Alexandria, an independent city in Virginia, is located along the western bank of the Potomac River. Alexandria is approximately 11 km south of Washington DC, the seventh-largest city and the highest income independent city in the state.
Alexandria was named after Scottish merchant John Alexandra in 1749 and is the adopted home of America’s first president George Washington. Before this, according to early history records, the indigenous people occupied the region about 3,000 to 10,000 years ago.
Many of the tribes, such as the Algonquian-speaking people, occupied land along the Potomac River, dating back to the 14th century. The indigenous people preferred settling on the river’s shores because of its rich supply of game and fish.
Alexandria became a tobacco trading port, one of the ten busiest ports in America and one of the largest slave-trading regions in the country.
How Was Alexandria Formed?
On October 21st, 1669, a 6000 acres’ patent was granted to Robert Howson by Governor Sir William Berkeley. This was with the authority of King Charles II in appreciation and recognition of the captain’s effort to bring 120 people to live in Virginia. The patent overlapped a 700-acre patent issued to Dame Margaret Brent in 1654. A month after the 6000-acre land grant, Robert sold the land to John Alexander in exchange for 6000 pounds of tobacco.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, as Alexandria established itself as a tobacco farming region, more plantations came up alone the Potomac river attracting more immigrants who worked on the farms.
Between 1749 and 1860, the town was a central area for British troops involved in the Indian and French war. General Braddock made Alexandria his headquarters and Carlyle House his home while planning his attack against the French in 1755.
Another land sale in 1763 increased the size of Alexandria, and 20 years later, more land was created along the Potomac shoreline, paving the way for small merchants, tavern keepers, tradesmen, skilled artisans, and grocers.
Current Day Alexandria
By 2010 Alexandria’s population was 139,988, and the estimated population by 2020 was 159,200. Its estimated population growth was 1% annually.
Its proximity to the country’s capital city, Washington DC, has significantly influenced its economic wellbeing. Most of its population consists of professionals working in the Federal Civil Service, the US military, or private companies contracted by the Federal Government. The US department of defense is the largest employer in Alexandria.
Alexandria is the headquarters for the National Science Foundation and houses United States Patent and Trademark offices. Click here to see a list of things to do in Alexandria.