Back to the future of Richmond, Virginia-Atlanta Magazine

2021-12-16 07:07:39 By : Mr. haibiao chen

Photo courtesy of Fred Mortion/Scenic Virginia

In 1737, British plantation owner William Byrd II climbed up a hill in central Virginia, marveling at the sight before him. The broad blue-green James River slowly curves to the southwest and enters dense woodland, reminding him of the scenery he saw near London when he was a child, overlooking the royal village of Richmond on the Thames. He decided to establish a settlement in the area and named it Richmond.

Today, Libby Mountain Park near Richmond Chapel Hill sits on this hill. On mild nights, it is full of dog walkers, yoga groups practicing postures, and the whispers of FaceTiming between tourists and friends on park benches. Overlooking the southern part of the park, the panorama that fascinated Bird in 1737 remained almost unchanged.

In a colonial city, history is always close at hand—especially a city with the state capitol designed by Thomas Jefferson and the tombs of two other presidents (James Monroe and John Taylor). Nevertheless, Richmond strives not only to showcase its heritage, but also to prove that it is the home of innovative products that attract modern visitors.

In the neighborhoods of Richmond, people can best appreciate this balanced approach. Here, we explored three historical districts that continue to open up new worlds.

Photo courtesy of Visit Richmond Virginia

The oldest residential area in Richmond is named after its most famous landmark, St. John’s Episcopal Church. In 1775, colonial lawyer Patrick Henry urged the congressmen gathered in the church to resist British rule and issued one of the most famous lines in American history: "Give me freedom, or I will die."

Jenny L. Cote is the award-winning author of the Epic Seven Medal in the Young Adult History series. She said that every time she visits the church, she feels the past. "That 18th-century brick tastes a bit like," she said. "When I walked through that church door, walked towards the majestic spire, and walked into the hall, the gravity of history was hanging in the air."

Edgar Allan Poe grew up in Richmond in the early 1800s and later supplemented his meagre writing income by reciting "The Crow" and other famous works in the living rooms of wealthy residents of Chapel Hill. The community offers three websites to pay tribute to the horror writer who became one of the first best-selling authors in the United States.

The personal handicrafts, letters and manuscripts in the Poe Museum's collection explore the often tortured life of this writer. Highlights include his childhood bed, his walking stick, and a lock of hair cut after his death. The exhibits are displayed in three historical buildings, all of which surround an outdoor garden, inspired by Poe’s poem "To One in Paradise". When tourists walk among the flowers mentioned in the poem, they are occasionally frightened by the two cats in the museum (which are naturally black).

Poe’s mother, an actress, died when he was two years old and was buried on the edge of the cemetery around St. John’s Church. Poe's adolescent sweetheart Sarah Elmira Shelton (Sarah Elmira Shelton) stands across the street from her grave in a three-story brick house, who later became his fiancee. (Some scholars believe that she was the inspiration for the author's two famous works, "Annabel Lee" and "The Crow.") The house still attracts fans who are eager to see the architecture that the author visited in September 1849. Bid farewell to his fiancee before the business trip; ten days later, he mysteriously died in Baltimore.

The charm of Chapel Hill is not limited to its past. The neighbourhood is known as a gourmet destination and has some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the city. Tourists come to Alewife to enjoy a plate of Virginia oysters and crispy bass. Alewife was named the best new restaurant in the South in 2020 by Southern Life. At James Beard’s favorite Roosevelt restaurant, Jared Martin-once the personal chef of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonald-made crispy lamb and rabbit pies.

"This is a historic and charming neighborhood, and now it is a place that serves delicious food," said Evan Dogu, who owns Sub Rosa Bakery with her brother Evrim Dogu, which is a restaurant in 2020 The wood-burning bakery nominated for the Beard Award in the year. "You feel like you have slipped into your country house, but it's only five minutes from the city center."

Kendra Feather, co-founder of Roosevelt Restaurant, said Chapel Hill is more than just a community. "Chapel Hill is more like a small town on the edge of Richmond. Many Richmond people forget its south. When you pass the sidewalk, people will say "Hi", which is authentic. Bakery, parks, Playground-we all share these spaces. There are many levels of history here, and it feels almost European."

When Gary Flowers walked the streets of the Jackson Ward neighborhood of Richmond, he saw a vibrant past. Looking at a four-story beige brick building, he thought of the top-floor office occupied by Maggie Walker in the early 1900s when she was the first black woman in a chartered bank in the United States. On North Second Street, he imagined the arena theaters in the 1930s and 1940s filled with crowds, when artists such as Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald helped Richmond win the "Southern Harlem" Nickname. On Leigh Street, he described the gathering of black scholars and PhDs in the first half of the 20th century to teach at the former Armstrong High School, the first high school opened for African Americans in Richmond.

Photo courtesy of Visit Richmond Virginia

In the heyday of the early 20th century, Jackson Ward was known as Black Wall Street, sharing this title with Durham, North Carolina and Tulsa, Oklahoma. But Flowers believes that this distinction belongs to Richmond. "There is no shame or shadow, but they don't have 300 black companies. They don't have seven black insurance companies. They don't have five black banks," said Flowers, a fourth-generation resident and his company, Walking the Ward, is in charge Community tourism.

In 1978, Jackson Ward was designated as a National Historic Landmark District and celebrated its 150th birthday this year. Considering Richmond’s history as one of the largest markets for enslaved Africans, it is one of the earliest black urban communities in the United States. It is located in a city and it is estimated that a quarter of African Americans can be traced back to them. Pedigree. Although named after the Civil War general Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, Ward cultivated the first generation of free blacks.

