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15 interesting facts about Richmond

How well do you know Richmond? We’re bringing you some fun facts about the city and its history. If you’re a trivia master (or local enthusiast), give this a try.


Richmond in the 1920s. | Photo via VCU Libraries Digital Collections

Did you know Edgar Allan Poe lived in Richmond?

Nah, just kidding. If you know us, you know we’re here for the deep cuts — and there’s plenty of interesting factoids to go around. We put together this list of some interesting facts about the River City.

Maybe you’ve lived here your whole life and know some of these — or maybe you’ll learn something new. Either way, test your knowledge with these 15 interesting facts.

1. In 1900, Richmond was the South’s most densely populated city. ~85,000 residents resided within a five-square-mile area.

2. Canned beer made its debut in Richmond. On Jan. 24, 1935, the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company delivered 2,000 cans of beer and cream ale to the 804.

3. Sibling actors Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty were both born in Richmond in the 1930s.

4. In 1888, Richmond became the first city to introduce a reliable electric streetcar system as part of its public transit infrastructure. Designed by Frank Julian Sprague, the Richmond Union Passenger Railway was the first practical system to be implemented after 74 attempts in other communities in North America and Europe.

5. Trolley service in Richmond ended in 1949 and rapid transit would not return to the city until 2018, when the Pulse opened.

6. The James is one of the longest rivers in the country that begins and ends in the same state.

7. There’s a network of tunnels underneath Capitol Square which connects state office buildings, VCU Health buildings, and the Executive Mansion. Built in the 1930s and closed after 9/11, the tunnels were used for utility lines, but pedestrians and workers also used the system to avoid rainy days or make deliveries.

8. The Triple Crossing (near the North side of the Mayo Bridge) is one of only two places in North America where three Class I railroads cross at different levels in the same spot. It’s also the namesake of a local brewery.

9. Although there have been staged photographs of three trains passing each other on the Triple Crossing, there’s no photographic evidence of a spontaneous moment. That we know of — if you’ve got the pics, we’d love to see ‘em.

10. The Wurlitzer Organ at The Byrd Theatre is one of about 40 surviving instruments from the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company. It was installed when the theater was built in 1928.

11. From 2003-2009, the Highland Games & Celtic Festival brought the sport of ferret-legging. It’s an endurance test where contestants put ferrets down their pants and see who can last the longest.

12. Richmond’s floodwall has 19 gates, but there’s never been a situation where all of the gates have been closed.

13. The James River’s claim to fame is that is has the only Class IV white water rapids in a major US city. The classification is for long, difficult rapids which require complex maneuvering.

14. Several movies and television shows have been filmed in Richmond, including “Dopesick,” “Homeland,” and “Lincoln.” In “My Dinner with Andre,” the titular dinner was filmed in the ballroom of the Jefferson Hotel.

15. You probably know that Historic St. John’s Church was the site of Patrick Henry’s “Liberty or Death” speech, but the church was also the first public cemetery in the city.

Your turn. Think you can get one over on us? Let us know your favorite local trivia tidbit and you just might make it into the newsletter.

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