Since the late eighteenth century, East Main Street, which slopes gently uphill and westward from Shockoe Bottom, has been a continuously prosperous commercial and financial center. After being mostly destroyed by the devastating evacuation fire in April 1865 (when fleeing Richmonders burned Confederate munitions rather than have them fall into Union hands), the area was rebuilt rapidly—ironically, with significant northern investment—in brick and iron-fronted buildings. After the turn of the twentieth century, several Beaux-Arts banks, and later skyscrapers, gave Richmond a new skyline.
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