HOLMBERG: Which are the seven hills of Richmond?

Posted at 11:54 PM, Jul 05, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-07 08:20:54-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--There’s an old saying that Richmond, like Rome, is a city built on seven hills.

Ask any runner or bicyclist - the capital city is surprisingly hilly.

In 1937, a city councilman proposed an ordinance that would designate those seven hills. But the problem was, other council members had other hills they wanted to be on the list.

The proposed seven:

Church Hill, due east of downtown, above Shockoe Valley, where Patrick Henry gave his famous speech at St. John’s Church, which is apparently the highest spot in the city.

Union Hill, just north of Church Hill on that same knobby ridgeline, is an old residential neighborhood.

City Council Hill, the knoll just east of the Jefferson’s capital building, which is almost the highest point in the city.

Navy Hill, where Altria and the Biotech Park sits, was an old black neighborhood that wound up being bulldozed to make way for the Coliseum.

French Garden Hill is just north of Navy Hill, overlooking Shockoe Valley.

Shockoe Hill is further south of French Garden Hill. It’s covered by the sprawling VCU Medical Center campus.

Gambles Hill is that ridge just east of the Lee Bridge, where the War Memorial and Ethyl Corp. sits overlooking the river.

But some of the most majestic and best known hills aren’t among the seven, including the most-famous view from Libby Hill/Terrace, not to mention the hills of Chimborazo, Fulton, Oregon, Forest, Westover and Hollywood.

And there are dozens more forgotten in the fog of time, including Academy, Brook, Diamond, Terrapin and Dead Man’s hills.

If we had to winnow them down to just seven hills, which ones should they be?

Here’s my list:

  1. Oregon Hill (which would include Hollywood Hill)
  2. Church Hill (which would include Union Hill)
  3. Shockoe Hill (which would include French Garden and Navy hills)
  4. Chimborazo Hill
  5. Libby Hill
  6. Westover Hill
  7. And whatever that nice knoll that holds up the southern side of the Lee Bridge – Forest Hill? Riverside Hill?