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Alexandria, Virginia

Alexandria, Virginia
Independent city
City of Alexandria

Old Town Alexandria in March 2003, as seen from the observation deck of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.
Flag of Alexandria, Virginia
Official seal of Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia is located in Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia
Country  United States of America
State Commonwealth of Virginia
Founded 1749
Incorporated (town) 1779
Incorporated (city) 1852
Incorporated (Independent city) 1870
 • Mayor William D. Euille (D)
 • Virginia Senate Adam Ebbin (D)
Richard L. Saslaw (D)
 • Delegate Rob Krupicka (D)
Charniele Herring (D)
 • U.S. Congress Jim Moran (D)
 • Total 39.9 km2 (15.4 sq mi)
 • Land 39.3 km2 (15.2 sq mi)
 • Water 0.6 km2 (0.2 sq mi)
Elevation 12 m (39 ft)
Population (2010)
 • Total 139,966
 • Estimate (2013) 148,892
 • Density 3,672/km2 (9,493/sq mi)
 • Demonym Alexandrian
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 22301 to 22315, 22320 to 22336
Area code(s) 571, 703
FIPS code 51-01000[1]
GNIS feature ID 1492456[2]

Alexandria (formerly Belhaven and Hunting Creek Warehouse)[3] is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 139,966,[4] in 2013, the population was estimated to be 151,218.[5] Located along the Western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately six miles (9.6 kilometers) south of downtown Washington, D.C.

Like the rest of Northern Virginia, as well as central Maryland, modern Alexandria has been shaped by its proximity to the nation's capital. It is largely populated by professionals working in the federal civil service, in the U.S. military, or for one of the many private companies which contract to provide services to the federal government. One of Alexandria's largest employers is the U.S. Department of Defense. Others include the Institute for Defense Analyses and the Center for Naval Analyses. In 2005, the United States Patent and Trademark Office moved to Alexandria.

The historic center of Alexandria is known as Old Town. With its concentration of boutiques, restaurants, antique shops and theaters, it is a major draw for tourists. Like Old Town, many Alexandria neighborhoods are compact, walkable, high-income suburbs of Washington, D.C. It is the seventh largest and highest income independent city in Virginia.

A portion of adjacent Fairfax County, Virginia is named Alexandria, but is under the jurisdiction of Fairfax County and separate from the city; the city is sometimes referred to as the City of Alexandria or Alexandria City to avoid confusion. In 1920, Virginia's General Assembly voted to incorporate what had been Alexandria County as Arlington County, Virginia to minimize confusion.


Map of Alexandria County (1878), including what is now Arlington County and the City of Alexandria. Map includes the names of property owners at that time. City boundaries roughly correspond with Old Town.

The first European settlement was established in 1695 in what was then the English Colony of Virginia. Virginia's comprehensive Tobacco Inspection Law of 1730 mandated that all tobacco grown in the colony must be brought to locally designated public warehouses for inspection before sale: one of the sites designated for a warehouse on the upper Potomac River was at the mouth of Hunting Creek.[6] However, the ground being unsuitable at that location, the warehouse was established a half-mile up river, where the water ran deep near the shore.

Following the 1745 settlement of the colony's 10-year long dispute with Lord Fairfax over the western boundary of the Northern Neck Proprietary—the Privy Council in London finding in favor of Lord Fairfax's expanded claim—some of the gentry class of Fairfax County banded together to form the Ohio Company of Virginia. Their intent was to establish trade into the interior of America and for this they required an entrepot close to the head of navigation on the Potomac. The Hunting Creek tobacco warehouse offered the best location for a trading port which could accommodate sailing ships. However, many of the local tobacco planters wanted a new town to be sited up Hunting Creek, away from the "played out" tobacco fields along the river.[7]

Around 1746, Captain [8]

Since the river site was amidst his estate, Philip opposed the idea and strongly favored a site at the head of Hunting Creek (also known as Great Hunting Creek). It has been said that in order to avoid a predicament the petitioners offered to name the new town Alexandria, in honor of Philip’s family. As a result, Philip and his cousin Captain John Alexander (1711–1763) gave land to assist in the development of Alexandria, and are thus listed as the founders. This John was the son of Robert Alexander II (1688–1735). On May 2, 1749, the House of Burgesses approved the river location and ordered "Mr. Washington do go up with a Message to the Council and acquaint them that this House have agreed to the Amendments titled An Act for erecting a Town at Hunting Creek Warehouse, in the County of Fairfax."[9] A "Public Vendue" (auction) was advertised for July, and the county surveyor laid out street lanes and town lots. The auction was conducted on July 13–14, 1749. Almost immediately upon establishment, the town founders called the new town "Belhaven", believed to be in honor of a Scottish patriot, John Hamilton, 2nd Lord Belhaven and Stenton, the Northern Neck tobacco trade being then dominated by Scots. The name Belhaven was used in official lotteries to raise money for a Church and Market House, but it was never approved by the legislature and fell out of favor in the mid-1750s.[10] The town of Alexandria did not become incorporated until 1779.

