Richmond boasts more than 100 attractions of interest to visitors. Among them are homes and other buildings from all eras of the city's history, as well as battlegrounds and cemeteries. A great place to start is with the Canal Walk along the James River in downtown Richmond, where visitors can meander for 1.25 miles by foot or ride a tour boat past 22 historical markers, statues and points of interest. One of those points of interest is the Civil War Visitor Center along the Canal Walk. Housed in the former Tredegar Iron Works, the Civil War Visitor Center contains three floors of exhibits and interpretive displays recollecting Richmond's role in the Civil War, and provides an introduction to the National Battlefield Park in Richmond.
A convenient next stop along the Canal Walk is Brown's Island, a historic city park often used for outdoor concerts, picnics, biking, and Frisbee. Belle Isle is accessible via the footbridge under the Lee Bridge near the Tredegar Iron Works building. The site served as a camp for Union prisoners of war but is now a popular recreation spot for Richmond residents. More canal history is reflected by the Kanawha Canal Locks, where Reynolds Metals Company has preserved two locks that were built in 1854. The magnificent stone locks were part of the nation's first canal system, as originally planned by George Washington to carry river traffic around the falls.
The Floodwall along the James River, built to minimize damage from storm-induced rising waters, has become a work of art in its own right with the Floodwall Picture Gallery of murals. A walking tour can transition from the Floodwall into the Shockoe Bottom District, where a variety of historic structures remain and have been restored post-flood. The focal point in Capital Square's 12-acre park-like setting is the Virginia State Capitol, which has served as the seat of state government since 1788. Thomas Jefferson designed the central portion of the classic building, the first of its kind in America. Inside, French sculptor Houdon's life-size statute of George Washington stands in the Rotunda.
Visitors can find many examples of residential life in early Richmond, including Scotchtown, which was the Hanover County home that Patrick Henry occupied during the years of his Revolutionary War activities. The restored house and grounds are a national historic landmark. City-owned and recently restored as a museum, John Marshall's sturdy but unpretentious brick house (1790) honors the third Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court who lived in Richmond. Built in 1813 and frequently remodeled (most recently in 1999 at a cost of $7.2 million), the Governor's Mansion is the oldest executive mansion in the United States in continuous use for its original purpose. It has been furnished with fine antiques by a Virginia citizens group. Dabbs House is a pre-Civil War dwelling that was used by General Robert E. Lee as headquarters during the "Seven Days Battle" in 1862. It is now Henrico eastern division police headquarters. This White House of the Confederacy served as the residence of Jefferson Davis during the Civil War. The Maggie Walker House, now a museum, was the home of the African American woman who became the nation's first woman of any race to found a bank and become its president.
The late-Victorian estate Maymont, located in the heart of Richmond, has more than 100 acres featuring a Victorian home and decorative arts, formal Japanese and Italian gardens, a unique arboretum, a nature center with an outdoor wildlife habitat (native Virginia species), a demonstration farm, and a working carriage collection. Maymont opened the doors of its new Robins Nature and Visitors Center in late 1999; the center features a 20-foot waterfall and exhibits describing the history and power of the James River.
Agecroft Hall, a medieval manor house moved to Richmond from England during the 1920s, is perched above the James River much as it originally overlooked the Irwell River. The house was built in England about the time Columbus was planning his voyage in 1492 to the New World. It is now a museum house open to the public and features an Elizabethan Knot garden. Also shipped to Richmond from England during the 1920s were portions of the sixteenth-century English house, Warwick Priory. Situated in Windsor Farms, a fashionable residential area, it was originally a private home but is now a museum known as Virginia House.
Sightseers can visit several other kinds of historic buildings in Richmond. At Hanover Courthouse, a young Patrick Henry successfully argued his first major case. St. John's Church in Richmond's Church Hill district, built in 1741, is famous as the site of Henry's impassioned "Give me liberty or give me death" speech. Finally, the Egyptian Building, erected in 1845 and still in use, is the Medical College of Virginia's first building. Its Egyptian Revival architecture is regarded as the finest of its kind in the country. The Egyptian motif extends to the fence, which has posts shaped like mummy cases.
History buffs may also find places of interest elsewhere in and around the Richmond area. Flowerdew Hundred is the site of an excavated, seventeenth-century English settlement in Prince George County, location of the first windmill in English North America. A visitors center in the former plantation schoolhouse features films and archaeological exhibits. Chickahominy Bluff, Cold Harbor, Malvern Hill, Fort Harrison, and Drewry's Bluff have special interpretive facilities. Hollywood Cemetery (named for its holly trees) is the burial place of U.S. presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, Confederate president Jefferson Davis, General J.E.B. Stuart and 1,800 Confederate soldiers, along with members of prominent Richmond families. Illustrious Chief Justice John Marshall and the infamous Elizabeth Van Lew, a Yankee spy during the Civil War, are both buried at Shockoe Cemetery.
Atop the 22-story City Hall is a sky deck from which visitors can obtain a sweeping view of Richmond and its environs. A map is available to help identify the visible landmarks in a panorama that covers four centuries of the city's history.
Plantation homes dating from the seventeenth century fan out on all sides of Richmond. Of special interest are the elegant James River Plantations to the east. Other Richmond area plantations include Belle Air (c. 1670); Berkeley (ancestral home of two U.S. presidents and the site of the first Thanksgiving in 1619); Evelynton (ancestral home of the Ruffin family); Sherwood Forest (home of President John Tyler); Shirley (home of the Carter family since 1723); Tuckahoe Plantation (the most complete plantation layout in North America, dating from the eighteenth century); Westover (c. 1730; home of William Byrd II, founder of Richmond); and Wilton (built in 1750 by William Randolph II and moved to Richmond in 1933).
Self-guided automobile tours, bus tours, walking tours, individual tours, and riverboat paddlewheel cruises (as far down-river as Shirley Plantation) are also available. Philip Morris offers regular tours of its $200 million cigarette manufacturing center, which also houses a tobacco museum, shop, and visitors' gallery. Antique shopping is also a favorite pastime.
Visitors and residents alike find relaxation and meaning along the statue-studded length of Monument Avenue. Robert E. Lee, "Stonewall" Jackson, J.E.B. Stuart, Jefferson Davis, Bill "Mr. Bojangles" Robinson, Arthur Ashe, and Matthew Moury each command major focal points. One of the grand boulevards of the world, Monument Avenue provides a good site for an easy-paced stroll, and it is closed off once a year for one of the city's largest street festivals.
Arts and Culture
A driving and energetic force in the Richmond arts and culture scene is the Arts Council of Richmond, Inc., which sponsors festivals and art exhibits throughout the year. The Arts Council has established partnerships with all Richmond Public Schools in an effort to extend the performing and visual art experience to students of all ages.
The Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts is housed in the renovated Loew's Theatre in downtown Richmond. The Carpenter Center is the home of the Richmond Symphony and offers local ballet and opera, as well as Broadway shows and other productions of national acclaim.
The Richmond Symphony and the Richmond Philharmonic remain dynamic musical entities in the area. The Richmond Symphony's Masterworks Series focuses on the classics and brings the world's great soloists to the city, while programs such as Kicked Back Classics and Family Concerts broaden the appeal of the traditional symphonic repertoire. The Richmond Philharmonic, a member-run orchestra, has entertained Richmond for more than 30 years and performs four or five concerts per season.
