More later, but for now...
The guy over at vintagerva.blogspot.com has done a great job of finding cool pictures of the city throughout its history. Sadly he hasn't updated for a while. I really need to find him in person; we could probably waste hours picking apart the minutiae of old Richmond over a few drinks.
Some time back he posted a shot taken on Broad between 7th and 8th in about 1905. I've noticed this before but I pulled it up to show a colleague, so I figured I'd post it as well.
The picture is interesting in that most of the buildings you see are gone. The sizable building on the left is the old Colonial. It was torn down to build the new Colonial, which appears on the sidebar of this page. Down the street is the brand-new Bijou. The only building clearly visible which remains standing is City Hall (the spiky Gothic horror down the street on the right).
Note also that the picture must have been taken fairly early in the morning or in late afternoon. This is and was a very busy block--there are awfully few people wandering about and in fact there is a dog dittybopping up the middle of the street.
Also, on the left, note the group of somewhat shady gentlemen gathered around a streetlight pole. One of them is clearly marking something down, using the pole as a desk. I'm pretty sure they're taking bets on something.
Closer examination reveals something curious, though:
Look at the guy on the left.
...and now at me. (Pretend I don't have a chinstrap in this picture.)
I totally time traveled to 1905 and, unsurprisingly, was doing something vaguely unsavory on the sidewalk in front of the Colonial.