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Location of Alexandria, Virginia

Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 128,283. It is located on the west bank of the Potomac River, six miles south of Washington, DC.

Like the rest of Northern Virginia, as well as southern Maryland, Alexandria is shaped by its proximity to the nation's capital. It is largely populated by professionals working for the federal civil service, the U.S. military or for one of the many private companies that contract out services to the government. The latter are known locally as beltway bandits, after the Capital Beltway, an expressway that circles Washington. Alexandria's largest employer by far is the U.S. Department of Defense -- since The Pentagon is in neighboring Arlington County -- and two of its four largest private employers are the Institute for Defense Analyses and the Center for Naval Analyses, according to city statistics.

Alexandria is home to numerous associations, charities, and non-profit organizations including the national headquarters of groups such as the United Way and American Red Cross.

The historic center of Alexandria, known as Old Town, is a major draw for tourists and those seeking nightlife without crossing the Potomac River. Like Old Town, most Alexandria neighborhoods are wealthy, high-status suburbs. In 2002, an assessed-value study of homes and condominiums found that about 40 percent were in the highest bracket, worth $250,000 or more.

Alexandria is served by Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport located to the north in Arlington County, Virginia; by Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia; and by Baltimore-Washington International Airport in Baltimore, Maryland. Its railroad station is served by Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express, with the King Street station of the Washington Metro rail transit system adjacent.

Alexandria landmarks include the George Washington National Masonic Memorial, also known as the Masonic Temple; Gadsby's Tavern; Old Town; Christ Church; the Lyceum; Market Square; and the Virginia Theological Seminary.

Alexandria's public high school, T.C. Williams, and its legendary former football coach, Herman Mad Dog Boone, were featured in the 2000 motion picture, "Remember the Titans." Alexandria is home to the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a public magnet school and a Governor's school for Virginia.

Mount Vernon, George Washington's home, is eight miles to the south along the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

Market Square in Old Town, pictured above, was once the site of the second-largest slave market in the United States. Today it contains a large fountain and extensive landscaping, as well as a weekly farmers' market in warmer months.

The Census Bureau designates Alexandria as part of the Washington-Baltimore, DC-MD-VA-WV Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area (CMSA).


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