Downtown Richmond, Virginia
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Downtown Richmond, Virginia, is central urban area of that city. It is generally defined as being bound by Belvidere Street to the west, I-95 to the north and east, and the James River to the south. The Fan district borders it to the west, Highland Park to the north, Church Hill to the east, and Manchester to the south.
Buildings and towers 
Richmond is widely considered the "tallest" city in Virginia because of its several hundreds of buildings that rise in what is Richmond's central business district. The James Monroe Building and SunTrust Plaza tower over 449 ft, and 400 ft, respectively, making them the tallest buildings in Richmond and second and third tallest in the state behind the The Westin Virginia Beach Town Center at 508 ft. Other towering skyscrapers include the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Bank of America Plaza, the James Center, Richmond City Hall, the Riverfront Plaza twin towers, the James Madison Building, Dominion Resources headquarters building, Main Street Center, the Central National Bank (Richmond, Virginia), and the VCU Medical Center. The VCU Medical Center's campus has several hospitals, most that tower over 200 feet, and now the new School of Medicine is under construction and will be 12 stories. Also, other buildings in several styles are in Downtown. There is the Richmond Coliseum, the Greater Richmond Convention Center, the 6th Street Marketplace, and all of the nightclubs, bars, condo towers, and lofts of Shockoe Bottom and Shockoe Slip.
From slave traders to skyscrapers 
From the 1800s, downtown Richmond was a booming city, one of the largest in the nation, and a major player in the slave trade market. The district now known as Shockoe Bottom was the largest and most famous slave trade market in the entire nation, with people traveling from the South to trade, purchase, or sell slaves. When the Civil War came, though, Richmond became much of a military town, serving as the capital of the newly formed Confederate States of America. As the war came to an end, the South, in a last resort, deliberately set fire to Richmond, so that when the Union troops arrived, the entire city was ablaze. The troops tried to extinguish the fire, but 80 percent of the buildings of Downtown Richmond was completely burnt to the ground. In the era of Reconstrucion, Richmond devised to rebuild and prosper back to the top as it once was, and quickly rebuilt itself. Now that all of the slaves were free, Richmond saw new economic opportunities in other businesses, such as finance, retail, and banking. In the 1920s, America shifted into an Art Deco period, which included the construction of many fancy buildings in Downtown Richmond, notably the Central Bank Building. Also, department retailers saw investment in the downtown sector, and opened up flagships. This included Sears & Roebuck, Thalhimers, and Miller & Rhoads. But the slow yet massive move out into suburban areas began making its mark on Downtown, as these department stores expanded out to the new suburban shopping centers, and eventually Sears closed the downtown store, and Thalhimers and Miller & Rhoads went defunct in the 90s. Although retail was becoming less and less of a viable economy for downtown, banking and big business began booming, and in the 1960s, Richmond began a massive build-out, which included the construction of over 600 buildings. This would go on into the 80s, until the last few skyscrapers were topped out. In 1978, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, designed by renowned architect Minoru Yamasaki, debuted. Now, the economy of Richmond is booming, with several Fortune 500 companies headquartered there. Dominion Resources, MeadWestvaco, and Universal are among those headquartered in the downtown district. MeadWestvaco built its new headquarters in 2010.
Residents, apartments, and lofts 
The Shockoe Bottom and Shockoe Slip districts have successfully turned its tobacco warehouses and factories into lofts and apartments. The Canal Walk will have a major build-out that will result in more condo towers, retail, and dining options, turning it into a nightlife hotspot for Downtown Richmond. The Manchester district also is now converting former factories into huge apartment and loft complexes, and now markets itself as a part of Downtown. A study also shows that nearly 40,000 people live in the Downtown area, compared to the 204,000 people living in the city altogether, and officials say that number is going to skyrocket, with the openings of new complexes, such as the residential conversion of the historic John Marshall hotel, or the new construction of Shockoe Valley Heights, a large residential development in Shockoe Bottom, or the wildly successful redevelopment of Tobacco Row, a huge row of old tobacco warehouses aligned on Cary Street. Richmond is known for its loft conversions, and always has at least 10 conversion projects going on at one time. The number of lofts available always stays rather low, due to the high demand there is for nice, spacious living space in such a historic and modern city core. Mayor Dwight C. Jones has taken it up to City Council to begin taking more advantage of this, and is planning on building large apartment and condominium towers on the Canal Walk, an area that was built in 1999 to restore such a historic site and turn it into a tourist destination for Richmond, but when it didn't get the results expected, Richmond is now pursuing several development projects that will visually enhance the look of the rather dull and empty space. The city projects that it will take at least $50 million in infrastructure to build its current vision for the property, named "Reynolds North" because of the fact that Reynolds Metals owned a plant that goes over the Canal and separates it from the other canal. It is to be demolished to reconnect the broken canals and will then be built on from there.
Revitalization success and future plans 
Richmond's downtown is rich in history, and the City Council has now approved a new tourism plan, that will gain exposure for Richmond as a premier location for anything. The city tourism has seen changes in slogans and logos, but is now touting itself for its creativity, artistic qualities, economic balance, history and preservation, and riverfront. Also, the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park, (located north of the Richmond Coliseum), markets itself as a premier office park for research. The Richmond region has successfully established a true urban core, but officials worry that if the city doesn't reinvent itself or revitalize it, Downtown will become a crime-ridden, dilapidated, dark place. In 2009, the City of Richmond released the Downtown Master Plan, which includes many areas including City Center, Shockoe Bottom, Shockoe Slip, the Riverfront, Monroe Ward, and Jackson Ward. The plan is to build upward and build taller buildings to preserve its urban nature and feel. Condo towers are now a major part of Richmond's visions for a perfect, livable city. The city hopes to market its downtown as the perfect place to live, work, and play. Also, retail is a major issue, with the fact that no major national chain stores are located in downtown or its direct vicinity. Mayor Dwight C. Jones hopes to also solve that with the revitalization of the train shed connected to Main Street Station, which itself will be improved to run a newly expanded form of rapid transportation: high-speed rail.
Downtown Richmond also is home to some of the nations biggest festivals, too, including the National Folk Festival from 2005 to 2007, which spawned the Richmond Folk Festival, which is now one of the biggest festivals in the state, drawing as much as 200,000 people in its weekend long schedule. It takes place each year on Brown's Island and the surrounding area. There is also the National Beer Festival, which was scheduled to come to Richmond for 2011, but will return next year on account that it was cancelled under mysterious circumstances. There are much more festivals that bring nearly a million people to Richmond every year. There is also the 2nd Street Festival in Jackson Ward, considered part of Downtown, and an Italian Festival, the Que Pasa? Hispanic Festival, and in the holidays, the James Center Grand Illumination.
- Richmond Downtown Aerial Photos