The land that today comprises Arlington County, Virginia, was included in the original parcel of land demarcated as the nation’s capital. In 1847 the state of Virginia took its territory back, referring to it as “Alexandria County” until 1920, when Arlington at last became “Arlington,” a name change made to avoid confusion with the city of Alexandria.
And where did the county pick up the name “Arlington”? From its famous estate, Arlington House, built by a descendant of Martha Washington, George Washington Parke Custis, whose daughter married Robert E. Lee. The Lees lived in Arlington House on and off until the onset of the Civil War in 1861. After the First Battle of Bull Run, at Manassas, several Union soldiers were buried here; the beginnings of Arlington National Cemetery date from that time.
The Arlington Memorial Bridge leads directly from the Lincoln Memorial to the Robert E. Lee Memorial at Arlington House, symbolically joining these two figures into one Union after the Civil War.
Beyond Arlington the cemetery is Arlington, a residential community from which most residents commute into Washington to work and play. In recent years, however, the suburb has come into its own, booming with businesses, restaurants, and nightlife, giving residents reasons to stay put and tourists more incentive to visit.