Charlie Clark , noted journalist and now “Our Man in Arlington” for the Falls Church News press, shares with us some of the lesser known but fascinating bits of Arlington history. Charlie is the author of “Hidden History of Arlington.” The next time you drive around Arlington, or are stuck in its never-ending traffic, take a good look around you. Chances are, you are close to some tantalizing history.
Arlington has the distinction of being, according to some sources, the “smallest county in America.” It also has some of the biggest history, starting with the fact that it was originally part of DC. Alas, DC dumped us (We were on the wrong side of the river) and gave us to Alexandria. After awhile, we became a county in our own right.
Most people from outside the DC area, think of the National Cemetary, whenever Arlington is mentioned. But Arlington goes well beyond that. Because of our proximity to the nation’s capital, we have some of the oldest homes in the DC area. A lot of the county was where Dcers vacationed, and the Boy Scouts had a big encampment. We were where DC folks went to get away from it all. We even had a real beach, at one time.
Arlington has several neighborhoods built by freed slaves. We are home to the famous first sit in, opposing segregation at a local lunch counter. We have produced statesmen, high military brass and noted government leaders.
Along with the good, there has been the not-so-good in our history. The American Nazi Party had its headquarters here for years, and George Lincoln Rockwell, the head of the party, lived here. The headquarters is now gone, replaced by a trendy coffee shop. And so it goes.
No matter how bad the traffic gets, people keep moving here. Schools, culture, and access to DC are the draw. The appreciation rate for housing is among the highest in the nation, as is the median income and education level. And now, Amazon HQ2 is soon to arrive, which will shake things up even more.
But no matter how quickly Arlington’s population increases and no matter how many famous chefs open restaurants here, our history is lying just beneath the surface. It’s a truly fascinating one, detailed in Clark’s book, Hidden History of Arlington.”