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Encyclopedia > Richmond, VA
Downtown Richmond as seen from the James River
Downtown Richmond as seen from the James River

Richmond, Virginia

City Flag City Logo
City nickname: "River City"
City motto: Sic Itur Ad Astra ("Such is the way to the Stars")

Location in the state of Virginia

162.0 km˛ (62.5 mi˛)
6.4 km˛ (2.5 mi˛)
Population (2000)

Time zone Eastern: UTC-5
37°54' N
77°46' W
External link: City web page (http://www.ci.richmond.va.us/indexnew.asp)

Richmond is the capital of Virginia, a state (officially the Commonwealth of Virginia) of the United States of America. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 197,790. Like all Virginia municipalities incorporated as cities, it is an independent city, not part of any county. It is located in the Richmond-Petersburg region and is a portion of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).



Main article: History of Richmond, Virginia

Richmond is located at the fall line of the James River. Like many other fall line cities on the East coast, the location of Richmond was determined by the fall line since as a natural barrier, it prevented river boats from traveling any further inland.

Richmond was first settled in 1607 by Christopher Newport and Captain John Smith, who navigated up the James River ten days after landing at Jamestown. The city was not known as "Richmond" until 1737, when it was laid out by Major William Mayo on land donated by Colonel William Byrd II. The name comes from Richmond upon Thames, England.

In 1775, Patrick Henry gave his famous "Give me Liberty or Give me Death" speech in St. John's Church at a meeting of the Second Continental Congress. Also in attendance at this meeting were Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Richmond replaced Williamsburg as the capital of Virginia in 1780.

During the American Civil War, Richmond was the capital of the Confederate States of America. The White House of the Confederacy, located a few blocks north of the State Capital, was home to the family of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. In April of 1865, Richmond was burned by a retreating Confederate Army and was returned to Northern control, becoming part of "Military District #1" during the Reconstruction period (1865-1870).

A major issue for Manchester – Richmond's sister city located on the south bank of the James River – and Richmond residents in the 19th and early 20th century were the toll bridges over the James River. In 1910, Manchester agreed to a political consolidation with the much larger independent city of Richmond.

In 1992 the University of Richmond hosted the first ever "town hall" style presidential debate between H. Ross Perot, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.

Related Topics

  • Timeline of Richmond, Virginia


Capitol Building
Capitol Building

Richmond recently changed from a council-manager form of government to an at-large popularly elected Mayor. During the election, mayor Rudy McCollum was defeated by Douglas Wilder the first and only black governor.

The Richmond City Government based on the Nov 2004 election are as follows (Source RTD (http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD%2FMGArticle%2FRTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031778919147&path=!news!politics&s=1045855935264)):

Mayor: Douglas Wilder.
Vice Mayor: TBD
City Manager: position eliminated
Police: Rodney Monroe (Hired 24 Jan 05)
  • 1st District --- Manoli Loupassi
  • 2nd District --- William J. Pantele
  • 3rd District --- Chris A. Hilbert
  • 4th District --- Kathy A. Graziano
  • 5th District --- E. Martin "Marty" Jewell
  • 6th District --- Ellen F. Robertson
  • 7th District --- Delores McQuinn
  • 8th District --- Jacqueline M. “Jackie” Jackson
  • 9th District --- Eugene A. Mason Jr


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 162.0 km˛ (62.5 mi˛). 155.6 km˛ (60.1 mi˛) of it is land and 6.4 km˛ (2.5 mi˛) of it is water. The total area is 3.96% water. The James River runs through Richmond.

Richmond is surrounded by Henrico and Chesterfield counties, located to the north and south of the city respectively. The Richmond-Petersburg metropolitan area includes the city and its two adjoining counties and an extensive area of central Virginia. Other jurisdictions in the Richmond metropolitan area include the nearby counties of Amelia, Caroline, Charles City, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Goochland, Hanover, King and Queen, King William, Louisa, New Kent, Powhatan, Prince George, and Sussex, and the independent cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell, and Petersburg as well as the town of Ashland in Hanover County. The metropolitan area attained a total population of 1,126,262 in 2003.

Richmond itself is made up of a number of neighboorhoods, including the Fan district, Oregon Hill, Shockoe Bottom, the West End and Church Hill – site of Patrick Henery's famous speech.

Related Topics

  • Richmond neighborhoods


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/km˛ (3,292.6/mi˛). There are 92,282 housing units at an average density of 593.1/km˛ (1,536.2/mi˛). 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.


