Richmond City Guide
The city of Richmond, located at the Falls of the James River, is an independent city and the capital of Virginia. An intriguing mix of new and old, Richmond is a city that embraces progress even as it honors its heritage and tradition. Richmond features a thriving financial center and one of the oldest municipal park systems in the U.S. Also known as "River City," Richmond is frequently described as "a big city with a small town feel."
When Captain John Smith explored the James River in 1607, his progress was impeded by "great craggy stones in the midst of the river, where the water falleth so rudely, and with such a violence, as not any boat can pass." However, where Smith saw an obstacle, many settlers saw opportunity. A number of small mills sprang up in the area, taking advantage of the power provided by the Falls of the James. It was not until 1737 that William Byrd II, having inherited the land from his father, actually founded the town of Richmond. Inspired by the similarities between the James and Thames Rivers, he named the town in honor of the London suburb Richmond-upon-Thames. The community grew quickly; the mighty falls provided power for Richmond's iron factories and the tidal waters below the falls created ideal land for tobacco farming.