In 1755, General Fort Duquesne at Carlyle House in Alexandria. In April 1755, the governors of Virginia, and the Provinces of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York met to determine upon concerted action against the French in America.

In March 1785, commissioners from Virginia and Maryland met in Alexandria to discuss the commercial relations of the two states, finishing their business at Mount Vernon. The Mount Vernon Conference concluded on March 28 with an agreement for freedom of trade and freedom of navigation of the Potomac River. The Maryland legislature, in ratifying this agreement on November 22, proposed a conference among representatives from all the states to consider the adoption of definite commercial regulations. This led to the calling of the Annapolis Convention of 1786, which in turn led to the calling of the Federal Convention of 1787.

In 1791, Alexandria was included in the area chosen by Arlington County share the distinction of having been originally in Virginia, ceded to the U.S. Government to form the District of Columbia, and later retroceded to Virginia by the federal government in 1846, when the District was reduced in size to exclude the portion south of the Potomac River. The City of Alexandria was re-chartered in 1852.

In 1814, during the War of 1812, a British fleet launched a successful Raid on Alexandria, which surrendered without a fight. As agreed in the terms of surrender the British looted stores and warehouses of mainly flour, tobacco, cotton, wine, and sugar.[11]

Slave ship taking on slaves at the Alexandria waterfront in 1836. Alexandria's slave trade made Virginia a more pro-slavery state after retrocession.

From 1828 to 1836,[12] Alexandria was home to the Franklin & Armfield Slave Market, one of the largest slave trading companies in the country. By the 1830s, they were sending more than 1,000 slaves annually from Alexandria to their Natchez, Mississippi, and New Orleans markets to help meet the demand for slaves in Mississippi and surrounding states.[13] Later owned by Price, Birch & Co., the slave pen became a jail under Union occupation.[14]

Over time, a movement grew to separate Alexandria from the District of Columbia (the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal fostered development on the north side of the Potomac River, the city's economy stagnated, together with the loss of representation and rights to vote and failed expectations for economic benefit from the new district. Alexandria was also an important port and market in the slave trade, and there were increasing talk of the abolition of slavery in the national capital. Alexandria's economy would suffer greatly if slavery were outlawed. After a referendum, voters petitioned Congress and Virginia to return the area to Virginia. Congress retroceded the area to Virginia on July 9, 1846.[15] Ultimately, the City of Alexandria became independent of Alexandria County in 1870. The remaining portion of Alexandria County changed its name to Arlington County in 1920.

Map of Alexandria showing the forts that were constructed to defend Washington during the Civil War
A bird's eye view of Alexandria from the Potomac in 1863. Fort Ellsworth is visible on the hill in the center background.

The first fatalities of the North and South in the American Civil War occurred in Alexandria. Within a month of the Battle of Fort Sumter, where two died, Union troops occupied Alexandria, landing troops at the base of King Street on the Potomac River on May 24, 1861. A few blocks up King Street from their landing site, the commander of the New York Fire Zouaves, Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth, sortied with a small detachment to retrieve a large Confederate flag displayed on the roof of the Marshall House Inn that had been visible from the White House. While descending from the roof, Ellsworth was killed by Captain James W. Jackson, the hotel proprietor. One of the soldiers in Ellsworth's party shot Jackson immediately thereafter.[16] After Ellsworth's death, he was publicized as a Union martyr. The incident generated great excitement in the North.[16] Jackson's death caused a lesser, but similar sensation in the South.

Alexandria remained under military occupation until the end of the Civil War. One of the ring of forts built during the war by the Union army for the defense of Washington, D.C., Fort Ward, is located within the boundaries of modern Alexandria.[17] After the establishment of the state of West Virginia in 1863 and until the close of the war, Alexandria was the seat of the Restored Government of Virginia also known as the "Alexandria Government." During the Union occupation, a recurring point of contention between the Alexandria citizenry and the military occupiers was the military’s periodic insistence that church services include prayers for the President of the United States, resulting in incidents such as the full arrest of a minister in his church.

Escaped African American slaves poured into the military occupation of Alexandria. Safely behind Union lines, the cities of Alexandria and Washington offered not only comparative freedom, but employment. Over the course of the war, Alexandria was transformed by the Union occupiers into a major supply depot and transport and hospital center, all under army control.[18] Because the escaped slaves were still legally property until the abolition of slavery, they were labeled as contrabands to prevent their being returned to their masters. Contrabands took positions with the army in various support roles. According to one statistic, the population of Alexandria had exploded to 18,000 by the fall of 1863 – an increase of 10,000 people in 16 months.[18]

As of ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment, Alexandria County’s black population was more than 8,700, or about half the total number of residents in the County. This newly enfranchised constituency provided the support necessary to elect the first black Alexandrians to the City Council and the Virginia Legislature.[19]

In 1930, Alexandria annexed the Town of Potomac. That town, adjacent to Potomac Yard, had been laid out beginning in the late 19th century and incorporated in 1908. By the late 20th century, Alexandria had become a key portion of the urban agglomeration of Northern Virginia.


