From its inception as an agriculture colony for Britain to its vital role in the Revolutionary War to its ongoing contributions to manufacturing, trade, economics and government, Virginia has served as a pivotal part of the development of our nation’s history. As we continue to move into the 21st century, its easy to look at Virginia for what she is today. But many changes have occurred over time, in particular, the last 100 years. As you will see in the photos below, some of the most iconic places, site and cities have undergone dramatic changes…while other remain much the same.
1. A view down Broad Street in Richmond, c. 1914.
During the early part of the 20th century, Richmond was not only the capital of the state, but it served as a hub for finance, law and federal, state, and local government, as well as being home to the first successful electric streetcar system in the United States.
2. Lynchburg panorama, c. 1919.
Lynchburg was first settled in 1757 by founder and namesake, John Lynch. By the late 19th century and into the 20th century, Lynchburg became a center for manufacturing and at the time, was one of the wealthiest cities in the United States per capita.
3. Pavilion X on the University of Virginia Lawn, 1911.
When Thomas Jefferson first founded the University of Virginia, he strove to create an academical village. The Rotunda and its accompanying 10 pavilions housed classes, students and faculty in a long U-shaped series of buildings surrounding the university "lawn."
4. World War I troops waiting on the Norfolk Army Docks, 1918.
When the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, Norfolk became a key part of the war as a Naval Operating Base was created, including a Naval Training Center, Naval Air Station, Naval Hospital and Submarine Station. By 1918, the base housed 34,000 enlisted men.
5. A Sweet Briar student sits astride a horse on the quad, 1915.
Sweet Briar College opened in 1906 as the Sweet Briar Institute, a liberal arts' women's college. Equestrian pursuits have been a part of the school's tradition for many decades, including national championship teams and an Equine Studies Certificate program. Despite threats of closure over the past year, the school remains open and continues their long history of academic and equestrian pursuits.
6. The Norfolk and Portsmouth Waterfronts, 1915.
Because of its large natural harbor, Norfolk was already a large shipping port and thriving city when it was identified as a prime location for the placement of a U.S. naval base in the early 20th century. By 1917, as the U.S. prepared to enter World War I, the base was started and today, Naval Station Norfolk is the largest naval base in the world.
7. The only point in the world where 3 train lines cross each other, Richmond, 1919.
This photograph, taken from a 1919 postcard, shows a C. & O. Railway passenger train from Richmond crossing over a S.A.L. Railway train out of the Richmond Main Street Deport, which, in turn, crosses a Southern Railway train heading into Richmond from West Point.
8. Men crabbing from the pier in Colonial Beach, c.1909.
Founded in 1650, Colonial Beach is home to the second largest waterfront in the state. From the early until mid 20th century (before the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was built), Colonial Beach was a popular resort area known as the "Playground on the Potomac." Crabbing and fishing from the pier was then, as it is now, one of the most popular activities for tourists and locals alike.
9. Soldiers gather around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, c. 1921.
While the exact date of this photograph is not known, the first "unknown soldier" was laid to rest on November 11, 1921. The tomb honored an unidentified soldier who died during World War I, but serves as a tribute to all those missing in action and presumed dead during their service to our country. President Warren G. Harding officiated the first ceremony and since that time, 3 other "unknowns" have been honored with marble crypts next to the original sarcophagus, one each from WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
10. Jack Bentley from the Washington American League (now the Washington Nationals) throws a pitch at the University of Virginia, 1915.
Given the University of Virginia's 2015 National Championship win in baseball, this photo from 100 years ago seems only too fitting.
11. Taken in front of Mount Vernon sometime between 1915-1923, this photo shows Thomas Marshall on the far right.
Marshall served as the 28th Vice-President of the United States under Woodrow WIlson from 1913 until 1921.
12. Granby Street shown from the corner of Main Street in Norfolk, 1915.
Thanks to its waterfront location, Norfolk experienced tremendous growth in the early part of the 1900s and by the 1950s, was the fifth fastest growing area in the nation. Granby Street has served as a key part of the urban center of Norfolk since that time and continues to be a popular place for shopping, nightclubs and restaurants.
13. Miss Elizabeth Kolb (at the right) of Philadelphia served as a sponsor at the launching of the U.S.S. Pennsylvania in Newport News, March 1915.
The U.S.S. Pennsylvania was “super-dreadnought” battleship that served as the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet from the time of its launch in 1915 until the 1920s. After modernization in 1929 and again in 1941, the Pennsylvania was dry-docked at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked in December of 1941, and was one of the first to fire on the enemy ships. The U.S.S. Pennsylvania continued to serve throughout World War II before being decommissioned in 1946.
14. Rockfish Valley in Afton, taken sometime between 1900 - 1915.
This photo shows that while more populated, the valley has not diminished in beauty.
15. The iconic statue of Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond, c. 1915
Erected in 1890, the statue of Robert E. Lee is one of the best known monuments on Richmond's famous Monument Avenue and was the first of 6 statues to be unveiled. During the period of 1900 - 1925, Monument Avenue saw incredible growth with the building of many architecturally and historically significant homes and churches. Today, Monument Avenue is considered one of the 10 Great Streets in the country by the American Planning Association.
16. A view of Natural Bridge taken between 1900 - 1915.
Natural Bridge, considered one of the Natural Wonders of the World, was first discovered by Europeans in the 1740s and surveyed by a young George Washington in 1750. In 1774, Thomas Jefferson purchased the bridge and surrounding land from King George III. Following the Revolutionary War, it became a prime retreat and tourist attraction for visitors and, today, continues to be one of Virginia's most popular destinations.
17. The Blue Ridge Mountains behind the Natural Bridge Hotel and the Natural Bridge Hotel swimming pool, c. 1900-1915.
The Natural Bridge Hotel was built in 1890 by Colonel Henry Parsons. Called the "Appledore" at the time, the hotel was a popular tourist destination throughout the late 20th century. The original hotel burned to the ground in 1964, but was rebuilt and reopened in 1965.
18. A tobacco warehouse in Richmond, c. 1910s.
Since its first successful planting by John Rolfe in 1613, tobacco has long been a primary cash crop for Virginia. For many years, much of the state's tobacco went through the Port of Richmond. During the early 20th century, the area along the James River and Kanawha Canal in Richmond was known as Tobacco Row, due to the proliferation of warehouses and cigarette factories. Today, Tobacco Row is home to renovated warehouse restaurants, shops and apartments.
From fashion trends to economic shifts, it’s true that nothing stays the same forever. And yet, it’s interesting to see the places and things that have changed the most. What are the most significant changes you’ve seen in Virginia during your lifetime? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!