RVA Neighborhood Spotlight: Byrd Park

Whether you want to go for a walk, exercise or simply relax, Byrd Park is a beautiful place to explore and a city favorite for many reasons. This 287-acre park is located in Richmond’s Near West End, north of the James River and adjacent to Maymont. Back in 1874 the City of Richmond decided to build a reservoir in order to address the growing need for a safe water supply. Since the first acquisition of land, the park has grown in size and has undergone tremendous change. 

Today Byrd Park is beautifully landscaped on gently rolling terrain that allows you to take a step out of the hustle and bustle from the busy city. It features three man-made lakes, tennis courts, ball fields, a children’s playground, a dog park and plenty of open areas to throw around the frisbee or play other games. The tree-shaded lawns are ideal for that summertime picnic or reading your favorite book.

The park is host to a variety of special events throughout the year: A must-experience is “Arts in the Park”, an award winning show and one of Richmond’s largest outdoor events featuring art from all over the country. Some categories include painting, pottery and ceramics, jewelry, furniture, photography, woodworking, glass, metal, sculpture, textiles, yard-art and more. There is sure to be something there to spark anyone’s interest! For live entertainment, grab a blanket and check out the outdoor amphitheatre The Dogwood Dell or Ha’Penny stage on summer evenings. 

Located throughout the park are various historic statues and memorial monuments. One of them being the Carrilon bell tower, a World War I memorial designed in the Georgian Revival style that rises a lofty 240 feet. The eight-story tall tower contains 56 bells and is played on occasions like Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Veteran’s Day. The tower is a Richmond fixture used for festivals, meetings, and wedding receptions.

The Pump House is another iconic building that once served as Richmond’s primary water pumping station. Built in 1882-3, this impressive granite Victorian Gothic structure was designed to handle the pressure of moving water against its structure to pump water from the canal and raise it up to a reservoir in Byrd Park.  

  • National Register of Historic Places:
    • Carillon Bell Tower 1984
    • The Pump House 2002
    • The entire park 2016

Fountain Lake is spread along both sides of the Boulevard and Blanton Ave starting at the Columbus statue. In the summer it’s a wonderful place for sunbathing and pedal boat rides. There is also a full-service concession building offering snacks, lunch, restrooms, and free Wi-Fi during the summer season.

Swan Lake is located further south to the east of Blanton Ave. As the name implies, you can see plenty of waterfowl. Kids love feeding the friendly birds. Other than that it’s a great place to unwind and spend time in nature.

Shields Lake is the southernmost of the park’s three lakes. On the east side you can find large picnic shelters with outdoor grills. Another way to enjoy the lake is to go fishing for trout as urban fishing with a state fishing license is allowed at any of the lakes.

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Let us face facts. We live in a fast-paced world with lots of distractions where we spend most of our time working or in the digital plane, browsing on the internet, chatting on our smartphones, or watching TV.  Here is a friendly reminder to take some time to go outdoors, breathe in the fresh air, connect with the local community and enjoy a little bit of Richmond’s history while you’re at it. Have fun!


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