The stones in this plaza have been arranged to suggest the outline of a typical lock on Richmond's James River and Kanawha Canal. Where you now stand was once a part of the Great Turning Basin which served the heart of the commercial area in antebellum Richmond. This Basin was connected to the James River by a flight of five locks known as the Tidewater Connection Locks which were built between 1850 and 1854.
This lock "footprint" is the same width as a real lock but only sixty feet long. The locks were generally 15 feet wide and 100 feet long. Two of the original locks are preserved intact in the Tidewater Connection Locks Park, three blocks away at 12th and Byrd Streets.
These locks represented a craftsmanship perhaps never to be seen again. The vision of the canal and lock builders was an important part of the early development of Richmond and Virginia.
When the Downtown Expressway was constructed in 1974, the stones in two of these locks were photographed, numbered, carefully removed, and stored by the Richmond Metropolitan Authority for future use. The stones are currently on loan from the Authority.
This Plaza has been constructed by Faison Associates. The Plaza was designed by M. Paul Friedberg, Landscape Architect, in collaboration with Jim Sanborn, sculptor.