Rosslyn is an unincorporated area in Northern Virginia located in the northeastern corner of Arlington County, Virginia, north of Arlington National Cemetery and directly across the Potomac River from Georgetown in Washington, D.C. Rosslyn encompasses the Arlington neighborhoods of North Rosslyn and Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights.
Rosslyn currently has 8.1 million square feet of office space and 6,365 housing units, expected to increase by 2011 to 10 million square feet of office space and 7,906 housing units. Characterized as one of several "urban villages" by the County, the numerous skyscrapers in the dense business section of Rosslyn make its appearance in some ways more urban than much of Washington proper.
Rosslyn is home to Arlington Temple United Methodist Church, possibly the world's only church located on top of a gasoline station. Rosslyn has become for some a popular place to live and work because it is in a highly urban setting, but has generally lower rents and taxes than does the District of Columbia. Rosslyn's location also attracts Georgetown University and George Washington University students who wish to live off campus. The local TV station affiliate of ABC in the Washington, D.C. area WJLA-TV "ABC 7" is located in Rosslyn at 1100 Wilson Boulevard.
The United States Marine Corps War Memorial, also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, is located in Rosslyn adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington Boulevard (U.S. Route 50), and Fort Myer. On the grounds of the Memorial, and offering views of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and U.S. Capitol, is the Netherlands Carillon. Freedom Park, opened in 1996, offers seating and views of Washington DC.
During the 1830s and 1840s, the Aqueduct Bridge was constructed between Georgetown and Rosslyn. When completed in 1843, this bridge carried the Alexandria Canal, which transported canal boats from the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal in Georgetown to the downstream port of Alexandria, Virginia.
Following the American Civil War in the 1860s, a lawless community developed at the base of the bridge. Known primarily for its gambling halls, pawnshops, saloons, brothels and unsavory inhabitants, the community failed to attract much development other than a large brewery, which became a Cherry Crush soft drink bottling plant after Prohibition went into effect.
Eventually, spurred by the real estate potential that the arrival of electric trolleys in the 1890s inspired, developers and reformers ousted Rosslyn's more unsavory elements in the early 1900s. Nevertheless, Rosslyn remained primarily known for its pawnshops and used car dealerships for many years.
In 1964, the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge opened to carry Interstate 66 (I-66) between Washington, D.C., and Rosslyn. Soon afterwards, a development boom in the 1960s began to "revitalize" Rosslyn with the construction of a large number of high-rise office buildings and hotels in its center and a smaller number of residential buildings on its outskirts. Arlington County widened Rosslyn's major streets to accommodate the increased motor vehicle traffic that this new development would bring.
A skywalk system carried pedestrian traffic over these widened streets. While planners expected retail establishments to develop along the skywalks, few such establishments actually opened. As a result, the skywalk system attracted few pedestrians. The Arlington County government now plans to dismantle some or all of the bridges that carry the skywalks over Rosslyn's broad streets.
During the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s, "Deep Throat" (W. Mark Felt) passed information to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward in the middle of the night in an underground parking garage at 1401 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn.
In 1977, Metrorail's Blue Line reached Rosslyn. In subsequent years, the Blue Line and the Orange Line were extended from an underground junction near the Rosslyn station to serve Northern Virginia's suburbs.
In the early 1980s, I-66 was extended through Rosslyn to reach the Capital Beltway. The extensions of Metrorail and I-66 attracted additional high-rise development to Rosslyn.
Rosslyn is the original corporate home of the USA Today newspaper, owned by the Gannett Company. Both the company and the newspaper occupied two high-rise silver-colored towers, (seen in the first picture, above), built in the early 1980s, which adjoin each other at 1100 Wilson Boulevard. Gannett did not own these buildings, and moved from their original home to a new campus in Fairfax County, Virginia sometime after the year 2000.
In 2003, the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority attempted to attract the relocating Montréal Expos to Northern Virginia by proposing three Arlington County locations for a new baseball stadium. Two sites were in the urban village of Pentagon City; the third was a site in the southeastern corner of Rosslyn that was already occupied by four cooperative buildings, formerly the historic Arlington Towers, (see external link below), which were the first high-rise towers in Arlington County, now known as River Place. The issue proved highly divisive, and Virginia's bid failed completely when Virginia Governor Mark Warner ruled out state financing for stadium construction. The Expos eventually moved to D.C. after the 2004 season to become the Washington Nationals, with a new stadium built in southeast Washington.
Rosslyn offers access to a number of trails that travel through Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. By heading north on North Lynn Street, one can reach the paved Custis Trail, which travels through Arlington along Interstate 66. By traveling southeast on the Custis Trail and crossing the George Washington Memorial Parkway, one can reach the paved Mount Vernon Trail, which travels downstream on the Virginia side of the Potomac River to Alexandria and Mount Vernon, as well as the unpaved Potomac Heritage Trail, which travels upstream near the riverbank to the Capital Beltway. By heading west along the Custis Trail, one can reach the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Trail, which travels for 45 miles through Northern Virginia.
One can also cross the Francis Scott Key Bridge at the end of Lynn Street and pick up the unpaved C&O Canal towpath or the paved Capital Crescent Trail in Washington. By heading south on North Lynn Street, one can cross over U.S. Route 50 and travel through the grounds of the Marine Corps War Memorial to reach a paved trail that travels along the wall of Arlington National Cemetery to Memorial Drive. A sidewalk and paved path along the Drive connects in Lady Bird Johnson Park on Columbia Island to the Mount Vernon Trail and to the wide sidewalk of the Arlington Memorial Bridge, which crosses the Potomac into Washington.