12 Fun Facts to Know About Richmond, Virginia
Whether you’re new to the area or you’ve called the Union’s 10th state home for as long as you can remember, there’s a lot to love about living in the Greater Richmond area. But part of what makes it so uniquely charming and wonderful are the fun and often interesting facts you’ll find here.
To celebrate this uniqueness, we’ve compiled an equally distinctive list of some of the more fascinating informational tid-bits about Richmond, Chesterfield County and even Magnolia Green—all for your entertainment and, perhaps, enlightenment. However, two of them may be more fun than fact. Can you figure out which two are the truth imposters?
Fact 1: Good manners have been part of the Chesterfield county from the beginning
Chesterfield County was officially created on May 25, 1749. The county was named for the former British Secretary of State, Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield who was famous for his exceptional manners.
Fact 2: Chesterfield county has a “sister”
In 2005, Chesterfield County formed a relationship with the Borough of Gravesham in Kent, England as part of a celebration commemorating the founding of Jamestown. The two “sister communities” both boast cities with historical significance regarding Pocahontas: She was buried in the town of Gravesend on the River Thames while her native village was believed to be Matoaca in Chesterfield County.
Fact 3: Richmond is known for good grub
Virginia’s capital has long been a destination for good eats. However, in recent years, the dining scene has sizzled its way onto the national stage, due largely to its ability to lure top chefs with lower rents and the veritable buffet of culturally unique culinary concepts that continue to win people—and palates—over in every way possible.
Fact 4: The Richmond Union Passenger Railway was the first electric streetcar in the U.S.
While earlier attempts had been made to effectively replace the existing animal-hauled street railways throughout the country and in Europe, Richmond was the first city to successfully integrate a reliable electric streetcar system into its public transportation offerings.
Fact 5: Magnolia Green is an homage to “Magnum P.I.”
The story of how Magnolia Green got its name is too unique to be fabricated. Well into construction of the new community, developers were still at a loss for what to call it. That quickly changed when key investors learned they had a shared love for the ‘80s television series “Magnum P.I.” Ultimately, they landed on Magnolia Green by combining the star character’s name, Thomas Sullivan Magnum III, with the name of his frequent nemesis, Colonel “Buck” Greene.
Fact 6: You can see London from Richmond
Okay, maybe not literally. But Richmond was named after the English town of Richmond (now part of London) because the view of the James River was very similar to the view of the River Thames from Richmond Hill in England.
Fact 7: Everyone’s favorite poet grew up in Richmond
Admittedly, Edgar Allen Poe might not be everyone’s favorite poet. But you can’t deny how he uniquely put the “Poe” in poetry. Not only does the Edgar Allen Poe Museum house many of his works and some of his personal effects, it’s also considered one of the oldest buildings in Richmond.
Fact 8: “My Dinner with Andre” was shot in Richmond
The entire movie, starring Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, was shot at the Jefferson Hotel. But that is hardly the only time Richmond has provided a beautiful backdrop on the silver screen. Here are several other movies that feature filming in Richmond, Virginia.
Fact 9: The Jefferson Hotel used to have live alligators
Speaking of the Jefferson Hotel, up until the late 1940s, it was home to several live alligators. Many of these alligators had taken up residence in the Palm Court lobby following a fire that destroyed much of the structure in 1901. Over time, more gators were generously donated by guests and community members who had brought gators home from Florida but quickly discovered they grew too big to be kept as pets. The last alligator to live in the hotel’s marble pools died in 1948. Today, guests are greeted at the entrance by bronze gator statues.
Fact 10: Yes, rat basketball is a thing
Believe it or not, rodents playing basketball is actually a spectator sport at the Science Museum of Virginia. These conditioned rats play on a tiny court and work to put a tiny ball through an equally tiny hoop. For details on the “how” and the “why,” you’ll just have to check it out for yourself.
Fact 11: Magnolia Green benefited from taking a gap year
Like many young communities, Magnolia Green decided to take a gap year before enrolling in community college and ultimately settling down as an award-winning, master-planned community in Chesterfield County. During that year, the curiously ambitious community backpacked throughout Europe and the United States, primarily observing other successful community developments, as well as taking in some amazing culture, landscape and history.
Fact 12: People love living here
Richmond been called the “Best U.S. Historical Destination” and was at the head of Forbes Magazine’s list of top cities for up-and-coming entrepreneurs. It’s also received “top” distinctions in several other categories, including cities to see Christmas lights, cities for celebrating the Fourth of July, and many others. With all these accolades, it’s really no surprise people call it one of the best places to live.
Bottom line, Richmond and its surrounding communities are attracting many new residents who are drawn to the beauty, the quality of life, and the rich history that truly sets this city apart. While this list only contains a few of the many things that make this place interesting and fun, we’re confident you’ll find plenty more to love.