I just came back from my trip to the Washington D.C. and we stayed at a friend’s place in Alexandria VA. We happened to eat in Old Towne Alexandria on our way back from Mt. Vernon. Generally, I research destinations before visiting but in this case, I did not do my due diligence about the city and was completely awed when I visited one of the most charming Old towns, I have ever been to.
Old Town Alexandria was the biggest surprise of my trip, as I was not aware of the history of this gorgeous town. Being an immigrant, my American history and geography still needs a lot of polishing. This discovery was the best
part of my trip, I would like to go back there again someday, just with the intention of visiting Alexandria.
Since I happened to find Old Town by serendipity, I did not get much chance to explore a lot but could only walk for a mile long stretch on King Street—extending from Potomac River waterfront to Old Town Alexandria. Being a preservationist, it was fascinating to see such a stupendous historic preservation project. Particularly impressive was how urban design principles were beautifully applied without compromising history. —pedestrian friendly wide walkways with tree lined cobblestone sidewalks, visual and cultural anchors on all major
intersections, centrally located public urban space, mixed use development, metro rail station linkages, wonderful graphic and store front design and preservation of rich architectural heritage.
The entire King Street is lined with late eighteenth and early nineteenth century beautiful Italianate, Federal and Georgian architectural styled buildings which now have been rehabilitated into International cuisine restaurants, ethnic stores, chic boutiques, eclectic jewelry and antique stores. This gorgeous architecture and varied functions make this place a colored architectural and cultural mosaic.
Old Town Alexandria felt like a whiff of fresh air in this struggling field of preservation. It was a pleasant break to see thedesign principles being applied that preservationists advocate for. It was lovely to see how a town evolved over time, from being one of the ten busiest ports in America in late 18th century to today’s one of the most beautifully preserved historic districts.
Posted by Nimisha Thakur, Preservation Associate