Why Shockoe Bottom Matters
Between 1830 and 1865, the slave trade of Richmond, Virginia's Shockoe Bottom was second in importance only to that of New Orleans. Auction houses, offices, and slave jails, like the one that held Solomon Northup, whose memoir was the basis for the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, were scattered across a creek bottom that flowed to the James River.
Much of the site has been lost to time, but the place remains a reminder of the suffering and injustice that took place there. It also stands as a symbol of endurance and resistance.
But beyond the passage of time, the site is also threatened by the proposed construction of a minor league baseball stadium and other development.
In September 2014, the National Trust and Preservation Virginia convened local leaders and historians at President Lincoln's Cottage in Washington to discuss the future of Shockoe Bottom. They were asked why Shockoe Bottom matters to them, and how they would like to see the site used. Here is what they said.