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Why Richmond, Why?!?

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Why Richmond, Why?!?

Some people say the name of one of our highways (The Powhite Parkway) as "Po White" as it seems to be spelled that way but I always thought it should be pronounced as "Pow Hite" since it sounds similar to Powhatan (Pow-Ha-Tan).

I've always thought the same thing. In fact, it's one of my favorite things about Richmond – the fact that we refuse to say words properly, not only with pronunciation, but also when a name changes.

But just to be sure, I spoke with Linda McElroy, public relations manager for the Richmond Metropolitan Authority, the agency that manages the Powhite.

Officially, according to the RMA, the correct pronunciation is Pow-hite, not Po-white but they, like most Richmonders, know that though that's the correct way to say it, it's the least common.  

Henrico can really sound strange. Most say "Hen-ri-co" and I've heard others, usually people from other states say "Hen-ree-co" but I think the worse is how those with an Old Virginia accent will say "Hen-rekka".

On this one, I talked to Angela Harper, deputy county manager for Henrico County. Henrico is pronounced Hen-ri-co, just the way we all say it.

As for out-of-towners using a different pronunciation, that might be connected to the fact that Henricus Historical Park, the site of Henricus, the second settlement in America, is technically pronounced Hen-ri-cuss, but Harper says, Hen-re-cuss is also OK.

Perhaps it's because both the settlement and the county were named for Prince Henry though, ironically, Henricus Park is now in Chesterfield County. Which is said just the way it sounds. For once.

So what do you want to know, Richmond? Send questions to kpeifer@richmond.com with "Why Richmond, Why?!?" in the subject line or leave your question in the comments sections below.

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