Seven Hills of Richmond

Richmond has been compared to Rome because it, too, is a “city of seven hills.” Yet which hills are the “official” seven and where are they located? According to these websites, which quote a 1937 ordinance, [1, 2, 3, 4] the seven official hills of Richmond are:

1. Shockoe Hill (According to the National Park Service, the Capitol was built on Shockoe Hill, and the MCV VCU Campus is commonly referred to as being located on Shockoe Hill)

2. Union Hill (according to old maps of Richmond, and the Historic Richmond Foundation, Union Hill is located between Mosby, Jefferson, 25th, and Venable Streets)

3. Council Chamber Hill (the NPS website locates this hill east of the Governor St and this site puts it around 14th Street)

4. French Garden Hill (Mary Wingfield Scott’s book “Old Richmond Neighborhoods” locates this hill north of Leigh St between 8th and 10th streets and this site puts it around 9th Street)

5. Navy Hill (this blog locates Navy Hill between 3rd, 10th, and Leigh Streets and an article in the VCU library locates it in the same general area, north of Leigh Street between 3rd and 10th Streets)

6. Church Hill (according to old maps of Richmond Church Hill is the hill on which stands the famous St.John’s Episcopal Church, site of Patrick Henry’s famous, “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech)

7. Gambles Hill can be located on old maps of Richmond as the hill just east of Oregon Hill overlooking the James River.

Special thanks to Andrew Bain, a very knowledgeable librarian at VCU, who gave me a lot of help with my research. Here’s a Google map showing the general location of these seven hills. Let me know if you find a discrepancy.

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10 Responses to “Seven Hills of Richmond”

  1. Hey check this out:

    http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=102098396305176220079.000458455d32eb5d59bbe&z=14

    A while ago I laid out a bike route that hits all seven hills. IF YOU ARE INTENSE.

  2. Gitfiddlegregg Says:

    The first two websites point out that the ordinance never passed, which means that there is no official list. Also, it’s Gambles or Gamble’s Hill (named after a person). This Seven Hills stuff started in the nineteenth century, and the council was just trying to sort out the confusion because no one could agree on what hills counted! I can add Chimborazo, Oregon, Libby, and Fulton just off the top of my head.

  3. Hi Ross, wish I had found that map when I was doing my research… Thanks a lot for the link!

  4. Hey Gitfiddlegregg, thanks for the spelling correction (fixed it). I actually have Chimborazo, Oregon, and Libby Hills marked in grey on the map because I agree with you, they seem to be more significant than some of the hills listed.

  5. Scott Burger Says:

    I will not swear by it, but someone told me that Oregon Hill is the highest natural point in Richmond. If I was standing by the Pine Street Barber Shop I might believe it, but I am sure somewhere near Monroe Park (which is technically in the neighborhood’s older boundaries) is higher. I don’t know. I don’t think any of it really matters. The Seven Hills question is more interesting from a historiographical point of view.

  6. Thanks for your informative post. i always knew Richmond had this moniker but never knew the history around it. There is a private boys school here in Richmond called Seven Hills that a friend of mine teaches at and jis asst. headmaster.

    i was born and grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, which is also know as the city of seven hills,

    Best Regards,

    Adele

  7. Richard Lee Bland Says:

    George W. Rogers produced two articles about Richmond Hills, in the Richmond News Leader Dec. 16-17, 1952: Academy, Belvidere, Brook, Capitol, Chestnut, Council Chamber, French Garden, Gamble’s, Hollywood, Navy, Oregon, Sheep, Shockoe, Adams, Cedar, Chelsea, Church, Libby (former Eastern & Marshall), Maddox, Marion (Osborn Twp), Nunnery(west slope Taylors), Powhatan (Fulton, also Ink Hill), Richmond (Indian Hill)-Church, Taylors, Powhatans Seat, Tree, Union (includes Stricker and Doings Hill references) All on the northside; to the southside of James (Powhatan) are Rocky Ridge, Clopton, Diamond, Holland, Forest, Buck, Terripin, Spring Hill, and Westover. NL brief Dec 29, 52, comment by Mary W. Scott notes Union Hill name circa 1817; adds Belvidere Hill (Oregon Hill), NL Jan. 5 1938: Let’s Forget Seven Hills;Two are Enough; by Old Citizen; combinesUnion, Strikers (sic), Taylors, Libby, Chimborazo as section of Church Hill: originally Richmond Hill. Then that Council Chamber, Capitol, Frenc Garden, Navy, and Gambles with Poor House Hill are points or slopes of Shockoe Hill. (I-95/64 sliced off French Garden bluff, connected adjacent Duval Street an artifical valley entering Bacon Quarter Branch. Circa 1888 Trolley electric rail (conceived by realtor J. Thompson Brown) result Academy Hill is Barton Heights, Cannon Branch ravine divides to eastern ridge: Chestnut Hill. A couple of War maps on your splendid site show Bush Hill at the site of Sydney (The Fan) adjacent Sheep Hill to the north (west of Buchanan’s Spring by Carver) Early maps have this area as Richmond Hill, also. Some might add Montrose Heights north of Powhatan Hill. I have yet to see a hill designation for the hill extending from Dogwood Dell across into Windsor Farms. Up the canal was Dead Mans Hill. Next name the various ravines. For setting the boundaries Acts 17: 26 is my authority witness of Christ our Lord. Richard Lee Bland.

  8. W. C Joneas Says:

    Seven Hills of Richmond? Seventy would be a much closer figure? December 9, 1937, Councilman John Hirschberg introduced an Ordinance which if adopted, would have designed the seven hills listed below as the seven hills of Richmond: Union Hill, Church Hill, Schocke Hill, Gamble’s Hill, Navy Hill, French Garden Hill and Council Chamber Hill. When the ordinance came up the number was more than doubled. Alderman Lee Whitlock offered a montion that the paper be tabled, which was speedily adopted. Dr. Freeman wrote in the News Leader December 8, 1937, to conclude a listing of Richmond’s famous hills, we might recall: Academy Hill,Belvidere Hill, Brook Hill, Capitol Hill, Chestnut Hill, Council Chamber Hill, French Garden Hill, Gamble’s Hill, Hollywood Hill, Navy Hill, Oregon Hill, Sheep Hill, Shockoe Hill, Rocky Ridge Hill, Clopton Hill, Diamond Hill, Terrapin Hill, Spring Hill, Buck Hill, Holland Hill, Forest Hill and Westover Hill. There are other hills listed!

  9. Sry for writing off topic … which WP template do you use? Looks interesting!!

  10. Hi enroscopoms, The Word Press template is called Black Letterhead. http://ulyssesonline.com/blackletterhead/

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