Richmond, Virginia

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This article is about the city in Virginia. For information on other cities with the same name, please see Richmond (disambiguation).
Richmond, Virginia
City Flag City seal
City motto: Sic Itur Ad Astra

(Latin for, "Such is the way to the Stars")

City slogan: "One City, Our City" or "Easy to Love"
City nickname: "River City"

Location in the Commonwealth of Virginia
County Independent City
 - Total
 - Water

162.0 km² (62.5 mi²)
6.4 km² (2.5 mi²) 3.96%
 - Total (2000)
 - Density
 - Metropolitan

1,126,262 (2003 est.)
Time zone Eastern: UTC–-5
Location 37° 31′ 58.8″ N, 77° 28′ 1.2″ W
Mayor L. Douglas Wilder
City website

Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in 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 in a different region of the state). Richmond is located on the fall line in the piedmont region of Virginia and is at the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

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

As of the 2000 census, the city of Richmond had a total population of 197,790. A more recent census estimate indicates that Richmond's population has grown to 201,384. Richmond was until recently known as the 3rd largest city in Virginia behind Norfolk and Virginia Beach, but it is now the fourth largest, having been overtaken in the last census by Chesapeake, whose population is around 200,000.



Main article: History of Richmond, Virginia

In 1607, King 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.

Revolutionary War

In 1775, Patrick Henry delivered his famous “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” speech in St. John's Church, during the Second Virginia Convention. This speech is credited with convincing members of the House of Burgesses to pass a resolution delivering Virginia troops to the American Revolutionary War. One year later, in the throes of the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.

In 1780, Virginia’s state capital was moved from Williamsburg to Richmond. In 1781, under the command of Benedict Arnold, Richmond was burned by British troops. Yet Richmond shortly recovered, and, in May 1782, was incorporated as a city.

Civil War

Shells of the buildings of Richmond, silhouetted against a dark sky after the destruction by Confederates, 1865.
Shells of the buildings of Richmond, silhouetted against a dark sky after the destruction by Confederates, 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 to the land of freedom.

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 1861, Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as President of the Confederate States of America. One month later Davis placed Richmond under martial law. Two months after Davis’ inauguration, the Confederate army fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Civil War had begun. The Seven Days Battle followed in June. Four years later the house was seized by the Union Army when Ulysses S. Grant captured Richmond in April 1865. One week later, Robert E. Lee surrendered to Grant ending the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse. In 1865, on Evacuation Sunday, large parts of the city were destroyed in a fire set by retreating Confederate soldiers.

Monument Avenue was laid out it 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).

An historic postcard showing electric trolley-powered streetcars in Richmond, Virginia, where Frank J. Sprague successfully demonstrated his new system on the hills in 1888. The intersection shown is at 8th & Broad Streets.
An historic postcard showing electric trolley-powered streetcars in Richmond, Virginia, where Frank J. Sprague successfully demonstrated his new system on the hills in 1888. The intersection shown is at 8th & Broad Streets.

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 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.

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, Richmond's entertainment venues began to develop. The city's first radio station, WRVA, first began broadcasting in 1925. The Mosque also opened in 1925 (today it is called the Landmark Theater). The Byrd Theater and Loew's Theater opened in 1928 (the latter is now called Carpenter Center).

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 for the Atlanta Braves, replacing the old Parker Field. In 1985, Sixth Street Marketplace, a downtown shopping district, opened.

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. Also during 1995, 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 Center, 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


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 162.0 km² (62.5 mi²). 155.6 km² (60.1 mi²) of it is land and 6.4 km² (2.5 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 3.96% water. The city is located in the Piedmont region of Virginia, at the highest navigatable 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.

The Richmond—Petersburg Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), the 47th 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 2003, the total population of the Richmond—Petersburg MSA was 1,126,262.

