Canal Street

Canal Street and many areas like it shared a sad story during this time.  What had once been a prosperous, lively area fell into poverty and disrepair.  While the area never fully forgot its goals, it did lose its zeal for success.  Richmond as a whole finally settled into a state of contentment economically during this time, after losing its foothold as the major Southern city due to its monopoly with the canal around the turn of the century.  Standards of living in areas such as Canal Street were nothing to dream about.  The crowded residencies were populated by hard working, low earning individuals who made due with what they could.  These spaces served as home for the dense population of blue collar workers who made up the backbone of industry.

Black and white photograph of a watercolor painting, “Canal Street”, by L.W. Light

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3 Responses to Canal Street

  1. urcm9qf says:

    This is very interesting because during this time period Duval Street seemed almost the opposite with vacant lots and abandoned houses. In the desolate poverty many people had left the area for better parts of town freeing up space and room in the Duval Street neighborhood. However the rich, busy, non stop activity on the street from the late 1800s has similarly completely disappeared by this time. Duval Street has also lost its zeal for success and life. From the painting it is hard to detect this same image but the congestion and mixture of a produce truck, many parked cars, several buildings and train tracks ahead is suppose to suggest the congestion and crowded nature of Canal Street at this time.


  2. urap6ee says:

    This is very interesting because 17th Street actually became more lively and prospered during the mid 1900’s. They had to whip out the “Old First Market” in order to make room for the amount of traffic and pedestrians there were buying and selling goods at the time. There was almost no parking and outside shops there were often trucks and cars parked filled with goods to bring into the the shops.

  3. uryn2bk says:

    I am really fascinated by how you chose to use a painting that represents Canal Street rather than a photograph of the actual street. Paintings can often depict things that would be largely unnoticeable had you simply studied a map or picture from the time period. The artist knew this part of Richmond well, it seems: had you stepped back into time and spoken with him face-to-face, he probably would have explained to you that the Canal Street he knew was a dreary, cluttered space monopolized by trucks, cars and that dark bridge that looms over the street. Although a photograph could tell you similar things, paintings can demonstrate not just what is physically happening in an area but also what the people of that time think it.

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