100 Years of Arlington: A Look Back at How We Came to Be

This year, Arlington celebrates the 100th anniversary of its naming as Arlington County.

In the early 20th century, the then rural community of Alexandria County wanted a change. Its residents found themselves often mistaken for Alexandria City next door, as both communities grew after both originally having been part of the "10 miles square" of the District of Columbia but later ceded to Virginia. Residents and legislators began considering a way to further differentiate the two, especially after a planned celebration in September 1919 honoring WW1 vets, when some people came to the Alexandria County Courthouse in Clarendon and others went to the Alexandria City Courthouse, missing the celebration.

Aerial photo of Clarendon Circle, facing west, soon after 1920. Courtesy Library of Congress and Arlington Historical Society.

After considering several different names, county administrators settled on Arlington, derived from Arlington House, built by George Washington Parke Custis and located on the land now known as Arlington National Cemetery.

Throughout this centennial year, Arlington County Government and the Arlington Historical Society will be honoring the anniversary in a variety of ways. Learn more with a storymap of Arlington through the years, or visit the County's Center for Local History to explore more collections or for additional research opportunities.

Author: Cara O'Donnell