King James I granted the original land charter in 1607 to the Virginia Company of London, for the purpose of bringing colonists to the new frontier. The permanent English settlement at Jamestown made exploration of the James River much easier for Captains Christopher Newport and John Smith. The first settlement at the fall line on the James was made by a group of 120 settlers from Jamestown.

In 1611 the next settlement in the area would be Henricus, just below the falls. This venture was organized by Sir Thomas Dale, Governor of the Jamestown Colony. This site would be home to the first hospital constructed in North America, and would eventually be the birthplace of Henrico County , created in 1634.

The Virginia Company of London’s charter was in jeopardy. The new settlements had fallen to vicious attacks by the Native American tribes, and all but Jamestown had been wiped out. King James declared Virginia a royal colony in 1624. In 1646, the Native Americans and English had signed a treaty giving the land below the falls of the James to the English

.Eventually the Virginia capital was moved from Jamestown to Williamsburg. Richmond would enter the 18th century with a population of less than 200 settlers. English legislation led to the Warehouse Act in 1730, requiring that one of Virginia’s key exports, Tobacco, be graded and stored. The need for development at the falls grew with commerce, so the plans for the town of Richmond were drawn. The town was given a charter in 1742.

Patrick Henry presented his renowned “Give me liberty or give me death” speech in St. John’s Church, the first church constructed in Richmond, at the 2nd Virginia Convention in 1775. The next year the Declaration of Independence was signed and the Revolutionary war begun.

Virginia moved her state capital from Williamsburg to Richmond in 1780, and in 1781 Richmond was burned by British troops, led by traitor Benedict Arnold.

Richmond was officially incorporated as a city in 1782. Shortly thereafter, The James River Company was formed to develop the city and the Kanawha Canal. George Washing was to lead the James River Company, and Thomas Jefferson began construction of the State Capitol building, which he designed.

Notable Dates:

  • 1787 First Bridge Across The James River Constructed
  • 1816 First City Hall Was Constructed
  • 1836 First Steam Locomotive Train Line Opens
  • 1837 Tredegar Iron Works Formed- Third Largest Foundry In The US
  • 1861 Richmond Made The Capital of The Confederacy1865 Large Parts of Richmond Burned and Lee Surrenders At Appomattox
  • 1888 First Electric Streetcar System in the US Opens In Richmond1
  • 894 Old City Hall Completed in Gothic Style
  • 1914 Richmond Becomes Headquarters In The Federal Reserve System
  • 1926 The Carillon Is Constructed As A WWI Memorial in Byrd Park
  • 1947 Richmond is The Fastest Growing Industrial Center In The US
  • 1972 Hurricane Agnes Creates A Record Breaking Flood on The James River
  • 2002 Construction Of The Richmond Convention Center