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Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It was settled in 1607 by an English settler named Christopher Newport. The site previously inhabited by the Powhatan Indians. It was named Richmond after the London suburb of Richmond-upon-Thames. The settlement did not become a city until 1742, and in the 135 years in between served as little more than a trading post for furs, hides, and tobacco. In 1782 Richmond became the state capital of Virginia.
Richmond is one of the oldest American cities, and boasts history that even other cities on the east coast cannot claim. During the Civil War, it served as the capital of the Confederacy, and when the Northern Army invaded Richmond, the city was bombarded and burned to the ground. Though much of its colonial past has disappeared, it is rich in Civil War history and lore. There is, among other things, a Civil War prison on Belle Isle, the house Robert E. Lee lived in, the state Capitol (Which Thomas Jefferson said was inspired by the Maison Carrée at Nimes, France) which served as the Confederate Capitol during the war, a museum of the Confederacy, and a massive Civil War graveyard in the heart of the city. It has the most forged iron outside of New Orleans, and one of the first African American neighborhoods (Jackson Ward).
Richmond has been called a city of neighborhoods, each one with a distinct look, flavor, and identity. The Fan, the Southside, Jackson Ward, Orgeon Hill, and Church Hill, to name but a few, are recognized by Richmonders as unique neighborhoods, almost as though the city were a collection of several small towns.
Richmond is about two hours south of Washington, DC by car, located directly on Interstate 95. Interstate 64 also crosses Richmond, where the two highways intersect. Access from Chesterfield and Midlothian is provided by US 76, the Powhite (pronounced POW-hite) Parkway.
Two Amtrak train stations serve Richmond. Main Street station is a recently renovated station, located in the heart of the downtown. Staples Mills station is a bit farther away, and a taxi will need to be taken to the city itself. Travellers should be warned that CSX's ACCA rail yard, a major freight hub, substantially slows rail traffic entering and exiting the city.
An international airport, RIC, is located in nearby Sandston, about an $18 taxi trip. Chesterfield Airport, to the south of the city, handles personal light aircraft.
The easiest way to get around Richmond is by car. Roadside parking spaces are relatively easy to find. The city is laid out on a grid system and is easy to navigate, however, many streets in the oldest parts of the city are very narrow and one-way.
The Greater Richmond Transit Company, or GRTC, operates a bus service across the city and partially into neighboring Henrico and Chesterfield Counties. The average fare is $1.25.