Alexandria, through the years

Alexandria, through the years


Lawyer Margaret Brent (Gent.) is issued 700 acres by Royal Gov. Richard Bennett to bring settlers to Virginia; tract included much of what is now Old Town Alexandria.


Gov. William Berkeley issues a 6,000-acre patent, including the Brent property, to mariner Robert Howson, who would later sell the land to Stafford County planter John Alexander.


Scottish merchants, including John Carlyle, John Dalton and William Ramsay, settle in what is now Alexandria, calling it Belhaven in 1749.


Alexandria established May 11 by an Act of the Virginia General Assembly; named after the Alexanders, who own the land. Boundaries extended from the current Oronoco Street to Duke Street and Royal Street to the Waterfront. A part of Fairfax County from 1749 to 1801. Governed by a board of trustees including George Mason, Lawrence Washington, his brother George Washington and headed by Lord Thomas Fairfax.

John West, Jr., assistant surveyor for Fairfax County, lays out the town; 60 acres divided into 84 half-acre lots, offered for public sale on July 13-14. 1752 Scottish merchants’ petition to rename Alexandria "Belhaven" is denied.


Fairfax County Courthouse moves to Alexandria, making it the political and economic center of Northern Virginia. Through Alexandria's thriving port, tobacco, grain, wheat and produce are shipped to England and the Caribbean. John Carlyle, a founding trustee and first overseer of Alexandria, builds Carlyle House on Fairfax Street.


Market Square occupies entire site of today's City Hall; George Washington drills his militia troops on the square.


During the French and Indian War, Gen. Edward Braddock and several thousand British soldiers camp in and around Alexandria. Five royal governors meet at John Carlyle’s house to discuss war strategy.


In November, the Virginia House of Burgesses authorizes Alexandria's expansion; population reaches 1,214.


Upset over British taxation and the Boston Port Act, Alexandrians approve the Fairfax Resolves, calling for an end to trade with England.


Alexandrians volunteer for the siege of Boston and fight the British in battles at Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine and Monmouth.


General Assembly passes the Act of Incorporation, giving Alexandria town status and instituting a system of self government, including an elected Common Council and a Board of Aldermen. The mayor was chosen by the Common Council until 1843, when voters elected the mayor.


The Virginia Journal and Alexandria Advertiser, the city's first newspaper, began printing. It would later become The Alexandria Gazette.


Alexandria Academy established as one of the first free schools in Northern Virginia; trustees include George Washington.


In Philadelphia, George Washington inaugurated as first President of the United States. Maryland and Virginia donate land for a new federal city, eventually to be named Washington, D.C. Alexandria is included in the federal district, which in 1791 is marked by boundary stones.


Edward Stabler established his Apothecary Shop. The family-owned business operated for 141 years, closing in 1933. Patrons included the George Washington family, James Monroe and Robert E. Lee. An active Quaker, Stabler was an acknowledged community leader and avowed abolitionist.


Alexandria becomes part of the newly-organized District of Columbia.


Family of Robert E. Lee settles in Alexandria.


During the War of 1812, the city surrenders to British naval force and is occupied. To spare the town, Alexandrians pay ransom of tobacco, flour, cotton and sugar.


Lafayette visits Alexandria on a two-year tour of the United States.


A morning fire breaks out on Jan.18, destroying 40 houses, stores and warehouses.


<lst>Slave dealers Franklin and Armfield establish an office and slave pen at 1315 Duke St.


<lst>The Lyceum Company is founded by Quaker schoolmaster Benjamin Hallowell to promote public lectures and discussions. Joined with Library Company to build The Lyceum in 1839.


<lst>Alexandria is retroceded to Virginia. Local citizens were disenchanted with being part of the District of Columbia; Alexandria received little financial aid and citizens were not allowed to vote.


The Orange and Alexandria Railroad is chartered.


Alexandria chartered as a city.


Occupation of Alexandria by Union troops begins May 24 — 41 days after Ft. Sumter, S.C., falls to Confederate forces. The first fatality was Col. Elmer Ellsworth, shot by James W. Jackson, proprietor of the Marshall House Hotel, as Ellsworth tries to retrieve a Confederate flag flying atop the building. Alexandria suffers the longest military occupation of any town during the Civil War. Railroads used as a Union supply depot.

