Located in the heart of Richmond’s historic Church Hill, Chimborazo Park is one of the most noticeable places in the city. This expansive 30 acre public park embodies not only its historical significance, but various modern features that attract anyone looking for communes with the outdoors. The view of the city offered by the park is impressive, allowing visitors an unobstructed 180-degree view of the entire city – a feature you can hardly find at anywhere else within the city.
Chimborazo wasn’t officially established as a park until 1874, but the history surrounding the area goes back a great deal further. During the Civil War (around which much of the city’s history was written), the open expanse served as the site of the notable Chimborazo Hospital, which came to be known as the largest military hospital in American history, and one of the largest in the world. The hospital featured several different wards, dividing the wounded up according to their state. While this is common practice today, it was a groundbreaking move in medicine during the 19th century. The hospital was also one of the first to bring women into the medical practice as caretakers and wards, laying the groundwork for the modern nursing industry, which is a field that has historically been dominated by women, thanks to this early response to a shortage of doctors.
While the origins of the park are rooted in wartime and struggle, today it serves as a place where people of the city can escape the rush and bustle to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of their surroundings. The National Battlefield Park headquarters is located within the park and is an excellent source of information for those seeking knowledge of our country’s history. A park house is also available for rent for small gatherings and community functions.
Chimborazo also offers some fun for our four-legged friends. Church Hill Dog Park can be found in the lower eastern area of the park and welcomes all those looking to cut loose from the confines of the city with their doggy companions. However, among one of the most unique features of the park is a miniature Statue of Liberty, complete with inscription. This tiny monument to freedom is very appropriate given the ever-growing diversity of the surrounding city and its rise from devastation following the Civil War.
Chimborazo Park serves as the setting for numerous summer activities and opportunities for community involvement. One of the most popular activities is a family movie night, which takes places about four or five times over the summer, where community members gather together to sponsor a public viewing of a classic film. Orienteering Day is also a heavily attended summer even for the park, where parents are invited to bring their children to learn about geography, fitness, problem solving and outdoor skills. Many of these events are done with the assistance of the Friends of Chimborazo, a society dedicated to promoting and preserving this urban treasure.
Lawrence Reaves is a prolific writer who resides near Richmond, VA and enjoys learning all about Richmond history.