Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Amtrak, Part 2: Richmond
Richmond offered some of the most interesting scenery from the train, mainly because the route took us through the Shockoe Bottom district, one of the city's oldest neighborhoods. Located along the James River, this area is full of old warehouses and buildings associated with the city's tobacco industry. The Lucky Strike complex was particularly impressive. Constructed in two phases - 1912 and 1929 - these buildings housed the headquarters of the American Tobacco Company, but until recently have stood vacant for decades. Over the last 25 years Shockoe Bottom has been transformed from blighted to reborn, as investment and restoration have made the area a hot spot for restaurants and shops. Now the Lucky Strike buildings will join the renaissance as they are converted to luxury residential units, a far better fate than the wrecking ball, which has claimed much of Richmond's riverfront building stock thanks to flooding and neglect.