Richmond & Jacksonville: More In Common Than You Think

November 12, 2013 35 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Historically, Jacksonville has more in common with this city than the average person can believe. Common features have included tolls on Interstate 95, Interstate 295 as a beltway, being a headquarters for CSX, festival marketplaces, Harlems of the South and underutilized urban waterways. However, when it comes to downtown revitalization, adaptive reuse and historic preservation, Richmond has been more than willing to work with existing building fabric. Here is a look at some common links Downtown Jacksonville shares with Downtown Richmond.

Tale of the Tape:

Richmond City Population 2012: 210,309 (City); 1,231,980 (Metro 2012) - (incorporated in 1737)

Jacksonville City Population 2012: 836,507 (City); 1,377,850 (Metro 2012) - (incorporated in 1832)

City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); Richmond (230,310)

City Land Area

Richmond: 60.1 square miles
Jacksonville: 747.0 square miles

Metropolitan Area Growth rate (2010-2012)

Richmond: +1.98%
Jacksonville: +2.40%

Urban Area Population (2010 census)

Richmond: 953,556 (ranked 45 nationwide)
Jacksonville: 1,065,219 (ranked 40 nationwide)

Urban Area Population Density (2010 census)

Richmond: 1,937.5 people per square mile
Jacksonville: 2,008.5 people per square mile

City Population Growth from 2010 to 2012

Richmond: +6,095
Jacksonville: +14,723

Convention Center Exhibition Space:

Richmond: Greater Richmond Convention Center - 178,000 square feet
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1985) - 78,500 square feet

Connected to or across the street from Convention Center:

Richmond: Richmond Marriott (410 rooms), Hilton Garden Inn Richmond Downtown/Miller & Rhoads (250 rooms)
Jacksonville: N/A

Tallest Building/Structure:

Richmond: James Monroe Building - 449 feet
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet

Fortune 500 companies 2013 (City limits only):

Richmond: Altria Group (156), Dominion Resources (187), Genworth Financial (258), CarMax (279), MeadWestvaco (406)
Jacksonville: CSX (231), Fidelity National Financial (353), Fidelity National Information Services (434)

Urban infill obstacles:

Richmond: Limited access highways cut downtown off from the riverfront and adjacent neighborhoods.
Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut downtown off from Springfield.

Downtown Nightlife District:

Richmond: Shockoe Slip, Shockoe Bottom
Jacksonville: The Elbow, The Jacksonville Landing

Common Downtown Albatross:

Surface parking lots

Who's Downtown is more walkable?

Richmond: 93 out of 100, according to
Jacksonville: 78 out of 100, according to

About Downtown Richmond

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. However large areas of the town were allowed to fall into disrepair until the creation of large swathes of HUD priority areas in the worst areas. Developers were quick to take advantage of the generous re-development loans especially since there was a ready-made market in the form of students requiring cheap housing.


Interstate 95

The James River Bridge (Interstate 95) with the downtown Richmond skyline in the background.

The only two major cities Interstate 95 travels through between Washington, DC and South Florida are Jacksonville and Richmond.  Also, for much of the 20th century, tolls were charged on Interstate 95 in both Jacksonville and Richmond.  Tolls in Richmond were removed in 1992.

CSX Headquarters

CSX's former headquarters was located on the 20th floor of 901 East Cary Street. 901 East Cary is the second tallest white building in the center of this image from the James River Bridge.

Before relocating to Jacksonville in 2003, CSX was headquartered in Richmond. CSX had set up its Richmond headquarters in 1980 as a compromise between its two predecessor companies, Cleveland's Chessie System Inc. and Jacksonville's Seaboard Coast Line Industries Inc. Despite the loss of CSX, Richmond remains a popular location for Fortune 500 companies. Fortune 500 companies based in Richmond today, include Altria Group (156), Dominion Resources (187), Genworth Financial (258), CarMax (279) and MeadWestvaco (406).

According to a recent report by the International Downtown Association, 80,313 people are employed within a one mile radius of Downtown Richmond.

General George Washington Statue at the Virginia State Capitol.

Rouse Festival Marketplaces

In 1985, Rouse's Six Street Festival Marketplace opened at the intersection of Sixth and Broad as a part of a plan to revitalize downtown Richmond's retail scene. When it opened, the marketplace had more than 50 tenants with the Miller & Rhoads and Thalhimers department stores as its anchors. Like Rouse's Jacksonville Landing, the center never lived up to expectations. Sixth Street Marketplace was demolished in 2003.

Harlems of the South

Like Jacksonville's LaVilla, Richmond's Jackson Ward is a historically black district that was once called the Harlem of the South. Like LaVilla, Jackson Ward was split in two with the construction of Interstate 95 during the 1950s. Like LaVilla, Richmond's convention center is located on the edge of the historic district. Unlike LaVilla, much of Jackson Ward's historic urban housing stock still exists today.

Underutilized Urban Waterways

In 1999, Richmond completed its canal walk project, a refurbishment of a 1.25-mile segment of the Haxall Canal and the James River & Kanawha Canal that had fallen into disuse. Intended to be a tourist destination, the canal walk is similar to those in San Antonio and Indianapolis and an example of what Jacksonville's Hogans creek once was.

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