Richmond is also home to a number of community orchestras and choruses, school and university musical organizations, and a growing number of other musical groups. The Virginia Opera Association performs an expanded number of productions each season at the Landmark Theater, the Edythe C. and Stanley L. Harrison Opera House, and George Mason University's Center for the Arts. The opera company operates a nationally-recognized In-School Touring Program to bring opera to the students, then brings the students to the opera with special Student Nights and Student Matinees. The Richmond Pops/Great Big Band plays a winter series as well as a summer series. The Richmond Concert Band's annual Fourth of July performance in Dogwood Dell of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture is a Richmond tradition. Other musical groups include the Greater Richmond Chapter of the Sweet Adelines, the Virginia Chorale, the Richmond Chamber Players, the Richmond Renaissance Singers, and many others. Outdoor performances are frequently presented at parks and public sites around the city.
Theater of all sorts is plentiful. Besides Carpenter Center, Richmond's Landmark Theater plays host to musical groups of national prominence in an opulent structure equipped with a magnificent Wurlitzer theater organ.
Theater IV is one of Richmond's most active theater companies. The company is based in the renovated Empire Theatre, the oldest theater still in use in Virginia. It offers a Broadway Series, an Off-Broadway Series, and a Family Playhouse, the nation's second largest children's theater. The Barksdale Theatre houses the oldest not-for-profit theater in the area and features professionally-staged productions throughout the year. For a more off-beat or contemporary theater experience, the Firehouse Theatre Project offers productions of off-Broadway and original works never before seen in the Richmond area. The Richmond Triangle Players push the envelope even more, in theater that explores alternative themes.
Theatre VCU, Virginia Commonwealth University's student theater group, performs dramas, comedies, and musicals in the university's Shafer Street Playhouse and in the Raymond Hodges Theatre in VCU's Performing Arts Center. The University Players at the University of Richmond perform four productions a year in the Camp Theater of the Modlin Fine Arts Center. Virginia Union University Players perform in the university's Wall Auditorium. The Randolph-Macon Drama Guild presents four plays a season in the college's old Chapel Theater. Other theater groups include Chamberlayne Actors Theatre, Fieldens Cabaret Theater, and the Henrico Theatre Company.
Richmond also has three ballet companies: the Richmond Ballet, the Concert Ballet of Virginia, and the Latin Ballet of Virginia. The Richmond Ballet's interpretation of The Nut-cracker is an annual Christmas classic that has been playing to sold-out audiences for years. The Richmond Ballet is a professional ballet company, maintaining dancers on full-time seasonal contracts. Accompanied by the Richmond Symphony, it provides the best dance training in the state and attracts dancers from across the United States and abroad, with an impressive repertoire and touring schedule throughout the state and nation. The Concert Ballet of Virginia holds four repertoire programs per season featuring Virginia composers, choreographers, musicians, and dancers. The Latin Ballet of Richmond is a relatively recent addition, having formed as a non-profit in 1997. The company aims to fuse Latin dance styles with ballet in evoking the passionate cultures and histories of Spain and Latin America. The company educates and attracts diverse participants and audiences through its outreach activities and performances.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has long had a national reputation for creative and innovative arts programming, dating back to its founding in 1936 as the nation's first state-supported art museum. The museum achieved an international reputation with the 1985 opening of the West Wing, which houses collections of nineteenth- and twentieth-century decorative arts, contemporary paintings and sculptures, and various eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century British, French, and American works of art. Further expansion is planned that will create more parking, improve the fire suppression system, and refine the sculpture garden. The museum houses more than 30 permanent galleries, as well as collections that are broad and varied: French Impressionists, Indian sculpture, medieval tapestries, French Romantics, American art of all periods, and the largest collection outside Russia of the Russian Imperial jewels crafted by Peter Carl Fabergé.
Another museum that has focused international attention on Richmond is the Science Museum of Virginia. The museum's $7 million Universe Planetarium/Space Theater is equipped with Digistar 1, the world's first computer graphics planetarium projection system. Information on the 6,772 stars visible from earth and the 55 known major objects in the solar system is programmed in the computer's memory. The 280-seat domed theater has the largest projection surface of any planetarium in the world, and the world's largest projector, the Omnimax, is used to present 70-millimeter film productions on the wraparound screen. The Science Museum also owns the Aviation Museum on the east side of Richmond and has plans to expand that facility with a new wing. Development at the Science Museum includes new exhibits on local industry and technology, as well as in-depth looks at ecosystems. The museum operates a Science-by-Van program that takes sciences out to the public schools.
Besides the Science Museum and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, there are many other Richmond-area museums, all distinctive in character. Among them is the Chesterfield County Museum, which houses murals and displays depicting the county's history through the Revolutionary and Civil wars and into modern times. Among its artifacts, the Museum of the Confederacy displays the sword and uniform worn by Lee when he surrendered at Appomattox. The uniform coat worn by J.E.B. Stuart when he was felled is displayed at the Virginia Historical Society Museum, visible bullet hole and all. The Fire and Police Museum, dating to the early 1800s, uses window bars, a possible gallows, and fire poles to tell the story of its history as a jail and a police station. Memorabilia of Edgar Allan Poe is displayed in the Poe Museum; the eighteenth-century stone structure is believed to be the oldest in the city. The Virginia E. Randolph Museum, a Henrico County cottage, is dedicated in memory of Virginia E. Randolph, an African American woman who was a pioneer educator and humanitarian. The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia was founded in 1981 to preserve the oral, visual, and written records that commemorate the lives and accomplishments of African Americans in Virginia and to serve as a cultural and educational center for exhibitions, performances, and displays.
The Valentine Richmond History Center is devoted to the life and history of Richmond. The Children's Museum, established in 1981, introduces young people to the arts and humanities through participation in exhibits, workshops, and special programs; a move is planned for the Children's Museum that will triple its size.
Galleries include the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University's Anderson Gallery, and the 1708 Gallery. The University of Richmond features exhibitions in Marsh Gallery in the Modlin Fine Arts Center. Nonprofit galleries include the Weinstein Jewish Community Center, the Last Stop (home of the Richmond Chapter of the National Conference of Artists, an African American arts and education group), the Richmond Public Library, the Westover Hills Branch Library, and many bank spaces and commercial galleries.
Festivals and Holidays
Richmond hosts several major celebrations throughout the year. Perhaps the biggest of all is The Big Gig, a 16-day-long music festival in early July that offers classical Jazz, New Age, African, folk, and popular music performances staged at locations all over town. Music is also the focus at Jumpin', a series of weekly concerts held in July at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Sculpture Garden, as well as the Midweek Mojo and Friday Cheers concert series.
Richmond's other special celebrations include the Strawberry Hill Horse Races in April; the Virginia State Fair, a 12-day event held in late September and early October; February's Maymont Flower and Garden Show; the Winston Cup Race weekend in March; Historic Garden week in April; Arts in the Park, the Greek Festival, and the Camptown Races, all in May; the Virginia State Horse show in August; the 2nd Street Festival, celebrating African American history in September; November's Richmond Marathon; and the Grand Illumination and Christmas Parade in December.
