Virginia Square

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Photo: Virginia Square neighborhoodCompared to other urban villages, Virginia Square is a bit less "urban," and a bit more "village." It is centered on a Metro station, but the area immediately around the Metro doesn't have as much commercial development as neighboring Ballston or Clarendon. Still, Virginia Square does have a little bit of everything. It's a residential community, a 9-to-5 working center, an educational and cultural hub, and a neighborhood with some history, all at the same time.

Virginia Square originally derived its name from the Virginia Square Shopping Center, which now houses a Giant supermarket and the FDIC. There are still some local business stalwarts from this era here today. Mario's Pizza has been serving slices to the community since 1957. Casual Adventure, an outdoor clothing and shoe store, dates from the same period and has thrived in one incarnation or another for 45 years.

While these older businesses continue to prosper, the area has also seen a lot of development in the more recent past. In 1991, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, opened a building right across from the Virginia Square-GMU Metro station, and now employs 500 people here. In 1996, the Arlington campus of George Mason University, only a block from the Metro station, began a large renovation and expansion project. Two apartment buildings within blocks of the Metro have also altered the landscape. Over the years, the neighborhood has gradually evolved from a car-centric area to true urban village.

Photo: Central LibraryFortunately, Virginia Square still retains its eclectic identity. A few blocks away from the Metro, we find residential neighborhoods, highlighted by single-family homes with grassy front yards. Quincy Park, the largest of four parks within walking distance of the Metro station, features picnic areas, a playground, and baseball fields, and is a favorite destination for brown-bag lunchers in the warm weather. The presence of Arlington Central Library and two nearby churches accentuate the small-town feel.

Virginia Square is located on the Wilson Boulevard-Clarendon Boulevard corridor, which was named one of 10 "Great Streets" in the U.S. by the American Planning Association in 2008.

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