I had some time to kill in Richmond today, so I took a walk with my camera down Monument Avenue in Richmond VA. Monument Ave is generally considered one of the best streets in any city, due primarily to the 6 large monuments to Southern heroes that dominate the street scape. I’ve driven through the area several times. This was the first time I ever parked the car and walked the entire area, which is about 1.5 miles from the Jeb Stuart monument to the Arthur Ashe monument.
First of all, Monument Ave may be technically cobblestone, but it is not the quaint narrow cobblestone street that you are probably envisioning. The cobblestone surface is very smooth, the road is 2 lanes each way, with a 30 mph speed limit that is ignored. Most cars are doing about 40 through there. The locals use the wide grassy median as a park, hanging out and picnicking. On previous drives through, I always thought the stately houses were really pretty. And they are nice, but when you are walking you can see that many of them are really apartments, and judging by the number of craft beer bottles I saw littering porches, populated by a party happy crowd. That probably also accounts for the number of young female joggers that were out today. It’s definitely not a bad choice of neighborhood if you are a young single guy in Richmond! Quite a few of the houses needed some basic maintenance too; and generally, it’s not quite as uppity a neighborhood as the Richmond tourist sites lead you to believe. It’s nice, but not as extravagant as I was expecting.
If you are wondering how an Arthur Ashe monument ended up on a street with monuments to 5 Confederate war heroes, you aren’t alone. I think it’s one of those things still likely to start an argument in many places in Richmond. IMHO, the Ashe monument is out of place and probably should have been placed somewhere better than the northern edge of the Monument Drive park.