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According to archaeologists' estimates, a succession of indigenous peoples began to occupy the Chesapeake and Tidewater region about 3,000 to 10,000 years ago. Various tribes of Algonquian-speaking peoples inhabited the lands in the Potomac River drainage area since at least the early 14th century.
In the summer of 1608, English settler John Smith explored the Potomac River and came into contact with the Patawomeck (loosely affiliated with the Powhatan) and Doeg tribes who lived on the Virginia side, as well as on Theodore Roosevelt Island, and the Piscataway (also known as the Conoy), who resided on the Maryland side. On this visit, Smith recorded the presence of a settlement called Assaomeck near the south bank of what is now Hunting Creek.
On October 21, 1669 a patent granted 6,000 acres (24 km2) to Robert Howsing for transporting 120 people to the Colony of Virginia.:5 That tract would later become the City of Alexandria.:5 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. However, the ground proved to be unsuitable, and the warehouse was built half a mile up-river, where the water was deep near the shore.
Following the 1745 settlement of the Virginia's 10-year dispute with Lord Fairfax over the western boundary of the Northern Neck Proprietary, when the Privy Council in London found in favor of Lord Fairfax's expanded claim, some of the Fairfax County gentry formed the Ohio Company of Virginia. They intended to conduct trade into the interior of America, and they required a trading center near the head of navigation on the Potomac. The best location was Hunting Creek tobacco warehouse, since the deep water could easily accommodate sailing ships. Many local tobacco planters, however, wanted a new town further up Hunting Creek, away from nonproductive fields along the river.
Around 1746, Captain Philip Alexander II (1704–1753) moved to what is south of present Duke Street in Alexandria. His estate, which consisted of 500 acres (2.0 km2), was bounded by Hunting Creek, Hooff's Run, the Potomac River, and approximately the line which would become Cameron Street. At the opening of Virginia's 1748–49 legislative session, there was a petition submitted in the House of Burgesses on November 1, 1748, that the "inhabitants of Fairfax (Co.) praying that a town may be established at Hunting Creek Warehouse on Potowmack River," as Hugh West was the owner of the warehouse. The petition was introduced by Lawrence Washington (1718–1752), the representative for Fairfax County and, more importantly, the son-in-law of William Fairfax and a founding member of the Ohio Company. To support the company's push for a town on the river, Lawrence's younger brother George Washington, an aspiring surveyor, made a sketch of the shoreline touting the advantages of the tobacco warehouse site.
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." 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. The town of Alexandria did not become incorporated until 1779.
In 1755, General Edward Braddock organized his fatal expedition against 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 George Washington to become the District of Columbia.
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. In 1823 William Holland Wilmer, Francis Scott Key, and others founded the Virginia Theological Seminary. From 1828 to 1836, 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, New Orleans, and later Texas markets to help meet the demand for slaves in Mississippi and nearby states. Later owned by Price, Birch & Co., the slave pen became a jail under Union occupation.
A portion of the City of Alexandria—most of the area now known as "Old Town" as well as the areas of the city northeast of what is now King Street—and all of today's Arlington County share the distinction of having been the portion of Virginia ceded to the U.S. Government in 1791 to help form the new District of Columbia. Over time, a movement grew to separate Alexandria from the District of Columbia. As competition grew with the port of Georgetown and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal fostered development on the north side of the Potomac River, the city's economy stagnated; at the same time, residents had lost any representation in Congress and the right to vote, and were disappointed with the negligible economic benefit (on the Alexandria side) of being part of the national capital. Alexandria still had an important port and market in the slave trade, and as talk increased of abolishing slavery in the national capital, there was concern that Alexandria's economy would suffer greatly if this step were taken. After a referendum, voters petitioned Congress and Virginia to return the portion of the District of Columbia south of the Potomac River (Alexandria County) to Virginia. On July 9, 1846, Congress retroceded Alexandria County to Virginia. The City of Alexandria was re-chartered in 1852 and became independent of Alexandria County in 1870. The remaining portion of Alexandria County changed its name to Arlington County in 1920.
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, 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 remove 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 shot dead by James W. Jackson, the hotel's proprietor. One of Ellsworth's soldiers immediately killed Jackson. Ellsworth was publicized as a Union martyr, and the incident generated great excitement in the North, with many children being named for him. Jackson's death defending his home caused a similar sensation in the South.
