AERIAL RICHMOND3

With the Powhite Parkway Bridge AT LOWER LEFT, looking down the James River, with downtown Richmond in the distance.

I suspect every reader has a favorite spot in Richmond.

Maybe it's the back room of your retail shop, the shade tree in your backyard or the Fan bar where you had a first date. Maybe it's the Siegel Center, the Belgian Building or the Westhampton Lake bridge.

My two favorite places in RVA are the two hearts of this region.

One is the James River, and I'm sure lots of other Richmonders share that love.

I'm fond of lots of spots along the James, like the western tip of Belle Isle, the Manchester floodwall and the island in the pipeline rapids where herons perch each spring.

But lately my favorite stretch has been just downstream from the Nickel Bridge. I love running along the riverside trails in the Reedy Creek, stopping to walk and watch when I see mallards and bufflehead ducks bobbing for breakfast in quiet eddies.

The river is quiet and languid there. If trees on the north bank are blocking the view of Maymont mansion and you turn away from the bridge, it's possible to picture the river as it might have looked in 1607. This is where I go to catch my breath, get away from my e-mail and watch for bald eagles.

My other favorite place in Richmond is the exact opposite of the James River: It's the 2.5 miles of Broad Street that stretch between Belvidere Street and Chimborazo Park in Church Hill.

This part of Broad is majestic and decrepit and noisy and peaceful and humbling and exhilarating.

This street has homeless people, doctors, bankers and VCU students. It has faded art deco glory (now being restored) sitting across from hollowed-out brick shells. Hipsters and hip hop and, yes, lots of history.

I formed this attachment during the four months I spent writing and reporting our Broad Street series. Though the series covered the street's entire length, it was this stretch -- Belvidere to Chimborazo -- that holds my imagination. It's this stretch that I could walk day after day and still notice something new each time.

These two stretches of land, one at the bottom of the hills and one on the top, are Richmond's soul. These two places are what I picture when I think about the letters R, V, A. What do you picture?

Jacob Geiger is the Director of Work It, Richmond. He can be reached via email, by phone at 804-649-6874 or on Twitter (@workitrichmond).
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