Sports for the Spectator
Richmond's ball park, The Diamond, is home to the Richmond Braves, a Triple A affiliate of the National League Atlanta Braves. A new $330 million ballpark proposal is under consideration by the government and citizenry of Richmond. The Richmond Rhythm of the International Basketball League had their inaugural season in 1999 at the recently-renovated Richmond Coliseum, an air-conditioned dome that also hosts stage shows, concerts, college basketball, professional basketball and hockey games, ice shows, the circus, and professional wrestling matches. Professional hockey is the forte of the Richmond Renegades, who play in the East Coast Hockey League and take on opponents at the Freezer. The Richmond Speed play arena football, and the Richmond Kickers are the local soccer team to watch. Richmond also hosts the Round-Robin World's Largest Softball Tournament each Memorial Day weekend, with teams from across the U.S., Canada and Iceland participating. Virginia Commonwealth University supports both men's and women's NCAA Division I basketball teams. In football action, the Gold Bowl Classic is one of 21 college games scheduled in the Richmond area during the year.
The Richmond International Raceway is the only three-quarter-mile track of its kind on the NASCAR circuit. The raceway is host to two Grand National Series races and two Winston Cup Series races.
Sports for the Participant
The Richmond Marathon was mentioned as America's friendliest marathon in the January 2005 issue of Runner's World magazine, with comfortable temperatures, a scenic route and an enthusiastic crowd along the entire 26.2 mile route.
When Richmond residents want to get out, the James River is the destination of choice. Kayaking and rafting instruction and trips are available, and fishing is also a popular pastime. Attractions along the James also include James River Park, one of the few wilderness parks in the United States that has an urban setting. The 450-acre James River Park is just a tiny segment of what may be the largest amount of park space in any urban area of the country with a total of 24,118 acres of local, state, and national park land in and around the Richmond metropolitan area. The Pony Pasture loop trail is recommended as an easy, one-hour hike that passes through wetlands and meadows. Pocahontas State Park and Forest, south of the river in Chesterfield County, and several lakes surrounding the Richmond area offer myriad outdoor activities as well.
Golfers can haul their clubs to any of a vast array of local and area courses, including the 18-hole Belmont Golf Course and the 27 holes of family golfing at the Hollows Golf Club just west of Richmond. Private and public tennis facilities are also available, most notably the Arthur Ashe Center.
Shopping and Dining
Richmond's downtown area offers shoppers a wide variety of stores from which to choose. Shockoe Slip, a cobblestoned riverfront area that used to serve as a cotton and tobacco trading district, is now a focus for nightlife, restaurants, shops, offices, and apartments. The Carytown section of Richmond features several blocks of unique and colorful shops and restaurants. The "On the Avenues" shopping area at the juncture of Libbie and Grove Avenues is a collection of 45 specialty shops intermingled with Victorian residences and sidewalk cafes, creating a boutique shopping experience. The 300-year-old 17th Street Farmers' Market supplies regional and organic foods to locals and tourists, along with an open-air community experience of conversation and music with neighbors. A variety of more mainstream malls are sprinkled throughout Richmond, including The Shops at Willow Lawn, Regency Square Mall, River Road Shopping Center, and Chesterfield Towne Center. Just outside the city are outlet malls that attract numerous bargain-hunters, and Richmond is within easy distance of the renowned Williamsburg Pottery Factory.
Richmond has cultivated an increasingly international flavor as a city, and its varied menu of restaurants is evidence. Barbecue and soul food eateries have a strong presence, with Italian and seafood spots running a close second. Other restaurant specialties include Argentinean, steaks, British, cheese and wine, Chinese, continental, French, German, Greek, Indian, international, Irish-American, Japanese, Vietnamese, Mexican-American, organic, Polynesian, regional specialties, southern cooking, and tea rooms.
Visitor Information: Richmond Visitors Center, 405 N. 3rd St., Richmond, VA 23219; telephone (804)783-7450; toll free (800)866-3705
Major Industries and Commercial Activity
The Richmond area has a strong and diverse manufacturing base that has helped the community remain resilient during economic recessions and even the Great Depression. Other factors that have contributed to this economic stability include the concentration of federal and state agencies, the headquarters of major corporations and bank-holding companies, numerous health facilities, and the concentration of educational institutions in the area. Services and government together account for more than half of all jobs in Richmond.
Information technology and major semiconductor manufacturing firms have been attracted to Richmond throughout the past 7 to 10 years. The increase in semiconductor firms in the area has made the city a central point of the East Coast's Silicon Dominion. Cutting edge technology makes Richmond a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. The Virginia Bio-technology Research Park, located in the heart of the East Coast's pharmaceutical and biotechnology corridor, supports research and development in drug development, medical diagnostics, biomedical engineering, forensics and environmental analysis. Located on 20 acres next to Virginia Commonwealth University's (VCU) Medical College of Virginia, the facility is home to about 45 biotechnology, bioscience and other related companies and research institutions.
Richmond, as headquarters of the Fifth Federal Reserve District, is a financial nerve center for an industrially strong and diverse region that consists of Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and the District of Columbia. Banking has always been a significant employment factor in the Richmond area, and liberalization of banking laws has increased the centralization of headquarters activity in the Richmond area by many of the state's large and regionally oriented banks.
Insurance is also a strong, steady growth industry in the Richmond area. Richmond is headquarters for GE Financial Assurance (a unit of GE Capital Services), Anthem, Inc., Markel Corp., and LandAmerica Financial Group, as well as diversified financial service companies.
Philip Morris, which began in tobacco production, has been a part of Richmond's business community since 1929. Rich-mond's $200 million Philip Morris Manufacturing Center today is the largest and most modern facility of its kind in the world. Located on a 200-acre site, the 1.6-million-square-foot facility represents the largest single capital investment in Philip Morris history. Richmond has become a major East Coast distribution center and customer service center with the arrival of firms like Capital One, Hewlett Packard, Owens & Minor, Mazda, and Time-Life.
Other major companies with substantial capital investment in plants and operations in the Richmond area are DuPont, Allied Corporation, Kraft Foods, McKesson Corp., Alcoa and Smurfit-Stone Containers. Five Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the region, including CSX, Dominion Resources, Circuit City Stores, Performance Food Group, and Pittston Company.
Items and goods produced: tobacco products, toiletries, processed foods, aluminum, chemicals, textiles, paper, printing, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals
Incentive programs—New and Existing Companies
In addition to the state's enterprise zone incentives, Richmond contributes local tax and financing incentives in designated Enterprise Zones. At the Richmond International Airport, Foreign Trade Zone #207 allows for imported goods to be held in the zone and exempted from U.S. Customs duties until they've crossed the zone barrier into use in the United States. The Greater Richmond Partnership, Inc., provides relocation services for personnel of new companies, and financing for small businesses is available through the James River Certified Development Corporation, the Crater Development Corporation and the Micro Enterprise Program with the City of Richmond. The City of Richmond also offers infrastructure improvement incentives.
