Decal Fee Officially Dead — “Arlington County Board members on May 14 followed through on a promise made last month and eliminated the ‘decal fee’ that has been imposed for decades as part of residents’ car-tax bills. And while the action will save residents a collective $6 million this year, it’s something of a rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul situation, as higher assessments on used vehicles in these inflationary times likely will eat up all the savings for some vehicle owners.” [Sun Gazette]
Wild Rosslyn Press Conference in the Works — “WHAT: Jack Burkman to give press conference from wheelchair, after losing more than 65 ibs, and all his hair. WHEN: Monday May 23, 2022 High Noon. WHERE… N Colonial Terrace, Arlington VA 22209.” [Twitter]
Free Fitness Class Tonight — “Join HUSTLE at Long Bridge Park in National Landing for a weekly sweaty and fun outdoor HIIT class. Arlington, VA has been named one of the fittest cities in the country, so get your heart pumping at an outdoor HIIT class with local fitness instructors.” [Twitter, National Landing BID]
Historical Marker for Eden Center — “The Virginia Historical Commission (VHC) has recognized Vietnamese Immigrants in Northern Virginia as a significant part of Virginia history by awarding it an Official Virginia Historical Marker… A dedication ceremony to commemorate the event will be held on May 24, 2022 at Eden Center at 3:30PM.” [City of Falls Church]
It’s Wednesday — Sunny during the day, with rain possible at night. High of 74 and low of 54. Sunrise at 5:55 am and sunset at 8:18 pm. [Weather.gov]
Bus Crash in Front of Hospital — “At approximately 1:52 p.m., police were dispatched to the report of a two vehicle crash involving an ART bus in the 1600 block of N. George Mason Drive. The driver of the other involved vehicle has been transported to the hospital for medical evaluation. Police remain on scene investigating the cause of the crash.” [Twitter]
Civ Fed Proposes Board Changes — “A task force empaneled by the Arlington County Civic Federation has proposed a somewhat radical reconfiguration of County Board and School Board elections… The TiGER proposal, which seeks to expand membership on each body to seven, would have four County Board members and three School Board members elected in a given year, followed by a gap year, followed by three County Board members and four School Board members elected. After another gap year, the process would repeat.” [Sun Gazette]
Free Soccer Programming Pilot — “The Arlington Soccer Association is teaming up with the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to provide free soccer programming. The eight-week pilot program recently kicked off and brings soccer programming to families who live in APAH’s more than 2,000 affordable apartments throughout Arlington County. The programming is offered once a week at local parks and elementary schools for children as young as 3 years old.” [Press Release]
Throwback to Metro Groundbreaking — “We recently rediscovered a scrapbook from the early days of NVTC. June 18, 1971: Ceremonies to mark construction of the Rosslyn Metro station, ‘first in the D.C. suburbs.'” [Twitter]
Buses Gone Wild on I-395 — From Dave Statter: “I’ve shown you lots of amateur drivers trying to navigate I-395S Exit 8C/Route 1. Let’s see how the pros handle it.” [Twitter]
Car vs. Bakery Near Fairlington — “No one was injured after a car smashed through a front window of Great Harvest Bread (1711 Centre Plaza) in Fairlington Centre on Tuesday night (May 10). The incident occurred at around 7 p.m., which is after the bakery is closed.” [ALXnow]
It’s Friday — Overcast throughout the day with some patchy fog. Showers likely, with thunderstorms also possible after 2 p.m. High of 70 and low of 59. Sunrise at 5:59 am and sunset at 8:13 pm. [Weather.gov]
Firefighters Rescue Cat from Tree — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “We are so grateful for @ArlingtonVaFD! Yesterday, Charlie the cat snuck out of his house and got spooked, climbing 2.5 stories up a nearby tree on a very stormy day. ACFD came to the rescue and brought Charlie back down to the ground and to safety.” [Twitter]
Suspicious Package at Pentagon Metro — From Pentagon police: “At 9:46am, @PFPAOfficial was alerted to a suspicious package at the Pentagon Metro Visitors Screening Center. Explosive Ordnance Detection Unit is… investigating. Bus and rail service is bypassing the Pentagon. Personnel are asked to please avoid the area. […] At 1251 @PFPAOfficial gave the all clear. Bus and rail service have resumed. The incident is currently under investigation.” [Twitter]