Richmond is located within 200 miles of several major cities, including Newport News, Virginia (62 miles), Hampton, Virginia (73 miles), Portsmouth, Virginia (77 miles), Norfolk, Virginia (77 miles), Chesapeake, Virginia (87 miles), Alexandria, Virginia (91 miles), Washington DC (96 miles), Virginia Beach, Virginia (96 miles), Baltimore, Maryland (129 miles), Durham, North Carolina (132 miles), Roanoke, Virginia (137 miles), Raleigh, North Carolina (137 miles), Dover, Delaware (154 miles), Greensboro, North Carolina (166 miles), and Winston-Salem, North Carolina (183 miles).

See also: Richmond-Petersburg


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

For more information, see Richmond neighborhoods.

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 area I-64 and I-95. I-195 forms an "inner loop" around the downtown and fan districts of the city, and I-295, combined with the Chippenham Parkway forms an "outer loop", or bypass, around the metropolitan area. Virginia State Highway 288 connects I-64 and I-95 in the southwest quadrant of the area to complete a staggered loop around the city with I-295.

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 have led to the most affluent people moving farther and farther West, towards a part of the metro area known as the West End.


Richmond has 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. July is the wettest month. Days stay warm to mild until October, when hurricanes are less likely and fall is marked by nights once again becoming very chilly. December and January are the coldest months. Light snowfalls occur from the end of November, but most snow falls in January. Average yearly snowfall is 14 inches.[1]

People and culture


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 197,790 people, 84,549 households, and 43,627 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,271.3/km² (3,292.6/mi²). There are 92,282 housing units at an average density of 593.1/km² (1,536.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 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. 2.57% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

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

In the city the population is 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 are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 87.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 83.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $31,121, and the median income for a family is $38,348. Males have a median income of $30,874 versus $25,880 for females. The per capita income for the city is $20,337. 21.4% of the population and 17.1% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 32.9% of those under the age of 18 and 15.8% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

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.” The stereotypical high society Richmonder attends St Catherine’s or St. Christopher’s prep school, takes summers off at the family cottage on the “Rivah,” and finds social outlets by attending charitable balls or serving on the boards for organizations like the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities.

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 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 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Richmond Symphony, and the Richmond Ballet. The Byrd Theater in Carytown is a classical movie theater from the 1920s era that still features movies on a regular basis, and has become 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 for children 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 Center. 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 that fought in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Located near Byrd Park is the famous World War I Memorial Carillon, a 56 bell carillion tower.

Richmond has sometimes been called a City of Churches. Early dominant influences were the Episcopalians and Methodists, but congregations of many faiths and denominations are prevalent today. Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was penned in Richmond by Thomas Jefferson.


The local daily newspaper in Richmond is the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The Richmond Free Press covers the news from a predominantly African American perspective, and is particularly widely read among the liberal crowd.

There are also several weekly and semi-weekly publications, including Style Weekly, Wadi, Slate, and RVA (recently launched in April 2005). Richmond.Com is an online newsmagazine with a wide readership, and is the online presence of the monthly Richmond Magazine. Punchline, now defunct, was a popular alternative weekly newsprint magazine.

Richmond is also served by several television and radio stations. Richmond's major network television affiliates include WTVR 6 (CBS), WRIC 8 (ABC), WWBT 12 (NBC), WCVE 23 and WCVW 57 (PBS), WRLH 35 (Fox), and WUPV 65 (UPN), as well as several low power television stations.

Comcast is the primary cable television provider for the Richmond area. In Richmond city and the northern suburban counties, it is the successor to the franchise originally held by Continental Cablevision, then MediaOne, then AT&T Broadband, before Comcast acquired AT&T Broadband.

