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Useful Notes / Richmond, Virginia

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Richmond is the capital of the U.S. state of Virginia and its fourth-largest city by population. It is located at the fall line of the James River, from which its name—specifically a view of the James from Church Hill which is reminiscent of a view of the River Thames from Richmond Hill in Londonnote —is derived. Despite not being as prominent a state capital as Denver or Nashville, as the political center of what began as one of the original thirteen colonies Richmond has played a significant role in American history since the nation's founding, most notably as the capital of the Confederate States of America during The American Civil War.

As Virginia has politically trended more leftward, Richmond has increasingly become considered a "northern" city (at least to people from the more conservative western parts of the state). It is known as "RVA", the "River City" (owing to its proximity to the James), and "the 804" (after its area code). If Richmond is known for anything not history-related by outsiders, it's for being the center of the American tobacco industry. In truth, Big Tobacco has become less prominent in recent years as engineering and technology companies have established a presence in the area. Richmond has also become an attractive shooting location for film and television productions.

In the realm of sports, Richmond has a AA baseball team, the Flying Squirrelsnote . Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), a.k.a. "The Berkeley of the South", which is a sprawling public university located close to downtown, is known for its Rams athletic program; the Rams men's basketball team made the Final Four in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.


Some notable neighborhoods and districts in Richmond include:

  • Church Hill, a historic district which sits on the original land plot of the city of Richmond and is one of the largest extant 19th Century neighborhoods in the U.S. The location of St. John's Church, where Patrick Henry gave the original "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!" speech. A abandoned railroad tunnel that once belonged to the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad that ran under the district still sits there, with a steam locomotive and ten rail cars trapped inside as the result of a collapse from 1925, which are still the subject of extraction attempts.
  • Downtown, at the center of which is the Virginia State Capitol, of which Thomas Jefferson was one of the architects. Having served as the Confederate Capitol during the Civil War, the building remains the home of the Virginia General Assembly, the oldest elected legislative body in North America. A few blocks to the east of the Capitol is VCU's medical campus (formerly the Medical College of Virginia, or MCV), which includes the "Egyptian Building", one of the finest Egyptian Revival-style buildings in the country.
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  • The Fan District, an upscale residential neighborhood so named for the "fan" shape of the array of streets that extend west from Belvidere Street, on the eastern edge of Monroe Park, and westward to Arthur Ashe Boulevard. Best known in recent years for Monument Avenue, a street lined with equine monuments of Confederate historical figures (Robert E. Lee, J. E. B. Stuart, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and Matthew Fontaine Maury) and black tennis star Arthur Ashenote ; the Confederate monuments were removed in 2020—2021 after the George Floyd protests. Also includes Carytown and its movie palace, the Byrd Theatre, which hosts an annual French film festival each March which is attended by prominent French actors and directors.
  • Jackson Ward, a historically black neighborhood that in its heyday was known as the "Harlem of the South" and was the original home of tap dancer/actor/singer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, a statue of whom stands in the neighborhood today. Also the home of Maggie L. Walker, the first woman of color to charter and serve as president of an American bank, whose house is a U.S. National Historic Site.
  • Oregon Hill, a historic working class neighborhood adjacent to Hollywood Cemetery (the Confederacy's answer to Arlington National Cemetery), which these days serves as an unofficial student quarter for VCU while non-student residents tend to be on the poor end of the economic spectrum.

    Richmond in fiction 
  • The third arc of the comic book Local is set here.
  • Magna's group in The Walking Dead were originally based in a Richmond nursing home and were forced to flee when the leadership became tyrannical.


  • Dr. Kay Scarpetta, a character in the novels of Patricia Cornwell, is Richmond's chief medical examiner and solves murders in and around the city, at least until she relocates to Florida.

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  • Is the central setting (though they get the skyline laughably wrong) of the third season of the Walking Dead video game, serving as the home base of the New Frontier.

    Famous Richmonders