400-Years Worth of History Everywhere You Go
On a recent October morning, I pulled myself out of bed for a lazy jog. The woman from my running app directed me to my usual loop, which routes me cityward from North Boulevard down Monument Avenue. I like that route. It’s straightforward and Monument’s grassy mall is easy on my awful knees. Plus, early autumn offers a stark, stunning contrast moving from the leafy pin oaks west of the Boulevard to the barren maples lining the easternmost stretch of Monument.
That morning, for whatever reason, maybe the slight hangover chipping at my emotional barriers or my lack of desire to exercise, that morning I couldn’t focus on my run. Instead, I hit the J.E.B. Stuart statue and stopped, overwhelmed by the area. By the Major General’s plumed hat and his horse’s combative posture. By the architectural showcase, the towering ornamented Stuart Court Apartments, and the First English Lutheran Church, complete with flanking bell towers and everything that makes a good Gothic Revival. It’s a very special part of a city rich in historical, cultural and architectural landmarks.
That’s something I love about Richmond and something even RVA lifers take for granted. You can’t jog a block without hitting a historical site. After all, the area’s 400-year history is an exemplary window into this country’s founding, civil turmoil and rebirth. This is the city where Patrick Henry demanded liberty or death. It’s a city built on top of slave trade routes and marked by controversial monuments to men out of time. It’s a city where new ventures grow in aged buildings still painted with logos of long-gone businesses.
– Jack Boland, 26 year resident of Richmond