The metropolitan area is also served by a variety of radio stations, serving a wide variety of musical and other interests. On the FM dial, some of the popular music stations include WRVQ-FM 94.5 (Q94, Top 40), WKLR-FM 96.5 (The Planet, classic rock), WWUZ-FM 96.9 (Classic Rock 96-9, classic rock based in Bowling Green, VA), WTVR-FM 98.1 (Lite 98, adult contemporary), WDYL-FM 101.1 (Y101, modern rock), WRXL-FM 102.1 (102.1 the X, modern rock), and WMXB-FM 103.7 (Mix 103-7, soft adult contemporary). Urban contemporary stations include WCDX-FM 92.1 (Power 92), WKJS-FM 99.3/105.7 (Kiss FM), and WBTJ-FM 106.5 (The Beat). Oldies are heard on WBBT-FM 107.3/100.3 (Oldies 107.3). Alternative stations include WDCE-FM 90.5 (University of Richmond student-run station) and WRIR-LPFM 97.3 (low-power Richmond Indie Radio). Country music stations are WKHK-FM 95.3 (K95) and WJZV-FM 93.1 (93.1 The Wolf, country mixed with Southern rock). Variety hits can be heard on WWLB-FM 98.9 (98.9 Liberty). Christian and gospel music can be found on WJYJ-FM 90.5 (Fredericksburg), WPZZ-FM 104.7 (Praise 104.7), and WYFJ-FM 100.1 (BBN affiliate). The NPR public radio station is WCVE-FM 88.9. Other stations in the Richmond area include WAUQ-FM 89.7 (American Family Radio affiliate), WHCE-FM 91.1 (Henrico County student-run station), and WZEZ-FM 101.5 (Standards).

There are also several AM stations serving a variety of music, talk, and sports topics, including WGGM-AM 820 (Religious), WRNL-AM 910 (Sports), WXGI-AM 950 (ESPN Sports), WLEE-AM 990/1340 (Gospel), WRVA-AM 1140 (50,000 watts, News/Talk), WGCV-AM 1240 (Gospel), WDZY-AM 1290 (Radio Disney), WVNZ-AM 1320 (Spanish "La Selecta"), WVBB-AM 1380 (Religious), WHAN-AM 1430 (Business news), WCLM-AM 1450 (Soul oldies), WTOX-AM 1480 (Hot Talk) WREJ-AM 1540 (Gospel), and WFTH-AM 1590 (Gospel).

Radio ownership in Richmond is concentrated in four national companies: Clear Channel (WRVQ-FM, WTVR-FM, WRXL-FM, WBTJ-FM, WRNL-AM, WRVA-AM) Cox Radio (WKHK-FM, WKLR-FM, WDYL-FM, WMXB-FM), Radio One (WCDX-FM, WKJS-FM, WPZZ-FM), and Davidson Media (WLEE-AM, WVNZ-AM, WTOX-AM). A new company, Main Line Broadcasting, owns WBBT-FM, WJZV-FM, and WWLB-FM, having purchased them in September 2005.

Parks and outdoor recreation

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, 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 (6.1 km²).

The James River and Belle Isle
The James River and Belle Isle

Several parks are located along the James River, and the James River Parks System 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 triathalon.

Richmond has the only urban whitewater rafting in the U.S. Two sections of the James River are runnable all year long. The rapids range from Class II - Class V, depending on the season and water level. Canoes, kayaks, and rafts are seen on the James throughout the year.

There are also parks on two major islands in the river: Belle Isle and Brown's Island. Belle Isle is the larger of the two, and contains many bike trails as well as a small cliff that is used for rock climbing instruction. 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 Park, 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 ampitheatre. 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 Park, located adjacent to Byrd Park, is a 100 acre (400,000 m²) Victorian estate with a museum, formal gardens, native wildlife exhibits, nature center, carriage collection, and children's farm and petting zoo. The Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens are also located in the city.

Other parks in the city include Bryan Park (with its many azalea gardens), Forest Hill Park (former site of the Forest Hill Amusement Park), Chimborazo Park (site of the National Battlefield Headquarters), among others.


Richmond does not have any major league, professional sports teams. However, there are several minor league teams. The city is the home of the Richmond Braves, a minor league baseball team (the farm team of the Atlanta Braves). The Braves play at The Diamond. The Richmond Kickers, a minor league soccer team play at the University of Richmond Stadium. The Richmond Bandits are a minor league football team, and the Richmond RiverDogs represent the city in the United Hockey League.

