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Del Ray is a charming urban village in Alexandria, Virginia, popular for its eclectic mix of single family homes and an artsy downtown.
Adjacent on the west to Potomac Yard and separated from Old Town West at its southernmost tip by the Metro line, the popular Del Ray neighborhood is bounded on the south by Braddock Road, Russell Road on the west, East and West Glebe on the north and U.S. Route 1 on the east.
Del Ray grew from several subdivision tracts; Hume, Mount Ida, Saint Elmo’s and its namesake Del Ray. The historic communities of Del Ray and St. Elmo’s originated in early 1894, when developer Charles Wood organized a grid pattern of streets running north–south and east–west. The neighborhoods were separated by the St. Asaph Racetrack (closed in1904 following a gambling raid). In 1908, the tracts of Del Ray, St. Elmo’s, Mt. Ida, and Hume were incorporated into the town of Potomac.
Homes in Del Ray were built for workers at Potomac Yard., which opened in 1906 and employed 1,200 people. At its peak during World War II, the workforce grew to nearly 1,500. Most were affordable, detached single family dwellings of modest size. The desirability of today’s Del Ray is partially due to these working class beginnings and its unpretentious, eclectic personality.
Some of Del Ray’s grandest houses were built on the main street, Mount Vernon Avenue. Several of the original Foursquare houses still stand, though converted to retail use. As the area grew and developed, Mount Vernon Avenue evolved from a grand residential avenue to a retail corridor, yet Del Ray retains its charm and character.
Residential streets look much as they did many decades ago, lined with large shade trees, deep lots with generous backyards, and 15-foot front setbacks. Architectural styles range from Craftsman Bungalow, Folk Victorian and American Foursquare to Tudor Revival, Colonial Revival, Art Deco, Queen Anne and Italianate.