Monthly Archives: April 2014

Set The Way-Back Machine!

The Library of Virginia is the home of the Virginia Newspaper Project. In 1997, the Library of Virginia moved to a new building at 800 East Broad Street in Richmond, Va. The building takes up the entire block between 9th and 8th street going east and west and between Marshall and Broad Street looking north and south.

The Library of Virginia.

The Library of Virginia.

When a Project colleague mused that he remembers taking a bus from a station he thought was near the Library’s current location, we scrambled to do a bit of research. And sure enough, on the north-west corner of 9th and Broad Street sat the local Trailways bus station.

It stood there for decades until the late 1980′s when Greyhound established a centralized depot at a new location in Richmond. The colleague reminisced about catching a bus at the old Trailways station at 9th Street, which got him to Staunton, Virginia where he often cooled his heels for hours waiting for a connection to take him north toward Winchester and Woodstock. Here is a photo from the late 1950′s. The local Trailways bus station stood at the same location as where the Library of Virginia stands today.

    Broad Street looking west. But what does this have to do with newspapers? We're just making a momentary stop as we travel back to around 1888.

Broad Street looking west. But what does this have to do with newspapers? We’re just making a momentary stop as we travel back to around 1888.

We’ve talked about the 1950s, now let’s go back 125 years ago. Back then, the Swan Tavern occupied the East 800 block of Broad Street. Built in the late 1780′s, the Swan Tavern managed a remarkably long life until it was demolished in 1904. And, yes, notable people such as Thomas Jefferson and Edgar Allan Poe were known to have slept there and most likely to have enjoyed an evening cordial or two.

But more to … read more »

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A Look Back at the Richmond Downtown Expressway

Front page of the Progressive Richmonder from June 1950, a pro-Downtown Expressway specialty newspaper.

Front page of the Progressive Richmonder from June 1950, a pro-Downtown Expressway specialty newspaper.

In our collection we have an unusual one-off edition of The Progressive Richmonder from June, 1950 that was circulated to promote support for the construction of a downtown expressway. The paper was produced by a group identified as the Forward Richmond Highway Committee.

The object of the paper was to convince readers to support a referendum to be held at a Special Election on Tuesday June 13, 1950. The referendum did not propose a specific route for an expressway but was used as a gauge of the public’s support for the idea. The project’s total estimated cost was $29 million. Richmond’s contribution would be about $8 million dollars, with the Commonwealth contributing another $8 million and the Federal Government contributing $13 million.

The reasons given to support the expressway included that it would relieve existing traffic congestion, increase safety, faster travel for Richmonders, economic development (though the phrase did not yet exist, a proponent explained, “Everyone, motorists and all, stands to benefit financially in the long-range expressway planning.”), and scenery, “Landscaping that accompanies the construction of expressways and the building of parkways will add to the city’s beauty.”

Another argument used was that other cities had expressways in their downtown areas. An article cited examples in Detroit, Michigan, Sacramento, California, Houston and Dallas, Texas, and Hartford, Connecticut. It also stated a number of other localities were presently in the process of building expressways, the cities included Boston, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.

Alternative solutions and complaints by the opposition are briefly mentioned and dismissed. “We are told that the expressway would be an unsightly ditch. But the engineers say that it will be a handsome roadway, mostly at natural ground level, but if below ground … read more »

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“Your Attention Residents, Now Arriving at Gates H and C, Dulles International Airport.” The Herndon-Chantilly Times (1958-1962).

I didn’t anticipate opening today’s “Fit To Print” blog entry in quite this manner but I stumbled on it mainly by chance and, for someone with an already strong fondness for maps, the opportunity proved irresistible.  Below, the center two pages of the November 9, 1944 issue of the Herndon News-Observer:

Fairfax Map“Poor Fairfax County, it didn’t know what was coming”, remarked a colleague.  I imagined Til Hazel (if unfamiliar, google away) replying, “Poor?”   In 1950 the county knew a major airport in its borders was a real possibility; Congress had green lighted appropriation.  By 1955, it was determined that Burke (just east of the city of Fairfax on the map) would not be the site.  Organized resistance prevailed.  For planners now, the priorities were less resistance, a warmer welcome, and much more space-an important consideration for an airport with jets foremost in mind.  The decision was made to move west, to Loudoun County, leaving a trailing foot in Fairfax.  Here’s the Loudoun Times-Mirror, January 16, 1958.

LTM Jan 16 1958Then after the jump, this map:

Map2This was without question an economic life-changer and, for the local press, a huge story with multiple angles and it was forming directly in the front yard of the Leesburg based Times-Mirror.  But for Herndon (a historic town, incorporated in 1879) and Chantilly  (an intersection) it was on their front porch pressing against the door and promising a revenue wind velocity not previously reckoned.  The News-Observer was long gone, having departed later in the 1940’s.  An opportunity beckoned to establish a presence in boomtown, west Fairfax County.  The first issue of the Herndon-Chantilly Times (like the Times-Mirror, a weekly) appears on May 15 with the masthead describing it as an “edition of the Loudoun Times-Mirror”. By this issue the following July it reads … read more »

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