Alexandria waterfront, along the Potomac River
Marina behind the Torpedo Factory
Apartment buildings near Braddock Road station of the Washington Metro
A typical house in the Rosemont neighborhood

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.5 square miles (40.1 km2), of which 15.0 square miles (39 km2) is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2) (2.8%) is water.[20] Alexandria is bounded on the east by the Potomac River, on the north and northwest by Arlington County, and on the south by Fairfax County. The western portions of the city were annexed from those two entities beginning in the 1930s.

The addressing system in Alexandria is not uniform and reflects the consolidation of several originally separate communities into a single city. In Old Town Alexandria, building numbers are assigned north and south from King Street and west (only) from the Potomac River. In the areas formerly in the Town of Potomac, such as Del Ray and St. Elmo, building numbers are assigned east and west from Commonwealth Avenue and north (only) from King Street. In the western parts of the city, building numbers are assigned north and south from Duke Street.

The ZIP code prefix 223 uniquely identifies the Alexandria postal area. However, the Alexandria postal area extends into Fairfax County and includes addresses outside of the city. Delivery areas have ZIP codes 22301, 22302, 22304, 22305, 22311, 22312, 22314, and 22315, with other ZIP codes in use for post office boxes and large mailers.

Adjacent jurisdictions


Old Town

Signs hang from the lamp posts of Old Town along King Street.
Alexandria Torpedo Factory (waterfront side)
Storefronts along Mount Vernon Avenue in the Arlandria section of Alexandria reflect the large Hispanic population in the area.

Old Town is situated in the eastern and southeastern area of the city along the Potomac River. It was originally laid out in 1749, making it the oldest section of the City and is a historic district.[21] Old Town is chiefly known for its historic town houses, art galleries, antique shops, and restaurants.

Some of the historic landmarks in Old Town include General Gadsby's Tavern, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Shop, and the Torpedo Factory art studio complex (see the "Recreation" paragraph below). River cruise boats and street entertainers frequent the large plaza at the foot of King Street; the Mount Vernon Trail also passes through. Old Town is laid out on a grid plan of substantially square blocks. The opening of the Washington Metro King Street station in 1983 led to a spurt of new hotel and office building development in western Old Town, and gentrification of townhouse areas west of Washington Street which were previously an African-American community.

Market Square in Old Town is believed to be one of the oldest continuously operating marketplaces in the United States (since 1753),[22] and was once the site of the second-largest slave market in the U.S. Today it contains a large fountain, extensive landscaping, and a farmers' market each Saturday morning.

In the center of the intersection of Washington and Prince streets stands a statue of a lone Confederate soldier which marks the spot where [23]


Just to the west of Old Town is the city's oldest planned residential expansion. Called by its creators Mount Vernon by electric railroad, Rosemont, instead, became closely integrated into the life of the core of Alexandria. Much of Rosemont is included in a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places that was intended to focus attention on the neighborhood's role as a showcase of early 20th century home building styles. Television weatherman Willard Scott grew up here.

The Berg

At the northern limits of Old Town are the remnants of a historic, predominantly African-American community known by its inhabitants as "The Berg." The area was settled in 1861 by refugees fleeing from enslavement in the area around Petersburg, Virginia and was known as Petersburg or Grantsville.[24] In 1915 the neighborhood encompassed several blocks from 1st St. to Bashford Lane and Royal St. to the waterfront railroad line.

Built in 1945, a 260-unit public housing complex covers several blocks in what is now Old Town Alexandria. Two of the Berg’s most prominent landmarks are blocks of units within this complex. The James Bland Homes, built in 1954, are named after an African American musician and songwriter. The second are the Samuel Madden Homes, named after the second African-American pastor of the Alfred Street Baptist Church.[25]

Over the years, the origins of the Berg's name were forgotten, and many assumed it referred to the monolithic, iceberg-like buildings of this apartment complex. It was mentioned in the movie Remember the Titans, which dramatizes the integration of city public schools in the 1970s

Old Alexandria
Rowhouses in the Parker-Grey neighborhood


Arlandria is a neighborhood located in the north-eastern portion of Alexandria. Its name is a portmanteau of the words "Arlington" and "Alexandria," reflecting its location on the border of Arlington County and Alexandria. The neighborhood's borders form a rough triangle bounded by Four Mile Run in the north, West Glebe Road to the south and south-west, and Route 1 to the east. Centered around Mount Vernon Avenue between Four Mile Run and West Glebe Road, it is home to many Hispanic, Thai, and Vietnamese-owned bakeries, restaurants, salons, and bookstores. An influx of Salvadorean immigrants into the neighborhood in the 1980s has earned it the nickname "Chirilagua," after the city on the Pacific coast of El Salvador. Arlandria is also home to the Birchmere concert hall, the Alexandria Aces of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Collegiate Baseball League, and St. Rita Roman Catholic Church, dedicated in 1949 and constructed in Gothic style from Virginia fieldstone and Indiana limestone.[26] Alternative rock band the Foo Fighters has a track titled "Arlandria" on their 2011 release Wasting Light; front man (and ex-Nirvana drummer) Dave Grohl lived in Alexandria during his childhood. The area is also referenced in the song "Headwires" from the band's 1999 release, There Is Nothing Left to Lose.[27]

Del Ray

The area to the northwest of Old Town, which had been in the separate town of [32]

The 254 acres (1 km²) comprising Del Ray were sold to Charles Wood in 1894 for the sum of $38,900, while St. Elmo, made up of 39 acres (160,000 m2), was purchased for $15,314.

