My place – Where I live most of my life in. Where I live, work, and play.
It can be found in northeastern part of the City of Alexandria in Virginia. It has many names including: “Potomac West”, “Del Ray”, and my personal favorite the Mount Vernon Ave Corridor. It consists of an 1,116 acre area that extends from the Four Mile Run stream on the north, Potomac Yard to the east, Union Station to the south and Russell and Glebe Road to the west. It is bisected by Mt. Vernon Avenue which serves as the commercial spine of the community. As a large, diverse residential community, Potomac West is divided into five unique and and distinctive neighborhoods.
Starting in the northern part of the area is Arlandria-Chirilagua, a neighborhood located between Four Mile Run, Glebe Road and Commonwealth Avenue. This neighborhood contains a very dense concentration of garden apartments which predominate the area. The Hume Springs neighborhood is also located in this area. Del Ray/Warwick Village is located in the central portion of Potomac West and is defined by Randolph Avenue and the former W&OD right of way on the north and by Braddock Road to the south. Del Ray contains older, single family homes dating from the turn of the century. The Lynhaven neighborhood encompasses the blocks of row houses bounded by Glebe Road, Commonwealth Avenue, East Reed Avenue and US Route 1. It also includes two older apartment complexes, Lynhaven Gardens and Auburn Gardens, the latter of which has undergone renovation and conversion to condominiums. Lower Rosemont, generally east of Russell Road and south of Braddock Road, is a section of the Rosemont neighborhood that lies within Potomac West. It consists mainly of single-family detached house
Arlandria/Chirilagua is a neighborhood located in the north-eastern portion of Alexandria. Its name is a portmanteau of the words “Arlington” and “Alexandria,” reflecting its location on the border of Arlington County and Alexandria. The neighborhood’s borders form a rough triangle bounded by Four Mile Run in the north, West Glebe Road to the south and south-west, and Route 1 to the east. Centered around Mount Vernon Avenue between Four Mile Run and West Glebe Road, it is home to many Hispanic bakeries, restaurants, salons, and other stores. An influx of Salvadorean immigrants into the neighborhood in the 1980s has earned it the nickname “Chirilagua,” after the city on the Pacific coast of El Salvador. Arlandria is also home to the Birchmere concert hall, the Alexandria Aces of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Collegiate Baseball League, and St. Rita Roman Catholic Church, dedicated in 1949 and constructed in Gothic style from Virginia fieldstone and Indiana limestone. Alternative rock band the Foo Fighters has a track titled “Arlandria” on their 2011 release Wasting Light; front man (and ex-Nirvana drummer) Dave Grohl lived in Alexandria during his childhood. The area is also referenced in the song “Headwires” from the band’s 1999 release, There Is Nothing Left to Lose.
The Hume Springs neighborhood is named after a spring that once stood on the property of Mr Frank Hume and was eventually dismantled and buried under ground after the turn of the 20th century. The spring fed into Four Mile Run stream which now separates the City of Alexandria and Arlington County. In the 1990s the Hume Springs neighborhood was known as “the Hole”, a place to purchase illegal drugs from what turned out to be a highly efficient drug ring. Starting in 1993 some residents of Hume Springs banded together to pressure crack dealers and discourage visiting buyers. Finally in the late 1990s, with law enforcement investigations and the ensuing “Operation Dirty Dozen” drug crackdown, there was mostly success in ejecting the negative elements. The Hume Springs neighborhood has recently seen changes in the ethnic and racial make-up of residents as increasing numbers of young white professionals seek more affordable housing closer to Old Town Alexandria, downtown DC, Crystal City and The Pentagon. As well, the aging of established residents has influenced turn-over. In 2010 there were roughly 50% Latino (mostly from El Salvador), 20% African American and 30% White/Other.
The area to the northwest of Old Town, which had been in the separate town of Potomac, is popularly known as Del Ray, although that name properly belongs to one of many communities (including Hume, Mount Ida, and Saint Elmo’s) in that area. The communities of Del Ray and St. Elmo’s originated in early 1894, when developer Charles Wood organized them on a grid pattern of streets running north-south and east-west. Del Ray originally contained six east-west streets and five north-south. All were identical in width, except Mt. Vernon Avenue, which was approximately twenty feet wider. St. Elmo’s, a smaller tract, was laid out in a similar pattern, but with only four east-west streets and one running north-south.By 1900, Del Ray contained approximately 130 people, and St. Elmo 55. In 1908, the tracts of Del Ray, St. Elmo’s, Mt. Ida, and Hume were incorporated into the town of Potomac, which by 1910 had a population of 599; by 1920 it contained 1,000; by 1928 it had 2,355 residents; now more than 20,000 people live in Del Ray.The 254 acres (1 km²) comprising Del Ray were sold to Charles Wood in 1894 for the sum of $38,900, while St. Elmo, made up of 39 acres (160,000 m2), was purchased for $15,314.The community, while still diverse, has experienced substantial gentrification since the development of the Potomac Yard Shopping Center in the mid-1990s. It draws tens of thousands of people from around the Washington, D.C. region during its annual Art on the Avenue main street festival the first Saturday in October. New development under way in formerly unused land near Potomac Yard, across US Route 1 from Del Ray, will include condominiums, offices, parks, and a fire station with affordable housing on upper floors.
Lynhaven is a residential community at the northeastern corner of Alexandria, Virginia. Most of its houses were constructed in the 1940s to serve the rail yard workers at what was once the Potomac Yard rail center. Today the rail yard has become a shopping center, but some of Lynhaven’s residents have been here since the community was first established. With its quiet, tree-lined streets, involved neighbors, and proximity to Crystal City, Del Ray, Old Town, and Washington DC, Lynhaven has become one of the most convenient, vibrant and diverse neighborhoods in Alexandria.