Arlington County, Virginia

HomeWhats NewSite IndexContactSearch

The Arlington County Courthouse is located at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington VA 22201; phone: 703‑228‑3120.

Arlington County Neighborhoods

Home in the Lyon Park Historic District


Arlington County is a twenty-six-square-mile community located in Northern Virginia along the Potomac River, across from Washington, D.C. The county is bounded by Fairfax County to the north and west, the town of Alexandria and Four Mile Run to the south, and the waters of the Potomac River to the east. The county's association with the nation's capital began as early as 1791, when Virginia ceded approximately thirty-one square miles of land, now known as Arlington County and the City of Alexandria as the site for the nation's capital. Forty-one-foot-square sandstone markers were erected in 1791-1792 at one-mile intervals marking the District of Columbia boundary. Major Andrew Ellicott was the chief surveyor, assisted by Benjamin Banneker, an astronomer, and others. Ten of these stones still mark the boundary of Arlington, although one of them has been moved from its original location.

At the time of the founding of the nation's capital, Arlington was still a small crossroads community with only scattered development within the environs. Andrew Ellicott commented on Arlington's rural character on June 26, 1791 in the "Surveyors Camp, State of Virginia:" "The country through which we are now cutting one of the ten-mile lines is very poor. I think for near seven miles, on it there is not one house that has any floor except the earth, and what is more strange is it is in the neighborhood of Alexandria and Georgetown ... "

When Virginia officially ceded the land in 1801, the population of the country was 5,949 with all but 978 living in the Town of Alexandria. It was during this period that Arlington ceased to be under the jurisdiction of Virginia and Fairfax County and became part of the County of Alexandria of the District of Columbia. With the introduction of a circuit court, orphan's court and levy court, the town of Alexandria became the seat of local government, and the commercial and social center for the thirty-one square miles ceded by Virginia. Referred to as the "country part" of the county, Arlington remained rural with agricultural interests. The land was improved and maintained by just a few large plantations throughout this period, most notably the Alexander-Custis plantation known as Abingdon, and the Custis-Lee house known as Arlington. The remainder of the cultivated land was primarily made up of small plots held by farmers and tenants.

Although the population of the Arlington area continued to increase in the early nineteenth century, the majority of the county's population remained concentrated in the town of Alexandria. Of the 8,552 who lived in the county in 1810, only 1, 325 lived in the rural part of the county. By 1820, the rural population had increased by only 160 persons with a total of 1, 485 of the 9,703 total county residents living outside town limits.

The ties of the Arlington area to Washington, D.C. were physically manifested with the construction of bridges that replaced the ferries of colonial times. The first bridge to cross the Potomac River into Arlington was located at the site of the current Chain Bridge. The new bridges, and Arlington's proximity to Alexandria, resulted in the development of local turnpike companies and several turnpikes running west to Leesburg.

adapted from:, Jana E Riggle Architectural Historian, E H T Traceries, Lyon Park Historic District, nomination document, 2002, revised 2003, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.


HomeWhats NewSite IndexContact
PrivacyDisclaimer • © 1997-2024, The Gombach Group