The city of Alexandria (Virginia, USA) began its life in 1749, as a port for Scottish and English merchants. Alexandria is located in Northern Virginia, across the Potomac River from southern Washington D.C. The city encompasses 15.75 square miles at an average elevation of 30 feet above sea level.
It was named in honor of John Alexander, the Scott who purchased the land in 1669, for 6,000 pounds of tobacco and cask, from Robert Howson, an English ship merchant. Howson had received it as a land grant from Sir William Berkeley, the Governor of Virginia, for bringing over 120 settlers from England.
The town was incorporated in 1779, and by that time it had become a bustling port, filled with brigs, schooners and ships who came there to trade in flour, hemp and tobacco. In 1789, the town was ceded to the Federal Government, to become part of the new District of Columbia. It was retroceded to Virginia in 1847. In 1852, it gained city status and a new charter.
By the time of the American Revolution, it was one of the principal colonial trading centers and ports. George Washington, America’s first president, maintained a town house in Alexandria, and was on its Board of Trustees. During the Civil War, it was occupied by the Union Army and was a major logistical supply centers for the federal army.
Alexandria began its historic preservation and urban renewal projects in the 1960s, through the effort of citizen activists and the local government. Now, “Old and Historic Alexandria” is recognized as one of the most beautiful locations on the East Coast.
Want to learn more? The City of Alexandria maintains an informative website dedicated to the city’s history and its many interesting buildings and museums. Want to see more photos? Check out this post, as well as my Alexandria gallery.