Virginia is a right-to-work state. The State General Assembly has kept Virginia's taxes on industry very competitive by maintaining relatively moderate corporate income tax rates for nearly 30 years and by eliminating many tax irritants, resulting in very modest tax bills for business and industry. While this alone constitutes an attractive incentive for new and existing businesses, the State of Virginia further offers Governor's Opportunity Funds, which allows the Governor to secure business locations or expansion projects with matching funds from the local community; Virginia Investment Partnership Grant Funds, supporting large employers with businesses established for a minimum of five years in Virginia; property tax exemptions; sales and use tax exemptions; enterprise zones; technology zones; and foreign trade zones.
Job training programs
The Virginia Workforce Development Services program, located in Richmond, is a cooperative effort of the Virginia Community College System with local businesses to cultivate a deep, skilled pool of workers who can benefit local industries and achieve their own career goals. Two community colleges, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and John Tyler Community College, have joined forces to create the Community College Workforce Alliance. The CCWA supports economic development and provides workforce development in both the private and public sectors. Employers can potentially receive a tax credit for sending their employees through professional development with CCWA. The Virginia Employment Commission offers job resources and assistance to workers and serves employers through applicant screening, labor market information reports, and unemployment insurance administration. The Capital Area Training Consortium, with an office in Richmond, is an official Employment and Training Agency providing career assessment, counseling, training, re-training and job search assistance. Community members with disabilities can access job training and support services via the Department of Rehabilitative Services, while older job seekers may find assistance through the Capital Area Agency on Aging.
After Tropical Depression Gaston flooded the Shockoe Bottom District along the James River in 2004, local business owners and the City of Richmond were able to access Federal Emergency Management Agency support to bolster ongoing efforts to rebuild, renovate, and ultimately revitalize that historic area. Several loft and apartment residence projects have been recently completed or are underway, and the 40,000 square foot former site of Lady Byrd Hat Company is being developed into a multi-tenant site that will potentially incorporate entertainment, restaurant, and retail areas. In 2005 the Tredegar National Civil War Center will complete phase one of a museum that will eventually provide a holistic look at the Civil War from Union, Confederate and African American perspectives. Riverside on the James, a mixed-use development project along the Canal Walk, is expected to reach completion in 2005 and will add more than 275,000 square feet of retail, office and apartment space to the area. Dominion Virginia Power will add 1,200 jobs to the River District as it expands its headquarters.
In 2005, the Richmond Braves Triple-A baseball team pitched a concept for a $330 million ballpark to be built in the Shockoe Bottom District. The project was still in public hearing stages in the early part of the year, but the community reportedly supports the addition of an event-driven venue in an area that is increasingly busy and alive.
The Richmond Office of Economic Development reports that Richmond is in the middle of a scientific renaissance, in large part because of Richmond's Virginia Biotechnology Research Park and the Medical College of Virginia. Development at the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park began in 1997 and is only one-third completed at present; even so, it houses more than 45 biosciences entities, research institutes affiliated with Virginia Commonwealth University, and state and national medical laboratories. The Park isn't confined to the 34 acre downtown campus, having branches and partnerships in Henrico and Chesterfield counties.
An expansion of the Greater Richmond Convention Center was completed in 2003, bringing the facility up to 700,000 total square feet of space—180,000 square feet of exhibit space, 32 meeting rooms totaling 50,000 square feet, and a 30,550 square foot Grand Ballroom.
The Richmond Coliseum received a seven million dollar facelift. With new seats, lights, paint schemes, elevators, a kitchen, and floors in addition to renovated restrooms and an onsite professional chef, the updated building is more inviting and will ideally draw more ticket purchasers to big name musical concerts.
Economic Development Information: Greater Richmond Partnership, 901 East Byrd Street, Suite 801, Richmond, VA 23219-4070; telephone (804)643-3227; toll-free (800)229-6332. City of Richmond Office of Economic Development, 501 E. Franklin St., Suite 800, Richmond, VA 23219; telephone (804)646-5633; fax (804)646-6793; email [email protected]
Richmond has its own port, owned by the municipal government and offering direct container ship service to Europe, Mexico, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and South America. The Port of Richmond is located four miles south of Richmond's Central Business District and offers services such as stevedoring, supply chain services, export packaging and transfer, and warehouse and inland distribution services. The port is equipped for heavy lifting and can handle a range of cargo, from livestock to breakbulk.
Seven air cargo and cargo charter flights can be accessed at the Richmond International Airport, which is located 10 minutes from the downtown area. The airport is a Foreign Trade Zone with U.S. Customs inspection on-site and can hold cargo in 142,000 square feet of warehouse space. Six major passenger carriers provide service to cities across North America, with 180 daily flights.
Richmond is criss-crossed by north-south and east-west interstates and railroads, making it an ideal United Parcel Service (UPS) district hub and FedEx regional hub. More than 100 motor freight companies and brokers serve the area and can handle loads including heavy hauling, liquid bulk, dry bulk and oversize loads. The Richmond area is within a day's drive of 50 percent of the U.S. population, 55 percent of the nation's manufacturing facilities, and 60 percent of the country's corporate headquarters. A 750-mile radius encompasses almost three-fifths of the population and two-thirds of the nation's manufacturing facilities.
Two rail lines converge in Richmond: the Norfolk Southern and CSX, which is the nation's largest railroad and has its corporate headquarters in Richmond. CSX covers 23,000 miles across 23 states and extends its reach to Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, Latin America, Australia, Hong Kong, China and Russia. CSX provides service to and from the Port of Richmond along with international terminal services, domestic container shipping, domestic ocean-liner services, and more.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
Trends over the past ten years indicate that the number of manufacturing and federal government jobs is on the decline, while employment opportunities in services and finance (banking, insurance, real estate) have demonstrated a spike. The Richmond area has a higher percentage of white-collar professional, technical, sales and clerical workers than both the South Atlantic region and the United States as a whole. Blue-collar and service-worker totals are close to the national average. The percentage of women in the work force is higher in the Richmond region than in the United States as a whole.
Generally speaking, a positive labor-management relationship enhances the Richmond work ethic. As the northernmost right-to-work state, less than 10 percent of the work force is organized, and approximately 30 percent of workers in union shops choose not to join. Strikes are rare, and Richmond enjoys one of the lowest work-stoppage records in the nation.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Richmond-Petersburg metropolitan area labor force as of 2003.
Size of nonagricultural labor force: 564,100
Number of workers employed in . . .
construction and mining: 38,500
trade, transportation and public utilities: 107,400
financial activities: 45,900
professional and business services: 82,700
educational and health services: 58,500
leisure and hospitality: 44,500
other services: 24,500
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $16.39
Unemployment rate: 3.6% (December 2004)
|Largest private employers||Number of employees|
|Capital One Financial Corp.||9,018|
|Virginia Commonwealth University Health||6,216|
|Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.||5,449|
|Bon Secours Richmond Health||4,044|
Cost of Living
The following is a summary of data regarding key cost of living factors for the Richmond area.
