Unique Neighbourhoods, Richmond
The Fan, centred on Monument Avenue, is named for the fanning street pattern in which the neighborhood was built upon. The neighbourhood has several small parks and playgrounds that have been placed in odd shaped triangle lots created by the street grid. One of the neighbourhood's most famed attractions is Monument Avenue which showcases past and modern heroes of the South. The Fan was prominent from the late 19th century through to the Great Depression. For the next 35-40 years, the Victorian houses were seen as too expensive to maintain. Since the early 1970s, the Fan has been renovated to return to its past glory. Not only have the eyecatching Victorian houses been renovated, but all manner of cuisines (Brasilian Cafe, Kuba Kuba, and Athens Tavern are but three examples) are represented in the small, cozy, neighbourhood restaurants. Every Easter Sunday, the Fan hosts an Easter Parade.
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Shockoe Bottom was for many years strictly an industrial neighbourhood (many tobacco warehouses used to line the streets) that is now home to a bunch of Richmond's finest nightclubs and restaurants. Because the Bottom lies in a shallow valley next to the James River, it has long been prone to disastrous floods as recently as Hurricane Gaston in 2004. There has been much new construction and conversion of old warehouses into loft flats. The Canal Walk begins in the southern portion of the neighbourhood and they plan to extend it to cover the lot of Tobacco Row. Shockoe Bottom has transformed itself from a bunch of vacant buildings to one of Richmond's most vital neighbourhoods.
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Favorite thing: When I put that USA tip on funky neighbourhoods, Carytown is just what I had in mind. Just in the hour or so Lee and I were here to eat lunch, we saw the colourful storefronts and signposts adorned with Carytown flags, and, for some reason, French flags. We saw an eclectic blend of stores including high-end clothing stores, various types of restaurants, and all manner of gift shops. We even were treated to a sidewalk performance by a young guy banging drums (plastic bins) in front of a store. Located 15 blocks west of Capitol Square, Carytown was redevelopped to be a village within the city of Richmond. The vibrancy of this funky community partly offsets the decline of downtown in the early 1990s. Every August, Carytown hosts a watermelon festival.
Favorite thing: Shockoe Slip is defined by cobblestone streets and a 19th century air put right up against the postmodern high-rise buildings in the adjoining financial district. It has an eclectic mix of restaurants (such as Morton's Steakhouse, Europa, Rivah Bistro, and the Tobacco Company) and shops, some of which are very upscale. It runs from Cary and Canal Street (north-south) to 10th to 15th Street (east-west). Recently, developpers have converted old warehouses to store and living space.
Favorite thing: Oregon Hill, located (west to east) between Hollywood Cemetery to Belvidere; North to South I-195 to Cary Street) was so named because when is antebellum working class residents, most working at Tredegar Iron Works, moved there, it seemed they were traveling to the distant Oregon Territory. It is a still very much a working class neighbourhood. Many of the homes, which once served as slums for workers in nearby factories, have origins in the late 19th to early 20th Century. It is a zone in transition: while it is an historic zone with some old houses being renovated, some old homes give way to new development.
Favorite thing: Everybody knows downtown Richmond with all its gleaming skyscrapers, but who has ever heard of uptown Richmond? Uptown Richmond is a specific stretch of West Main Street known for its bright, multicoloured buildings. If you didn't know you were in Richmond, you would guess you were in the Caribbean- a place such as Curaçao- where such colourful buildings are common.
The Historic Fan District is large Victorian residential neighborhood immediately west of the Richmond downtown commercial area. I walked along West Franklin Street (on my picture) and Monument Avenue which form 2.2-mile long axis of the district. Map here.
In the period 1880 - 1920 a lot of rich newcomers came to live in fast growing Richmond and thosands of amazing houses, residences, churches and other buildings were built in the district.
I found extraordinary variety of styles and building treatments in the Fan District. I have never seen so many architectural styles mixed at one area. Unbelievable!
- Richardson Romanesque,
- Queen Anne,
- Colonial Revival
- Second Empire,
- Beaux Arts,
- Art Deco,
- the American Arts and Crafts Movement.
Details in my Must See Activity tips.
Fondest memory: Hospitality of my friend Nat (b1bob) and amazing architecture of homes in the Fan District.
Favorite thing: I enjoyed walking the streets of Richmond and realizing all of the history that has occurred here. This is Cary Street in the Shockoe District downtown.