lexandria, 250 miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, is among the nation's furthermost inland ocean ports. In
its first century, the port dominated its economic life, and in its second, the railroads joined the port in making Alexandria
a trade and transportation center. Today, interstate highways and proximity to airports and to the nation's capital shape
its life. Over the 250 years the city has expanded its territory eight times.
Alexandria has been an Indian trading post, a tobacco port, a grain and slave mart, a commercial
center, an industrial town, a suburb of the District of Columbia, and a post-industrial city. It has been
the seat of Fairfax County, part of the District of Columbia, a separate Virginia county, and since 1869
an independent city. Today, it is one of the most densely populated cities in the United States, and has
the largest percentage of single people in the nation. Its diverse makeup includes representatives of almost
every world culture, with the Hispanic community now numbering 15% of the population.
Nowhere in the commonwealth is the past more evident or more cherished than in Alexandria.
Heritage and tourism, leading elements of the city's economy, have been part of Alexandria's life almost since
the death of George Washington in 1799. In every part of the city, from Old Town to the West End, the past
is as much present as is the modern "dot com" economy.