Introduction to Arlington, Virginia
Arlington is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia, on the west bank of the Potomac River directly across from Washington, D.C. Although sometimes referred to as a city, Arlington is actually a county which contains no incorporated towns or cities within its boundaries. Originally part of the 10-mile square area set aside in 1791 for the nation’s capital, the land now comprising Arlington County was returned to the Commonwealth of Virginia by the U.S. Congress in 1846 and was known at the time as Alexandria County. In 1852, the independent City of Alexandria was incorporated from a portion of the County, leading to confusion, as two adjacent municipal entities continued to share the same name ("Alexandria"). The confusion was resolved in 1920, when Alexandria County renamed itself Arlington County, borrowing its name from the Arlington National Cemetery, which had been established during the Civil War on the grounds of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's former home, Arlington House.
Although best known generally as the home of the Pentagon, The Iwo Jima War Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery, the County is also an important employment center. The Federal Government accounts for the lion's share of the roughly 200,000 jobs in Arlington, but high-tech companies have become increasingly prominent, as have several major associations, Fortune 500 companies, and other nationally known employers. The County’s residential population is among the most highly educated in the nation and is increasingly diverse. Arlington is the home of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and is serviced by the Orange, Blue and Yellow lines of the Washington Metro. The County is traversed by two Interstate highways, I-66 and I-395; as well as by the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
Arlington Area Attractions
The name Arlington is synonymous in many people's minds with Arlington National Cemetery, the most famous national cemetery in the United States. Veterans from all the nation's wars are buried in the cemetery, as are two former Presidents (John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft). Also located in Arlington are the Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, and several notable memorials, including the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial (also known as the "Iwo Jima Memorial"), the U.S. Air Force Memorial, and the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.
Other attractions in Arlington include the Arlington Arts Center, founded in 1976 and housed in the historic Maury School; the Arlington Historical Museum, housed in a two-story brick structure built in 1891 and currently standing as the oldest school building in Arlington County. The Ball-Sellers house, a one-room log cabin with a loft built by a farmer named John Ball in 1742, is a rare example of an ordinary person's dwelling of the 1700s. The Ellipse Arts Center is a 3,000 square foot visual arts facility which opened in 1990, and presents a diverse schedule of high quality programs in the visual arts. A wealth of other attractions abound in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, including the following:
- The National Mall
- Ford's Theatre
- The National Archives
- National Air and Space Museum
- International Spy Museum
- Lincoln Theatre
- John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
- African American Civil War Memorial
- Blair House
- Folger Shakespeare Library
- National Geographic Society
- Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
- National Building Museum
Visitors to Arlington can take the very short trip to the other side of the Potomac, where the city of Washington hosts several major league professional sports franchises. These include football's Redskins (NFL), baseball's Nationals (MLB), basketball's Wizards (NBA) and Mystics (WNBA), hockey's Capitals (NHL), soccer's DC United (MLS), and lacrosse's Bayhawks (MLL).