Alexandria remained under military occupation until the end of the war. Fort Ward, one of a ring of forts built by the Union army for the defense of Washington, D.C., is located inside the boundaries of present-day Alexandria. After the creation by Washington of the state of West Virginia in 1863 and until the close of the war, Alexandria was the seat of the so-called Restored Government of Virginia, also known as the "Alexandria Government". During the Union occupation, a recurring contention between the Alexandria citizenry and the military occupiers was the Union army's periodic insistence that church services include prayers for the President of the United States. Failure to do so resulted in incidents including the arrest of ministers in their church.
In 1861 and 1862, escaped African-American slaves poured into Alexandria. Safely behind Union lines, the cities of Alexandria and Washington offered comparative freedom and employment. Alexandria became a major supply depot and transport and hospital center for the Union army. Until the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, escaped slaves legally remained the property of their owners. Therefore, they were labeled contrabands to avoid returning them to their masters. Contrabands worked for the Union army in various support roles.
After all slaves in the seceding states were liberated, even more African Americans came to Alexandria. By the fall of 1863, the population of Alexandria had exploded to 18,000—an increase of 10,000 people in 16 months.
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.
At the turn of the 20th century the most common production in the city was glass, fertilizer, beer, and leather. The glass often went into beer bottles. Much of the Virginia Glass Company effort went to supply the demands of the Robert Portner Brewing Company, until fire destroyed the St. Asaph Street plant on February 18, 1905. The Old Dominion Glass Company also had a glass works fall to fire, then built a new one. The Belle Pre Bottle Company held a monopoly on a milk bottle that they patented, yet that organization only lasted 10 years. Most businesses were smaller where the business occupied the first floor of a building and the owner and family lived above. Prohibition closed Portner Brewing in 1916.[how?]
President Woodrow Wilson visited the Virginia Shipbuilding Corporation on May 30, 1918, to drive the first rivet into the keel of the SS Gunston Hall.:50 In 1930, Alexandria annexed the town adjacent to Potomac Yard incorporated in 1908 named Potomac. In 1938 the Mt. Vernon Drive-In cinema opened. In 1939, the segregated public library experienced a sit-in organized by Samuel Wilbert Tucker. In 1940, both the Robert Robinson Library, which is now the Alexandria Black History Museum, and the Vernon Theatre openedJim Morrison of The Doors, as well as Cass Elliot and John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas attended the George Washington High School in the 1950s.
In 1955, then-Congressman and future President Gerald R. Ford and his family moved to Alexandria from Georgetown.:95 The Fords remained in their Alexandria home during Ford's tenure as Vice President (1973-1974), as the Vice President did not yet have an official residence. Following the resignation of Richard Nixon, Ford spent his first 10 days as President in the house before moving to the White House.
In March 1959, Lieutenant Colonel William Henry Whalen, the "highest-ranking American ever recruited as a mole by the Russian Intelligence Service", provided Colonel Sergei A. Edemski three classified Army manuals in exchange for $3,500 at a shopping center parking lot within the city. Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation later arrested Whalen on July 12, 1966, at his home in the city. In 1961 the original Woodrow Wilson Bridge opened.
In 1965, the city integrated schools.:69 In 1971, the city consolidated all high school students into T. C. Williams High School.:69 The same year that head coach Herman Boone joined the school and lead the football team to a 13–0 season, a state championship, and a national championship runner-up; the basis for the 2000 film Remember the Titans where Boone was portrayed by Denzel Washington. In 1972, Clifford T. Cline purchased the 1890 Victorian house at 219 King Street and converted it into the Creole serving Two-Nineteen Restaurant. In 1973, Nora Lamborne and Beverly Beidler became the first women elected to the city council. In 1974, the Torpedo Factory Art Center opened. In 1983, the King Street–Old Town station, Braddock Road station, and Eisenhower Avenue station opened as the Washington Metro system expanded. In 1991, the Van Dorn Street station opened and Patricia Ticer became the first women elected mayor.
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 Elisha Cullen Dick, and George Washington's personal attorney 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 apothecary shop. James Kennedy was elected the second librarian, and the library moved to his residence and place of business. Kennedy sold books from his personal collection to the Library Company. Those books and other bought from two local merchants formed the foundation of the subscription library. The first catalog of the library's collection was published in 1797. The collection grew over time, bolstered in part by the fact that some members paid their dues in books. Most members were initially men, although records exist showing some women were members as early as 1798. One noted female member in 1817 was Mary L.F. Custis, wife of 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 Lyceum Company building, and Peabody Hall, which was owned by the Alexandria School Board. Raising funds for the library was a continuing challenge. In 1853, a lecture series was created to raise money. Speakers included Professor Joseph Henry of the Smithsonian, Colonel Francis H. Smith of the Virginia Military Institute, and humorist 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 1939, the Barrett library was the scene of possibly the nation's first sit-in demonstrations, as Samuel Tucker, a young law school graduate from the neighborhood, and several other African-American residents insisted on access to the racially segregated library where they had been banned. Tucker later became a prominent attorney in Richmond.