  • Philip Morris USA (a division of Altria Group) corporate headquarters
  • Genworth Financial, the former insurance arm of GE
  • home electronics retailer Circuit City
  • United Network for Organ Sharing, the principal clearinghouse for organ transplants in the United States
  • Capital One, a credit card agency, is a significant employer
  • Brinks Company, famous for its financial and security responsibilities, has its world headquarters here.
  • Infineon Technologies, Richmond location produces DRAM computer memory.
  • SunTrust Banks, Inc. maintains a regional headquarters and their residential mortgage subsidiary, as a skyscraper in the downtown district. SunTrust had acquired Crestar Bank (formerly United Virgnia Bank), a regional bank headquartered in Richmond.

Other prominent Fortune 500 companies based in Richmond include:

  • Wachovia Securities
  • Owens & Minor
  • CarMax
  • LandAmerica Financial Group
  • Performance Food Group
  • Dominion Resources


Richmond is the home of the University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Union University and the Union Theological Seminary & Presbyterian School of Christian Education.

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.

Culture and the Arts

Some popular tourist attractions include:

Richmond Events

Ongoing events - Winter 2005

  • Douglas Wilder making changes to city government
  • Controversy over severance pay for Andre Parker
  • Mysterious booms in Ginter Park continue despite the arrest and conviction of two teens
  • Shockoe Bottom recovering from flood
  • Demolition of 6th St. Marketplace and old department stores [1] (http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD%2FMGArticle%2FRTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031779233767&path=!news!columnists&s=1045855935174)
  • Investigation of murdered UR Prof. Fredric M. Jablin
  • Tim Kaine(D) and Jerry Kilgore(R) both begin their bids for Governor of Virginia

Upcoming events

Annual Events

  • Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K (March)
  • VCU French Film Festival (April)
  • James River Film Festival (April)
  • "Easter on Parade" street festival
  • 2nd Street Festival
  • Carytown Watermelon Festival (August)
  • Suntrust Richmond Marathon and 8K race (November)
  • James River Writers Festival (November)
  • Grand Illumination /Christmas Parade (First Friday/Saturday in December)

Recent Events

  • Richmond franchiser announces Atlantic Indoor Football League to play at the Coliseum
  • Virginia General Assembly reconvenes session in Richmond
  • more recent events at [2] (http://news.google.com/news?num=100&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&tab=wn&q=richmond+virginia) and [3] (http://news.google.com/news?num=100&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&tab=wn&q=richmond+va)
  • On August 31, 2004, the Shockoe Bottom district was devastated by flooding brought on by torrential rains from the remnants of Tropical Storm Gaston. The storm lingered over the Richmond area, dumping nearly 12 inches (300 mm) of rain in the Shockoe Bottom watershed. A 20-block area, including most of Shockoe Bottom, was declared uninhabitable in the wake of the flood.
  • On 2 November 2004, former Virginia governor Douglas Wilder was elected as Richmond's first directly-elected mayor in over 60 years.


Richmond is also the home of the Richmond Braves, a minor league baseball team; the Richmond Kickers, a minor league soccer team; and the Richmond RiverDogs, a minor league ice hockey team.


  • Air -- Richmond, Virginia is served by Richmond International Airport, which is located in nearby Sandston.
  • Bus -- Local transit is provided by the Greater Richmond Transit Company.
  • Rail -- 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 Staples Mill Road Station receives all service to and from all points south including, Raleigh, Durham, Savannah, Newport News, Williamsburg, and Florida. However, the historic and recently renovated Main Street Station only receives trains bound for Newport News and Williamsburg. The setup is due to the track layout and because of that, Staples Mill Road receives more service overall.

Famous Richmonders

  • Arthur Ashe, tennis star and social activist who is remembered with a memorial on Monument Avenue.
  • Ellen Glasgow, a novelist who was born and lived there.
  • Bill Robinson, African-American performer
  • Edgar Allan Poe, author and poet, lived in Richmond for much of his early life.
  • Tom Robbins, author, studied art at Richmond Professional Institute (now VCU) and worked for the Richmond Times Dispatch.
  • Henry Creamer, an American Vaudeville song lyricist of the early 20th century.
  • Aimee Mann, a popular American rock guitarist, bass player, singer, and songwriter.
  • Samuel Gravely, an African-American Officer who broke many racial barriers while serving in the U.S. Navy.
  • John Marshall, lawyer, statesman, and third Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
  • Lawrence Douglas Wilder, lawyer, Virginia state legislator, and governor, the United States' first elected black governor.
  • Tom Wolfe, novelist and father of the "New Journalism," attended St. Christopher's School.
  • Tim Kaine, attorney, city councilor, mayor, and lieutenant governor.

