PopulationMetro: 1,294,204
Mellow and understated by design, Richmond’s is a quiet influence on the union.

It was in Richmond, the capital of Virginia, that U.S. Founding Father Patrick Henry famously declared “Give me liberty or give me death” at St. John’s Church in 1775. Those words, of course, sparked the Revolutionary War.

It was also in Richmond, in late 2017, that former President Barack Obama first returned to campaign for a Richmond gubernatorial nominee a year after Donald Trump became president. Richmond may be ranked #44 among U.S. cities with a million people or more, and radiate a “genteel and understated nature” as the New York Times observed, but things happen here.

It’s a wealthy city, ranking #29 in Prosperity, including #17 for the presence of Fortune 500 companies in town. And at #23, Richmond punches above its weight in our deep Place category—which includes Neighborhoods & Landmarks, and Parks & Outdoor Activities. There’s also Air Quality (for which Richmond ranks #11) and Commute Time (#10).

CITY PERFORMANCE
Place
Place 40
Product
Product 8
Programming
Programming 6
People
People 48
Prosperity
Prosperity 35
Promotion
Promotion 6

But about those landmarks… the ones lining the city’s Monument Avenue with statues of Robert E. Lee, J.E.B Stuart, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson, all prominent Confederates whose time as immortalized icons is … tenuous.

But Richmond being Richmond, there are also odes to Matthew Fontaine Maury, an oceanographer, and Arthur Ashe, the African American tennis star and three-time Grand Slam winner.

Experience modern Richmond in the neighborhood of Jackson Ward, once the epicenter of the city’s black culture; the restaurants and galleries of Broad Street reward exploration on foot or bike. The James River Park System sees more than a million visitors a year clamber over rocks in the river, launch paddleboards and kayaks, swim and inner tube.

But it is the artistic face of Richmond that surprises the most: there are more than 100 murals painted in the city by artists from around the world and every September, the RVA Street art festival invigorates neglected areas, benefits Richmond arts charities, and puts on a great local party.