City and State: Alexandria, Virginia
Type of district: National Register Historic District
Major Intersection: King and Washington Streets
Officially authorized as a town by the Virginia Assembly in 1748, Alexandria consists of uniform rectangular street blocks laid out in a grid pattern. The uniformity of the town was defined by two surveyors, one of whom, a 17-year-old George Washington, later went on to become the first President of the United States. And, not only the Washington family, but also the Lee family called Alexandria home. Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s boyhood home is one of many historic structures still standing in Alexandria.
Alexandria is famous for its large concentration of late-18th- and early-19th-century urban architecture. Many of Alexandria’s buildings are significant examples of the Federal- and Colonial-era styles of architecture, although Alexandria also features a number of fine Victorian structures.
Alexandria was a bustling port town for many years. Its location on the Potomac River, near Washington, D.C. and several railway lines, made it a sought-after industrial center. The Ford Motor Company was one of many companies to build plants in Alexandria. In 1932, famed architect Albert Kahn designed a riverfront factory for the automobile maker. The structure incorporated yellow glazed bricks, a saw-tooth roof, and an Art Deco façade with a remarkable degree of structural clarity. It still stands today as the most important example of early modern architecture in Alexandria.