What Makes Richmond Like No Place Else
By: Jennifer Willis
The White House of the Confederacy. Once the residence and office of President Jefferson Davis of the Confederate States of America (CSA), the museum houses a rich collection of civilian and military artifacts related to the Civil War and the CSA. Exhibits also document the Reconstruction era following the war. Lectures, programs and special events explore the South in the 1800s, and the museum is a treasure trove for Civil War researchers.
Bike Trails. Bike commuting is picking up in Richmond, and bike recreation is fast becoming a favorite pastime. The bike trails in James River Park have been called the best urban mountain bike system in the Southeast by Blue Ridge Outdoors. The Virginia Capital Trail along the river linking Richmond to Jamestown is in the works.
VCU Medical Center. Despite recent controversies over the name of the school -- with proponents fiercely clinging to VCU Medical Center and the Medical College of Virginia, respectively -- this medical school is a thriving center for teaching, research and health care. Founded in 1838, VCU Medical Center defines its mission as, “the constant improvement of the quality of health care for citizens of Virginia using innovative, scholarly activity to create new knowledge, to provide better systems of medical education and to develop more effective health care methods.” The school trains students from across the globe and is a recognized leader in organ transplantation, head and spinal cord trauma, burn healing and cancer treatment.
Belly Dance. While this may surprise some locals, Central Virginia hosts one of the largest and most vibrant Middle Eastern dance communities in the U.S., with Richmond right at the center. Scheherezade Imports, located in nearby Rockville, is a major importer of belly dance costumes and supplies, and the city is home to numerous dance instructors and troupes, including the Women of Selket, a professional folkloric group founded in the early 1980s that offers instructional workshops with local and national teachers throughout the year.
Virginia Union University. Founded in 1865, VUU draws from African-American heritage to develop scholars, leaders and lifelong learners for a global society. A private Baptist school, the university is one of the oldest historically black colleges in the South.
Monument Avenue. Monument Avenue is named for the series of statues erected along this cobblestone street to memorialize the Virginia natives who participated in the Civil War. Figures such as Jefferson Davis, J.E.B. Stuart and Stonewall Jackson can be found along the avenue. The first monument, a tribute to Robert E. Lee, was unveiled in 1890. A recent and controversial addition to this impressive collection is a statue of Richmond native and tennis pro Arthur Ashe, unveiled in 1996.
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