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $263,334
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 101.5 (U.S. average = 100.0)
State income tax rate: Ranges from 2.0% to 5.75%
State sales tax rate: 4% (2.5% on food after 4/1/01)
Local income tax rate: none
Local sales tax rate: 1.0%
Property tax rate: $3.70 per $100 assessed value
Economic Information: Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, 201 E. Franklin St., Richmond, VA 23219; telephone (804)648-1234
RICHMOND , state capital of Virginia, U.S, and commercial center on the James River; 2001 population of metropolitan region 1,138,000 and within the city itself 192,000; Jewish population, 12,500.
There is evidence of Jews residing in Richmond as early as 1769. Revolutionary war veterans and business partners, Jacob I. Cohen and Isaiah Isaacs, the city's earliest known Jewish residents, were instrumental in the establishment of the state's first Jewish congregation in 1789. Kahal Kadosh Beth Shalome was the sixth and westernmost congregation in the colonies, and one of the six that congratulated George Washington upon his inauguration as first president. The 1790 census shows Richmond with the fourth largest Jewish population, following only New York, Charleston and Philadelphia. The first Jewish burial ground in the state was established on Franklin Street in 1791 and, the first synagogue was dedicated on Mayo Street in 1822.
The early Richmond Jews appear to have integrated easily into the city's life, holding a number of elective and civic positions. Jacob Cohen was elected to the City Council in 1793 and served as a Master of his Masonic Lodge; Samuel Myers became alderman in 1800; Benjamin Wolfe and Joseph Darmstadt were elected to the City Council in 1816; and Solomon Jacobs was elected recorder, the second highest municipal office after that of the mayor, in 1815 and again in 1818. Gustavus A. Myers (1801–1869), known as the most prominent Jew of the city in his day, served on the City Council for nearly 30 years, 12 of which as its president. Judah P. *Benjamin, former U.S. Senator from Louisiana, lived in Richmond while serving as secretary of state for the Confederacy.
In 1841 the German Jewish community broke from Beth Shalome to establish Beth Ahabah, a new synagogue in the Ashkenazic tradition. In 1898 the two congregations merged as Beth Ahabah, which continues as Richmond's largest Reform congregation. A Polish congregation, Keneseth Israel, was organized in 1856, while an influx of Russian Jews beginning in 1880 led to the establishment of the Sir Moses Montefiore Congregation. By the 20th century such ethnic distinctions had faded away and the latter two synagogues joined with the Aitz Chaim Congregation in forming the Orthodox Temple Beth Israel.
Jews played a vital role in reviving the city's economy after the U.S. Civil War (1861–65) left the capital of the Confederacy in shambles. Philip Whitlock, a Confederate veteran, and his tobacco firm, P. Whitlock, helped establish the city as a major tobacco center. Gustavus A. Myers and Edward Cohen established the Merchants and Savings Bank in 1867, and Charles Hutzler and William H. Schwarzschild Sr. founded the Central National Bank in 1911.
A number of early Jewish firms were still owned and managed by the same families for over a century after their inception, such as the Thalhimer Brothers department store, established in 1842 and the Binswanger Glass Works. Schwarzschild Jewelers, established in 1897, remains the last of Richmond's carriage trade stores.
Richmond's first public school was founded by the Beth Ahabah Congregation. Sir Moses Jacob *Ezekiel, an internationally known 19th-century sculptor, was born in Richmond and attended the Virginia Military Institute. Gustavus Millhiser (1850–1915) of the Millhiser Bay Company and Richmond Cedar Works was greatly respected in his time. William B. Thalhimer Sr. helped to convince President Franklin D. Roosevelt to legalize the deduction of charitable gifts from income tax returns. He was active on behalf of Richmond's Byrd Airport, group hospitalization, the conservation of wildlife in Virginia, and the settlement of refugees from Germany in the 1930s. Samuel Z. Troy and his wife were also active for refugees. At the end of World War ii, a group of Jewish businessmen from Richmond, including Israel November and H.J. Bernstein partnered with friends from Virginia Beach to purchase and retrofit the former Chesapeake Bay ferry boat that became known to the world as the Exodus ship.
In 2006 the Jewish community continued to be heavily concentrated in various branches of manufacturing, merchandising, banking, medicine, law, real estate, and the wholesale and retail trade.
As of 2006 eight congregations continued to function: two reform – Beth Ahabah and Or Ami; three Conservative – Or Atid, Beth El, and Beth Shalom; and three Orthodox – Young Israel, Keneseth Beth Israel, and the Chabad Community Shul.
The social welfare structure of the Jewish community centers around the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond, formed in 1935 to galvanize the Jewish community in raising funds to assist co-religionists seeking refuge from the Nazi regime. In 2006, member agencies include the Beth Sholom Home of Virginia, which has a nursing home, assisted living, senior living apartments, and a rehabilitation clinic; the Carole and Marcus Weinstein Jewish Community Center; Jewish Family Services, the oldest family welfare agency in Virginia, established in 1849; two days schools – Rudlin Torah Academy (k-12) and the Solomon Schechter School; and two high schools for the Orthodox community – Shaarei Torah, a high school for girls, and Yeshiva of Virginia, a high school for boys. There are four summer camps and a religious school for children with special needs. The department of religion at the University of Richmond teaches Judaism and holds the endowed Weinstein-Rosenthal Chair. Virginia Commonwealth University has a Center for Judaic Studies headed by Rabbi Jack Spiro, rabbi emeritus for Beth Ahabah. There are four mikva'ot and a Kosher Conference and Retreat Center.
Richmond is the home of two Jewish museums, the Beth Ahabah Museum and Archives that chronicles over 300 years of Richmond Jewish History, and the Virginia Holocaust Museum that teaches tolerance through the experiences of local survivors. Spearheaded by Jay Ipson, the Holocaust Museum recently relocated to a 19th-century tobacco warehouse deeded to the museum by the State of Virginia. In 1997, "Commonwealth and Community: The Jewish Experience in Virginia" opened at the Virginia Historical Society and traveled through the state to The Chrysler Museum in Virginia Beach and Roanoke. Saul Viener and the Jewish Federation of Richmond partnered with the Historical Society to develop the exhibit that remains on view at the Beth Ahabah Museum & Archives. The Jewish Experience is also part of a permanent exhibition on Virginia history at the Virginia Historical Society. In 2001 a Virginia Historical Marker was installed on South 14th street marking the site of the first Beth Shalome synagogue.
Throughout the late 19th and the 20th century Richmond Jews continued to serve in a variety of elected offices and civic positions. William Lovenstein, served in the Richmond Light Infantry Blues during the Civil War and later as president pro tem of the Virginia State Senate. Alfred Moses, Julius Straus, A.H. Kaufman, Clifford Weil, Joseph Wallerstein, Lee A. Whitlock, and Nathan Forb were elected to City Council. Sol L. Bloomberg was a council president. Dr. Edward N. Calisch, the rabbi of Congregation Beth Ahabah from 1891 until 1946, was an important leader in the community. Norman Sisisky was elected as the delegate representing Petersburg in the Virginia General Assembly in 1973 and to nine terms as U.S. Representative for Virginia's Fourth Congressional District. Eric Cantor served as the chief deputy majority whip, U.S. House of Representatives, as the U.S. Representative for Virginia's Seventh Congressional District (2000); and as Henrico County delegate in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1992 to 2000. Michael Schewel served as Virginia's secretary of commerce and trade under Governor Mark Warner.