The Richmond Coliseum is also the home of the Richmond RiverDogs hockey team, as well as a large number of concerts, festivals, and trade shows.

Auto racing is also very popular in the area, and the Richmond International Raceway also hosts two annual NASCAR Nextel Cup races, as well as the Virginia State Fair and other community and sporting events.

Colonial Downs, located in nearby New Kent County also features a number of horse racing events, including the Virginia Derby.

Due to the close proximity to Washington, DC and North Carolina, many Richmonders have a strong identity with professional, major league teams in the Washington area, or Charlotte, North Carolina. Also, with many major colleges in Virginia, there are many fans of the University of Richmond Spiders, the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams, and the Virginia Union University Panthers; as well as fans of the nearby University of Virginia Cavaliers and Virginia Tech Hokies.


Richmond has a diverse and a rich heritage of faith communities, from Christianity to the Bahá'í Faith and from Hindu to Messianic Judaism, as well as many more.


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, 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 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.

Richmond emerged from the smoldering rubble of the Civil War as an economic powerhouse, with iron front buildings and massive brick factories. Innovation of this era included the world's first cigarette-rolling machine and the world's first successful electric street car system.

Freed slaves and their descendents 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. Richmond is one of the only cities to be the home of both a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and a Federal Reserve Bank, Many downtown office buildings today house major law firms, banks, and brokerages.

In 2005, Forbes Magazine 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.

The Richmond Metro area is also the home of seven Fortune 500 companies, 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; and the Brink's Company, a security services outfit. Genworth Financial, the former insurance arm of GE, also has its headquarters here.

Other Fortune 500 companies, while not headquartered in the area, do have a major presence here. These include Wachovia Securities (based in Charlotte, North Carolina), SunTrust Banks Incorporated (based in Atlanta, Georgia), credit card agency Capital One Financial Corporation (based in McLean, Virginia), and the medical and pharmaceutical 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.

DuPont also maintains a production facility known as the Spruance Plant, and 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 the 1990s 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 $300 million research and development facility in the park as well.

Richmond is also the home of the Ukrop's Super Market, a small, local, family-owned chain of supermarkets, known for its remarkable customer service and friendly employees, as well as its sponsorship of community events, such as the Monument Avenue 10K, Easter on Parade, and the Ukrop's Christmas Parade. The Ukrop family has also been criticized by some for various conservative political actions, such as causing the ban on both GWAR playing concerts in Richmond and Howard Stern's show being syndicated on local radio.

In recent years, Richmond has been trying to revive its downtown environment, a process which has proven somewhat controversial at times. Recent downtown initiatives include the failed Sixth Street Marketplace and a proposal for a new baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom.



The Virginia Capitol Building, designed by Thomas Jefferson
The Virginia Capitol Building, designed 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 previously 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 honor of L. Douglas Wilder.

As of the November, 2004 election, the Richmond City Council consists of: L. Douglas Wilder (Mayor), Manoli Loupassi (Vice Mayor, 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 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 adjacent counties of Henrico and Chesterfield also have a large number of public schools.

There are also several schools of higher education, including the University of Richmond (private), Virginia Commonwealth University (public), Virginia Union University (public) and the Union Theological Seminary & Presbyterian School of Christian Education (private). Several community colleges are found in the metro area, including J. Sargent 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.
Main article: Transportation in Richmond, Virginia

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).

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, 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).[1]

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.[2]

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 two local exchange carriers: Verizon is the incumbent telephone company, and Cavalier Telephone is a competitive local exchange carrier.

See also

Sister cities

Richmond has seven sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI): Olsztyn (Poland), Richmond-upon-Thames (England), Urawa, Aichi (Japan), Windhoek (Namibia), Zhengzhou (China), Uijongbu (South Korea), and Saitama (Japan).


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