfield County, and is a .33 mile oval short-track that features weekly stock car racing on Friday nights. Southside Speedway has acted as the breeding grounds for many past NASCAR legends including Richard Petty, Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip, and claims to be the home track of current NASCAR superstar, Denny Hamlin. Richmond was considered as one of the possible resting places for the future NASCAR Hall of Fame, but was ultimately awarded to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Richmond has played host to the Xterra (off-road triathlon) East Championship since 2000. Mountain bikers and Triathletes alike revel in the incredible trail system of the James River Park. Each June the best off-road Triathletes in the world converge on Richmond for the Xterra East Regional Championship bringing with them the Xterra Triathlon festival, including, family events, athletic competitions, and a twilight concert.


Richmond has several historic churches. Because of its early English colonial history from the early 1600s to 1776, Richmond has a number of prominent Anglican/Episcopal churches including Monumental Church, St. Paul's Episcopal Church and St. John's Episcopal Church. Methodists and Baptists made up another section of early churches, and First Baptist Church of Richmond was the first of these, established in 1780. In the Reformed church tradition, the first Presbyterian Church in the City of Richmond was First Presbyterian Church, organized on June 18, 1812. On February 5, 1845, Second Presbyterian Church of Richmond was founded, which was an historic church where Stonewall Jackson attended and was the first Gothic building and the first gas-lit church to be built in Richmond. Due to the influx of German immigrants in the 1840s, Saint Johns German Evangelical church was formed in 1843.

The first Jewish congregation in Richmond was Kahal Kadosh Beth Shalome. Beth Shalome was the sixth in the United States and was the westernmost Jewish congregation in the United States at the time of its foundation. By 1822 K.K. Beth Shalome members worshipped in the first synagogue building in Virginia. They eventually merged with Congregation Beth Ababah, an offshoot of Beth Shalome. Today there is a diverse Jewish community with the largest temple, Beth El, located in Henrico County.

There are several seminaries in Richmond. Three of these have banded together to become the Richmond Theological Consortium. This consortium consists of a theology school at Virginia Union University, a Presbyterian seminary called Union PSCE , and a Baptist seminary known as Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond.

Two bishops sit in Richmond, those of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia (the denomination's largest) and the Catholic Diocese of Richmond. The Presbytery of the James -- Presbyterian Church (USA) -- also is based in the Richmond area.

There are five masjids in the Greater Richmond area, accommodating the growing muslim population. They are Islamic Centre of Virginia (ICVA) in the south side, Islamic Society of Greater Richmond (ISGR) in the west end, Masjidullah in the north side, Masjid Bilal near downtown, and Masjid Ar-Rahman in the east end.

The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was penned in Richmond by Thomas Jefferson.



Richmond city government consists of a city council with representatives from nine districts serving in a legislative and oversight capacity, as well as a popularly elected, at-large mayor serving as head of the executive branch. Citizens in each of the nine districts elect one council representative each to serve a two-year term. The city council elects from among itself one member to serve as Vice-Mayor (Council President) and one to serve as Assistant Vice-Mayor (Council Vice President).

Richmond's government in 2004 changed from a council-manager form of government to an at-large, popularly elected Mayor. During the election, mayor Rudy McCollum was defeated by L. Douglas Wilder, who previously served Virginia as the first and only black governor. In 2004, Virginia Commonwealth University named its School of Government and Public Affairs in honour of L. Douglas Wilder.

As of the November, 2004 election, the Richmond City Council consists of: Manoli Loupassi (President of Council, 1st District), Jacqueline M. "Jackie" Jackson (City Council Vice President, 8th District), William J. Pantele (2nd District), Chris A. Hilbert (3rd District), Kathy A. Graziano (4th District), E. Martin "Marty" Jewell (5th District), Ellen F. Robertson (6th District), Delores McQuinn (7th District), and Eugene A. Mason, Jr. (9th District).

The Mayor is not a part of the Richmond City Council.

See also: List of mayors of Richmond, Virginia


The city of Richmond operates 31 elementary schools, nine middle schools, and eight high schools, with a cosmopolitan student population of 25,000 students. Here is a listing of Richmond City Public Schools.

The city is also home to many college preparatory schools. Several of these, such as St. Christopher's School, St. Catherine's School, Collegiate School and The Steward School offer a full K-12 education. Other area prep schools include the Benedictine High School, Maggie L. Walker Governor's School, Trinity Episcopal School, and St. Gertrude High School.