Jewish-Christian relations in the Richmond area were characterized for many years by the indifferent Christian response to Jewish efforts to establish a meaningful religious dialogue. In the late 1990s, Congregation Beth Ahabah forged new ties with its neighbor St. James Church when it was severely damaged by lightning. St. James held worship services at Beth Ahabah for two years during the restoration, and later partnered to build shared parking facilities for the two congregations.
H.T. Ezekiel and G. Lichtenstein, The History of the Jews of Richmond 1769–1917 (1917); Richmond Jewish Community Council (1955); Through the Years, A Study of the Richmond Jewish Community. Generations, vol. 2, no. 1 (Commemorative Issue, 2005).
[Susan Morgan (2nd ed.)]
Richmond: Education and Research
Richmond: Education and Research
Elementary and Secondary Schools
The Richmond public schools, one of four major systems in the area, are garnering a growing share of excellent achievement results, and the system has earned a reputation for innovative and highly successful new programs. The Special Achievement for Academic and Creative Excellence, or SPACE, program provides accelerated challenges for elementary, middle and high school students. Richmond Community High School provides a focused curriculum to prepare gifted students for college; the school emphasizes outreach to economically and socially disadvantaged youth. The city also has a public military school, the first in the nation in a public school system. The Open High School offers academic strategies to reach alternative learners.
All four public school systems in the Richmond area have one joint educational venture, the Mathematics and Science Center located in Henrico County. It is believed to be the only such regional center in the country supported completely by local funds, and it is one of the early examples of regional cooperation in the Richmond area.
The following is a summary of data regarding Richmond's public schools as of the 2003–2004 school year.
Total enrollment: 25,000
Number of facilities elementary schools: 31
junior high/middle schools: 9
senior high schools: 8
other: 17, including one military school and a gifted high school
Student/teacher ratio: K-1, 24:1; grades 2-5, 25:1; grades 6-12, 22:1
Funding per pupil: $7,969
More than 45 alternative institutions offer instruction to Richmond area students, including private college-preparatory schools and schools for exceptional children.
Colleges and Universities
Metro Richmond is home to 11 institutions of higher learning. Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is the state's largest urban public university; it enrolls more than 24,000 students. VCU is the home of the Medical College of Virginia and additionally offers 162 baccalaureate, master's, doctoral and certificate degree programs in the Colleges of Humanities and Sciences, and schools of Allied Health Professions, Arts, Basic Health Sciences, Business, Community and International Programs, Dentistry, Education, Graduate Studies, School of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Social Work. VCU has an entrepreneurship program for young women at its School of Business. In 1998, VCU added a $40 million School of Engineering facility that houses a Microelectronics Center with clean room technology for semiconductor research.
The University of Richmond is one of the largest private colleges in Virginia and one of the most academically challenging schools in the country. It began in 1830 as Richmond College, a college of liberal arts and sciences for men. Around this nucleus have been added the School of Arts and Sciences, the Jepson School of Leadership Studies (the first school of its kind in the nation), and the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business. The school opened the T.C. Williams School of Law in 1870, making it one of the oldest law schools in the state. The university offers its enrollment of 2,976 undergraduates a menu of baccalaureate degrees in 56 major areas of study, with 40 minors and 12 concentrations.
Virginia Union University was founded in 1865 by the Baptist Church to give educational opportunities to African Americans. Today it offers its diverse student body undergraduate liberal arts, sciences, education, and business courses, as well as graduate courses in theology. The liberal arts foundation is augmented by specialized programs, such as a dual-degree engineering program, offered in conjunction with the University of Michigan, the University of Iowa, and Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Union Theological Seminary is one of the top ten theological institutions in the nation. It is recognized for its rigorous academic program and its pioneering work in field education and student-in-ministry experiences. A seminary of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Union Theological offers doctor of ministry, master of divinity, master of theology, and doctor of philosophy degrees. The Presbyterian School of Christian Education, a graduate school, is the only one of eleven theological institutions of the Presbyterian Church to specialize solely in the discipline of Christian education.
J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College operates three campuses: one in downtown Richmond, another in Henrico County, and the western campus in Goochland County. It offers programs in liberal arts and sciences, engineering, education, and business administration as well as technical vocation training in a number of fields.
John Tyler Community College operates a main campus in Chesterfield County and two auxiliary campuses. Also offering higher educational opportunities in Metro Richmond are Randolph-Macon College, Virginia State University, and Richard Bland Community College.
Libraries and Research Centers
Libraries abound in Richmond. There is the Library of Virginia, with 1,783,287 books, periodicals, government publications and microforms specializing in Virginiana, Southern and Confederate history, and genealogy. The Richmond Public Library system has a main library plus 9 branches containing more than 800,000 books, periodicals, and audio- and videocassettes. The county of Henrico library system has more than 550,000 books, videocassettes, periodicals, and art prints. Many other libraries are operated by area universities, colleges, and museums. The Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired is a member of the National Library Service for the Visually and Physically Handicapped, a Library of Congress network. As the seat of government in Virginia, Richmond is naturally home to the primary branch of the Virginia State Law Library, containing comprehensive legal materials for use by defendants, inmates, attorneys, the courts and the general public.
Virginia Commonwealth University is home to the third largest research library system in the state of Virginia, with more than 1.7 million print volumes. The Tompkins-McCaw Library at VCU contains the largest collection of medical materials in the state. In general, VCU is the headquarters of nearly a dozen research centers and programs, primarily in the biological and health sciences. Virginia Biotechnology Research Park is home to 45 biotechnology, bioscience, and other related companies and research institutions that are helping to make Virginia an East Coast technology leader. Also located in Richmond is the Hazardous Technical Information Services.
Public Library Information: Richmond Public Library, 101 East Franklin Street, Richmond, VA 23219-2193; telephone (804)646-4867
Founded in 1742, Richmond became the capital of Virginia in 1780. The initial city charter allowed male property owners to elect a council, known as the "Common Hall," twelve citizens who appointed the mayor from their membership. After the first Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in 1774, delegates to the Virginia Convention descended on Richmond to organize defenses and a provisional government. In support of independence, Richmond provided soldiers, guns, gunpowder, and ship rigging. In 1776 the Declaration of Independence was read publicly in Richmond, and in 1788 the Virginia Convention, meeting in Richmond, ratified the Constitution of the United States. Richmond's population grew from 600 inhabitants in 1770 to 5,706 in 1820. Early settlers included Germans from Philadelphia seeking land and Scottish tobacco merchants, but after the Revolution, European immigrants arrived from Haiti, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, and Holland. Settlers included Jews, who founded the Beth Shalome synagogue, and blacks, who made up around one-half the population.
Tobacco, coal, wheat, and black laborers were essential to Richmond's economy. Tobacco was Richmond's oldest economic sector; in the city it was warehoused, shipped, and manufactured into chewing tobacco. Between 1790 and 1830, coal output near Richmond grew from 22,000 to 100,000 tons annually. Richmond shipped coal to American cities, the West Indies, and Europe. As wheat became Virginia's major crop, Richmond increased its production of flour and shipped it to South America and California. Richmond manufacturers produced iron, gunpowder, ceramics, beer, musical instruments, paper, cotton textiles, coaches, soaps, and candles. Black slaves worked not only as domestic servants, but also in the flour, tobacco, and coal mining industries. Free blacks dominated the skilled crafts, including blacksmithing, coopering, masonry, and carpentry. At Richmond's slave auctions, traders sold Virginia-born blacks locally, but also sold them south to cotton plantations. The foreign trade embargo of 1807–1809, the War of 1812, and the Panic of 1819 weakened Richmond's industries and export businesses, which did not recover until the 1830s.
