Tag Archive for Fredericksburg

You guys, life in FXBG is about to get A LOT better

The VRE at Fredericksburg. Courtesy VRE.

Holy crap, you guys. This is HUGE, for FXBG and all of Virginia. As a Fredericksburger, sabbaticallish VRE commuter, and urbanist, I’ve been half-following this story.  Over the past couple of Democratic administrations in Richmond, the state has been planning to increase track capacity between DC and Richmond in order to make commuter and passenger rail faster, more reliable, and more frequent.  There are a couple of big challenges for this project.  First, most of the important track and right-of-way in Virginia are owned by freight railroads, mostly Norfolk Southern and CSX, and while they allow other trains on their tracks, they control the scheduling and the prioritization which means that passenger and commuter trains have to work around their freight trains’ schedules, and when something goes wrong with the schedule, freight trains are often prioritized, meaning that passenger and commuter rail is chronically late all around Virginia.  Second, all of the tracks and rights-of-way in Virginia (and really for most of the southeastern seaboard) funnel through Arlington and onto the “Long Bridge” across the Potomac into DC, where they connect to the Northeast Corridor.  The Long Bridge is over a hundred years old, and while it’s reportedly in good shape, it only has two tracks, which means it’s a huge bottleneck.  It’s already operating at capacity, so no one … not VRE, not Amtrak, and not the freight railroads … can add more trains, at least peak times.

Read more

Fredericksburg’s Small-town Fetish and Economic Inequality

Looks like something out of Norman Rockwell, doesn't it?

Looks like something out of Norman Rockwell, doesn’t it?

The city of Fredericksburg has 28,000 people and is the fastest growing municipality in the state of Virginia, and it is the hub of a region has over 300,000 people, which is also the fastest growing the state.  Nevertheless, many of the city’s residents, especially its downtown residents, insist on thinking of it as a small town.  Residents of the old part of the city might possibly be forgiven for mistaking it for a small town; it was a small town for most of its history, and the built environment and residential distribution of the downtown reflect that history.  Fredericksburg can often feel like a small town, even if the diminutive old city is really the hub of a large and growing region.  The scale of the buildings and the patterns of land usage are village-like, and the relatively minuscule downtown population (compared to the whole area) and its relative isolation from the newer regions of sprawl beyond the interstate make the social experience of downtown Fredericksburg feel decidedly intimate in a small-town way.  I get that the “small town character” of Fredericksburg is a large part of its appeal, but the overzealous commitment of downtown’s residents to preserving that “small town character” contributes significantly to Fredericksburg’s extreme income inequality. Read more


Dormers Away!

Dormers Away!

This post is the sequel to last December’s “Columns-n-a-crate,” which are both part of the great series entitled Virginia Architectural Pastiches.  The new Campus Center is getting its dormers lowered on with a crane.  Must have been acquired at Antebellum Greek Revival Features-R-Us.

Welcoming Us Home

We did this, literally, in 2010.

We did this, literally, in 2010.

It’s been two weeks since Brian and I got married, and a little over a week and a half since we returned to Virginia from where we got married in New York. We went back north to get married because we’re both from New York, much of our family is still there, and because, well, it’s legal in New York, and not in Virginia. Our return to Fredericksburg was the subject of some comment around the time of the wedding. A heckler during the toasts made a joke about the discrimination we would face upon returning home, and I also made a comment on Facebook about becoming legally unmarried when crossing the Potomac. Read more

Fxbg’s Landscape of Slave-Made Capitalism


The beating heart of Fredericksburg's capitalist emergence.

The beating heart of Fredericksburg’s capitalist emergence.

This recent post by Julia Ott, a historian of capitalism at the New School, articulates forcefully a point that can’t be repeated enough: in a very real sense, slaves were the capital that made the emergence of capitalism possible.  Or, as she puts it, “slave-capital proved indispensable to the emergence of industrial capitalism and to the ascent of the United States as a global economic power.  Indeed, the violent dispossession of racialized chattel slaves from their labor, their bodies, and their families — not the enclosure of the commons identified by Karl Marx — set capitalism in motion and sustained capital accumulation for three centuries.” Read more

Fixing FXBG’s Traffic

Traffic's building in Fredericksburg.

Traffic’s building in Fredericksburg.

Fredericksburg can be a weird place to live.  If you stay downtown, life flows smoothly and easily along, with relatively few delays and inconveniences.  But if you leave “the bubble” (as Brian calls it) then things get ugly really fast.  I don’t care what they say, Fredericksburg is part of Northern Virginia if you define Northern Virginia as a region of unrestrained, sprawling growth that produces horrific traffic.  Primary and secondary roads around town, and especially I-95, get incredibly clogged during rush hour, on summer weekends and holidays, and any time there is the slightest hiccup due to weather, construction, or accidents. Read more

Inhabiting NC’s Landscape of Jim Crow

The mysterious wooden enclosure in the basement.

The mysterious wooden enclosure in the basement.

My two recent posts on Carter’s Grove and Beverly Wellford’s physician/slave insurance office have gotten me thinking about the experience of inhabiting historic landscapes of slavery as a modern historian and general Yankee.  This past weekend, I had another direct encounter with a landscape, not of slavery, but of early 20th century Jim Crow.  This final encounter suggested to me that I should make “Landscapes of Slavery” a regular (if occasional) feature on my blog.  As transplanted Yankee living below the Mason-Dixon, the remnants of the South’s history of racialized labor relations fascinates me, and I’ll take care to document them as I encounter them in daily life. Read more

Inhabiting Fxbg’s Landscape of Slavery

Brian at 802 Princess Anne St., built by Dr. Beverly Welford in 1826.  Note the historic plaque in the center of the building.

Brian at 802 Princess Anne St., built by Dr. Beverly Wellford in 1826. Note the historic plaque in the center of the building.

In my last post on Carter’s Grove, I found myself imaging what it would be like to inhabit a landscape so thoroughly imbued with slavery.  This train of thought led to my wondering about Fredericksburg’s landscape of slavery.  Slavery is an obvious presence in the fabric of Fredericksburg’s colonial and antebellum streetscape, with the Auction Block being only the most obvious example.  But I have also inhabited that landscape in a direct and personal way.  This is a first in a series of posts about my first-person encounters with the ghosts of slavery in Fredericksburg. Read more

Analog Day, Digital Day

Virginia Snowpocalypse 2014: digital humanities or analog humanities?

Virginia Snowpocalypse 2014: digital humanities or analog humanities?

This week’s assignment to explore “personal learning networks” through social media came at an auspicious time.  Unlike Jason and Dave, last week’s snow days freed up some time for me, because of the particular moment I was in for each of my courses.  (I’m screwed this week, but that’s another story.)  That meant I had a fair amount of time on Thursday and Friday to play with Twitter and RSS. Read more

Snow Day

20140213-111652.jpgDisappointing those who expected to be disappointed, last night’s snowstorm delivered on its promise of real, if icy, accumulation. (Myself, I was expecting real snow, mostly because I was taking the word of Chris White, fredericksburg.com’s weather blogger, who I am increasingly becoming a fan of for his thoughtful and articulate posts about local meteorology.) Read more