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Presentation to Look at 100-Year Snapshot of Arlington

Arlington County has undergone drastic changes over the last 100 years to become what it is today.

In celebrating the county’s history and the 2020 census, County Manager Mark Schwartz will compare a snapshot of the area from 100 years ago and today’s Arlington during a virtual discussion.

The two-hour program will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m. and can be viewed on the county’s Facebook page, YouTube channel, or on Arlington TV (Comcast 1085/Verizon 40).

An interactive storybook and map will be paired with the discussion. The session will also feature a “conversation with the members of the Complete Count Committee appointed in 2019 on their experiences with working on the 2020 census,” according to Schwartz.

“Viewers can expect a summary of how Arlington of today compares with the Arlington of 100 years ago on a number of measures, including population, family size, demographic makeup (race, age, gender, languages spoken, housing types),” Schwartz wrote in an email.

Schwartz added that the discussion will include “a history lesson on what Arlington looked like and some stories from 100 years ago that shed some light on the Arlington of today.”

The broadcast will explore the county’s transformation since its naming as a nod to the Arlington House in Arlington National Cemetery — an association that is now under scrutiny. The name was officially changed from Alexandria County in 1920 to avoid being confused with the city of Alexandria.

Arlington County grew from a primarily rural area of farms — the last of which closed in 1955 — as its population steadily increased and new developments were established.

Farms gave way to housing developments, new businesses and modernized infrastructure over the years. The population followed suit as an increase of federal workers spilled into the area during the 1930s, as National Airport opened in 1941, as World War II saw the construction of the Pentagon, and as the Metrorail corridors were introduced in the 1970s.

The county’s population has grown exponentially from the 16,040 residents counted in the 1920 census, which included sections of Del Ray and the City of Alexandria that were part of the county then, according to Arlington’s website.

Arlington County has grown every decade since 1920, except in the 1970s when the area’s population dropped by 12.4%. However, the population rebounded and steadily grew to 207,627 in 2010, according to census data.

The latest estimates peg the county’s population at 228,400, a 10% increase from 2010. A forecast by the county shows the population growing to 301,200 in 2045.

“Today, Arlington is a diverse and inclusive world-class urban community with a population that continues to grow at approximately 1% per year,” the county website says.

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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