In the early national period, Richmond experienced technological and political change. Transportation and communication improved with the introduction of stagecoaches, canals, bridges, and steamboats. Politically, the Republican Party prevailed in the state as a whole, but Federalists dominated Richmond. In 1800, however, Jefferson carried Richmond in the presidential election. Operating from the capital, the Richmond Junto controlled Virginia's Republican organization. The three-man junto, including Judge Spencer Roane, the newspaper editor Thomas Ritchie, and Dr. John Brockenbrough, made officeholders dependent upon their backing and, by influencing financial decisions, controlled the party's purse strings. Junto members served on the boards of the Bank of Virginia and the Farmers Bank of Virginia, both based in Richmond.
In 1800 Gabriel Prosser secretly planned an insurrection involving thousands of other slaves in Richmond and throughout slaveholding areas of Virginia and North Carolina. Betrayed at the last minute, the conspirators delayed their plans, giving whites time to respond. Gabriel's Rebellion forced whites to abandon naïve conceptions of blacks as contented within a violent slave labor system. In 1829 and 1830, delegates to a constitutional convention debated slavery and the low representation of nonslaveholding western counties in the state legislature and, ultimately, adopted a new constitution. In 1831 Nat Turner's slave insurrection reignited these issues. When the Virginia General Assembly convened in Richmond, state legislators narrowly voted down a proposal to abolish slavery.
Berman, Myron. Richmond's Jewry, 1769–1976: Shabbat in Schockoe. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1979.
Dabney, Virginius. Richmond: The Story of a City. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1976.
Takagi, Midori. Rearing Wolves to Our Own Destruction: Slavery in Richmond, Virginia, 1782–1865. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1999.
Ward, Harry M., and Harold E. Greer Jr. Richmond during the Revolution, 1775–83. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1977.
Pamela C. Edwards
Conflicts Prevent Settlement
On May 21, 1607, a week after Captain John Smith and his party landed at Jamestown, a group led by Captain Christopher Newport set out from camp to explore the James River. Within a week, their travels took them to some falls and a small island where on May 27 they set up a cross. This marked the "discovery" of Richmond, though three decades would pass before another Englishman established a permanent post on the site; the area had already long been home to Powhatan tribes.
During their first few years in the New World, the English colonists devoted most of their energies to securing the stockade at Jamestown. Their arrival had displaced many of the Algonquin and other Native Americans in the region and, as a result, the newcomers often found themselves engaged in violent battles with the indigenous tribes. Temporary truces brought occasional respite from the hostilities, but it still proved difficult to entice settlers to homestead outside the stockade. Several attempts to colonize a site near the falls on the James River failed due to repeated conflicts with angry Algonquins.
The Founding of Richmond
In 1637, however, Thomas Stegg set up a trading post at the spot where the river became navigable; he was later granted some additional land around the falls. After a sudden native uprising in 1644, some Jamestown settlers built a fort near Stegg's claim and offered freedom from taxation to anyone willing to establish a home there. Few people took the settlers up on their offer until after 1670 when, upon the death of Stegg's son, the family holdings (which had expanded to include property on both sides of the river) passed to William Byrd I, a nephew. Byrd received certain additional privileges in return for inducing able-bodied men to homestead in the area, and at last the post began to grow, eventually becoming a trading center for furs, tobacco, and other products.
The year 1737 marked the official laying out of the town of Richmond and its founding as the central marketplace for inland Virginia. Despite the fact that it served as host to three historic political conventions in the pre-Revolutionary War years, including the one at which Patrick Henry closed his impassioned speech with the memorable "Give me liberty or give me death," the town grew very slowly throughout most of the rest of the eighteenth century, even after it was named the capital of Virginia in 1779. Following the Revolutionary War, however, Richmond entered an era of rapid growth. In 1782, it was officially incorporated as a city. By 1790, it boasted a population of 3,761 people, up from only 684 people ten years earlier.
City Made Confederate Capital
By the time of the Civil War, Richmond was one of the major commercial and industrial centers of the country. It prospered as a port city. In addition, America's first iron and brick supplies were manufactured in Richmond, and the first-discovered coal veins in America were mined in neighboring Chesterfield County. Tobacco processing and flour milling also emerged as regional industrial powers. Shortly after Virginia seceded from the Union in April 1861, Richmond was made the capital of the Confederacy in acknowledgment of its preeminent economic and political position.
The Civil War left the city in ruins. Besieged for nearly four years by Union troops but never taken in battle, Richmond was very nearly destroyed in April 1865 by Confederate troops who set fire to tobacco and cotton warehouses as they fled the city. After the war, Richmond began the slow task of rebuilding its bankrupt economy. The old industries, tobacco and iron in particular, once again surfaced as the dominant forces, remaining so throughout the early 1900s. Banking also emerged as an important factor on the local scene as Richmond became one of the South's leading financial centers.
A City Divided and Finally United
Both world wars sparked industrial expansion in Richmond, leading to a diversification that has made the area prosperous for many years. Racial tensions surfaced during the 1950s with the development of a strategy of "massive resistance" during which Virginia politicians and leaders were encouraged to prevent desegregation of schools in the wake of the Brown vs. the Board of Education ruling. The NAACP filed numerous suits and the federal government ordered integration of a number of Virginia counties and municipalities; in response, the Virginia governor ordered many schools to close rather than comply. Richmond fought integration until 1970, when a district court judge devised a busing strategy to integrate the schools. Sixteen years later, the same judge approved a neighborhood schools system that effectively ended the city's struggles in regard to segregation.
The 1980s were marked by concerted efforts to foster cooperation and growth to benefit the entire metropolitan area. Those efforts are felt today, as Richmond is not only a manufacturing center of note, but also a hub for research, federal and state government, banking, transportation, trade, and health care. It is a city that is committed to preserving the best of its nearly 400-year past while carefully crafting a future that includes continued economic development. This synthesis is possibly reflected best in the development agency Richmond Renaissance, which acts as a bridge between the corporate, governmental, and African American communities as they work toward a common goal of a vital, thriving city in the "New South."
Historical Information: Library of Virginia, 800 E. Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219; telephone (804)692-3500. Virginia Historical Society Library and Museum, 428 North Blvd., PO Box 7311, Richmond, VA 23221; telephone (804)358-4901
RICHMOND occupies the hilly terrain at the falls of the James River in Virginia. Native Americans inhabited that area, but the English created a series of temporary settlements there beginning in 1609 and erected a fort in the 1640s. Later, planter William Byrd I maintained a trading
post in the same vicinity. His son, William Byrd II, founded and named Richmond, incorporated in 1742. The meeting place for several notable Revolutionary War–era conventions, the town served as a storehouse for American armies, became the state capital in 1779, and suffered damage from two British raids in 1781.
