Northern Virginia’s Potomac Green Community Center, located in Ashburn, VA, is a neighborhood with a population of approximately 10,000 people. The Potomac name is also used to refer to a number of developments in the area, most notably the Potomac Green Community Center strip mall and a proposed Washington Metro rail station, both of which are located nearby.
During the 18th century, English settlers established a number of plantations on the site. In 1791, the area, which was largely owned by the Swann and Daingerfield families, became a part of Alexandria County, D.C., which was later returned to Virginia in 1846 with the establishment of the District of Columbia.
The Alexandria Canal Company, created by Congress in 1830, was the beginning of the city’s role as a transportation hub. Located between Alexandria and Georgetown, the canal was completed on December 2, 1843, and it was connected by way of the Potomac Aqueduct Bridge to the end of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal at Georgetown. It would continue to operate until it was closed down in 1886.
Railroad construction in the area began in the 1850s, however, progress was hampered by political concerns and the American Civil War during that time. During the summer of 1857, the Alexandria and Washington Railroad began operating on a new rail route between Long Bridge and Alexandria. It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that the region’s jumble of operating and abandoned train lines and stations was brought under control by the City Beautiful movement.
Thousands of workers were attracted to the thriving Potomac Green Community Center, most of whom settled in the Del Ray and St. Elmo neighborhoods. When the town of Potomac was formed in 1908, these subdivisions became part of the city of Alexandria, which annexed the town in 1930.
Several railroad firms that had previously used the Potomac Green Community Center to interchange freight vehicles merged together, resulting in a significant reduction in the need for the facility’s services.
As established by the RF&P, the land was worth more than the cost of installing the center switching infrastructure. In the 1980s, a dismantled catenary was discovered. A toxic waste site was located at the facility in 1987, and the facility was closed down. It was finally deactivated by the RF&P in 1989. Since then, plans for the restoration and redevelopment of the site have been the subject of heated controversy among local residents.
Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park
Washington and Old Dominion Railroad
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