Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2009, the city had a total population of 139,966. Located along the Western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately six miles south of downtown Washington, D.C. According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $80,806, and the median income for a family was $102,435.
The historic center of Alexandria is known as Old Town. With its concentration of boutiques, restaurants, antique shops and theaters, it is a major draw for tourists. Like Old Town, many Alexandria neighborhoods are compact, walkable, high-income suburbs of Washington D.C. It is the seventh largest and highest income independent city in Virginia.
An area of Fairfax County is also called Alexandria, but is under the jurisdiction of Fairfax County and not the city.
Although the area was first settled in 1695, the city was not incorporated until 1779.
In 1791, Alexandria was included in the area chosen by George Washington to become the District of Columbia. A portion of the City of Alexandria, now known as “Old Town,” and all of today’s Arlington County share the distinction of having been originally in Virginia, then ceded to the U.S. Government to form the District of Columbia, and later retroceded to Virginia by the federal government in 1846, when the District was reduced in size to exclude the portion south of the Potomac River. The City of Alexandria was re-chartered in 1852.
The City of Alexandria became independent of Alexandria County in 1870. The remaining portion of Alexandria County changed its name to Arlington County in 1920.
Alexandria is home to numerous trade associations, charities, and non-profit organizations including the national headquarters of groups such as the American Diabetes Association, Catholic Charities, Gifts In Kind International, Global Impact, Islamic Relief USA, United Way, Volunteers of America and the Salvation Army. The city’s largest employer is the U.S. Government Patent and Trademark Office.