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A portion of the City of Alexandria—most of the area now known as "Old Town" as well as the areas of the city northeast of what is now King Street—and all of today's Arlington County share the distinction of having been originally in Virginia, ceded to the U. 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.

Over time, a movement grew to separate Alexandria from the District of Columbia (the District of Columbia retrocession).

Alexandria was home to the Franklin & Armfield Slave Market, one of the largest slave trading companies in the country.

By the 1830s, they were sending more than 1,000 slaves annually from Alexandria to their Natchez, Mississippi, and New Orleans markets to help meet the demand for slaves in Mississippi and surrounding states.

In March 1785, commissioners from Virginia and Maryland met in Alexandria to discuss the commercial relations of the two states, finishing their business at Mount Vernon.

The Mount Vernon Conference concluded on March 28 with an agreement for freedom of trade and freedom of navigation of the Potomac River.

In 1920, Virginia's General Assembly voted to incorporate what had been Alexandria County as Arlington County to minimize confusion.

Map of Alexandria County (1878), including what is now Arlington County and the City of Alexandria.

Following the 1745 settlement of the Virginia's 10 year dispute with Lord Fairfax over the western boundary of the Northern Neck Proprietary, when the Privy Council in London found in favor of Lord Fairfax's expanded claim, some of the Fairfax County gentry formed the Ohio Company of Virginia.

With its concentration of boutiques, restaurants, antique shops and theaters, it is a major draw for all who live in Alexandria as well for visitors.

The historic center of Alexandria is known as "Old Town".

Many local tobacco planters, however, wanted a new town further up Hunting Creek, away from nonproductive fields along the river.), was bounded by Hunting Creek, Hooff's Run, the Potomac River, and approximately the line which would become Cameron Street.

At the opening of Virginia's 1748–49 legislative session, there was a petition submitted in the House of Burgesses on November 1, 1748, that the "inhabitants of Fairfax (Co.) praying that a town may be established at Hunting Creek Warehouse on Potowmack River," as Hugh West was the owner of the warehouse.

They intended to conduct trade into the interior of America, and they required a trading center near the head of navigation on the Potomac.