After the Revolution, Richmond featured distinctive buildings, especially the state capitol, designed by Thomas Jefferson. The city was the scene of the Gabriel Prosser slave conspiracy of 1800, the Aaron Burr treason trial of 1807, and a deadly theater fire in 1811. During the antebellum period, Richmond became a manufacturing center known for its flour, iron, and tobacco products. Steamboat traffic, a westward canal, and railroads made the town a transportation and commercial hub. German and Irish immigrants augmented a workforce that included free blacks and African American slaves.
As the capital of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, Richmond became the target of repeated Union military campaigns. Facing a population, swollen by military personnel, government officials, refugees, and Union prisoners, authorities struggled to provide such essential goods as food and vital services, including medical care for the many wounded soldiers. As retreating Confederates evacuated the city on 3 April 1865, fires that had been set to destroy warehouses spread and incinerated much of the downtown. Postwar commemorations gradually transformed Richmond into a shrine to the Confederacy. In addition to Hollywood and Oakwood cemeteries, the city featured countless statues, stately Monument Avenue, and numerous museums and historic sites.
Following Reconstruction, conservative politicians were dominant over dissenting groups, including blacks, and the city floundered economically. Despite their political suppression, African Americans developed successful secret societies, churches, and businesses. The early twentieth century brought renewed prosperity and growth fueled by diversified industries, resurgent commerce, and robust banking. Nationally acclaimed authors, significant educational institutions, and dynamic religious organizations made Richmond a cultural center. Reformers led local and statewide campaigns to improve education, health, and public welfare. Organized labor remained a political force until the 1920s, when politicians resumed a conservative course they upheld through the rest of the century. In the 1950s and 1960s, officials resisted and delayed desegregation of schools and other public facilities and whites relocated to nearby suburbs. In 1977 the black majority on the city council elected Richmond's first African American mayor. Despite post–World War II annexations, the population within the city limits shrank to 197,790 in 2000, down from 202,278 in 1990.
Chesson, Michael B. Richmond after the War, 1865–1890. Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1981.
Kimball, Gregg D. American City, Southern Place: A Cultural History of Antebellum Richmond. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2000.
Shepherd Samuel C., Jr. Avenues of Faith: Shaping the Urban Religious Culture of Richmond, Virginia, 1900–1929. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2001.
Tyler-McGraw, Marie. At the Falls: Richmond, Virginia, and Its People. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
Richmond: Population Profile
Richmond: Population Profile
Metropolitan Area Residents
Percent change, 1990–2000: 13.7%
U.S. rank in 1980: 48th (MSA)
U.S. rank in 1990: 49th (MSA)
U.S. rank in 2000: 46th (MSA)
2003 estimate: 194,729
Percent change, 1990–2000: -2.5%
U.S. rank in 1980: 64th
U.S. rank in 1990: 76th (State rank: 3rd)
U.S. rank in 2000: 105th (State rank: 4th)
Density: 3,292.6 people per square mile (in 2000)
Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)
Black or African American: 113,108
American Indian or Alaska Native: 479
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 157
Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 5,074
Percent of residents born in state: 67.2% (2000)
Age characteristics (2000)
Poplation under 5 years old: 12,376
Poplation 5 to 9 years old: 12,765
Poplation 10 to 14 years old: 11,713
Poplation 15 to 19 years old: 13,870
Poplation 20 to 24 years old: 18,386
Poplation 25 to 34 years old: 32,871
Poplation 35 to 44 years old: 29,841
Poplation 45 to 54 years old: 24,985
Poplation 55 to 59 years old: 8,208
Poplation 60 to 64 years old: 6,646
Poplation 65 to 74 years old: 12,843
Poplation 75 to 84 years old: 9,764
Poplation 85 years and older: 3,522
Median age: 33.9 years (2000)
Births (2003) Total number: 3,069
Total number: 2,368 (of which, 44 were infants under the age of 1 year)
Money income (2000)
Per capita income: $20,337
Median household income: $31,121
Total households: 84,549
Number of households with income of . . .
less than $10,000: 13,492
$10,000 to $14,999: 6,914
$15,000 to $24,999: 13,688
$25,000 to $34,999: 12,197
$35,000 to $49,999: 13,317
$50,000 to $74,999: 12,482
$75,000 to $99,999: 5,465
$100,000 to $149,999: 3,999
$150,000 to $199,999: 1,253
$200,000 or more: 1,759
Percent of families below poverty level: 17.1% (33.68% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 18,002
Richmond: Geography and Climate
Richmond: Population Profile
Richmond: Municipal Government
Richmond: Education and Research
Richmond: Health Care
Richmond: Convention Facilities
The City in Brief
Founded: 1742 (incorporated, 1782)
Head Official: Mayor L. Douglas Wilder (D) (since 2004)
2003 estimate: 194,729
Percent change, 1990–2000: -2.5%
U.S. rank in 1980: 64th
U.S. rank in 1990: 76th (State rank: 3rd)
U.S. rank in 2000: 105th (State rank: 4th)
Metropolitan Area Population
Percent change, 1990–2000: 26.6%
U.S. rank in 1980: 48th (MSA)
U.S. rank in 1990: 49th (MSA)
U.S. rank in 2000: 46th (MSA)
Area: 62.55 total square miles (2000)
Elevation: Ranges from 9 to approximately 312 feet above sea level
Average Annual Temperature: 57.7° F;
Average Annual Precipitation: 43.13 inches of rainfall; 16.9 inches of snowfall
Major Economic Sectors: government; education, health and social services, retail trade
Unemployment rate: 3.6% (December 2004)
Per Capita Personal Income: $20,337 (1999)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 18,002
Major Colleges and Universities: Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Richmond, Virginia Union University, J Sargeant Reynolds Community College, ECPI Technical College
Daily Newspaper: Richmond Times-Dispatch
Richmond: Geography and Climate
Richmond: Geography and Climate
Richmond is located at the head of the navigable part of the James River between Virginia's coastal plains and the Piedmont, beyond which are the Blue Ridge Mountains. The open waters of Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the mountain barrier to the west are responsible for the region's warm, humid summers and generally mild winters. Precipitation, mostly in the form of rain, is distributed fairly evenly throughout the year, though dry spells lasting several weeks are especially common in the fall. Snow usually accumulates in amounts of less than four inches and remains on the ground only one or two days.
The James River occasionally floods low-lying areas, but the Richmond flood wall, completed in the 1990s, goes a long way toward minimizing damage in those areas. Hurricanes have been the cause of most flooding during the summer and fall, particularly Hurricanes Connie and Diane in 1955, Hurricane Camille in August 1969, Hurricane Agnes in June 1972, and Hurricane Isabel in September 2003. On August 31, 2004, flooding instigated by Tropical Storm Gaston devastated the historic Shockoe Bottom District which lies along the James River.
Area: 62.55 square miles (2000)
Elevation: Ranges from a few feet above sea level along the
James River to approximately 312 feet above sea level in the western parts of the city
Average Temperatures: January, 36.6° F; July, 77.9° F; annual average; 57.7° F;
Average Annual Precipitation: 43.13 inches of rainfall; 16.9 inches of snowfall