For this one, the northern exit would end up by the small pond behind Target. The southern exit would run to the intersection of Potomac Avenue and Glebe.
According to Michael Neibauer, Staff Reporter for the Washington Business Journal, the developers prefer Option B.
One potato, two potato, three potato, four…
The Potomac Yard Metro station selection process does seem to go on forever.
City officials plan to show this model for the next several days, and then rotate each of the remaining three options.
One of my favorite places to browse for books is the Lyceum’s museum shop. The other day I came across a book I had not seen. It’s titled “America’s Best Historic Sites: 101 Terrific Places to Take the Family” by B.J. Welborn.
Looking at the table of contents, and the Virginia listings, I had to suppress a “What??” Although Mount Vernon is in the book, there is not one mention of Alexandria.
Don’t get me wrong. The author wrote a fine book, and let’s give her full credit for laying out a selection criteria. She writes something that made me stop and think.
The theory behind this book is a Chinese proverb.
Tell me and I’ll forget;
Show me and I may remember;
Involve me and I’ll understand.
Upon reading that, I immediately thought of Alexandria Archaeology. The work they do dovetails perfectly with the target the author lays out.
Now before I start sounding like a preacher, let me direct your attention to these fine folks. They are located on the third floor of the Torpedo Factory Arts Center in Old Town.
And what great timing, for the Friends of Alexandria Archaeology have launched a new website.
Be sure and check it out, and all the things they do. Stop by, if you can, at the Old Town Farmer’s Market this Saturday morning. They’ll be there from 7 am to noon, promoting events, providing literature and answering questions.
Nowhere does solemn remembrance resonate more than at Arlington National Cemetery.
This special place is commemorating its 150th anniversary this month.
The events kick off today with a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the grave of Union Pvt. William Christman, the first military burial at Arlington on May 13, 1864.
If you are looking for a good book on the history of these sacred grounds, one that includes the building of the Arlington House by George Washington Parke Custis, and the legal battle between the Robert E. Lee family and the U.S. (United States v Lee), consider "On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery."
In just a relatively short period of time, humankind has mucked up the planet. Here in Fairfax County and other parts of the region, tobacco planting during colonial times, and 20th-century suburban sprawl have done a number on the land.
Fortunately, good stewardship has prevailed in certain parts of the county. One of the best examples is Huntley Meadows Park, located a couple of miles south of Alexandria. A satellite view quickly identifies these 1,200 acres of forest and wetlands next to Hybla Valley as a green oasis.
Yesterday morning, the park celebrated the completion of a wetlands restoration. The year-long project included installing an earthen berm, habitat pools, and brush shelters and logs to provide additional wildlife habitat.
Judy Pederson, Public Information Officer for the Fairfax County Park Authority summed up the significance of the event.
“Today is a culmination,” she said, “of 22 plus-years of discussion, deliberation, and finally a project that is restoring the wetlands to its former glory, restoring water levels which are key to the health of the estuary.”
The need for this work arose partly due to the runoff of storm water from the surrounding neighborhoods.
Park Manager Kevin Munroe spoke about the importance of biodiversity.
“We’re excited about the fact that all the support and research have paid off,” he said. “We’re going to have a healthy wetlands.”
The ceremony included thanking Fairfax County Board of Supervisor Jeff McKay, volunteers, park employees past and present, and board members.
Huntley Meadows Park and its precious wetlands were in danger of a knockout blow from the very beginning. In 1975, a South Van Dorn-Lockheed Boulevard Connector was proposed, a four-lane road that would have cut through the heart of the park. Norma Hoffman stepped in and helped form “Citizens Alliance to Save Huntley Meadows.” After a long, drawn out battle, the park was saved.
Huntley Meadows Park grounds are open dawn to dusk. The main entrance is at 3701 Lockheed Blvd. Hours change seasonally for the Visitor’s Center and Gift Shop. A $2 donation is requested.
The Huntley Meadows parking lot off of South Kings Hwy is currently closed while VDOT re-works the intersection of Telegraph and South Kings Highway. This project, with an anticipated Spring 2015 completion, includes a new parking lot for the west entrance and an improved storm water discharge system.
Abner Doubleday invented baseball.
In my youthful days, every kid with an oily glove and dreams to swat prodigious home runs balls a la Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays knew that to be true.
Turns out Abner Doubleday did not invent baseball.
But like most myths, erasing the old truth proved very difficult. It took several decades and a legion of respectable writers and historians writing about it to turn things around.
Myths are everywhere, including Alexandria. There’s one in particular that raises my eyebrow every time I hear it or read it. In fact, I heard it repeated just the other day.