New Apartment Building Proposed in Crystal City — “Add another new mixed-used building to the growing National Landing pipeline. An affiliate of Dweck Properties filed plans this week with Arlington county for two new buildings that would become a part of the Crystal Towers development at 1600 South Eads Street.” [UrbanTurf]
Boeing Bringing Few Jobs — “Paul Lewis, a Boeing spokesman, said the company employs 400 people in the Washington area and has space to add more, but ‘there are no immediate plans to expand the facility here in Arlington.’ The company also won’t reduce its roughly 400 employees at Boeing’s outgoing headquarters in Chicago. Nonetheless, Lewis said in an email the move to Virginia was important for the company: ‘It’s significant in that this will be the base of operations for the CEO and CFO.'” [Washington Post]
More Local Reaction to Boeing HQ — “From the Greater Washington Board of Trade: “Congrats to @NationalLanding
. Our region provides such a compelling strategic advantage to businesses that want to relocate here because of its’ proximity to the government, business, non-profits and academia. It’s a win for everyone in our region!” [Twitter, LinkedIn]
Local Cemetery Getting Historic Marker — “It became a county historic landmark last year, and soon the Mount Salvation Baptist Church cemetery will have a marker denoting its status… The cemetery, located adjacent to the church in the historically African-American North Arlington community of Halls Hill/High View Park, is the final resting spot of at least 89 people. Burials at the cemetery were recorded from 1916 (although some likely occurred a decade or two earlier) to 1974.” [Sun Gazette]
Reminder: West Glebe Road Bridge Closed to Cars — “The West Glebe Road bridge over Four Mile Run will be completely closed to vehicles [on Monday, May 9], and will remain closed for nearly a year.” [ARLnow]
It’s Monday — Mostly sunny, with a northeast wind around 11 mph and gusts as high as 18 mph. High of 64 and low of 44. Sunrise at 6:03 am and sunset at 8:10 pm. [Weather.gov]
Up the hill from John F. Kennedy’s grave and behind Arlington House on the western side of Arlington National Cemetery lies the purported inventor of America’s pastime.
The former Union Army General Abner Doubleday is interred in section 1, laid to permanent rest there nearly 130 years ago. He’s one of more than a hundred Union generals that are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. While it’s his accomplishments during the Civil War that led him here, history remembers Doubleday much more for his perceived contributions to the game of baseball.
“I’m a big baseball fan. When I was growing up in the 1960s, the common view among the public was that this guy named Doubleday invented it,” says George Dodge, former Arlington Historical Society president and author of a book about the history of Arlington National Cemetery. “But that’s largely been completely discredited.”
Doubleday, a New York native, had a lifetime full of military experience. He was an officer in the Mexican War, fought in the Seminole War, and actually commended the gunners that fired the Civil War’s first shots at Fort Sumter. During the Civil War, he also saw action at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Bull Run, and Gettysburg.
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It was at Gettysburg where Doubleday was given command of the corps, when another general was killed in action, that helped to secure high ground. This ultimately led to the Union’s victory at the famed battle and likely turned the tide of the war.
“He has to be given some credit for that and I don’t think he does,” says Dodge.
After the war, he worked to help formerly enslaved people transition to a life of freedom, secure patents for San Francisco’s cable car system, and led a religious group devoted to spiritualism. Doubleday died in 1893 in New Jersey.
But before all of that, he apparently — according to legend — invented baseball.
The story goes that, while living in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839, a 20-year-old Doubleday drew a diamond in the dust and declared this was for a new game he called “base ball.” Along with a 1871 request for baseball-like equipment, this was enough proof for some that Doubleday invented baseball.
And, for the better part of the 20th century, this narrative existed — and, to some extent, still to this day.
Over the last several decades, however, historians have proven that Doubleday likely didn’t invent baseball.