The most famous-the aforementioned banker Maggie L. Walker-was awarded the honor by the National Park Service, which preserves her Italian-style mansion. Carefully read the Art Nouveau lamps and exquisite Asian ceramics that adorn the entrance living room, where she hosted some of the most important black leaders of her time. Walker was born in 1864, Jeff Bezos of her day. In addition to a bank and an insurance company, she also runs a newspaper and a department store, where dark-skinned mannequins show the latest fashion. In 1904, half a century before Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat in Montgomery, Walker led a two-year boycott of the city’s segregated trams. Eventually put them out of business. Later, she ran for public office across the state.

In the neighborhood near Walker’s home, the gorgeous Lee Street Armory served the city’s black militia in the 1890s. Now, its jagged brick tower and turret are home to the Richmond Museum of Black History, which records 400 years of struggle for equality.

Jackson Ward is also famous for its nightlife. Most of them are concentrated on the Second Street called Deuce, where musicians such as Bill "Bojangles" Robinson attract a large crowd. As a famous tap dancer in the first half of the 20th century and the highest-paid black artist in the United States, Robinson used his many talents to break racial barriers, starred in some of Broadway’s first mixed-race shows, and played with the young star Shirley Temple Together as the first interracial dance duo in Hollywood. The city remembers its native son, and there is a statue in the center nearby—Richmond was the first to pay tribute to a black man.

Robinson died in 1949, just before the newly constructed Interstate 95 crossed the community center, causing a near-death blow to the community. After more than half a century, the area has only just begun to recover.

The leader is Mama J's Kitchen. It is a semi-finalist of the 2019 James Beard Awards and is praised for its fresh southern dishes such as fried chicken, catfish nuggets, crab cakes, candied yam and lemon cake. It’s all served in a modern white tablecloth restaurant with pressed tin ceilings and a bar.

Lester Johnson and his mother Velma Johnson co-own Mama J's, the former Richmond Deputy Sheriff. He said that although their soul food is enough to be a reason to visit Jackson Ward, the community offers something more important: "To immerse yourself in the history of the South, the history of Virginia, you have to contact the base of Jackson Ward. ,"He said. "A lot of what is happening now is to ensure that the complete story is told. If you want the complete story," he said, pointing to the surrounding buildings, "this is part of it."

According to Enjoli Moon, co-founder of Project JXN, a group dedicated to discovering the little-known stories of Black Richmond, Jackson Ward is a community that every visitor must explore. "In many ways, Jackson Ward is the birthplace of black entrepreneurship and black autonomy... Jackson Ward is full of vitality, unless you spend some time connecting with Richmond, you can’t really understand Richmond. Full and respect your time in this city."

Photo courtesy of Visit Richmond Virginia

In the Happy World toy store, a three-foot-tall lava lamp in the window attracts curious shoppers to explore. Across the street from Lex, piles of storybook bridal gowns attract brides-to-be. Near the block, Can Can Brasserie is a charming cafe with authentic French fish soup on the menu.

You can find almost anything along Cary Street, nine blocks from Carytown. In a world of bland cookie-cutter shops and corporate restaurants offering the same merchandise and menus, the surprising artery nearby offers another option. Open any door on the street and you can expect to discover something unexpected: creative retail.

"We have a'shop-local' atmosphere in this city," said Thea Brown, the owner of Happy World, which sells "I support human rights" jumpsuits, football suits and pug-shaped playing cards. "You will find things you can't find elsewhere."

Photo courtesy of Visit Richmond Virginia

This has been the case for nearly a century. In 1928, Cary Street ushered in the Byrd Theatre, a charming movie palace with the Mighty Wurlitzer organ still in use today. This street soon added Cary Court Park and Shop Center, which was one of the first shopping malls in the United States. On the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the center in 1963, Chairman Cora B. Gow vowed to avoid homogeneity and instead support independent provision: "We have too much competition to lower our standards... We have monopoly here. The shop is unique."

The surrounding neighborhoods are filled with equally unique boutiques and businesses. These include: Babe's, one of the oldest lesbian bars in the city, with a sand volleyball court behind it. Since 1981, Plan 9 Records has been selling old vinyl records one block away. Chop Suey Books provides new and used books, and focuses on books with a focus on Richmond. For the Love of Chocolate sells thousands of candies, from Leonidas Belgian truffles to bags of Cadbury Crunchie Bits.

Carytown, surrounded by residential areas, feels like a local secret. Tom Rothman, who runs a commercial real estate business, goes to the Sugar & Twine coffee shop to taste pastries and atmosphere almost every morning. "I have been here for many years," he said. "You can feel the energy. As you can imagine."

Guadalupe Ramírez-Blevins traced her tenure in Carytown back to 1994, when she sold Central American handicrafts from the table during the popular Watermelon Festival in the shopping district. She looked at a store across the street and vowed that one day she would open a store there. Five years later, she did it. Her store, AlterNatives, specializes in biodegradable clothing and accessories, including linens, organic cotton, and repurposed decorative handbags made in collaboration with the widows of the Guatemalan Highlands.

She said Carriton reminded her of the small village near the border between Guatemala and Mexico where she grew up. Her mother is a baker, her father carves tombstones, and her grandmother is a sommelier who runs a bar. "In this place, every family has its own business, and we all support each other," she said. "That's it here." ¡

Stan McCulloch, co-owner of the Mongrel gift shop in Carytown, said the vibrant shops and restaurants nearby attract an equally vibrant crowd. "Whether you are 65 or 18 years old, the area will attract customers who are interested in new things. When you have a sufficient number of these people, you will feel real vitality."

This article was published in the Southbound 2021 Fall/Winter issue.