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Leesburg, Virginia

Leesburg is a historic town in and county seat of Loudoun County, Virginia, United States of America. Located approximately west-northwest of Washington, D.C. along the base of the Catoctin Mountain adjacent to the Potomac River. Leesburg is the northwestern terminus of the Dulles Greenway (a private toll road which connects to the Dulles Toll Road at Washington Dulles International Airport), it is largely a bedroom community for commuters to the national capital.

Current growth of the town and its immediate area (Ashburn, Virginia) concentrates along the Dulles Greenway, and along the Leesburg Pike (State Route 7), which roughly parallels the Potomac River between Winchester to the west and Alexandria to the east.

Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center is located in Leesburg.

History

Established in 1758, Leesburg is the seat of government for Loudoun County. As of 2007, the town had been county seat for 249 of the last 250 years.

The genesis of Leesburg occurred sometime before 1755 when Nicholas Minor acquired land around the intersection of the Old Carolina Road (present day U.S. Route 15) and the Potomac Ridge Road (present day Route 7) and established a tavern there. Despite lack of growth around the tavern, Minor dubbed the sparse collection of buildings about his tavern "George Town" in honor of the reigning monarch of Great Britain upon Loudoun's formation in 1757. The village's prosperity changed the following year when the British Colonial Council ordered the establishment of Court House at the crossroads. Accordingly Minor had a town laid out on the traditional Virginia plan of six criss-cross streets. On October 12 of that year (1758) the Virginia General Assembly founded the town of Leesburg upon the 60 acres that Minor laid out. Leesburg was renamed to honor the influential Thomas Lee and not, as is popular belief, his son Francis Lightfoot Lee who lived in Loudoun and brought up the bill to establish Leesburg nor as is sometimes thought, Robert E. Lee. Interestingly, when the post office was established in Leesburg in 1803 the branch was named "Leesburgh", the 'h' would persist until 1894.

During the War of 1812, Leesburg served as a temporary haven for the United States Government and its archives (including the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution and portraits of early American leaders) when it was forced to flee Washington, D.C. in the face of the British Army. When reconstruction began on the Capitol, Potomac Marble from quarries just south of Leesburg was used.

Early in the American Civil War Leesburg was the site of the Battle of Balls Bluff, a resounding Confederate victory. The battlefield is marked by one of America's smallest national cemeteries. The town frequently changed hands over the course of the war as both armies traversed the area during the Antietam and Gettysburg campaigns. The Battle of Mile Hill was fought just north of the town prior to its occupation by Robert E. Lee in September 1862. Leesburg also served as a base of operations for Col. John Mosby and his partisan Raiders, for whom the Loudoun County High School mascot is named (the Raiders). The local courthouse was built in 1894 and thus is not, as thought by many, one of the few courthouses in Virginia that were not burned during the war.

In the 20th century, Leesburg was the home of World War II General George C. Marshall, architect of the famous Marshall Plan that re-built Europe after the war, and radio personality Arthur Godfrey, who donated land for the town's first airport.

Today Leesburg continues to serve as the center of government and commerce for Loudoun County. The town's Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and cited as one of the best preserved and most picturesque downtowns in Virginia.

On September 14, 2008, The Town of Leesburg celebrated its 250th birthday. During that celebration, the city unveiled its new flag.

Colors: Red is the color from the Lee Family Coat of Arms. White is from the Lee Family Coat of Arms. Blue is from the Lee Family of Virginia Coat of Arms. Yellow is from the Lee Family Coat of Arms.

Symbology: This flag represents the coat of arms that was in use by the Lee Family of Virginia when Leesburg was founded in 1758. The blue and yellow checkerboard band on the red back ground represents the Lee Family Coat of Arms at which Leesburg is named for and the white Cinquefoil (five petal flower) on a blue background comes from the Astley Family Coat of Arms. The coats of arms were quartered like the flag is showing. The white cross indicates Leesburg as a crossroads.

Geography

Leesburg is located at (39.109219, -77.557868).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 11.6 square miles (30.0 km²), all of it land.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 28,311 people, 10,325 households, and 7,258 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,440.1 people per square mile (942.3/km²). There were 10,671 housing units at an average density of 919.7/sq mi (355.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 83.29% White, 9.20% African American, 0.19% Native American, 2.61% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.53% from other races, and 2.15% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.89% of the population.

Of all households 41.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.3% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.7% were non-families. 22.9% are made up of individuals and 4.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.20.

In the town the population was spread out with 29.4% under the age of 18, 6.4% from 18 to 24, 38.9% from 25 to 44, 19.2% from 45 to 64, and 6.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 96.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.9 males.