The tale of him drawing a diamond in the dust was only first recounted via letter in 1905, more than 60 years after the fact, to the Mills Commission, a group that had been tasked to determine the origins of the great American game of baseball.
The letter was written by a man named Abner Graves who claimed he was there that day, but Graves would have only been 5 years old at the time. Additionally, it was unlikely that Doubleday was even in Cooperstown at the time. He was a cadet at West Point in 1839 and, even if he had returned home to see family, his family had moved to another village.
“They were looking for even the flimsiest of proof that [baseball] originated here in the United States,” says Dodge.
The more likely reason that this myth exists is that Doubleday represented a home run candidate — a respected Union Army general buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Police Looking for Missing Teen — “ACPD is seeking assistance locating 15-year-old Alejandro… Described as a Hispanic male, 5’8″ tall, 145 lbs with brown eyes and half yellow/half black curly hair. He has ear piercings, a nose piercing and wears a silver dog chain necklace.” [Twitter]
Another Missing Teen — “ACPD is seeking assistance locating 14-year-old Anderson… He is described as a Hispanic male, approx 5’7 tall and 130 lbs. Last seen wearing a black sweat shirt, gray pants and black sneakers. He is known to frequent Rocky Run Park and CVS (2121 15th St N).” [Twitter]
W-L Name Change Attorney Disbarred — “A Virginia state court has disbarred Jonathon Moseley, an attorney who has represented a slew of high-profile Jan. 6 defendants, including a member of the Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy, as well as several targets of the House select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol.” Moseley also represented opponents of changing the name of Arlington’s Washington-Lee High School to Washington-Liberty. [Politico, ARLnow Comment]
Another Drug Take-Back Day Planned — “On Saturday, April 30, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will provide the public the opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs. This disposal service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.” [ACPD]
Fmr. APS Superintendent Leaving WV Job — “Among 75 personnel transactions during Monday night’s Berkeley County Board of Education meeting, district Superintendent Dr. Patrick K. Murphy announced his retirement, which was unanimously accepted by the board along with the other movements.” [The Journal]
Historic Home Reopens — “The Ball-Sellers House, one of the few surviving examples of working-class 18th-century housing in Northern Virginia, reopened for the 2022 season on April 2. Owned and maintained since the 1970s by the Arlington Historical Society, the house will host a number of programs in 2022.” [Sun Gazette]
Nearby: MoCo Wrangles Over Housing — “In the D.C. region, where local governments are struggling to address a severe housing shortage that is driving up prices, elected officials are under growing pressure to push back against civically engaged homeowners who mobilize against new housing construction. Montgomery County, an affluent D.C. suburb that has experienced transformative growth and demographic change in the last 30 years, exemplifies how hard that can be.” [DCist]
It’s Thursday — Rain throughout the day, until evening. High of 56 and low of 48. Sunrise at 6:45 am and sunset at 7:39 pm. [Weather.gov]
A recent survey of Arlingtonians found a majority say the county needs to be more aggressive about preserving historic buildings, monuments and resources from demolition.
Engagement in the survey, administered in 2021, was three times higher than engagement in a similar survey distributed two years ago, before the loss last year of two historic homes — the Febrey-Lothrop House and the Victorian Fellows-McGrath House — to make room for new housing.
The tripling, however, did not result in a more diverse group of respondents. More than 80% of respondents were some combination of white, homeowners and 45 years old and up.
The most recent Historic Preservation feedback form response pool is somehow even more white and more homeowner-y than the last one. This seems indistinguishable from a CivFed meeting. pic.twitter.com/JI16BJqrlY
— Chris Slatt (@alongthepike) March 24, 2022
The survey is part of a county effort to update its master plan governing historic preservation, with a new focus on equity and inclusion, says Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development spokeswoman Rachel LaPiana.
Adopted in and unchanged since 2006, the update — if adopted by the County Board by the end of 2022 — will direct the historic preservation priorities and programs for the next decade, she said.