The community, while still diverse, has experienced substantial gentrification[33] since the development of the Potomac Yard Shopping Center in the mid-1990s.[34] It draws tens of thousands of people from around the Washington, D.C. region during its annual Art on the Avenue[35] main street festival the first Saturday in October. New development under way in formerly unused land near Potomac Yard, across US Route 1 from Del Ray, will include condominiums, offices, parks, and a fire station with affordable housing on upper floors.

West End

Alexandria's West End includes areas annexed from Fairfax County in the 1950s. It is the most typically suburban part of Alexandria, with a street hierarchy of winding roads and cul-de-sacs. The section of Duke Street in the West End is known for a high-density residential area known to locals as "Landmark" due to its close proximity to nearby Landmark Mall, and for its concentration of strip and enclosed shopping malls. Parts of Alexandria's West End have received an influx of immigrants from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Pakistan, who have settled in the areas surrounding Seminary Road west of I-395.

The West End is composed of four main areas. All are west of Quaker Lane, a major north-south artery through the western side of Alexandria:

Skyscrapers in the West End of Alexandria
  • Lower Alexandria (LA), south of the Duke Street corridor, are communities of small homes, rowhouses, townhomes along with commercial and retail real estate, including the Foxchase Shopping Center. The section between Wheeler Ave. and Jordan St. is also known as the "Block." In the 1960s and 1970s, this section of Alexandria was also known because of Shirley Duke, a complex of 2,214 low-priced rental apartments, which became the Foxchase development in the early 1980s after five years of stagnancy. There are also areas of industrial businesses south of Duke Street, primarily off Wheeler Ave., South Pickett St., and South Van Dorn St. In the very southern part of this area is the Eisenhower Ave. corridor running parallel to the Capital Beltway (I-95/I-495) and west of Telegraph Rd, which is primarily industrial and commercial in nature. There has been some development in apartments and townhomes in the area west of Telegraph Rd and east of Clermont Ave along with Class 1 Offices and national brand hotels. The Van Dorn Metro Station here provides access to Washington, D.C.
  • The Landmark area, which includes Seminary Valley, a large single family area developed in the 1950s, is largely garden style apartments and condo-converted apartment hi-rises as well as a number of townhome developments from the 1970s is west of North Pickett St bordered by I-395/Van Dorn Street on the west and Seminary Road on the north. Other well known communities include Seminary Valley & Brookville (BVSV) and Cameron Station. The area is developed around the main branch of the Alexandria Library, the Charles E. Beatley Central Library, named for Alexandria's two-time mayor in the 1970s and early eighties, Chuck Beatley. The Landmark Mall, developed in the mid-1960s and redeveloped in the 1980s, was Alexandria's primary retail area for decades. It is now anchored by Sears and Macy's department stores.
  • The Seminary West neighborhoods are the communities west of I-395 but within the city limits of Alexandria. Beauregard Street is the primary artery running north and south to a mix of development from town home communities, single family neighborhoods, three large senior citizen living centers, garden and hi-rise apartments and condominiums. The Mark Center office development is a large commercial area in this community, which also includes the Alexandria Campus of the Northern Virginia Community College and its Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center. The Mark Center is a 1,000,000-square-foot (93,000 m2) office tower complex developed for the US Department of Defense and its Base Realignment and Closure initiative. It is an annex of US Army post Fort Belvoir. 6,300 federal office workers were expected to occupy the buildings.
New development along the Duke Street corridor

North Ridge

North Ridge, in northern Alexandria city, includes the busy east-west Braddock Road/King Street corridors and north-south arteries Russell Road (to the East) and Cameron Mill Road. North Ridge takes its name from the high ground west of Russell Road and south of West Glebe Road. Within the area that comprises North Ridge are the neighborhoods of Beverley Hills, Jefferson Park, Braddock Heights, Timber Branch, Parkfairfax, Monticello Park, Beverley Estates, and Oak Crest. It is a residential area with homes of numerous styles with mostly single family two-story & basement houses that were largely developed in the period of the 1930s through the early 1960s. The Lower School of private T. C. Williams High School. Parks include Monticello Park, Beverley Park and Robert Leider Park. The North Ridge community lies within the original 10-mile (16 km) square of the District of Columbia, ceded back to Virginia in 1846.

