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Alexandria: At A Glance

When English ship captain Robert Howson brought 120 people to Virginia in 1669, he was rewarded with a 6,000-acre land grant. This plot of land, on the edge of the Potomac River, would eventually become the city of Alexandria, Virginia. The area grew to be a major export center and trading hub throughout the 18th and 19th century.

View of Old Town, Alexandria, from the George Washington Masonic National Memorial observation deck

Today, the past is still very much alive in Alexandria. The city has preserved several buildings and warehouses that date back to the city’s founding. For example, Alexandria is home to Gadsby’s Tavern, a five-star hotel once frequented by the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

The Lyceum, Alexandria’s history museum, also pays homage to the city’s past as a center for trade. The historic charm of the city’s Old Town neighborhood attracts several visitors every year. It was named the No. 1 travel destination in the U.S. for 2018 by Money Magazine. 

While Old Town has historic architecture, trendy shops, the rest of the city of has been growing with transit-oriented development near the Blue and Yellow lines that has driven residential growth in the area. The city has increased from 140,823 residents in 2010 to 160,035 in 2017. Increased density and urban renewal efforts have made it an attractive, less-expensive alternative to downtown D.C. living.