Many respondents said the county should be highlighting century-old properties, historic neighborhoods, archaeological sites and resources connected to Arlington’s immigrant, African American and Native American communities. Some railed against the county and the plan for not preserving sites like the Febrey-Lothrop House, while a few said such teardowns are necessary to make room for more housing and affordable units.
The survey asked broad questions to understand what residents value, with questions like “what stories, traditions, places, buildings, and/or communities are important to you?”
But for some civically engaged Arlington residents, the demographics of respondents were more interesting. They say this survey yielded detailed feedback from passionate individuals but did not reveal how the broader community values historic preservation.
The problem, per Dave Schutz — a civically engaged resident and prolific ARLnow commenter — is how the survey is advertised and where. His oft-repeated remark about community engagement in Arlington: “You ask twelve guys in Speedos whether we should build [the Long Bridge Aquatics Center], you will get a twelve to zip vote yes.”
Schutz suggested the county keep track of how respondents hear of the survey, so they know whose perspectives are being captured.
“I might require that surveys… contain an identifier so that the people tabulating results could see which ones had been filled out by people who were notified through the, say, Arlington Historical Society website and which by people notified through the ‘Engulf and Destroy Developers Mwa-ha-ha website,’ the County Board website — and if the opinion tendencies were wildly different, flag it for the decision makers that that was so.”
Joan Fitzgerald, a local resident who works in surveying populations, says county survey questions are often worded to confirm the biases of the survey writers, while the questions can be jargon-dense.
“County survey questions are often confusing, and participants often need a strong background in the topic to even understand what’s being asked,” said Fitzgerald, who sits on the development oversight committee for the Ashton Heights Civic Association.
There are few people who know more about how Columbia Pike has changed in recent years than Lloyd Wolf, director of the Columbia Pike Documentary Project.
Since 2007, Wolf and a team of photographers, interviewers and community activists have spoken with hundreds of residents and taken thousands of pictures of South Arlington’s main thoroughfare.
Wolf and his team of now-five include Dewey Tron, Xang Mimi Ho, Lara Ajami and Sushmita Mazumdar. They have documented a Bangladeshi-American car parade, a Thanksgiving dinner for new Ethiopian immigrants, a local Piedmont blues style guitarist along with dozens more celebratory moments and personal stories.
“The Pike is this nexus of immigration and diversity. And people are basically getting along and we thought ‘This is something we really should examine in-depth,'” Wolf tells ARLnow about how the project got started more than a decade ago.
Columbia Pike has a well-earned reputation for being among one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country. It’s estimated that there are people from more than 130 countries speaking at least a hundred languages living on or in the Columbia Pike corridor. Famously, the Pike and its corresponding 22204 ZIP code has gotten the nickname for being the “world in a ZIP code.”
Wolf says one of the most gratifying aspects of the project for him is the ability to listen and learn about cultures and communities from around the world; the traditions, the rituals, the successes, and the challenges. Plus, his team is made up of people whose backgrounds include being Syrian, Vietnamese, Laotian and Japanese.
To Wolf, this perfectly encapsulates what makes Columbia Pike so special.
“If we weren’t doing this project, maybe we wouldn’t have a chance to meet. I have this line ‘This is what peace looks like,'” he says. “To the Pike, people come. It’s not perfect, but by and large, the groups interact well.”
This is a testament to the Arlington community as a whole. In a county where diversity is valued, appreciated, and celebrated, Wolf notes, differences don’t divide but unite.
“I’ve heard immigrants say that ‘I don’t feel different here because everyone is different,'” he says.
And, recently, Wolf has set out to explore how these changes might impact the communities he’s spent years documenting.
This month, go on a treasure hunt through Clarendon to discover women’s history.
The local non-profit Rosie Riveters is hosting its second annual Women’s History Hunt, a GPS-enabled treasure hunt designed to teach kids about famed female pioneers in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math).
The event is in honor of March being Women’s History Month.
Needing only a GPS-enabled phone or device to download the map, this free family geocaching activity will send students (and parents) around Clarendon in search of puzzle pieces containing clues, information, and fun facts about pioneering women.
