Capitol Square has been the government center of Richmond since Thomas Jefferson selected the site and laid out the square in 1780. Initially the square was occupied by Jefferson's capitol building and the Virginia Executive Mansion. Over time the Commonwealth of Virginia has constructed a number of buildings on the square proper. Originally, residential neighborhoods adjoined the square to the north, east, and west, and the commercial-financial area was to the south. Throughout the nineteenth century the Virginia State Capitol dominated the skyline of the city. Twentieth-century encroachments by state high rises and the buildings of the financial district have blocked the Jefferson “Acropolis” and diminished the visual prominence of the square to the rest of the city.
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