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10 Surprising Facts About Richmond, Virginia

Anna Drake
by Anna Drake

November 20, 2023

4 minute read

Richmond is one of the highlights of our Historical Greenbrier tour, where you can take a guided walk though the famed Jackson Ward neighbourhood or take a panoramic tour that explores the city’s place in American history. Whichever option you choose, you’ll be amazed by Richmond’s rich past and vibrant present.

But why wait until your visit to learn more about Richmond? We’ve got some fascinating facts for you right now.

  1. "Black Wall Street of America”

    Jackson Ward is a historically African-American neighbourhood known as the birthplace of Black entrepreneurship. Famous residents have included Maggie Walker, the first Black American woman to be a bank president, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, an entertainer whose decades-long career spanned vaudeville, radio, theatre, television, and film.

  2. Hollywood East?

    Richmond not only hosts an annual film festival, it’s an increasingly popular movie location. Some of the films that have been shot in or around the city include Hannibal; Mission: Impossible III; and Cold Mountain.

  3. Let’s do lunch

    Richmond offers a huge variety of yummy eats (including soul food, seafood, and anything with pimento cheese). Its quintessential dish, though, just might be a regional speciality called a sailor sandwich. Invented by the city’s New York(!) Deli during World War II, this belly-buster features hot pastrami, knackwurst, Swiss cheese, and hot mustard on rye.
    GreenbrierMiniLaunch Blog Food

  4. If these walls could talk (wait, they do!)

    Art in Richmond isn’t confined to museums and galleries – it’s on the walls! The city is known for its amazing street art and murals that adorn the outside of restaurants, factories, and even private homes.

  5. Here, there, everywhere a beer

    When you think of Richmond, you probably think, the South! History, art, architecture! Well, let’s add something else to that list: beer. That’s right – the city is a hotspot for one of the world’s most popular beverages, with more than 30 craft breweries. In fact, a few years ago Richmond was named the #1 beer destination in the world. Bottoms up!
    GreenbrierMiniLaunch Blog Beer

  6. Quoth the raven

    The Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond boasts an incredible collection of original manuscripts, letters, and memorabilia from America’s master of mystery and the macabre. Poe lived in the city with his foster family for many years, until gambling debts and a failed romance prompted a move to New England.

  7. A city by any other name

    The founder of modern-day Richmond, William Byrd II, named the city after his hometown of Richmond, in England. The name Richmond itself derives from Richemont, a town in Normandy, France. No word on whether Byrd ever considered using his hometown’s original name, Hindrelag.

  8. A president and an architect

    The Virginia State Capitol, located in Richmond, was designed by none other than Thomas Jefferson. He modelled the building after the Maison Carrée (“square house”), an ancient Roman temple in Nîmes, France. (Fun fact: it’s one of only 12 U.S. capitol buildings without a dome.)
    GreenbrierMiniLaunch Blog The Virginia State Capitol

  9. Freedom of speech

    Patrick Henry gave his famous “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech at St. John’s Church, the oldest in the city. Whilst you’ve heard of this speech before, chances are you didn’t know that, when he’d finished speaking, Henry pretended to plunge an ivory letter-opener into his chest for dramatic effect.

  10. Let the music play

    When the Byrd Theatre, known as “Richmond’s Movie Palace,” opened its doors in 1928, matinee tickets cost just 25 cents and a child’s ticket, 10 cents. The prices may have changed since then, but the music hasn’t – the venue still proudly features its original Wurlitzer, played on Saturday nights by the house organist.

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