Richmond, Virginia, like most parts of the United States of America, has a narrative that is muddled with varied emotions. It was the capital of the Confederacy, a collection of eleven states that fought against the Union during the Civil War.
For Richmond, this side of history is manifested into an interesting community dynamic. Just two hours away from Washington D.C, RVA bores a peaceful demeanor, unlike the capital’s constant political frenzy.
The city’s complex history and scenic views translate into a significant sociocultural space. As such, there are lots to do for any traveler, including those on a budget.
I was here for a last-minute conference. Having spent some college days attending all-expense-paid seminars in the past couple of years, I regularly scout alumni boards for other sought-after opportunities.
This Objectivist-oriented symposium was one such find. After reading a few of Ayn Rand’s books, I was much more in awe of her beautifully worded writing, than the notion that reason is man’s only absolute truth that it conveys. Nonetheless, it is always interesting to engage in unfamiliar dialogue, especially when it comes with the side-benefit of exploring different cities.
Riverfront Canal Walk, Richmond VA
The Riverfront Canal walk is a nice place for an afternoon stroll along the edge of the city. There are many points to start the walk, with the destination, for many, being the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge.
My host dropped us off near Shockoe Bottom, which is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Richmond. Other than being a major commerce center during the 19th century, the district was also key in the American Slavery Trade, fuelling white wealth in the city.
The area’s redevelopment took into consideration these historical implications. Alongside the arrival of art galleries and the like, museums and memorial parks also took shape.
Canal Walk Murals, Richmond VA
Our casual trek crossed pedestrian bridges, old fashioned railroads, underground tunnels, and historical plaques without running into many people.
Soon enough, we came across the murals just off Canal Street. These pieces of street art were commissioned by the city in 1999 and take up a large space within a semi-indoor space along the waters.
I was completely fascinated by the ultra-realistic legs-as-darts piece that hung on the surface of the wall.
T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, Richmond VA
An hour and 2.5 miles later, we arrived at T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge. The bridge was unique not only because of its setting, but it also documents a number of quotes along the boardwalk. As one of the definitive moments of the Civil War, Jefferson Davis’s capture in Richmond also signified the end of the Confederacy. The inscribed quotes on the bridge provide a glimpse into the city’s history and offer an experience unlike any other.
From the bridge, a beautiful view of the city skyline and the calm waters accompanies the setting sun, offering ample refuge for those seeking peace and quietude.
The Jefferson Hotel is yet another point of interest for those exploring the city center. This 120+ year establishment is carefully built, with an off-white exterior that hides the extravagance of the indoor space.
Once I stepped inside, the August heat diminished against the perfectly controlled indoor temperature.
The grandiose lobby seems to have transported me back in time, filling me a with a sense of old-fashioned luxury and a feeling of undeniable ease.
Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
Lastly, while in Richmond, a day is ought to be spent at Monticello.
Originally Thomas Jefferson’s estate, this tourist attraction offers insight into the then President’s living arrangements. From vast fields to rolling hills, the views from this space was beautiful.
There are several informative tours visitors can take advantage of, with the interior tour being the most popular. Following the completion of the house tour, we strolled through the garden, hung out at a small pond nearby, and visited the cemetery a few blocks away.
Richmond, Virginia has never been on particularly high on my bucket list. Maybe it paled against its neighboring capital-DC, or maybe it is my lack of knowledge in its prominence.
Regardless, this visit gave me such insight into the role it played throughout the U.S’s history.
From beautiful layouts to historical significance, I think the city of Richmond, VA is a must visit for anyone intrigued by the details of the American saga.
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