Nearby neighborhoods

Many neighborhoods and cities outside of the city limits, including Hollin Hills, Franconia, Groveton, Hybla Valley, Huntington, Belle Haven, Mount Vernon, Fort Hunt, Engleside, Burgundy Village, Waynewood, Wilton Woods, Rose Hill, Virginia Hills, Hayfield, and Kingstowne use an Alexandria address. These areas are actually part of Fairfax County, not Alexandria. Many locals refer to the non-Alexandria area that has an Alexandria zip code as "Lower Alexandria" or "South Alexandria"; it may also sometimes be called "Alexandria, Fairfax County."[36]


At the 2010 census,[41] there were 139,966 people, 68,082 households and 30,978 families residing in the city. The population density was 8,452.0 per square mile (3,262.9/km²). There were 68,082 housing units at an average density of 4,233.2 per square mile (1,634.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was:

  • 60.9% White
  • 21.8% African American
  • 6.0% Asian (1.3% Indian, 1.0% Filipino, 0.9% Chinese, 0.8% Korean, 0.5% Thai, 0.3% Vietnamese, 0.2% Japanese, 1.0% Other)
  • 0.4% Native American
  • 0.1% Pacific Islander
  • 3.7% from two or more races
  • 16.1% of the population were Hispanics or Latinos of any race (4.6% Salvadoran, 1.7% Mexican, 1.6% Honduran, 1.1% Guatemalan, 1.1% Puerto Rican, 0.9% Bolivian, 0.8% Peruvian, 0.4% Colombian)

In 2000, there were 61,889 households of which 18.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.2% were married couples living together, 9.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 55.2% were non-families. 43.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.04 and the average family size was 2.87.

The age distribution was 16.8% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 43.5% from 25 to 44, 21.5% from 45 to 64, and 9.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 93.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.7 males.

According to a 2007 estimate, the median household income was $80,806 and the median family income was $102,435.[42] Males had a median income of $47,514 versus $41,254 for females. The per capita income for the city was $37,645. 8.9% of the population and 6.8% of families were below the poverty line. 13.9% of those under the age of 18 and 9.0% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.


Like many American cities, Alexandria has experienced a substantial decline in overall crime since 1970, hitting a 45 year low in 2010.[43] The city's Alexandria Police Department is responsible for police services in the city. There are 320 officers and 138 administrative workers. Since 2002, the police department has put crime information online.[44]

The total number of violent crimes has been declining on average since 1997 for Alexandria. There were 288 cases of aggravated assault for 1997. The average since then has been 204 per year. The high point for burglary was reached in 1997 with 819 break-ins, as well as 813 reports of auto theft, the highest recorded total for the city. The average number of stolen autos for every year since then has been 672. The number of crimes per 1,000 people has also been declining, from 56 in 1997 to 27 in 2006.[45] According to the Police Executive Research Forum, in Alexandria, "street violence is overrepresented in the Hispanic community."[46]


Companies headquartered in Alexandria include the Institute for Defense Analyses, the Center for Naval Analyses, VSE and the Pentagon Federal Credit Union.

Alexandria is home to numerous American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, the American Counseling Association, the Society for Human Resource Management, the National Society of Professional Engineers, and the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

Largest employers

According to the City's 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[47] the top public employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 United States Department of Commerce 1,000+
2 United States Department of Defense 1,000+
3 City of Alexandria 2,398
4 Alexandria City Public Schools 2,181
5 Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority 500-999
6 Northern Virginia Community College 500-999
7 United States Department of Agriculture 500-999
The top private employers in the city are:
# Employer # of Employees
1 Inova Alexandria Hospital 1,000+
2 ABM Industries 1,000+
3 Institute for Defense Analyses 1,000+
4 Center for Naval Analyses 1,000+
5 Gali Service Industries 1,000+
6 Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt 250-499
7 Grant Thornton LLP 250-499


The city is served by the The George Washington University (Washington DC) also has a campus near the King Street metro. This campus mainly offers professional and vocational programs, such as an executive MBA program, urban planning and security studies.

Alexandria has several of the Washington, D.C., area's top private schools, such as St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School, Bishop Ireton High School, and Episcopal High School. Also in the city are Alexandria Country Day School, Commonwealth Academy, St. Mary's Catholic School, St. Rita's Catholic School, Blessed Sacrament Learning Center and Global Health College.

Alexandria's public school system consists of thirteen elementary schools for grades 5-year-old Kindergarten through Grade 5. Middle Schools, George Washington and Francis C. Hammond, serve 6th through 8th graders. Minnie Howard Ninth Grade Center and T.C. Williams High School serve grades 9th and 10 through 12, respectively, for the entire city.