The treasure hunt began March 11 and will continue until April 3. Participants have until April 9 to submit photos of their completed puzzle to win prizes.
“Geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunt, and it’s just a lot of fun for kids to use tech to find secret boxes right in the middle of the neighborhoods where we work and play,” Katherine Rieder, a spokesperson for Rosie Riveters, tells ARLnow. “We also think treasure hunting is an apt metaphor for women’s history, particularly the history of women in STEM. The stories are there, but women’s achievements in STEM are often buried beneath those of men, minimized, hidden, and even misappropriated.”
While Rieder wants to keep it a surprise about exactly which historical figures participants will learn about, she did note that it will be women from a diverse range of backgrounds and time periods.
Arlington-based Rosie Riveters, which is named after the World War II-era cultural icon, was founded in 2015 with the mission to equip and encourage young girls to become interested in STEM activities. Ultimately, as the website notes, the hope is to close the gender gap in those fields.
It’s so far gotten more than 5,700 girls in both Arlington and Fairfax counties to participate in interactive STEM programs, the majority of which at no cost.
The treasure hunt hits a number of different spots in Clarendon, including the newly-rebranded The Crossing Clarendon retail center and local parks.
“Our clues are hidden in silver metal boxes that are branded with Rosie Riveters’ logo,” reads the instructions. “Some are hidden under and in-between other objects/natural features, but you should not have to venture too far from the designated location to find the box.”
Each box contains a piece to a puzzle. When assembled, participants are asked to send a photo to [email protected] of the completed puzzle. Everyone who sends a photo of a correct puzzle wins a prize, including build-your-own harmonica STEM kit, kinetic butterflies STEM kit, and Women in STEM notecards.
Last year the online geocaching map had about 1,250 unique views, Reider said, adding that she thinks more families will be participating this year.
“We’ve taken technology and combined it with women’s history,” said Reider. “To share, elevate, and celebrate these stories in a way that gets kids excited and engaged.”
A farmhouse-style home in Arlington’s Maywood Historic District was damaged by fire last night (Tuesday).
The home along 21st Avenue N. was built in 1910, according to a real estate listing from 2018. The listing mentions “vintage features” and “lavish woodwork.”
The fire broke out in the kitchen of the home just before 11 p.m., according to fire department dispatches.
“Crews arrived on scene shortly after dispatch and confirmed a working fire in a single family dwelling,” Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Nate Hiner tells ARLnow. “The fire was quickly extinguished and there were no injuries to civilians or firefighters. The cause, origin, and damage estimates won’t be available until the Fire Marshal concludes their investigation.”
Scorch marks could be seen on the front of the home this morning, as fire line tape surrounded the property.
While the flames were extinguished relatively quickly, a neighbor tells ARLnow that acrid smoke filled the Maywood neighborhood during the fire. Scanner traffic from last night also suggests that the home’s balloon frame construction prompted firefighters to work more aggressively to ensure that the fire did not spread to other parts of the house.
Another Maywood house was damaged by fire in March 2020.
A sociology professor at Marymount University and a former housing lawyer are poring over century-old property records to locate Arlington’s segregated neighborhoods.
It’s a time-consuming process, but the goal is to map Arlington’s “history of exclusion,” says professor Janine DeWitt.
“Our research is to take a look very closely at a granular level — lot by lot, parcel by parcel — and map the racially restrictive covenants that were in Arlington,” she said during a discussion hosted by the Arlington Historical Society last week. “We want to know the Arlington we’re in right now and how much of that was exclusionary.”
And DeWitt says she and her research partner, Kristin Neun, will not stop “until we find every last one of them and not before.”
This research effort is taking shape while the county grapples with its history of racist zoning policies through the Missing Middle Housing Study. Housing advocates who welcome the study, however, say it’s not enough to integrate neighborhoods that are still restricted as a result of the 20th-century practices DeWitt and Neun are researching.
Until the Fair Housing Act of 1968 made racially restrictive covenants illegal and unenforceable, these clauses excluded potential buyers based on their race, ethnicity or religion. Such deeds governed Arlington’s housing market and mostly targeted Black Arlingtonians, while others included Middle Eastern immigrants, Jewish people and Armenians.
