The city of Richmond has a rich historical legacy. The falls of the James delineated the western frontier of the Powhatan tribe’s confederacy until 1609. The town was chartered in 1742, and Patrick Henry orated his “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech in Richmond in 1775, which led to the involvement of Virginia troops in the Revolutionary War.
Richmond became the Virginia state capital in 1780. After Virginia seceded in the Civil War, Richmond became home to the Confederacy’s capital. Ulysses S. Grant captured nearby Petersburg in April 1865, and President Davis and the Confederates abandoned Richmond, setting fire to the city as they evacuated. Much of the city was destroyed, and the state capital was moved to Lynchburg.
Richmond was the first city in the United States to successfully institute the electric trolley in January of 1888, which fueled expansion. By the early 1900s, over 85,000 people called Richmond their home. Philip Morris became established in Richmond, and the Fan area began to develop. Tobacco helped Richmond recover after the Great Depression, and Reynolds Metals moved its executive office to Richmond in 1938. Its local economy stimulated by World War II, Richmond became the fastest-growing United States industrial center in 1947.
Virginia Commonwealth University was created in 1968, and shopping and culture flourished throughout the 1980s. In 1990, Richmond’s L. Douglas Wilder became the first African-American governor in United States history. The population of the Richmond metropolitan area grew to over 1 million by the early 2000s, and the expanded Greater Richmond Convention Center opened in 2002. Richmond is a bustling metropolitan area steeped in revolutionary and Southern history, and is a fantastic city to call home.
As the capital city of Virginia, Richmond has plenty of cultural opportunities for its residents to explore. There’s the Science Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, the Virginia Holocaust Museum, the Children’s Museum of Richmond and more.
Richmond being the former capital of the Confederacy, it is the modern day site of the Museum of the Confederacy. Visitors can see artifacts preserved from the war and tour the nearby home of former Confederate President Robert E. Lee.
Another popular spot for history buffs is St. John’s Church where Patrick Henry once roused the colonists with the famous words, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
For a cinematic trip to the past, you can visit the Byrd Theatre in Carytown, an almost century old building which plays second-run movies for $2.
Gallery 5 is a local favorite, a restored fire station transformed into a space for visual artists and performing artists to showcase their work and interact with the community. The gallery draws a large crowd each month for its “First Friday” exhibit and is a leader in historic preservation.
Richmond also has plenty of theater, music and dance. The Barksdale Theatre was the first dinner theater in the country and continues to entertain audiences from all over the state. The Virginia Opera presents eight operas a year, the Richmond Symphony plays more than 100 performances a year and Richmond Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker is a highlight of the holiday season.