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Ghosts of riverfront plans past

December 17, 2012 9:59am

JRPS — 22nd Street tower in early 1970s. Credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

Last Friday our good friend Phil Riggan over at offered an intriguing look back at what might have been along the James had Richmond made good on previous riverfront plans.

In January 1969, while many Richmonders were unaware of newly designated James River Park, the City of Richmond “unveiled a seven-year, $6 million master plan for the recreational development of the James River that combines a bit of convention center, wilderness watersports and a touch of Disneyland,” according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch archives. The $6 million in 1969 had the same buying power as $38,141,746 in 2012 when calculating with 4.40 percent annual inflation, according to

Check out Phil’s piece to see what might have been, including Belle Isle as an amusement park, a parkway where Pony Pasture is, and the Pump House as an entertainment venue. The article also has 10 cool pictures from old riverfront plans and projects.


About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?