The demographics of Alexandria City Public Schools contrast with those of the city. In 2008, only 14% of the students at Francis C. Hammond Middle School were non-Hispanic whites, compared to about 60% when looking at the city as a whole. 27% were of Hispanic descent, and 48% were black. About 9% of the school was of Asian descent. In 2004, 62% of the school received free lunches; by 2008, that number had decreased to 56%.[48] At George Washington Middle School, 30% of students are non-Hispanic whites, 24% were Hispanic, and 41% was black. 3% of the students were Asian, and 52% of students received free lunch.[49] T.C. Williams High School follows this trend as well; 23% of the students were classified as non-Hispanic whites, 25% as Hispanic, and 44% as black. 7% of the school was Asian, and 47% of all students received free lunch.[50]

Public libraries

The Alexandria Public Library serves the residents of the City of Alexandria with four locations:

  • Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library (Main branch): 5005 Duke Street, Alexandria
  • Kate Waller Barrett Branch: 717 Queen Street, Alexandria
  • Ellen Coolidge Burke Branch: 4701 Seminary Road, Alexandria
  • James M. Duncan Branch: 2501 Commonwealth Avenue, Alexandria

The library system provides a variety of services which include adult, young adult, and children's materials, as well as access to genealogy records and full text articles from thousands of magazines and newspapers through online databases. E-Books can be borrowed through OverDrive e-Audio books and all branches offer free public Internet access and free Wifi.[51]

The Alexandria Library maintains a reciprocal agreement with neighboring libraries in Arlington, District of Columbia, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Montgomery, Price George’s, and Prince William.[52]

History of libraries

John Wise, a local Alexandria businessman and hotel keeper, hosted a meeting in his home in 1789 to discuss the creation of a Society for the Promotion of Useful Knowledge. Members include Rev. James Muir, physician Charles Lee. The Society did not last for long. However, on July 24, 1794, the founders of the Society once again met at Wise’s home to establish a subscription library. During the first year, one hundred nineteen men joined the circulating library which was to be called the Library Company of Alexandria. Members agreed to pay an initiation fee and annual dues. The company was chartered as a corporation in 1798 in an act passed by the General Assembly of Virginia.

Druggist Edward Stabler was elected the first librarian and the library’s first location is believed to have been housed in his George Washington Parke Custis.

The catalog published in 1801 indicated a collection of 452 books, mostly on history and travel. By 1815, there were 1,022 entries in the catalog, and the collection had added more biographies, fiction, and magazines. The library was housed in several locations over the ensuing years, including the New Market House next to the City Hall, the George W. Bagby.

The arrival of the Civil War in 1861 took its toll on the library collection. Members were able to remove some of the collection prior to the library’s occupation by Union troops. The library was used as a hospital and much of the library’s collection was lost during this time. After the war, the building was sold to a private owner who planned to turn the building into a private residence and asked the library to remove what was left of the collection. Funds continued to be hard to come by and in 1879, the Library Company closed. The remainder of its collection was stored in Peabody Hall.

In 1897, a group of women in Alexandria formed the Alexandria Library Association. The leaders of the group were Virginia Corse, Mrs. William B. Smoot, and Virginia Burke. They petitioned the school board to open a subscription library in Peabody Hall, using the old books stored there. Permission was given and doors to the new subscription library opened on December 1, 1897. In 1902, the library moved to the first floor of a house in the 1300 block of Prince Street while negotiations were underway for a permanent move to the Confederate Hall, located at 806 Prince Street. In May 1903, the library moved to the Confederate Hall, now known as the Robert E. Lee Camp Hall Museum, where it stayed for 34 years.

In 1936, Dr. and Mrs. Robert South Barrett presented a proposal to the Library Association. They agreed to donate a building in memory of Dr. Barrett’s mother, Kate Waller Barrett, if the city would commit to running it as a public library. The city agreed and the Society of Friends offered a 99-year lease on an old Quaker graveyard located on Queen Street. The old library was closed on March 1 for the books to be packed and moved to the new library, which opened to the public in August 1937. The Alexandria Library Association became the Alexandria Library Society.

In 1947, the Library Society was reconstituted and took the earlier historic name Alexandria Library Company. A lecture series was also revived. Speakers included Thomas Jefferson biographer Dumas Malone. Some of the books belonging in the original collection of the Alexandria Library Company can now be found in the Local History/Special Collections Room at the Queen Street library that still carries Mrs. Barrett’s name.[53]

Recreation and sites of interest

Alexandria has a distributed park system with approximately 950 acres (3.8 km²) spread across 70 major parks and 30 recreation centers, of which Chinquapin is one of the largest. Chinquapin offers facilities for swimming, tennis, racquetball, and other sports. The city also organizes several sports leagues throughout the year including volleyball, softball and basketball.

Alexandria City Hall
Alexandria home of Light Horse Harry Lee, father of Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee Boyhood Home in Alexandria

The city is home to Cameron Run Regional Park which includes a water park with a wave pool and water slides, as well as a miniature golf course and batting cages. A portion of the Mount Vernon Trail, a popular bike and jogging path, runs through Old Town near the Potomac River on its way from the Mount Vernon Estate to Roosevelt Island in Washington, DC. There is also a largely unbroken line of parks stretching along the Alexandria waterfront from end to end.

