Press Club

Mystery Solved: New Sign Erected in 2008?

An eagle-eyed tipster sent us this photo of a historic marker just erected on the 1400 block of Wilson Boulevard, in Rosslyn.

The plaque marks the building where employees of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency helped to conceive ARPANET, the forerunner to the internet. Last week several of those former DARPA employees attended an Arlington County Board meeting, where the plaque was unveiled and dedicated.

Imagine the surprise of our tipster, then, when he saw the words at the bottom of the sign: “Erected in 2008 by Arlington County, Virginia.” The sign was only installed last week, so why does it say it was erected in 2008?

Turns out the plaque was actually conceived, written and produced in 2008, but it was never installed. According to Arlington spokeswoman Diana Sun, the county was unable to get permission from the building owner to put the sign on their property, so they had to go through a lengthy process of getting the sign installed in the public right-of-way (sidewalk). By the time all the pieces were in place, and by the time they could organize a small ceremony at a County Board meeting, it was 2011 — three years later than originally planned.

Photo courtesy Geoff Collins

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