The New International Encyclopædia/Richmond (Virginia)
RICHMOND. The largest city of Virginia and a port of entry, the State capital and county-seat of Henrico County, 116 miles south by west of Washington, D. C. (Map: Virginia, G 4). It is situated on the James River, 127 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, at the head of tidewater. The rapids here have a fall of 100 feet in 6 miles and furnish an immense water power. A canal extends around the rapids, providing means for navigation by smaller vessels for a considerable distance above the city. Several bridges span the James, connecting with Manchester and other suburbs. There are steamship lines to Atlantic coast ports, and the railroad facilities comprise the Southern Railway, the Atlantic Coast line, the Seaboard Air Line, the Chesapeake and Ohio, the Norfolk and Western, and other roads.
The site of Richmond is of great natural beauty. It is regularly laid out on a succession of low hills that rise from the northern bank of the James, the highest point reaching an altitude of 250 feet above the sea. The area is about 5½ square miles. More than three-fourths of the total street mileage (120 miles) is paved, macadam and Belgian blocks being used in the more important thoroughfares. The parks and cemeteries of Richmond and its momunents are of especial interest. The public park system, with an aggregate area of 376 acres, includes Reservoir Park of 300 acres on the western bounds of the city; Monroe, Gamble's Hill, Jefferson, Marshall, and Chimborazo parks, besides the Capitol Square. Capitol Square, on Shockoe Hill in the heart of Richmond, is 12 acres in extent. Here is situated the State Capitol (1785-96), modeled at the suggestion of Thomas Jefferson, after the Maison Carrée at Nîmes. In the Capitol are busts and portraits of many eminent men, including the celebrated marble statue of Washington by the French sculptor Houdon in the rotunda. There are also in the square the new State Library, used mainly as an office building, the Governor's mansion, and the old Bell House. On the grounds, near the Capitol, is a splendid monument to Washington. Statues of Henry Clay and ‘Stonewall’ Jackson by Hart and Foley, respectively, also adorn Capitol Square.
In Monroe Park are a statue of General Wickham and the site of the Jefferson Davis Monument. Gamble's Hill Park is noteworthy for the splendid view it affords. It overlooks the famous Tredegar Iron Works and the river with the historic Belle Isle and other islands. On Libby Hill (Marshall Park) stands the Confederate Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument. This elevation also commands a good view of the James and its islands and bridges. In Chimborazo Park (20 acres) was a well-known Confederate hospital. A fine road leads from this park to the National Cemetery, two miles to the southeast of the city. Next in importance after the Washington Monument is the equestrian statue of General Robert E. Lee in Lee Circle. The Jefferson Monument and the Howitzer Monument also are worthy of note. Hollywood Cemetery is the most interesting in Richmond. It is the burial place of many famous persons, as well as of 18,000 Confederate soldiers in honor of whom is a rough pyramidal monument of granite. Other cemeteries are Riverview, Mount Calvary, and Oakwood, the last also having several thousand Confederate Soldiers' graves. The National Cemetery contains 6553 graves, 5700 of unknown dead.
The City Hall, facing Capitol Square on the north, ranks with the Capitol among the public buildings of Richmond. It is a handsome structure of granite with a tower 180 feet high. It cost $1,500,000. Other edifices of importance are the Chamber of Commerce, the post-office, the State penitentiary, the Soldiers' Home, and the new depot of the Chesapeake and Ohio and the Seaboard Air Line. Among historic buildings are the Old Stone House, the oldest in Richmond; Saint John's Church (1740); the ‘White House of the Confederacy,’ which now serves as a repository for Confederate relics; General Lee's residence, the home of the State Historical Society; the Masonic Temple, dating from 1785; and Chief Justice Marshall's house. The Valentine Museum has more than 100,000 archæological specimens, many objects of historic interest, and an art collection. Richmond is the seat of Richmond College (Baptist), opened in 1832; Union Theological Seminary (Presbyterian), opened in 1812; the Medical College of Virginia; the University College of Medicine; and the Women's College. The institutions for colored students include the Hartshorn Memorial College, and Virginia Union University (Baptist), opened in 1899. There are also a number of private schools, and the Mechanics' Institute, which has been recently installed in a new building. The State library, with nearly 100,000 volumes, is the largest in the city. Other important collections are the Rosemary Public Library, the State Law Library, and that belonging to the Virginia Historical Society. Among the charitable institutions are the Old Dominion Hospital, Virginia Hospital, Saint Luke's Hospital, the Eye, Nose, Ear, and Throat Infirmary, Retreat for the Sick, Sheltering Arms, and the City Almshouse and Hospital.
