Adventures in History: Old Town Alexandria
For Labor Day, I decided to wander around Old Town, Alexandria. It’s a place where it’s like walking between two different times. We have all the historic buildings and shops like Starbucks and Banana Republic.
It was a pretty nice day for wandering. Not too hot and not too cold (we’ll have cold soon enough!). Everyone was out walking their dogs, so lots of doggy action.
Alexandria was originally part of Washington, DC. During the 1700s, it was major shipping port. Those wonderful tall ships came down the river to pick up tobacco and other goods. It was such a popular port that the city built out the waterfront from Lee Street down.
Visitor map is here if you want to follow along. That street will become very important soon.
This is the Potomac River from Waterfront Park. Maryland is that land in the distance. In the 1800s, the British burned Washington DC. Then enemy warships came down this area. Fearing the same thing would happen to the city, Alexandria waved a white flag of surrender.
This statue was also in the park. It was called “The Seafarer.” Not a specific person, but a beautiful work of art.
Then it was off to check out Point Lumley. I admit I was thinking that there might be a lighthouse (there is one somewhere in the area). Lumley was named after the skipper of a ship that moored there. So I walked down Union Street.
As I pass a hotel, I catch a passing conversation. A woman tells the concierge if he knows about the Coast Guard ship on the next block.
Wait…ship? What ship?
Needless to say I have to explore this.
I turn left on Duke street and see these masts. Holy cow!
I was expecting a Coast Guard cutter, not a tall ship. Magnificent, isn’t it?
It’s called Eagle. Across the water, I can hear a woman’s voice over the intercom. There is also a lot of activity on board, with the crew about their business.
After this, it’s time for Captain’s Row.
This is a sign in front of a two block street dating back to 1783 and preserved for us to have a look.
It’s a cobblestone street. I read about cobblestone streets in books, but this is what one actually looks like . I try to walk on it, a little bit. The stones are very uneven. Some have settled in places. Not good for my feet.
And a closeup of what it looks like.
Bizarrely, as I look at cobblestone from three hundred years ago, jets are roaring overhead. I’m on the flight path for Reagan Airport.
Next up is George Washington. I’m on Lee Street again, so I follow that to Cameron, then turn left. I know George had a townhouse here.
From the perspective of today, it seems like a long ways. But if he lived here before the waterfront was built out, then he might have been pretty close to the water.
My trip up Cameron takes me past Gatsby’s Tavern. It’s actually a museum and a restaurant. I’ll spend a whole post on that, since there’s a lot to see.
And, as you can see, this was a place that George Washington visited. Hmm. Maybe I need to check out the restaurant when I visit the museum.
And here is George’s townhouse.
It’s actually a replica of the house and privately owned. But note in the left window that George is peeping out. George would stay here when he traveled in from Mount Vernon.
It’s also amazing because I never knew this was here, and I nearly always pass by it trying to get out of Old Town.
By the time, I’ve done a lot of walking, so I’m heading back. But not without one last stop.
This is City Hall. The building is historic. The fountain and the flag is pretty cool. It’s a lot of water, and the air is filled with the scents of it.
Back down to Lee Street and my car. Parking for 90 minutes was fourteen bucks!