Landmarks within the city include the Masonic Temple) and Observation Deck, Christ Church, Gadsby's Tavern, John Carlyle House, Little Theatre of Alexandria, Lee-Fendall House, Alexandria City Hall, Market Square, the Jones Point Light, the south cornerstone of the original District of Columbia, Robert E. Lee's boyhood home, the Torpedo Factory Art Center, and the Virginia Theological Seminary. Other sites of historical interest in the city include Alexandria Black History Resource Center, Fort Ward Park and Museum, and the Alexandria Canal lock re-creation at Canal Office Center. Interesting sites with Alexandria addresses but outside of the city limits include River Farm, Collingwood Library & Museum, Green Spring Gardens Park, Huntley Meadows Park, Historic Huntley, Pope-Leighey House (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright), Woodlawn Plantation, Washington's Grist Mill and Mount Vernon Estate.

In 1830, John Hollensbury's home in Alexandria was one of two homes directly boarding an alleyway that received a large amount of horse-drawn wagon traffic and loiterers.[54] In order to prevent people from using the alleyway, Hollensbury constructed a 7 feet (2.1 m) wide, 25 feet (7.6 m) deep, 325-square-foot (30.2 m2), two story home using the existing brick walls of the adjacent homes for the sides of the new home.[54] The brick walls of the Hollensbury Spite House living room have gouges from wagon-wheel hubs; the house is still standing, and is occupied.[54]


Due to its proximity to Washington, Alexandria has only been the home of one professional sports team, the Alexandria Dukes, a minor league baseball team which has moved to Woodbridge and is now named the Potomac Nationals. However, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Collegiate Baseball League brought baseball back to Alexandria in 2008 in the form of the Alexandria Aces. In addition, TC Williams, Bishop Ireton, St. Stephen's and Episcopal have storied histories in athletics, such as football, basketball, baseball and lacrosse. The largest youth sport in Alexandria is soccer with almost 2,500 players ages 2–18 who participate in Alexandria Soccer Association.


Alexandria is bisected north and south by State Route 236).

Alexandria is located just south of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington County. As with other Washington suburbs, Alexandria is also served by Washington Dulles International Airport in Sterling, Virginia and by Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport near Baltimore, Maryland.

Southbound Amtrak train at Alexandria's Union Station

Alexandria Union Station, the city's historic train station, is served by both Amtrak intercity and Virginia Railway Express regional rail service. The station is directly adjacent to the King Street – Old Town Washington Metro station, at the convergence of the Blue and Yellow Lines. Three other Metro stations that lie within the city limits are Braddock Road, Van Dorn Street, and Eisenhower Avenue.

The traditional boundary between Old Town and the latterly annexed sections of the city followed the railway now owned by CSX Transportation.

The city government operates its own mass transit system, the Virginia General Assembly. In order to revise the power and structure of the city government, the city must request the General Assembly to amend the charter. The present charter was granted in 1950 and it has been amended in 1968, 1971, 1976, and 1982.

Alexandria adopted a council-manager form of government by way of referendum in 1921. This type of government empowers the elected City Council to pass legislation and appoint the City Manager. The City Manager is responsible for overseeing the city's administration.

City Council[55]
Position Name Party First Election District
  Mayor William D. Euille Democratic Party 2003 At-Large
  Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg Democratic Party 2012 At-Large
  Member John T. Chapman Democratic Party 2012 At-Large
  Member Timothy B. Lovain Democratic Party 2006 – 2009
  Member Redella S. "Del" Pepper Democratic Party 1985 At-Large
  Member Paul C. Smedberg Democratic Party 2003 At-Large
  Member Justin Wilson Democratic Party 2008 – 2009

In 2008, the City of Alexandria had 78 standing local boards, commissions, and committees to advise the City Council on major issues affecting the community.[56] All members are appointed by the City Council.

Alexandria is part of Virginia's 8th congressional district, represented by Democrat Jim Moran, elected in 1990.

The state's senior member of the United States Senate is Democrat Mark Warner, elected in 2008. The state's junior member of the United States Senate is Democrat Tim Kaine, elected in 2012.


In 2008, the Alexandria City Council approved an "Eco-City" charter with the goal of guiding the city and its residents toward "sustainability". The term "Eco-City" was first coined by Richard Register in his 1987 book Ecocity Berkeley: building cities for a healthy future. An "Eco-City" is typically defined as one in which inhabitants are dedicated to the minimal consumption of energy, water and food as well as minimal production of air and water pollution. Alexandria, however, defined sustainability instead as meeting the city's present needs while preserving its historic character and ensuring the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Alexandria has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[57]

Sister cities

Alexandria has four sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:

Alexandria was twinned with Gyumri as a means of showing good will in the wake of the 1988 Armenian earthquake. Some Armenian architects were invited to study in Virginia and an Alexandria-Gyumri Armenian festival is held around City Hall every year in June, the date of which is declared Armenia Day in Alexandria by the mayor.