It goes something like this.
The fire plaques or fire marks you see on some of the houses in Old Town indicated the homeowner had paid up their insurance with the fire company. If the fire fighters saw no marker on the home, they would not put out the fire.
I suppose this sounds plausible until you start thinking about the consequences of such a practice. A fire could easily spread to another house. In fact, in colonial days and beyond, residents and town governments feared nothing more than the destructive sweep of an out-of-hand conflagration.
Curious about it all, we went on a fact-finding mission. Here is what we found. We edited out segments for the purpose of brevity.
Wikipedia does not address the myth per se but notes that the following:
British Fire Marks
For most of the 18th century, each insurance company maintained its own fire brigade, which extinguished fires in those buildings insured by the company and, in return for a fee to be paid later, in buildings insured by other companies
By 1825, fire marks served more as advertisements than as useful identifying marks.
Subscribers paid fire fighting companies in advance for fire protection and in exchange would receive a fire mark to attach to their building. The payments for the fire marks supported the fire fighting companies. Volunteer fire departments were also common in the United States, and some fire insurers contributed money to these departments and awarded bonuses to the first fire engine arriving at the scene of a fire.
FIRE MARKS IN LONDON
The use of fire marks began in London after the Great London Fire of 1666. The first insurance company, The Fire Office, was formed in 1667, using a phoenix as their fire mark emblem. Fire marks were issued to policy holders to identify properties a company insured. Insurance companies, aiming to keep claims to a minimum, also organized their own fire brigades to put out fires and limit the amount of damage done during the process.
In London, the private fire insurance brigades only extinguished fires with the respective insurance company fire mark on the property. Private fire brigades protected London from fire until the 1860s.
FIRE MARKS IN THE UNITED STATES
In contrast to London, organized firefighting existed outside of insurance companies.
A fire mark was not needed to show a property was insured - a fire was fought whether or not a property displayed a fire mark. Most American insurance companies did not issue fire marks.
The main reason for displaying a fire mark was to advertise the insurance company and to signal that a property was insured.
Rowland G.M. Baker wrote an article with footnotes.
It is doubtful, even in the eighteenth century, if anybody could be so disinterested as to let property burn when the power lay in his hands to prevent it. There are indeed numerous instances recorded of co-operation between different brigades, and even payments from one company to another for assistance rendered by its firemen (31).
From NPR, National Public Radio
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
That story led us to check our history. Time was, fire brigades were privately organized - this was before the Civil War - and there were insurance companies with signs, or fire marks, that their clients would put up on the building. I recall hearing that in those days, if you didn’t have a sign up showing that you were insurance the fire brigade would let your house burn down.
Professor Tebeau, I gather that you are now going to throw cold water on that story that I've known for so long.
Sadly, Robert, I am. That’s largely a myth. In the 19th century in the United States, fire insurance companies did, indeed, when they sold fire insurance policies, put signs, fire marks, on the houses. Those would indicate to a fire company that the home was insured, so they may receive some reward for it. Fire companies were largely funded by their communities and also the fire insurance companies. However, the real function of the sign was more likely as advertising or to deter arson.
SIEGEL: It was like the sign that we'd see for a home security alarm system that people put up in front of their homes today.
Prof. TEBEAU: I think thats largely the case. And fire companies would have responded in the 19th century to any fire by putting it out, because fire was an exceptional danger in wood cities of that era.
SIEGEL: Thats Mark Tebeau of Cleveland State University, author of the book "Eating Smoke: Fire in Urban America."
Robert M. Shea, CPCU takes on the myth.
The misconception that volunteer fire companies put out fires only on buildings that displayed a fire mark arises from the fact that some articles on fire marks do not make a distinction between the English and American relationship to fire marks.
The early English fire insurance companies originally used fire marks to identify properties they insured because each insurance company had its own fire brigade. These private insurance brigades only fought fires on properties identified by their employers’ mark or badge.
In England, the insurance companies originated before the firefighting companies. In America, it was the reverse – the volunteer fire companies were in existence before the first fire insurance company was organized. They fought fires whether or not a building displayed a fire mark.
Since fire marks were not required for a volunteer fire company to fight a fire, and a fire mark did not guarantee a reward to the volunteer fire company, one might ask, "What was the purpose of a fire mark?"
A fire mark on the house may have been the only evidence of insurance, after the insurance policy burned with all the other contents in the house. Perhaps, a mark simply stated to others that the person had enough good sense to purchase insurance. Or maybe, the agent just put it up without asking.
Fire marks served many purposes, but the main reason in America is quite simply, a fire mark was a sign that the property was insured. Both the insured and the insurance company benefited from this "advertising."
