VIDEO TOUR: Go ‘Back to the Future’ RVA-style

Posted at 11:45 AM, May 09, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – In the 1985 hit movie Back to the Future young Marty McFly is transported back in time 30 years to see his hometown as it stood in 1955.

Up to now, unless you had enough plutonium to achieve the 1.21 Gigawatts of electricity it would take to turn your ordinary DeLorean into a time-traveling DeLorean, you had to rely on stories from your parents or grandparents to learn about the way things “used to be” in Richmond.

But now, thanks to a video donated to Valentine Richmond History Center, you can see Richmond in all its 1955 glory for yourself. [Scroll down]

“Filmed by lead cameraman Jack McGowan in and around Richmond, Virginia in the mid 1950’s, this travelogue film short celebrates Post World War II America’s love of the automobile and the new mobility of the interstate highway system,” the Valentine Richmond History Center said about the video. “Filmed by Hollywood Television Productions, large scale producers of films for television, this guided tour of the city, scored with such classic southern tunes as “Dixie” and “Swanee,” takes the viewer around the city’s most prominent places of interest.

After telling viewers how to reach Richmond (U.S. Highways 1 and 60 of course), the video shows off a great skyline shot of Richmond from along the James.

View of Richmond from Robert E. Lee Bridge circa 1955

View of Richmond from Robert E. Lee Bridge circa 1955

After recapping viewers on the history of the city (British settlers, fall line, etc.) the video offers a guided tour of city landmarks including:

  • Virginia State Capitol building – outstanding showplace of Richmond
  • George Washington statue – Virginia’s most priceless possession
  • The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts – it’s entirely air conditioned!
  • Saint John’s Church – oldest church in the city 
  • The University of Richmond – campus is built on rolling hills among giant trees
  • Egyptian Building – most perfect example of Egyptian architecture in America
  • Maymont  – the most beautiful park in the city
  • Monument Ave. – lined with monuments with leaders of the Confederacy
  • The Mosque (err… Landmark… err Altria Theater) – noted for fine mosaic work
The Mosque in Richmond circa 1955

The Mosque in Richmond circa 1955

“Richmond offers all the facilities and comforts you require while in the city,” the narrator says. “There are refined hotels, motels and restaurants. Efficient parking facilities are located in the heart of the business district. Fine air-conditioned stores abound throughout the city. ”


“More than 110 billion cigarettes are made a year in Richmond factories, including those in this section which is known as Tobacco Row.”

tobacco row

“Richmond. Where the best of the old is combined with the best of the new making it one of the most interesting and charming cities in America today.”




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