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.
In 1948, Ellen Coolidge Burke became director. Burke brought bookmobile services to Alexandria, one of the first services in Virginia. She oversaw the growth of the library system by the addition of two new branch libraries. In April 1968 the Ellen Coolidge Burke Branch at 4701 Seminary Road was opened, and in December 1969 the James M. Duncan branch at 2501 Commonwealth Avenue. Burke retired in 1969.
At the 2010 census, 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/ethnic mix of the population was :
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. 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.
58% of Alexandria residents have at least a bachelor's degree, compared with a 33% statewide average.
Virginia is an attractive southern U.S. State with beautiful landscapes and rich history. Virginia, a densely populated eastern U.S. city, stretches along the shores of the Potomac River from the Chesapeake Bay to the Appalachian Mountains. It is among the 13 original states, with historical landmarks including Monticello, home of Jefferson's famed plantation. The Virginia Colony was created out of proportion to its size, with many Native American and immigrant communities. Today, Virginia is one of America's fastest growing states, and is an exciting place to live.
Virginia is not without political intrigue. Virginia's leaders have historically been divided into three major camps: royalist, aristocrat, and colonialist. Each group has historically sought to expand its influence over the other. Virginia's two major political parties, the Democratic and Republican parties, represent opposing political philosophies. The Democratic Party is the moderate, older party in the state, and the Republican Party is the more radical, radicalizing faction.
Downtown Virginia, home to most of the government offices, is where most people commute to work. The city is also one of its most popular cities with tourists, who visit for its natural beauty, historic sites, shopping and nightlife. Virginia Beach is home to several popular beaches that attract thousands of tourists each year. In addition, the city offers other attractions such as the Virginia Zoo, Aquarium, Carilion Bowl, Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, and the Virginia Zoo and Gardens. The popular annual Virginia Spring Festival takes place in January.
A large portion of the population in Virginia is classified as rural. The word "rural" can imply both small town and rural living. People living in this type of environment tend to be conservative and private. This lifestyle is evident in many rural communities in Virginia. These communities are generally less expensive and, therefore, more affordable than urban areas. Most rural communities lack restaurants, shopping malls, and other sources of revenue that would support a larger community.
Virginia's largest cities of Richmond, Fairfax, and Hampton Roads provide much more to their residents than just the basics of daily living. Because it is located so close to Washington, D.C., these cities provide a unique view of political life in the capital. In addition, the people in these areas enjoy a strong sense of community and cultural identity that makes them attractive to young families and retirees.
Because the capital is so widely seen by people on a daily basis, Virginia is considered to be one of the most popular cities to live in. Many people choose to buy a home in Virginia because they can work from home; they are not limited by the laws that apply in their hometown. Additionally, working in a city allows people to socialize with other people, increasing their likelihood of forming lasting friendships.
Virginia is host to many historical attractions, which draw many visitors each year. The city of Springfield, for example, is a National Historic Landmark that has been listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places sincetones of the American Revolution. In addition to its significance as a significant historical event, Springfield is a beautiful place to live.
Regardless of where a person lives in Virginia, they have access to beautiful parks, breathtaking gardens, and unique architecture. The real estate market in Virginia is competitive and buyers can find a home that suits their budget and needs. With all of the activities and places to visit, Virginia is a wonderful place for people to call home.
In the Washington area, many families choose to live in the cities of Fairfax and Prince William County. Fairfax is home to the executive offices of the city and is the capital of the commonwealth of Virginia. This area is home to a wide variety of government agencies and beautiful landscaped communities. The home prices in this area are moderate and the people who live here enjoy a low cost of living and access to a variety of public and private schools.
In the Prince William County area, a homeowner will enjoy the beautiful beach views and well maintained golf courses. This area is also home to numerous attractions such as the Ocean Breeze, Water Parks, and The Farm at Waverly. These local attractions draw thousands of visitors each year. The cost of living in Prince William County is reasonable and the people who live here have access to high quality schools. A quick search online will yield many local listings.
The people who live in the Washington DC suburbs enjoy easy accessibility to major city centers and several different entertainment venues. In Ashburn, there are the Dulles International Airport and in Loudoun County, there are three major arena centers including the Verizon Arena and the Comcast Center. In addition to all of these benefits, these communities are near attractions such as the ballpark and museums. The housing prices are moderate and many of the homes are fully furnished. With so many benefits available in these communities, it's easy to see why so many people chose to live in the Washington DC suburbs.