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Historic Photos of Arlington County

Historic Photos of Arlington County

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Historic Photos of Arlington County

207 pages
54 minutes
Nov 1, 2007


Much of Arlington County typified the sleepy Southern town,"" decades into the twentieth century. It was initially part of, then (merely) the closest neighbor to the District of Columbia. Often, Arlington was a place passed through on the way somewhere else. With better transportation at the beginning of the twentieth century, it became a destination instead. Towns sprang up along the rail lines. An overflow of home-seeking government workers joined the earlier settlers, ultimately developing the suburban community of today. The federal government joined in, placed facilities in the county, and developed the Custis-Lee estate into the national Arlington Cemetery. Historic Photos of Arlington County brings together many different images and perspectives on Arlington, from the non-recognizable rural nineteenth century to quite recognizable images from the 1970s. It captures the manifold aspects of the county in striking, black-and-white photographs. Images of local businesses, county-wide parades, and shaded streets mingle with those of presidential speeches ringing out from the steps of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.""
Nov 1, 2007

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Historic Photos of Arlington County - Matthew Gilmore





This famous map of the county, then called Alexandria County, is from the G. M. Hopkins 1878 Atlas Of Fifteen Miles Around Washington. It shows things long-vanished—such as the Alexandria Canal and Freedman’s Village. Ballston was Balls Cross Roads. Clarendon did not yet exist. A few Civil War forts remain—such as Fort Whipple. Some churches and schools appear. Names of property owners are listed on the map too—including Mrs. Gen. Robt. E. Lee. Rail lines run from Rosslyn down to Alexandria and from Alexandria out Four Mile Run to Falls Church.




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Historic Photos of Arlington County

Copyright © 2007 Turner Publishing Company

All rights reserved.

This book or any part thereof may not 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.

Library of Congress Control Number: 2007929608

ISBN-13: 978-1-59652-396-8

Printed in the United States of America

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Arlington first began studying widening Fairfax Drive in 1945. The work of widening it from North Glebe Road to Clarendon Circle was completed in 1949. This additional thoroughfare for the county grew in importance with the location of two Metro stops along its course in the 1970s. This photograph was taken October 19, 1949.


This volume, Historic Photos of Arlington County, is the result of the cooperation and efforts of many individuals, organizations, and corporations. It is with great thanks that we acknowledge the valuable contribution of the following for their generous support:

Alexandria Public Library

Local History/Special Collections

Virginia Room

Arlington County Public Library

The Washingtoniana Division

DC Public Library

Library of Congress

I would like to thank Heather Crocetto, Judith Knudsen, Bonnie Baldwin, and John Stanton at Arlington County Public Library’s Virginia Room for their yeoman service and invaluable help; Rita Holtz and Julie Ballin-Patton of the Alexandria Public Library Local History/Special Collections; Karl Van Newkirk, at the Arlington Historical Society; Faye Haskins at the Washingtoniana Division, D.C. Public Library; and Ed Redmond at the Library of Congress.

Donald Alexander Hawkins again provided valuable advice and insight, as did historian extraordinaire Sara Collins; Michael Harrison and Zachary Schrag made insightful suggestions. And thanks to the indefatigable Gerald Swick.

—Matthew Gilmore


Historic images of Arlington are a bit more fugitive and widely scattered than those of its neighbor, Washington, D.C. This book brings together about 200 images from the collections of the Arlington County Public Library, the Library of Congress, the Local History/Special Collections branch of Alexandria Public Library, and the Washingtoniana Division of the D.C. Public Library.

The varieties of institutional collections tapped indicate an important aspect of the photographic documentary record of Arlington County, which has often been viewed from the periphery, from the perspective of its neighbors: Rosslyn in the north of Arlington is adjacent to Georgetown, D.C.; at the western edge of the county is Falls Church. To the south is Alexandria City and to the east the Potomac and the city of Washington. The county has often been defined by its nearness to these neighbors—by what it is not—ever since its cession from Fairfax County in 1791. Even then, its name was Alexandria County, not Arlington County.

It became part of the new District of Columbia, the nation’s new capital—the one-third portion not derived from Maryland. The new city of Washington was located across the river in the former Maryland portion, and that would become the seat of government. Alexandria City lay at the southernmost end of Arlington (then Alexandria County). With no federal facilities to be located in Arlington, the residents ultimately requested retrocession to Virginia and rejoined the Old Dominion in 1846. With the Civil War, Arlington took on a vital importance in the defenses of the capital. Quickly overrun by Union troops, it was never seriously contested by the Confederacy. Its visual centerpiece—General Robert E. Lee’s home, Arlington House—became a potent symbol, along with the many Union dead buried in the Arlington Cemetery.

In 1870, the city of Alexandria separated from the county. The county would be renamed Arlington in 1920. Not part of the nation’s capital, now also exclusive of Alexandria city—what was Arlington? Slowly, then with increasing rapidity, it began to serve as the capital’s backyard (though facing toward its front—the Mall and Capitol). It became the capital’s suburb, in effect replacing those areas adjacent to the old city of Washington which had become now more built up. The expansion of rail access and streetcars across the Potomac spurred development. Small-town life sprang up across the county, with the schools, fire stations, and small

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