There are also several schools of higher education, including the University of Richmond (private), Virginia Commonwealth University (public), Virginia Union University (private) and the Union Theological Seminary & Presbyterian School of Christian Education (private). Several community colleges are found in the metro area, including J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and John Tyler Community College.

Virginia State University is located about 20 miles south of Richmond, in the suburb of Ettrick, just outside Petersburg. Randolph-Macon College is located about 15 miles north of Richmond, in the incorporated town of Ashland.


Richmond's downtown Main Street Station in 1971.
Richmond's downtown Main Street Station in 1971.

Richmond is served by the Richmond International Airport ( IATA: RIC ICAO: KRIC), located in nearby Sandston, seven miles southeast of Richmond and within an hour drive of historic Williamsburg, Virginia, RIC airport is served by seven airlines with non-stop flights to 21 destinations and connecting flights to destinations worldwide. In 2004, the airport served approximately 2.5 million passengers.

Intercity bus service is provided by Greyhound Lines. Local transit and paratransit bus service in Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield counties is provided by the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC). The GRTC, however, serves only small parts of the suburban counties. The far West End (Innsbrook and Short Pump) and almost all of Chesterfield County have no public transportation despite dense housing, retail, and office development. Recent statistics in the Richmond Times-Dispatch have shown that the vast majority of GRTC riders ride the bus because they do not own a car and have no other choice; automobile owners in Richmond find that due to the layout of the city and its roads, driving is always a far faster method of reaching one's destination than is walking or the sparse bus service.

Richmond also has two railroad stations served by Amtrak. Each station receives regular service from north of Richmond from Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and New York. The suburban Staples Mill Road Station is located on a major north-south freight line and receives all service to and from all points south including, Raleigh, Durham, Savannah, Newport News, Williamsburg and Florida. The historic and recently renovated Main Street Station near downtown Richmond only receives trains bound for Newport News and Williamsburg at this time, due to its track layout. As a result, the Staples Mill Road station receives more service overall.

Richmond also benefits from an excellent position in reference to the state's transportation network, lying at the junction of east-west Interstate 64 and north-south Interstate 95, two of the most heavily traveled highways in the state, as well as along several major rail lines.


Electricity in the Richmond Metro area is provided by Dominion Virginia Power. The company, based in Richmond, is one of the nation's largest producers of energy, serving retail energy customers in nine states. Electricity is provided in the Richmond area primarily by the North Anna Nuclear Generating Station and Surry Nuclear Generating Station, as well as a coal-fired station in Chester, Virginia. These three plants provide a total of 4,453 megawatts of power. Several other natural gas plants provide extra power during times of peak demand. These include a facility in Chester, in Surry, and two plants in Richmond (Gravel Neck and Darbytown).

Water is provided by the city's Department of Public Utilities, and is one of the largest water producers in Virginia, with a modern plant that can treat up to 132 million gallons of water a day from the James River.

Wastewater: The treatment plant and distribution system of water mains, pumping stations and storage facilities provide water to approximately 62,000 customers in the city. The facility also provides water to the surrounding area through wholesale contracts with Henrico, Chesterfield, and Hanover counties. Overall, this results in a facility that provides water for approximately 500,000 people. There is also a wastewater treatment plant located on the south bank of the James River. This plant can treat up to 70 million gallons of water per day of sanitary sewage and stormwater before returning it to the river. The wastewater utility also operates and maintains 1,500 miles of sanitary sewer, pumping stations, 38 miles of intercepting sewer lines, and the Shockoe Retention Basin, a 44-million-gallon stormwater reservoir used during heavy rains.

Telephone service for the Richmond area is provided by three local exchange carriers: Verizon is the incumbent telephone company, and Cavalier Telephone & TV and Comcast are the competitive local exchange carriers.

Sister cities

Richmond has six sister cities, as designated by the Sister Cities International, Inc.:

In Fiction

Richmond is featured in various forms of film, television and writing. Numerous episodes of The X-Files took place, in part, in and at largely-fictionalized locations in Richmond. The television show Doug took place in a town called Bluffington, in which many places were based upon creator Jim Jinkins's childhood growing up in Richmond. The ABC drama Line of Fire was set specifically in Richmond, with several shooting locations taking place in the city. Parts of the movies Hannibal and The Contender were filmed in Richmond as well.

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