Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 128,283. It is located on the west bank of the Potomac River, six miles south of Washington, DC.
Like the rest of Northern Virginia, as well as southern Maryland, Alexandria is shaped by its proximity to the nation's capital. It is largely populated by professionals working for the federal civil service, the U.S. military or for one of the many private companies that contract out services to the government. The latter are known locally as beltway bandits, after the Capital Beltway, an expressway that circles Washington. Alexandria's largest employer by far is the U.S. Department of Defense -- since The Pentagon is in neighboring Arlington County -- and two of its four largest private employers are the Institute for Defense Analyses and the Center for Naval Analyses, according to city statistics.
The historic center of Alexandria, known as Old Town, is a major draw for tourists and those seeking nightlife without crossing the Potomac River. Like Old Town, most Alexandria neighborhoods are wealthy, high-status suburbs. In 2002, an assessed-value study of homes and condominiums found that about 40 percent were in the highest bracket, worth $250,000 or more.
Alexandria is served by Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport located to the north in Arlington County, Virginia; by Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia; and by Baltimore-Washington International Airport in Baltimore, Maryland. Its railroad station is served by Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express, with the King Street station of the Washington Metro rail transit system adjacent.
Alexandria landmarks include the George Washington National Masonic Memorial , also known as the Masonic Temple; Gadsby's Tavern; Old Town; Christ Church; the Lyceum; Market Square; and the Virginia Theological Seminary .
Alexandria's public high school, T.C. Williams, and its legendary former football coach, Herman Mad Dog Boone, were featured in the 2000 motion picture, "Remember the Titans." Alexandria is home to the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a public magnet school and a Governor's school for Virginia.
Market Square in Old Town, pictured above, was once the site of the second-largest slave market in the United States. Today it contains a large fountain and extensive landscaping, as well as a weekly farmers' market in warmer months.
The Census Bureau designates Alexandria as part of the Washington-Baltimore, DC-MD-VA-WV Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area (CMSA).
As of the census of 2000, there are 128,283 people, 61,889 households, and 27,726 families residing in the city. The population density is 3,262.9/km² (8,452.0/mi²). There are 64,251 housing units at an average density of 1,634.2/km² (4,233.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 59.79% White, 22.54% African American, 0.28% Native American, 5.65% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 7.38% from other races, and 4.27% from two or more races. 14.72% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 61,889 households out of which 18.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.2% are married couples living together, 9.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 55.2% are non-families. 43.4% of all households are made up of individuals and 6.8% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.04 and the average family size is 2.87.
In the city the population is spread out with 16.8% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 43.5% from 25 to 44, 21.5% from 45 to 64, and 9.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 93.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 91.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $56,054, and the median income for a family is $67,023. Males have a median income of $47,514 versus $41,254 for females. The per capita income for the city is $37,645. 8.9% of the population and 6.8% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 13.9% of those under the age of 18 and 9.0% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
The City of Alexandria, first known as Belhaven, was named in honour of John Alexander, who in the last quarter of the 17th century had bought the land on which the city now stands from Robert Howison; the first settlement here was made in 1695. Alexandria was laid out in 1749 and was incorporated in 1779.
A portion of the City of Alexandria shares with all of today's Arlington County the distinction of having been originally in Virginia, ceded to the US government to form the District of Columbia, and later reattached to Virginia by the federal government in 1846 when the District was reduced in size to exclude most the portion south of the Potomac River.
From 1790 until 1846 Alexandria County was a part of the District of Columbia; the city of Alexandria was re-chartered in 1852. The City of Alexandria became independent of Alexandria County in 1870. The remaining portion of Alexandria County changed its name to Arlington County in 1920, ending years of confusion.
See article on Arlington, Virginia for more information.
At Alexandria in 1755 General Edward Braddock organized his fatal expedition against Fort Duquesne, and here, in April of the same year, the governors of Virginia, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland met to determine upon concerted action against the French in America. In March 1785 commissioners from Virginia and Maryland met here to discuss the commercial relations of the two states, finishing their business at Mount Vernon on the 28th with an agreement for freedom of trade and freedom of navigation of the Potomac. The Maryland legislature in ratifying this agreement on November 22 proposed a conference between representatives from all the states to consider the adoption of definite commercial regulations. This led to the calling of the Annapolis convention of 1786, which in turn led to the calling of the Federal convention of 1787. In 1814 Alexandria surrendered to a British fleet without a fight. As agreed in the terms of surrender the British looted stores and warehouses of mainly flour, tobacco, cotton, wine and sugar .
American Civil War
At the opening of the American Civil War the city was occupied by Federal troops, and great excitement throughout the North was caused by the killing (May 24, 1861) of Colonel E. E. Ellsworth (1837-1861) by Captain James W. Jackson, a hotel proprietor, from whose building Ellsworth had removed a Confederate flag. After the erection of the state of West Virginia in 1863, and until the close of the war, Alexandria was the seat of what was known as the "Alexandria Government."
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