Find Your Place In Rosslyn

About Rosslyn

Rosslyn is an unincorporated area in Northern Virginia that is sited on a bluff above the Potomac River, overlooking Washington DC. It is located near the northeast corner of Arlington County, bordered on the north by I-66 and Gateway Park, on the east by the U.S. Marine Corps. War Memorial, on the south by Arlington National Cemetery and Fort Meyer, and on the west by Clarendon/Court House and Colonial Village. The neighborhood includes North Rosslyn and Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights.

One of several Arlington County “urban villages.” Rossyln had a seedy start and eventually reinvented itself to become the “Gateway to Virginia.”

Following the Civil War, many soldiers stayed in the area, driving out farmers with their saloons, gambling joints, brothels and rampant crime. In the early 1900s, campaigns began to clean up Rosslyn. The pool halls, saloons, brothels and gambling joints were replaced by lumber and coal yards, auto repair shops and oil storage tanks. The Aqueduct Bridge was replaced by Francis Scott Key Bridge in 1923, and Rosslyn’s poor reputation improved, but just so much.

The federal government’s expansion in the early 1950’s created a demand for affordable leased office space outside of the District, incentivizing developers to build prolifically and quickly. Louis J. Pomponio, Jr., and his younger brothers, Peter and Paul, answered the need in Rosslyn and Crystal City. The Pomponios acquired control of underused properties and built 15 high-rises in Rosslyn during the 1960s. When the Consumer Brewery building was razed in 1958 to make room for the Marriott, the Pomponios decided to tear down their family’s nearby plumbing-supply warehouse and build a seven-story, $3 million office building. Within the next three years, the Pomponios put up two more 12-story buildings on the site and many more would follow. In 1969, the brothers announced plans for a huge, $100 million mixed-use complex. Their next big project was to be National Center in Crystal City, designed as a $94 million mixed-use complex integrated with a ‘minicity,’ National Center H.

But by 1972, the Pomponios were the subjects of a federal grand jury investigation in Alexandria for possible federal tax violations. Due to construction setbacks and news about the investigation, credit lines dried up, debt collectors stepped in, banks and investors threatened foreclosure and legal challenges multiplied. At its peak, the Pomponio empire was one of the largest real-estate conglomerates in the Washington metropolitan area. They left an indelible mark on Rosslyn and Crystal City before they headed off to jail.

By the late 1970’s, the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor and I-66 had been built, the Metro station was running and Rosslyn had become a major transit hub.

Today, Rosslyn is home to Fortune 500 companies, national media outlets and government contractors. The neighborhood offers a vibrant retail, entertainment and dining scene, green public spaces and great views of DC and the Potomac.

Rosslyn amenities include cycling and walking trails such as the Custis Trail, Mount Vernon Trail, Potomac Heritage Trail and, by crossing Key Bridge, pick up the C&O Canal Towpath or Capital Crescent Trail in DC. In addition to the Marine Corps War Memorial, the Netherlands Carillon and Arlington Cemetery attract many visitors.

The Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor

In the early 1970’s, Arlington planners decided to build the Orange Line Metro underground, with mixed-use properties surrounding each station. This foresight resulted in the RBC becoming a model for other cities nationwide.

After extensive study and utilizing community input, County officials decided to concentrate the highest density uses within walking distance of Metro stations, taper densities, heights and uses down to surrounding single family residential neighborhoods, and provide for a mix of office, hotel, retail and residential development. This “bulls-eye approach” targets the tallest and most dense development within one-quarter mile of each Metro station. Sector plans were created to guide future development in each of the five Metro Station Areas. The plans establish goals and guidelines for desired public improvements, urban design, retail locations, infrastructure and open space. This marked the beginning of Arlington’s highly successful ‘urban village’ concept.