Richmond is an important industrial and commercial centre. Its commercial interests are confined almost entirely to a wholesale and jobbing and retail trade, its foreign commerce having amounted in 1901 to only $111,173. The jobbing trade in the same year amounted to $41,375,000, and the retail trade at $14,000,000. Bank clearings for 1901 aggregated nearly $2,000,000. Plans are under way for deepening the channel of the James from Richmond to the sea, so as to provide a minimum depth of 22 feet at mean low tide. This improvement will add considerably to the commercial advantages of the city. As an industrial centre, Richmond ranks first in the State, its tobacco and iron interests being of primary importance. It is one of the leading tobacco markets in the United States, the tobacco industry being represented by stemming and rehandling establishments, and by manufactories of chewing and smoking tobacco, snuff, cigars, and cigarettes. The iron interests include foundries and machine shops, locomotive works, car-axle and railroad spike works, and nail, horseshoe, and agricultural implement works. Flour and fertilizers also are manufactured extensively. Other products are boxes, carriages and wagons, lumber (cedar, woodenware, hubs and spokes, etc.), tin roofing, tin tags, baking powder, paper, twine, meat juice, trunks and bags, hats, etc. Some shipbuilding is carried on. The various industries in the census year 1900 possessed $20,849,000 capital, and an output valued at $28,901,000.
The municipal government, under a charter of 1870, revised in 1891 and 1892, is vested in a mayor, elected every two years; a bicameral council; and administrative officers, most of whom are elected by the council in joint session. A number of important officials are chosen, however, by popular vote. Richmond spends annually for maintenance and operation about $1,262,000, the chief items being: interest on debt, $376,000; the gas works, $137,000; schools, $125,000; the police department, $105,000; the fire department, $93,000; streets, $92,000; charitable institutions, $43,000; municipal lighting, $35,000; the water-works, $34,000. The actual income for the fiscal year 1902 was more than $1,660,000. The water-works and the gas-works are the property of the municipality. The gas plant cost $994,000 and now has 80 miles of mains. The water-works system cost $2,323,500 and includes 103 miles of mains. There are two reservoirs with a storage capacity of 52,000,000 gallons, and a daily pumping capacity of 24,000,000 gallons. The net debt of the city in 1902 was $6,610,582; the assessed valuation of real and personal property was $71,117,607.
The population of Richmond in 1800 was 5737; in 1850, 27,570; in 1860, 37,910; in 1870, 51,038; in 1880, 63,600; in 1890, 81,388; in 1900, 85,050. The total population in 1900 included 2865 persons of foreign birth and 32,230 of negro descent.
In 1609 Capt. John Smith bought from the Indians a tract of land near the site of Richmond and founded a settlement which he called ‘None Such.’ In 1645 Fort Charles was built in the vicinity, and near here in 1676 Nathaniel Bacon (q.v.) defeated the Indians in the ‘battle of Bloody Run.’ By grants in 1675 and 1687, Col. William Byrd obtained possession of the land in this district, and in 1733 his son, Col. William Evelyn Byrd, laid out a town which he named Richmond. In 1742 Richmond was incorporated. In Saint John's Episcopal Church in 1775, Patrick Henry made his famous speech, closing with the words, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Richmond became the capital of the State in 1779, and in 1782 it was chartered as a city. On January 5, 1781, a small English force under General Benedict Arnold entered the place and destroyed all the warehouses and public buildings. In 1788 the convention which ratified the Federal Constitution for Virginia met in Saint John's Church. The ‘Virginia Resolutions’ of 1798-99 were passed at Richmond, and here, in 1861, Virginia formally adopted the Act of Secession. From May, 1861, to April, 1865, Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy, and as such was the objective point of the Federal forces, which fought fifteen pitched battles and at least twenty skirmishes in the effort to capture it. On April 2, 1865, it was evacuated by the Confederates, who, by order of General Ewell, set fire to the warehouses and destroyed the greater part of the business portion of the city. The Federal forces entered the place on the day after its evacuation. Consult: a sketch by Henry, in Powell, Historic Towns of the Southern States (New York, 1900); “Richmond Since the War,” in Scribner's Monthly (ib., 1877); and Wood, The Industries of Richmond (Richmond, 1886).