The Greater Richmond Region and the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes the city of Richmond, are located in Virginia. The city has been independent since 1871 and is now the state capital. Richmond’s population was 204,214 as of the 2010 census; by 2020, this number had risen to 226,610, making Richmond the fourth-largest city in Virginia. The metro area has a population of 1,260,029, the third-greatest in the state.
The city of Richmond is located at the fall line of the James River, which is 44 miles (71 km) west of Williamsburg, 66 miles (106 km) east of Charlottesville, 91 miles (146 km) east of Lynchburg, and 92 miles (148 km) from Washington, D.C. Virginia State Routes 150 and 288 encircle the city, which is at the crossroads of Interstate 95 and Interstate 64. Suburbs include Midlothian to the southwest, Chesterfield to the south, Varina to the southeast, Sandston to the east, Glen Allen to the north, Short Pump to the west, and Mechanicsville to the northeast.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the city occupies 62 square miles (160 km2), of which 60 square miles (160 km2) are land and 2.7 square miles (7.0 km2) (4.3%) are water. The James River is the highest navigable point of Virginia’s Piedmont region. The Piedmont region is a low, rolling region between the Tidewater region and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The James River, the Appomattox River, and the Chickahominy Rivers are among the region’s essential bodies of water.
The Richmond-Petersburg Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), the 44th largest in the United States, includes the independent cities of Richmond, Colonial Heights, Hopewell, and Petersburg, as well as the counties of Charles City, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, Powhatan, and Prince George.
Richmond was founded in 1737 and was a critical Powhatan village until English colonists from Jamestown briefly lived there in 1609 and 1610. The city was established in 1780, replacing Williamsburg as the capital of Virginia’s Colony and Dominion 1780. During the Revolutionary War period, several important events took place in Richmond. These include Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death” speech at St. John’s Church in 1775 and Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. During the American Civil War, Richmond was the Confederacy’s capital.
The law, finance, and government sectors are the primary drivers of Richmond’s economy, with federal, state, and local governmental agencies and prominent legal and banking firms located downtown. The city is home to a U.S. Court of Appeals, one of 13 such courts, and a Federal Reserve Bank, one of 12 such banks. Dominion Energy and WestRock, both Fortune 500 companies, are headquartered there, as are others in the metropolitan area.
The Canal Walk, a new Greater Richmond Convention Center, and expansions on both VCU campuses make up Richmond’s revitalized downtown. The Richmond CenterStage, a new performing arts center, opened on September 12, 2009. This complex included renovating the Carpenter Centre and the construction of a new multipurpose hall, community playhouse, and arts education center in portions of the old Thalhimers department store.
Several restaurants around the city, including those in the Fan, Church Hill, Jackson Ward, and elsewhere, are drawing regional and national attention for their food. In August 2014, Richmond was named ‘the Next Great American Food City’ by Departures magazine. In addition, Metzger Bar & Butchery made its ‘Best New Restaurants: 12 To Watch’ list. Craft beer, cider, and liquor production are also rising in River City, with a dozen microbreweries. Legend Brewery, founded in 1994, is the oldest. Buskey Cider and Blue Bee Cider are both found in Scott’s Addition, a popular drinking area. Nine breweries, one meadery, and one distillery can all be located in the neighborhood. Reservoir Distillery, Belle Isle Craft Spirits, and James River Distillery, all of which were established in 2010, 2013, and 2014, respectively, are three distilleries.
The metro region is also gaining attention from the movie and television industry, thanks to several high-profile films in recent years, including Lincoln, which earned Daniel Day-Lewis his third Oscar. Richmond was the primary location for the PBS drama series Mercy Street that aired in winter 2016. Other organizations, including the Virginia Film Office and the Virginia Production Alliance, as well as events like the Richmond International Film Festival and the French Film Festival, continue to draw fans of film and media to the region.
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