Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The 7 Hills of Richmond, VA

Much like Rome, Richmond is a city that was built on seven hills. While there was an ordinance in 1937 to make them official by a local councilman, unfortunately it was never passed. As a Richmonder, you know there is an unofficial list of the seven hills. They are:

  1. Church Hill
  2. Union Hill
  3. Libby Hill
  4. Chimborazo Hill
  5. Oregon Hill
  6. Richmond Hill
  7. Shockoe Hill

Each of the seven hills were all located in the downtown area and each area unique to creating the city we see today. I am planning on starting a blog series exploring the uniqueness of each area of the river city and its impact on the city today. But first, let's take a look at the city as it grew to the grandeur we see today.
The proposed 7 Hills
Richmond in the 1930's was a thriving metropolis, despite the rough economic woes of the Great Depression thanks to the thriving Tobacco industry. Within five years of the depression, Richmond had bounced back and began attracting businesses as it was one of the first right-to-work states. As factories and assembly plants moved in, jobs soared and Richmond was budding with white collar workers. Street cars ran along broad street transporting workers from the outer neighborhoods to the main city limits, until 1949, when streetcars were replaced with busses.
Broad Street, 1920's
With the expansion of transportation in the form of roadways, and railroads, high populated areas pushed for the innovation and creation of turnpikes and highways we see today. Jefferson Davis Highway (which shares US 1 and US Route 301) was the busiest north corridor and after too many dangerous head-on collisions from drivers commuting into the city, the construction of the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike connected Richmond along Interstate 95.
Construction of Interstate 95
In the mid-1960's, Richmond began its "downtown boom", with the construction of over 700 buildings. With the merger of Medical College of Virginia (MCV), Richmond Professional Institute and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in 1968, the educational giant began taking roots in the city. However, devastation hit the city in 1972 when Hurricane Agnes dumped 16 inches of rain, flooding most of the downtown area- and broke an over 200 year old rain record. Richmond build its famous floodwall in 1995 to protect the city and the area of Shockoe Bottom from flooding.
View of Main Street Station from Interstate 95, 1972, Hurricane Agnes
Richmond has seen her fair share of up's and down's and her citizens are proof that she is here to stay. No matter how many times you leave her, she still welcomes you back with open arms. From the history buried within each brick of Main Street Station to every gravestone in Cemetery, ou have shown you have survived great odds and can withstand the test of time. From the calmness of the James River to the sunsets at Libby Hill, your beauty does not go unnoticed.  With each passing year you age, you are reminded of how much we love your diversity and strength.

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