Friendship Fire Museum in Alexandria
The first firemarks were issued in London after the Great Fire of 1666 when insurance companies formed fire brigades to fight blazes on the property they insured. Each company provided its policy holders with a distinctive metal sign to hang on the front of their building. When an insurance company’s fire brigade arrived at the scene of a fire they checked for their own mark. If they found none, they would not assist with fighting the fire.
In 18th and 19th-century America, volunteer fire companies were made up of members of a community, not formed by insurance companies. Firemarks were used in some American cities, but they served as advertisements for the insurance companies and were a deterrent to arson. They also provided an incentive to volunteer fire companies, which often received rewards from insurance companies for their firefighting work. Although many of Alexandria’s old buildings feature reproduction firemarks, no evidence has been found to suggest that they were used in Alexandria during the era of volunteer firefighting.
Catherine Weinraub, a docent with the Friendship Firehouse told me:
“Fire Plaques were not used in Alexandria. While used in other large cities, there has been no proof to show they were used here. The intention of the plaque was for firemen to receive insurance money to collect a reward once a citizen’s personal effects were rescued.”
I talked with several residents of Old Town whose homes have a marker. One said she had heard and believed the "no mark, no fire service" story. Another wasn’t sure, and another said the story was not true. All three said the fire marks on their house were there when they bought it.
So, how did the myth get started?
This is an area to be explored. In 1996, Nancy L. Ross wrote an article in The Washington Post about the various types of plaques on historic houses in Alexandria. One category was Decorative, Protective.
Considered more decorative than historic. So-called firehouse plaques were originally erected in the early 19th century to policy holders of the Firemens Insurance Co. to alert fire brigades which burning buildings they should attempt to save. Different versions of the black cast-iron squares or other shapes depict old-fashioned pumpers, firemen or handshakes. Replicas can be purchased at souvenir shops.
I tried contacting the above sources but my emails were not returned. I wanted clarification on the practice in London.
In the U.S., all the evidence points to the story being a myth.
I will say the fire marks are a great way of adding some personality to these historic homes. I love looking at them and the variety.
We’ll see how folks respond. Perhaps the U.S. myth of “no fire mark, no fire service” will one day be put to rest – right there alongside Abner Doubleday and his baseballs.
There are some terrific books on the subject of suburban sprawl, including Christopher Leinberger’s “The Option of Urbanism,” and Leslie Gallagher’s “The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream is Moving.”
We can now add “Dead End, Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism” by Benjamin Ross. A transit advocate and environmental activists, Ross headed up Maryland’s Action Committee for Transit for 15 years.
Ross covers early ground other authors have not, at least from what I have seen. I’m enjoying his first chapter on the “Strange Birth of Suburbia.”
In the 1830s and 1840s, residents of cities became fed up with living and working in filthy places. Some fled the slums for a better way. Influenced by Charles Fourier, the French idea maker, reformists built what they thought were ideal and progressive communities beyond the choking cities.
Practicality never reached high enough, leading to compromises. In 1852, Marcus Spring, a businessman, refigured the paradigm and established Raritan Bay Union. The author notes, “From Raritan Bay Union sprang a settlement that laid down a pattern for the suburbs to come.”
A year later, Alexander Jackson Davis helped design Llewlyn Park, a new community in South Orange, New Jersey and one of the first planned subdivisions. Land was cheap, the landscape lush, and the views remarkable. Homes were set back from the road, and the lots subdivided. Neighborhood associations required conformity and prevented commercial development.
Amelia Peck, Davis’s biographer, called him the “most influential and innovative figure in nineteenth-century American architecture.” Influenced by Gothic Revival and Italianate styles, many know him for Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, New York. The son of a bookseller, he grew up in New Jersey and New York.
An interesting side story is the source of his creative inspiration. Peck writes that Davis was sent from New York to Alexandria in 1818 to learn the printing trade at the Alexandria Gazette. His half-brother Samuel was the newspaper’s editor. Davis learned typesetting, a skill that taught him precision.
Of the influences on his development, Peck continues:
… the experiences offered by the sophisticated southern city, the sights of nearby Washington (which was being rebuilt after the destruction caused by the War of 1812), his exploration of literature, his sketching, and his fascination with acting in amateur dramatic performances. Drama became a longtime interest and a future asset to his work..”
She also notes the Davis recalled his “mind was formed for Architecture at Utica and Auburn, while at school; and at Alexandria, and Washington, D.C.”
Davis returned to New York in 1823 where he began his prolific career.
Note: Photo is the St Paul’s Episcopal Church on S. Pitt Street. It was built in the Gothic Revival style in 1818.