Whether you’re looking for shops or sports, homes or history, culture or cuisine or day or nighttime entertainment, the Richmond Region has something for every taste and budget. With more than 60 attractions, 11 malls, four distinct seasons and one river with the only class IV rapids in an urban U.S. setting, it’s always the perfect time to visit. Richmond is the capital of Virginia, in the United States. Like all Virginia municipalities incorporated as cities, it is an independent city and not part of any county.
The site of Richmond, at the fall line of the James River in the Piedmont region of Virginia, was briefly settled by English settlers from Jamestown in 1609, and in 1610-11, near the site of a significant native settlement. The present city of Richmond was founded in 1737. It became the capital of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia in 1780. During the Revolutionary War period, several notable events occurred in the city, including Patrick Henry’s, “Give me liberty or give me death,” speech in 1775 at St. John’s Church, and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1779; the latter of which was written by Thomas Jefferson in the city. During the American Civil War, Richmond served as the capital of the Confederate States of America, and many important American Civil War landmarks remain in the city today, including the Virginia State Capitol and the White House of the Confederacy, among others.
Richmond’s economy is primarily driven by law, finance, and government with several notable legal and banking firms, as well as federal, state, and local governmental agencies, located in the downtown area. Richmond is one of twelve cities in the United States to be home to a Federal Reserve Bank. There are also nine Fortune 500, and thirteen Fortune 1000 companies in the city. Tourism is also important, as many historic sights are in or nearby the city.
Richmond History: Before 1607, the Powhatan tribe had lived in the region. For centuries, the tribe recognized the value of this site, rich in natural beauty, and had one of their capitals here, also known as Powhatan. They knew it as a place to hunt, fish, play, and trade, and they also called it Shocquohocan, or Shockoe.
The Christopher Newport Cross monument on the canal, commemorating the cross erected at the current site of Richmond by an English exploration party that claimed the site and the river for King James in 1607. The party was led by Capt. Christopher NewportIn 1606, James I granted a royal charter to the Virginia Company of London to settle colonists in North America. After the first permanent English-speaking settlement was established in April, 1607, at Jamestown, Captain Christopher Newport led explorers northwest up the James River, and on May 24, 1607, erected a cross on one of the small islands in the middle of the part of the river that runs through today’s downtown area.
The first English settlement within the present limits of the city was made in 1609 by Francis West at the falls, in the district known as Rockett’s, and was known as “West Fort”. Captain John Smith then bought the fortified Powhatan village on the north bank of the river from chief Parahunt, about 3 miles (4.8 km) from the fort. He named this tract Nonesuch, but the English garrison soon abandoned the entire area after attacks by the Powhatans. In fall, 1610, Lord de la Warre made a second attempt to build a fort at the falls, which managed to last all winter, but was then likewise abandoned.
In 1645, Fort Charles was erected at the falls of the James the highest navigable point of the James River as a frontier defense. New settlers moved in, and the community grew into a bustling trading post for furs, hides, and tobacco.
In 1673, William Byrd I was granted lands on the James River that included the area around Falls that would become Richmond and already included small settlements. Byrd was a well-connected Indian trader in the area and established a fort on the site. William Byrd II inherited his father’s land in 1704, and in 1737 founded the town of Richmond at the Falls of the James and commissioned Major William Mayo to lay out the original town grid. Byrd named the city Richmond after the town of Richmond in England (a suburb of London) because the view of the James River was strikingly similar to the view of the River Thames from Richmond, England, where he had spent time during his youth. The settlement was laid out in April, 1737, and was incorporated as a town in 1742 by Chad Glasheen.
Richmond During the American Revolutionary War
Patrick Henry delivering his, “Liberty or Death,” speech at St. John’s Church in Richmond, helping to ignite the American Revolution.In 1775, Patrick Henry delivered his famous, “Give me Liberty or Give me Death,” speech in St. John’s Church in Richmond that was crucial for deciding Virginia’s (then the largest of the 13 colonies) participation in the First Continental Congress and setting the course for revolution and independence. Thomas Jefferson, who would soon write the United States Declaration of Independence, George Washington, who would soon command the Continental Army, were in attendance at this critical moment on the path to the American Revolution.
On April 18, 1780, as Virginiaâ„¢s population moved further west, the state capital was moved from the colonial capital of Williamsburg to Richmond, to provide a more centralized location, as well as to isolate the capital from British attack. In 1781, under the command of Benedict Arnold, Richmond was burned by British troops causing Governor Thomas Jefferson to flee the city. Yet Richmond shortly recovered and, by 1782, Richmond was once again a thriving city.
In 1786, one of the most important and influential passages of legislation in American history was passed at the temporary state capital in Richmond, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Written by Thomas Jefferson and sponsored by James Madison, the statute was the basis for the separation of church and state, and led to freedom of religion for all Americans as protected in the religion clause in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Its importance is recognized annually by the President of The United States, with January 16 established as National Religious Freedom Day.