City, seat of justice of Henrico Co, and capital of Virginia, situated on the north side of James river, 150 miles from its entrance into Chesapeake bay, and 120 miles south of Washington. In trade, manufactures and population, it is the principal city of the state. Directly above it, the river has a descent of about 80 feet in six miles, forming a natural barrier to navigation, which has been overcome by a canal around the falls, and extending 176 miles farther up the river. Through these channels, Richmond has become the entrepot of a fertile region, and receives large quantities of flour tobacco an coal. Vessels of 10 feet draught pass the bar, six miles below the city, and those of 14 feet navigate the river below this point. The location of the city is pleasant and healthful, and is situated on two hills, though not densely built, and in the valley between them runs Shockeo creek, a rapid stream. Many beautiful mansions are scattered on these elevations, and on the level top of the westerly one, stands the statehouse, a chaste and beautiful building, in the centre of an open square. Near this is the city hall, a large and elegant edifice of Grecian architecture. In 1811, a theatre was burned on the site where an Episcopal church now stands, and a large number of respectable citizens, including, the governor of the state, perished. To commemorate this sad event, the Monumental church was erected on the spot where it took place. Near the city is a penitentiary, extending with its grounds over an area of several acres.
The manufactures of Richmond are varied and valuable, the neighboring streams affording fine water power which has been extensively supplied. Here are cotton factories, flouring mills, nail and iron works, and numerous other prosperous establishments. Besides the canal before noticed, the city is connected with Norfolk, New York, and other points, by steamboats and sailing packets. Two bridges extend over James river to Manchester, a flourishing suburb of Richmond, upon one of which the Washington and Wilmington railroad enters the city, whence it traverses Virginia and North Carolina. The Virginia Central railroad begins at Richmond, and penetrates the interior of the state.
The water works, by which Richmond is supplied, raise the water, by hydraulic power, into three reservoirs, each containing a million of gallons, and from these lead off to all parts of the city. The spot on which this large and fine city stands was first visited by white men in 1609, when "Master West" penetrated to the falls in search of provisions for the young colony at Jamestown, but founded nothing edible except acorns. Richmond was founded in 1742, and made the capital of the state in 1780, since which it has been steadily increasing.
The population in 1800 was 5,537; in 1810 was 9,735; in 1820 was 12,046; in 1830 was 16,060; 1840 was 20,153 and in 1850 was 35,482.