Alexandria is a haven to slaves traveling north in search of freedom. Many die in the city and are buried at Freedmen's Contraband Cemetery on South Washington Street.


Alexandria was selected by Acting Gov. Francis Harrison Pierpont as the capital of the loyalist "Restored Government of Virginia," remaining so until the end of the war. Defenses of Washington include Fort Ward.


City Hall and Market House burn; City Hall rebuilt by 1873.


Alexandria Infirmary organized by Julia Johns. Becomes Alexandria Hospital in 1917.


First telephone usage in Alexandria.


First use of electricity in Alexandria.


Electric streetcars begin operation.


Alexandria's Union Station opens as part of the Washington and Southern Railroad.


Residents of Del Ray and St. Elmo’s petition the General Assembly to incorporate into the Town of Potomac; charter granted in 1908.


Orville Wright’s demonstration flight for the federal government takes him from Fort Myer to Shuter’s Hill and back.


Torpedo Factory built as a munitions factory.


Parker-Gray elementary school is built for African Americans; named for African American educators John F. Parker and Sarah J. Gray. Became a four-year high school in 1932. School moved to a new building on Madison Street in 1950. Became a middle school in 1965 during desegregation, and closed in 1979.


Alexandrians vote by referendum to implement a Council-Manager form of city government. Five at-large councilmen elected; Wilder Rich hired as Alexandria's first City Manager.


City of Alexandria annexes Town of Potomac despite opposition. Town records were reportedly destroyed rather than turn them over to the city.


Old Town revitalization efforts begin.


City voters approve change to Charter providing for a nine-member City Council, six elected from wards and three at-large.

George Washington Memorial Parkway opens.


Library on Queen Street is built and named in honor of Kate W. Barrett, one of the first women medical doctors in the U.S.


"Sit down" at segregated Barrett Library by five young African American men: Otto L. Tucker, Edward Gaddis, Morris L. Murray, William Evans and Clarence Strange. The protest led the city to open Alexandria's first library for African Americans, Robert Robinson Library, in 1940. Today, the building houses the Black History Museum.


General Assembly authorizes the creation of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority to build and operate public housing in Alexandria.


City Council creates a Board of Architectural Review. The Old and Historic District becomes the third historic district in the United States.


City Charter is amended to provide for a seven-member Council elected at-large.


Alexandria annexes land west of Quaker Lane from Fairfax County.


City Charter amended to provide that the mayor be elected separately from the other six members of Council.


Five years after the U.S. Supreme Court rules segregated schools unconstitutional, Alexandria integrates its first public schools.


Construction of Capital Beltway begins.


Woodrow Wilson Bridge dedicated.


Fort Ward Museum and Park opens. Restoration of the Civil War fort was the city's first museum project.


First class graduates from T.C. Williams High School.


Northern Virginia Community College opens in Alexandria.


The Torpedo Factory becomes an arts center.


King Street, Braddock Road and Eisenhower Avenue Metro Stations open.


<lst>City Coucil Creates Parker-Gray Historic District.

Alexandria's DASH bus system begins operation.


Alexandria defeats plans by Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke and Gov. Douglas Wilder to build a 76,000-seat football stadium at Potomac Yard.


City voters approve change from a City Council appointed to an elected school board; nine-member School Board takes office in July 1995.


U.S. Army closes Cameron Station, clearing the way for residential development and parks.

City Government launches Web site.


Construction begins on new central library on Duke Street, named for former Mayor Charles E. Beatley.


City holds a series of events in a year-long celebration commemorating its 250th Anniversary.

Ground broken on construction of the first elementary school to be built in the city in 30 years, the West End school in Cameron Station scheduled to open September 2000.


New Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library opens for business.


City emergency workers respond to terrorist attack at the Pentagon. Security is increased throughout the area. "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh and suspected terrorist Zacharias Moussaoui are housed in the Alexandria Detention Center, to await federal trial in Alexandria.


William Euille is elected as Alexandria's first African American mayor.

Record snows, followed by rain, cause flooding in February. Hurricane Isabel causes flooding in September, pushing the Potomac River up 9 and a half feet.

The Historic Lloyd House is renovated and re-opened as headquarters for the Office of Historic Alexandria.

The City opens its first skateboard park.


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, with 7,100 employees, relocates to five new buildings in Alexandria. This is the largest federal lease of real estate in U.S. history.

—from the City of Alexandria's Web site