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Planning and Preservation Office
900 E. Broad St., Room 510
Richmond, VA 23219
Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Reconnecting Jackson Ward

We are at the beginning of the beginning of the process to think about ways to improve access between Jackson Ward. As called for in the citywide master plan, Richmond 300, the City is beginning the process to develop a Feasibility Study for reconnecting Jackson Ward. As the history section below describes, this area of the City was bisected by the construction of the interstate highway system. The Feasibility Study will engage community members in defining a vision for reconnecting this community. The Study has not yet commenced and is anticipated to launch in 2022. Please sign up to stay updated and become engaged.

If you have any questions/comments about this project please contact Yessenia Revilla, 804-646-3409, yessenia.revilla@rva.gov

Jackson Ward ImageTimeline

  • Jackson Ward Community Plan

The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development awarded a $450,000 Choice Neighborhood planning grant to RRHA and the City of Richmond to initiate a community planning process for Gilpin Court and Jackson Ward. The Reconnecting Jackson Ward Feasibility Study will help determine solutions to physically re-connect Jackson Ward and Gilpin Court. The Community Plan will explore land use, housing, community engagement, and other strategies to reach a shared vision for the future of Jackson Ward and the transformation of Gilpin Court. We will start the community planning process in 2022. The primary City point of contact for the Jackson Ward Community Plan project is DeAndrae Spradley. Please contact him if you have any questions: DeAndrae.Spradley@richmondgov.com.

Jackson Ward Community Plan

Impacts of Housing & Highway Projects

Post-Reconstruction Era, “Jackson Ward” was created as a political boundary meant to neutralize the new voting power of the recently emancipated Blacks. Jackson Ward was known as “Black Wall Street” and “Harlem of the South” due to the thriving Black businesses and entertainment venues located throughout Jackson Ward. During its heyday from the 1920s through the 1940s, Jackson Ward was one of the most active and well-known centers of African-American life throughout the U.S., and the hub of black professional and entrepreneurial activities in the city and the state.

Urban renewal or “slum clearance” & highway projects, largely funded by state & federal programs, altered the socio-spatial landscape of many U.S. cities throughout the 20th Century. Richmond, Virginia utilized this funding and eminent domain in many of the older areas of the city at the expense of the mostly black communities living there. Overlaying outlines of the block configurations from 1924 Sanborn Insurance Maps over today’s infrastructure shows how much the urban landscape was changed.

map of highway projects

1) Public Housing: Gilpin Court

  • Built in 1942, expanded in 1957 and 1970
  • Funded by United States Housing Act of 1937
  • First public housing site in Richmond
  • First instance of slum clearance in Richmond
  • Altered street network
  • Displaced 100s of black residents of Apostle Town neighborhood

2) Highway Construction: Interstate 95/64

  • Built in 1955
  • Funded by Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Displaced 10% of city’s black population at the time
  • Physically split once-thriving black neighborhood Jackson Ward
  • Destroyed dozens of mixed-use streets and completely disrupted street network
  • Decentralized the city and incentivized white flight to the suburbs