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
Tag Archive for Fredericksburg
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Disappointing 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
I clicked on this Free Lance-Star article about Erin Hamlin, the American who just won the bronze in luge in Sochi, expecting to find a feel-good human-interest story about a local athlete made good. Which is exactly what I found. Except that Hamlin isn’t from Fredericksburg (her aunt lives here), she’s from Remsen, New York, just outside of Utica. And now I’m mad because Fredericksburg is squatting on the local-girl-made-good human-interest story that rightfully belongs to my people. Lay off Oneida County, will ya? They’re in a 50-year drought of feel-good human-interest stories up there.