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Downtown and the River

Just six miles from the University of Richmond campus lies downtown Richmond, the bustling heart of the city where government, business, the arts, and education come together.

This diverse area includes not only the skyscrapers of the main business and financial district, but also Monroe Ward, Shockoe Bottom, and the cobblestoned charm of Shockoe Slip. Government has a large presence in the area: besides the state executive and legislative offices and the state and federal courts, City Hall, where the Richmond City Council meets twice a month, rises 17 stories above Broad Street. Its observation deck is open to the public and offers impressive 360-degree views of the city. Nearby, the Library of Virginia offers an unparalleled collection of both print and digital resources on Virginia history and culture. Farther to the west, sporting and entertainment events take place throughout the year at the Richmond Coliseum, and the Greater Richmond Convention Center hosts meetings and brings a range of associations and groups to the city.

With its confluence of institutions of higher education, downtown offers a unique environment with a plethora of opportunities for collaborative learning. UR Downtown provides students interested in urban studies, civic engagement, social services, law, and arts education the chance to engage with the Greater Richmond community both in the classroom and on the ground. The public Virginia Commonwealth University has a huge footprint in the area, with an urban campus that spreads throughout the neighborhoods surrounding Monroe Park. VCU Medical School, formerly the Medical College of Virginia, also dominates the area surrounding the unique pocket of federal architecture known as Court End.

The arts have a large presence downtown, particularly after the 2012 creation of the Downtown Arts District, encompassing almost 80 blocks of concert venues, art galleries, and performance spaces between Belvidere and 12th streets.

Finally, Richmond wouldn’t be the River City without the James, which flows around and through downtown, defining its boundaries and giving the city so much of its unique flavor. With its Class IV kayaking rapids and the many hiking and biking trails that line its banks, the river is the hub for much of Richmond’s outdoor recreation. And on a daily basis, the Canal Walk, which stretches over a mile along the James and the Kanawha and Haxall canals, provides an oasis of calm only a block from downtown, as well as beautiful views of both the water and the city skyline. Closer to campus lies Pony Pasture Park, which offers canoeing, kayaking, jogging, swimming, and fishing, as well as a site for student research.