Municipal Mottos, Slogans, Nicknames, and Associations

  • Richmond's official motto is "Sic Itur Ad Astra" (Such is the way to the Stars)
  • Richmond's city-adopted slogan is "One City, our City"
  • Richmond Metropolitan region's branding slogan is "Easy to Love"
  • Richmond has a number of nicknames including:
    • River City (This nickname is shared by many other cities with rivers)
    • RVA (based on the state abbreviation for Virginia)
    • RIC (Also the code for Richmond International Airport)
    • Richmond on the James (as contrasted with Richmond-upon-Thames in the United Kingdom
    • The 804 (The area code in which Richmond is entirely contained)see map at this link (http://www.nanpa.com/area_code_maps/display.html?va)
    • The Mecca (coined by UVA students, many of whom make "pilgrimmages" home here from the college town of Charlottesville, VA which is then called Medina)
    • Fist City (derived from "fifth city", as in the fifth state capitol coming north from Florida, in reference to Richmond's violent reputation)
  • Sister Cities: while Richmond has no formal sister city, it does name Voronezh, Russia as an official "Friendly City." (richmond.gov) (http://www.richmondgov.com/citizen/sistercities/sistercities2.asp)

External links

  • City of Richmond (http://www.richmondgov.com/)
  • Historic Richmond Region - Official Visitors Site - Richmond, Virginia (http://www.richmondva.org/)
  • Historic Richmond: (http://www.historicrichmond.com/stjohns.html) St Johns
  • Annotated Pictorial Guide to Richmond (http://www.digitalrichmond.com/)
  • Neighborhoods (http://www.ci.richmond.va.us/citizen/neighborhoods/cmxxs_nechill.asp)
  • Richmond region information from convention center website (http://www.richmondcenter.com/main/richmond-region.asp)
  • College of William and Mary, Antebellum Richmond Articles (http://srnels.people.wm.edu/antrichf95/index.html)
  • Richmond Chamber of Commerce report on Young People in Richmond (http://www.grcc.com/pdf/Richmondfinal.pdf)]
  • Maps and aerial photos
    • Street map from Mapquest (http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?latlongtype=decimal&latitude=37.538346&longitude=-77.461507&zoom=6)
    • Topographic map from Topozone (http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?lat=37.538346&lon=-77.461507&s=200&size=m&layer=DRG100)
    • Aerial photograph from Microsoft Terraserver (http://terraserver.microsoft.com/map.aspx?t=1&s=14&lon=-77.461507&lat=37.538346&w=750&h=500)
Regions of Virginia
Appomattox Basin | Baltimore-Washington Metro Area | Eastern Shore | Hampton Roads | Middle Peninsula | Northern Neck | Northern Virginia | Piedmont | Ridge-and-valley Appalachians | Richmond-Petersburg | Southside Virginia | Tidewater
Accomack | Albemarle | Alleghany | Amelia | Amherst | Appomattox | Arlington | Augusta | Bath | Bedford | Bland | Botetourt | Brunswick | Buchanan | Buckingham | Campbell | Caroline | Carroll | Charles City | Charlotte | Chesterfield | Clarke | Craig | Culpeper | Cumberland | Dickenson | Dinwiddie | Essex | Fairfax | Fauquier | Floyd | Fluvanna | Franklin | Frederick | Giles | Gloucester | Goochland | Grayson | Greene | Greensville | Halifax | Hanover | Henrico | Henry | Highland | Isle of Wight | James City | King and Queen | King George | King William | Lancaster | Lee | Loudoun | Louisa | Lunenburg | Madison | Mathews | Mecklenburg | Middlesex | Montgomery | Nelson | New Kent | Northampton | Northumberland | Nottoway | Orange | Page | Patrick | Pittsylvania | Powhatan | Prince Edward | Prince George | Prince William | Pulaski | Rappahannock | Richmond | Roanoke | Rockbridge | Rockingham | Russell | Scott | Shenandoah | Smyth | Southampton | Spotsylvania | Stafford | Surry | Sussex | Tazewell | Warren | Washington | Westmoreland | Wise | Wythe | York
Independent Cities
Alexandria | Bedford | Bristol | Buena Vista | Charlottesville | Chesapeake | Colonial Heights | Covington | Danville | Emporia | Fairfax | Falls Church | Franklin | Fredericksburg | Galax | Hampton | Harrisonburg | Hopewell | Lexington | Lynchburg | Manassas | Manassas Park | Martinsville | Newport News | Norfolk | Norton | Petersburg | Poquoson | Portsmouth | Radford | Richmond | Roanoke | Salem | Staunton | Suffolk | Virginia Beach | Waynesboro | Williamsburg | Winchester

State Capitals of the United States

Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Idaho • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Kansas • Kentucky • Louisiana • Maine • Maryland • Massachusetts • Michigan • Minnesota • Mississippi • Missouri • Montana • Nebraska • Nevada • New Hampshire • New Jersey • New Mexico • New York • North Carolina • North Dakota • Ohio • Oklahoma • Oregon • Pennsylvania • Rhode Island • South Carolina • South Dakota • Tennessee • Texas • Utah • Vermont • Virginia • Washington • West Virginia • Wisconsin • Wyoming



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