These covenants, codified by developers in conjunction with county government, applied to all future property transfers unless a property owner removed them. Only a handful did so after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled these covenants were unconstitutional in 1948.
DeWitt says she and Neun would have started their research at the Arlington County courthouse, leafing through physical pre-1951 property records, but due to Covid they conducted research every way they could until the county wrapped up a two-year project to digitize land records documents.
Even with the digital copies, the records still need to be read and searched by hand.
“Property records are tremendously inconsistent,” DeWitt said. “It’s incredibly difficult to parse this. It requires a high-touch approach.”
Once she and Neun find a deed with a restrictive clause, they match it with a current address and plug it into a map.
So far, they have mapped out covenants on properties in the Arlington Forest and Bellevue Forest neighborhoods. They found covenants for the historic subdivisions of Country Club View, Flower Gardens, Jackson Terrace and Woodlawn Village, which are now part of the Donaldson Run, Penrose, Tara-Leeway Heights and Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhoods, respectively.
So far, DeWitt and Neun have observed these restrictions date from 1910 — and possibly earlier — all the way until the mid-1950s.
And some deeds were euphemistic, prohibiting occupancy “except for the race for which it is intended,” or prohibiting stables, pig pens, temporary dwellings and high fences.
“It’s amazing how you can vary restricting somebody,” said Neun, a former housing lawyer turned community educator.
Racial exclusion in Arlington tracks with regulations at the state and federal level, Neun said.
When Democrats took control of Virginia state politics in the early 1900s, they championed “homogeneity” — the idea that “homogeneous populations do better, live better, are happier and less risky,” Neun said.
A new series of county-sponsored walking tours will distill the history of Arlington’s bootleggers, rum runners, and whiskey raids during Prohibition.
The “Bootlegger’s Guide to the Parks” trains its focus on the era of Prohibition, a 13-year period when the manufacturing and sale of alcohol was illegal in the U.S. The walking tours begin at a county park before ending at a local brewery, bar, or distillery.
The first tour, which will meet up at Penrose Park, is scheduled for Friday, March 25. Another is scheduled in April, at Rocky Run Park, while a tour in May will meet at Benjamin Banneker Park. Registration opens on Wednesday (March 16) for all three.
In the public’s mind, Prohibition has always conjured images of gangsters and criminal activity, making it a historical period ripe for movies and other popular entertainment. John McNair, a county park historian who is leading the tours, says that while we may associate the exploits that came with Prohibition with large metropolitan cities, Arlington had its fair share of dealings with illegal alcohol activity.
“We might consider these images of, say, Chicago or New York, but Prohibition was very real and very much on the table for people in Arlington County as well,” he says.
Even prior to Prohibition, several Arlington neighborhoods, like near the Key Bridge in Rosslyn, had earned reputations for attracting District residents who wanted to engage in vice. The reputation was well-earned, says McNair, with Arlington becoming a favorite place to grab a drink and play cards for many in the region.
While he doesn’t want to spoil too much about what the tours will cover, McNair says the March 25 event will focus upon the famed Thanksgiving whiskey raid of 1921.
On that day, federal agents joined up with police from across Virginia to raid four illegal distilling sites in Arlington.
“It took the eternity of the day. And at the end of which, they set state records for highest yield of [confiscated] whiskey products in Virginia,” says McNair. “While it made massive headlines at the time, the record would not stand for very long.”
Beyond the scandalous stories, McNair says the hope is that the programs bring in new audiences who want to learn about local history, parks, and public places. Telling stories about Prohibition in Arlington also opens up a window into what life was like here a century ago, during a very important time in America’s development.
“There were issues of suffrage, civil rights, the growing industry of war production that all became factors in how Prohibition plays out in Arlington,” McNair says.
Spots are limited on the walking tours and are open only to those 21 and over, due to a planned visit to a local bar. After all, how would be a Prohibition walking tour be complete without its own “raid” of a serving establishment?