Alexandria has been twinned with Caen in France since 1991. The sister city relationship sees delegations visiting between the two cities on a regular basis. Exchanges of students have been common. Musicians and choirs from the two cities have also made very successful visits. In most years, members of the Alexandria-Caen Sister City Committee travel to Caen for the Foire de Caen, a large international trade fair held in mid-September. Along with Caen's other sister cities, the Alexandria delegation has the chance to introduce its city to the people of Normandy, while getting the chance to learn more about this historic region of France.

An office in the Alexandria City Hall handles sister city projects.

Popular culture

See also


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  5. ^ [1]. Virginia State 2013 Population Estimates Retrieved February 2, 2013
  6. ^ "Economic Aspects of Tobacco during the Colonial Period 1612–1776". Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  7. ^ "Discovering the Decades: 1740s | Historic Alexandria | City of Alexandria, VA". 2011-01-05. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  8. ^ Library of Congress: George Washington: Surveyor and Mapmaker: "Washington As Public Land Surveyor: Culpeper, the Frontier and Alexandria."
  9. ^ Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1742-1747, 1748-1749 - Virginia. General Assembly. House of Burgesses, Virginia State Library - Google Books. 2008-10-03. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  10. ^ The Scheme of a Lottery, at Belhaven, in Fairfax County: January 24, 1750/51; Virginia Gazette extracts; The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol.12 No.2 (October 1903)
  11. ^ "Discovering the Decades: 1810s". Alexandria Archaeology Museum. 
  12. ^ "Self-Guided Walking Tour Black Historic Sites". Alexandria Black History Museum. 
  13. ^ Jim Barnett and H. Clark Burkett (2004). "The Forks of the Road Slave Market at Natchez". Mississippi History Now. 
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  16. ^ a b "Death of Colonel Ellsworth, Harper’s Weekly (June 15, 1861)". 2007-01-26. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  17. ^ "Fort Ward Museum". Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  18. ^ a b "Office of Historic Alexandria, Alexandria Freedmen's Cemetery: Historical Overview, April 2007, p. 2." (PDF). Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  19. ^ Freed People and Freedmen's Cemetery – Alexandria, Virginia.
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  28. ^ Image of "The Town of Potomac" historical marker in Ness, Leland (2008). "The Town of Potomac". Del Ray and the Town of Potomac: Del Ray Interpretive Signs. City of Alexandria, Virginia. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  29. ^ Location and partial text of "Town of Potomac" historical marker in alsdmf (2010-05-19). "Del Ray Interpretive Markers". Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  30. ^ Escherich, Susan (1991-08-09). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Town of Potomac". Richmond, VA: Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Commonwealth of Virginia. Retrieved 2011-05-24. 
  31. ^ Snyder, Rebecca; Snyder, Jim (2010-01-15). "Del Ray History (video)". City of Alexandria, Virginia. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  32. ^ "Del Ray (Potomac West) neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia (VA), 22301, 22305 subdivision profile - real estate, apartments, condos, homes, community, population, jobs, incom". Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  33. ^ Alexandria Times | Del Ray: ‘The Little Neighborhood That Could.'
  34. ^ Hammer, Ben (May 24, 2004). "Potomac Yard sale could alter mix". 
  35. ^ "Art on the Avenue". Art on the Avenue. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  36. ^ "About homes and condos of Alexandria VA in Fairfax County". Nesbitt Realty. 
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  38. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  39. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  40. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  41. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  42. ^ "Alexandria city, Virginia - Fact Sheet - American FactFinder". Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  43. ^ Perkins, Derrick (2011-03-28). "Crime hit 45-year low in 2010". AlexTimes. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
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  47. ^ City of Alexandria CAFR Retrieved 2013-04-01
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  50. ^ City Profile
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  52. ^ "Alexandria Library Get a Library Card". Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  53. ^ Seale, William. The Alexandria Library Company. Alexandria, VA: Alexandria Library, 2007.
  54. ^ a b c Bailey, Steve. (February 29, 2008) The New York Times A Tiny, Beloved Home That Was Built for Spite. Section: F; Page F6. Location: 523 Queen St, Alexandria, VA 22314.
  55. ^ "Alexandria City Government". 2013-01-04. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  56. ^ "Roster of Alexandria Boards, Commissions and Committees". 2010-08-04. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  57. ^ "Climate Summary for Alexandria, Virginia". Weatherbase. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  58. ^ """Tobacco to Tourism: Celebrating Alexandria's Scottish Heritage - "Dundee, Scotland: Alexandria’s Sister City. City Council, City of Alexandria, Virginia. Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
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  61. ^ "Jim Morrison Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life Story". Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  62. ^ "Freemasonry, Eager to Step From Cultural Shadows". Retrieved 19 September 2014. 

Further reading

  • Powell, Mary G., The History of Old Alexandria Virginia, Richmond: William Byrd Press, 1928.
  • Seale, William. The Alexandria Library Company, Alexandria, VA: Alexandria Library, 2007.

External links

  • City of Alexandria
  • Official Alexandria visitors' web site
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