The median income of the households in the town is $68,861, and the median income of the families is $78,111. Males had a median income of $51,267 versus $35,717 for females. The per capita income for the town was $30,116. About 2.4% of families and 3.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.8% of those under age 18 and 8.2% of those age 65 or over.

Education and public services

Leesburg has two high schools, Loudoun County High School which serves the western portion, and Heritage High School, which serves the eastern portion. Both schools are part of the Loudoun County Public School system.

The Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company provides fire protection services. The Loudoun County Volunteer Rescue Squad provides rescue and emergency medical services. Both the fire company and rescue squad are volunteer organizations supplemented with partial staffing from the Loudoun County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management. The fire company can trace its roots back to 1863; the rescue squad was formed in 1952.

Leesburg is also served by a town police department.

Newspapers and Radio Stations

Business and industry

Leesburg operates the Leesburg Executive Airport, which serves Loudoun County with private and corporate aircraft operations. A designated reliever airport for Dulles International, the airport accounts for nearly $45 million per year in economic impact to the region (Virginia Department of Aviation). It is home (as of 2005) to over 240 aircraft, and hosts 20–30 jet operations per day.The airport was built in 1963 to replace the original Leesburg airport, which Arthur Godfrey owned and referred to affectionately as "The Old Cow Pasture" on his radio show. Godfrey, who, by the early 1950s, had purchased the Beacon Hill Estate west of Leesburg, used a DC-3 to commute from his farm to studios in New York City every Sunday night during the 1950s and 1960s. His DC-3 was so powerful and noisy that Godfrey built a new airport, funding it through the sale of the old field. Originally named Godfrey Field, it is now known as Leesburg Executive Airport at Godfrey Field.

Also located near Leesburg is the National Conference Center, which the Xerox Corporation built in the 1970s. Government entities and private business use the Conference Center for meetings and conferences. Three main focal points connect this maze of underground buildings, one of which is currently the headquarters of Civilian Police International, a government sub-contract company.

Market Station, in the center of Leesburg's Historic District, contains a number of high-tech and legal offices, retail shops, and restaurants that are housed within seven restored historic buildings (a railroad freight station, a railroad stationmaster's house, a log house, two barns and two gristmills), some of which were reconstructed in or relocated to the site. A plaza on the east side of the site contains several structures painted in the yellow and green colors of the stations of the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad, which served the town until 1968.

Recreational facilities and events

Ida Lee Park near the north side of Leesburg was made possible in 1986 by the donation of Greenwood Farm to the Town of Leesburg by William F. Rust, Jr., and his wife, Margaret Dole Rust. The farm contained and was donated to the town for perpetual use as the Ida Lee Park. The Rusts requested that the park be named in memory of Ida Lee, Mr. Rust's grandmother, to preserve the historic link between the Lee family of Virginia and the Town of Leesburg. Ida Lee Rust was the daughter of Edmund Jennings Lee, first cousin of Robert E. Lee. Ida Lee spent her married life at "Rockland"; the Rust family home located near Leesburg, and in her later years lived in a house built by her sons at 113 East Cornwall Street in Leesburg. The Rusts also donated of land from the original for the Rust Library located adjacent to Ida Lee Park. In 1991, the Rust's gave the town $50,000 for the construction of the William J. Cox Pavilion at Ida Lee Park, a public picnic area containing a pavilion and playground.

Hikers, bikers and joggers travel in and through Leesburg on the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Trail, a 45-mile long rail trail that the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority constructed on a historic railroad's right-of-way. The Rust Manor House and Nature Sanctuary near the west side of Leesburg contains a mansion and a nature reserve that the Audubon Naturalist Society of the Central Atlantic States, Inc., owns and operates.. The Loudoun County government operates a number of parks that Leesburg's residents and visitors often use.

Leesburg's Flower and Garden Festival is held annually in April in the Historic District. The event includes garden displays, vendors and entertainment. Fourth of July celebrations include a morning parade, a festival at Ida Lee Park and evening fireworks. Court and Market Days is held in October in the Historic District. The focus of this event is to recognize Leesburg’s cultural heritage. The Halloween Parade is said to be the longest-running Halloween parade east of the Mississippi River. The parade includes marching bands from the local high schools, floats made by local businesses, Scout troops and families, etc. Many participants distribute candy to parade watchers.

Famous Residents

  • Lewis Nixon United States Naval Architect and once leader of Tammany Hall born in Leesburg, Virginia at the start of the American Civil War.

Historic sites

The Leesburg area contains 21 entries on the National Register of Historic Places, including:

At least 63 historic markers are located in and near Leesburg.

References

External links

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