National Geographic : 1953 Jan
21 National Geographic Photographer J. Baylor Roberts the most drastic change in the old rural Vir ginia setting, is the rise of great apartment cities, especially along the routes of the new arterial highways. Most of the large developments are of the "garden" type, with many different buildings in a single development (page 30). They vary from unattractive structures on inadequate acreage to the most attractive architecture combined with all the spaciousness of arrange ment that anyone could ask. In the Metropolitan Life Insurance Com pany's Parkfairfax there are only nine families to the acre. Only one-tenth of the land is covered by buildings, and the structures are not identical but differ in heights and angles (pages 28-29). Most of the great apartment developments take children, but dogs and other pets are far from welcome. The largest apartment city in this area is Fairlington, which straddles the new Henry G. Shirley Memorial Highway. This develop ment houses between 10,000 and 12,000 people in 579 large buildings. It took me quite a long time just to drive through Fairlington. One of the first of the garden-type apart ment developments in Arlington was Colonial Village, locally noted for its basement hobby shop, where tenants may use power tools and make or repair anything they wish. One ten ant made all the furniture for his apartment (page 31). Alexandria, Home Town of Washington From the Pentagon and Arlington Cemetery it is only natural to turn to Alexandria; of all the cities of the country it is most closely identified with the first general of our armies, George Washington. Early in 1952 Alexandria doubled its area through annexation of 7.6 square miles from Fairfax County. This increased the popula tion from 61,787 to an estimated 75,000. Proud, distinctive, self-assured, and inde pendent, an important colonial seaport long before its half-century of inclusion in the Nation's Capital, Alexandria was described in 1797 by the Duc de la Rochefoucauld as "beyond all comparison the handsomest town in Virginia, and indeed among the finest in the United States." It still retains much of the appearance, charm, and atmosphere of another century. Of the millions of Americans who visit the Capital each year, an increasing number make the pilgrimage to Mount Vernon, home of George Washington.* To reach it, they travel the main street of Alexandria, which has a peculiar claim on the interest and regard of every patriotic American. It is here, directly on the route to Mount Vernon, or within the radius of a few short blocks, that George Washington comes to life; here he seems more real than anywhere else except at Mount Vernon itself. Mount Vernon was his home, but Alexan dria was his home town, in every sense of the word, from his boyhood until his death-a proud distinction for any city. Washington grew up among Alexandria's first settlers; as a youth of 17 he helped survey its streets. He was a trustee of the town and a justice of its court. It was his voting place and market, and here he maintained a town house. He represented it in the House of Burgesses, and was an honorary member of one of its fire companies. He owned a pew in its established church, and was a stock holder and patron of its first local bank. Washington drilled his first troops in the Market Square, part of which is still a farmers' * See "Home of the First Farmer of America (Mount Vernon)," by Worth E. Shoults, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, May, 1928.