From Fredericksburg, Virginia’s earliest days, the Rappahannock River has played a key role in the city’s economic vitality.
But that asset is currently underutilized, according to a report commissioned by the National Main Street Center for Fredericksburg VA Main Streetin the Spring of 2015.
The local organization took that message to heart and has come up with a “Face the River” project to improve what it calls “downtown’s front yard.”
It would remove dead trees, stumps and invasive vegetation, and replace them with appropriate plantings in the back of Sophia Street lots bordering the Rappahannock.
The goal is to open up views of the river, reinvigorate the city’s connection to it and create recreational opportunities says Tom Smith, who is on Main Street’s design committee.
“We want to bring more people downtown,” he said. The first thing you realize upon entering historic downtown Fredericksburg is that it’s an honest-to-goodness community. People actually live here, they know each other, and they have worked together for generations to bring out the best in this place. People have been calling Fredericksburg their home for over 300 years, and the remarkable thing is how seamlessly this history has been blended into contemporary life on the banks of the Rappahannock.
Passing through these city blocks, it’s obvious that they’re rich with culture. Playful murals and modern sculptures peek out between Antebellum storefronts and majestic church towers. Well-preserved historic buildings make up the bones of downtown: every flower and tree-lined street hosts a smorgasbord of independent shops, studio galleries, service boutiques, and professional offices – each with their own unique charm – that somehow fit together into an organic whole.
Market Square is a community gathering place ready for a variety of art and cultural opportunities. Monuments, markers, and tour guides tell the tales of our more famous residents from James Monroe to James Farmer. There’s a variety of activities to keep one’s interest: take a show in at our local theater, visit a pocket park, listen to a nearby busker, and lay a blanket amongst the crowd at Riverfront Park for an outdoor entertainment.