A Walking Tour of Alexandria, Virginia
a walking tour in the Look Up, America series from walkthetown.com
by Doug Gelbert
published by Cruden Bay Books at Smashwords
Copyright 2010 by Cruden Bay Books
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the Publisher.
This stretch of land along the west shore of the Potomac River was the last chunk of the Virginia Tidewater to be settled. In 1748, when Fairfax County was cleaved from Prince William County the town was created and named for a family that had once owned the land. Seventeen-year old George Washington was on the survey crew that laid off the town in streets and 84 half-acre lots. His half-brother Lawrence and brother Augustine were among the initial purchasers. George would later come to own a townhome as well and since it was only eight miles from his beloved estate at Mount Vernon always considered Alexandria his home town.
In 1752 Alexandria was made the county seat. The town was incorporated in 1779 and adopted a seal with a ship in full sail - a nod to the town’s position as one of the busiest ports in young America. Wheat was the main export but the warehouses on the waterfront were also filled with hogsheads of tobacco. The place became so attractive it was given away to the new Federal government to become part of the District of Columbia that was being built in 1799. In 1846 residents longing for a return to Virginia requested Congress to return Alexandria to the Old Dominion. Alexandria County was created and the town set up as its seat; in 1920 the county was changed to Arlington.