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Richmond 2013

Skyline of Richmond, Virginia, viewed from Belle Isle.

The Canal Walk and River District of Richmond have always been something of a favorite of mine to photograph.  I first visited the area on March 4, 2002, when I did the photo work for the Richmond’s Canal Walk photography set, and visited again on March 10, 2003 when I made the Richmond section of An Urban Comparison.  After that visit, however, I would not return to the Canal Walk and River District areas again for a decade.

In the intervening ten years, much had changed in the area.  When I visited in 2002 and 2003, the Canal Walk was mostly separate from the surrounding neighborhood, and much of the Canal Walk was surrounded by warehouses and other industrial buildings.

Now, a decade’s worth of development has brought the Canal into the neighborhood, smoothed out many of the rougher-looking aspects, and made it not only a place to go for a stroll, but also a place where people live, work, and play.  In the eastern part of the Canal Walk, many of the old industrial buildings now house restaurants and loft-style apartments, and new construction has brought additional residential, retail, and entertainment facilities to the area, with some opening directly onto the Canal Walk area.  Additionally, a narrow, semi-enclosed stretch of the Canal Walk next to a former power plant has been opened up and painted with murals.  West of 9th Street, the Canal Walk had always been mostly parkland, which has not changed as much as the remainder.  The most notable change there is an additional footbridge spanning the Canal that was built in 2011, connecting Brown’s Island with 5th and Tredegar Streets.  North of the Canal, the most notable change was the addition of a new building, as MeadWestvaco had relocated its headquarters to Richmond, across the street from the Federal Reserve building, in 2010.

Railroad trestle east of the Richmond floodwall. Railroad trestle east of the Richmond floodwall.
Railroad trestle and ramp between northbound Interstate 95 and the Downtown Expressway east of the Richmond floodwall.
Opening through the Richmond floodwall for canal boats. Bridges for the Downtown Expressway pass above, as a boat moves beneath in the Canal.
Opening through the Richmond floodwall for canal boats.
View from footbridge, facing west. Sign for La Difference, a furniture store in the Shockoe Bottom neighborhood.
Canal footbridge and Downtown Expressway overpasses just east of the turning basin.
Curved section of the Canal adjacent to 140 Virginia Street, facing west. Lamppost and banner.
Curved section of the Canal adjacent to 140 Virginia Street, facing east.
View facing west from the south side of the Canal, slightly west of the Triple Crossing. Bench adjacent to and facing the canal.
"NO TRESPASSING" sign for Norfolk Southern railroad tracks.
Archway and gate beneath Reynolds Wrap Distribution Center building. View facing west, near Christopher Newport Cross.
Topmost section of Christopher Newport Cross.
Walkway through a former power plant, painted with murals on one wall.  This area had been opened up since 2003 through the removal of a wall, turning what was previously a somewhat dark, narrow corridor into a bright, open space. "Be cheerful, 'FIT IN'" graffiti on a column.
Painting of a dark-colored bird at the west end of the mural wall.
Former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco building, now housing a restaurant on the first floor, and apartments on the upper levels. Former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco building, now housing a restaurant on the first floor, and apartments on the upper levels.
Former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco building, now housing a restaurant on the first floor, and apartments on the upper levels.
Power transmission lines overhead. Eastward view of the Canal.  A Dominion Virginia Power substation is visible at right.
Lamppost and banner.  This style of lamppost is now far more prevalent than it was in 2003.
Footbridge over the Canal, connecting Brown's Island with downtown Richmond at 7th Street, between the Federal Reserve and MeadWestvaco buildings. Footbridge over the Canal, connecting Brown's Island with downtown Richmond at 7th Street, between the Federal Reserve and MeadWestvaco buildings.
Footbridge over the Canal, connecting Brown's Island with downtown Richmond at 7th Street, between the Federal Reserve and MeadWestvaco buildings.
Tree in bloom on Brown's Island. Tree in bloom on Brown's Island.
Tree in bloom on Brown's Island.
MeadWestvaco (MWV) headquarters building.  Prior to the building's construction, the land was used for a large parking lot. Residential tower across from the turning basin.
MeadWestvaco (MWV) headquarters building.  Prior to the building's construction, the land was used for a large parking lot.
View from Brown's Island facing east, showing MWV, Federal Reserve, and Riverfront Plaza buildings. Federal Reserve building, viewed from north end of footbridge connecting Brown's Island and 7th Street.
Federal Reserve building and Riverfront Plaza towers, viewed from north end of footbridge connecting Brown's Island and 7th Street.
Riverfront Plaza towers. Riverfront Plaza east tower.
Riverfront Plaza west tower.
Richmond skyline, viewed from Belle Isle. Riverfront Plaza towers on the Richmond skyline, viewed from Belle Isle.
Richmond skyline, viewed from Belle Isle.
Richmond skyline, viewed from Belle Isle. Richmond skyline, viewed from Belle Isle.
Richmond skyline, viewed from Belle Isle.
Robert E. Lee Memorial Bridge, with footbridge to Belle Isle suspended beneath.  View from Belle Isle. Belle Isle footbridge, suspended beneath the Robert E. Lee Memorial Bridge, facing south.
Robert E. Lee Memorial Bridge, with footbridge to Belle Isle suspended beneath.  View from Tredegar Street.
Rafters on the James River, near the Robert E. Lee Memorial Bridge. Rafters on the James River, near the Robert E. Lee Memorial Bridge.
Kayakers on the James River.
Railroad bridge along the north bank of the James River. Railroad bridge along the north bank of the James River.
Abandoned railroad bridge over the James River.  View facing south from Brown's Island.
Eastward view of the Canal from the 7th Street footbridge.  Brown's Island is to the right. Abandoned bridge over the James River on Belle Isle.
Rocks and abandoned bridge piers in the James River.
Canadian goose on a small island in the James River. Abandoned bridge piers in the James River.
A Canadian goose swims in the James River.

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