Rosslyn Neighborhood Guide
The Principle Gateway
Set as Arlington’s entryway into Washington, Rosslyn has since its inception been closely connected with the District of Columbia.
The area’s history started out humbly during the colonial period as the Ross Family Farm, and then eventually grew into a larger community entitled Ross Lynn. Not far from this farm, at the shore of the Potomac River lay the landing dock of Awbrey’s Ferry. Like a taxi service and in lieu of a connecting bridge, Awbrey’s Ferry acted as the primary mode of transport linking Virginia to DC.
By 1843, however, the Aqueduct Bridge had been built. Now there was the added ability to transport people and goods on the ground – a cheaper, easier and more practical method overall than the existing ferry system. Though this bridge proved unsustainable with inadequate infrastructure, it laid the groundwork for the subsequent slew of bridges, including a second Aqueduct Bridge and then the later the present Key Bridge.
Dubbed “the Principle Gateway,” Rosslyn has and seemingly always will be the archetypal liaison between DC and Virginia. With such convenient waterfront placement so close to DC, it has always been fated for such prosperity. In this respect, not only is it the nearest point to the nation’s capital outside the the District, but it also is the market’s natural spillover when needing new office space.
Rosslyn - Arlington, VA
Rosslyn in the Sixties
By the 1960s Rosslyn began developing into the prime commercial district of Arlington that it is today. Leading the way for the later development of the Orange Line, its function as a liaison between Virginia and DC became more and more integral in attracting businesses and establishing a corporate ecosystem.
Indeed, as taxes in the district rose over time and also due to congestion, with such close proximity Rosslyn became a natural turning point for developers and businesses alike. It became a blank slate for building ambitious skyscrapers for both office and residential spaces. As such even today Rosslyn still completely dominates the top 10 list of tallest buildings in and around DC.
So with both the momentum of being right by DC and as a relatively untapped area for new development, Rosslyn as we know it exploded before our eyes.
Through these changing times Rosslyn enacted a role as Little DC. Businesses and organizations came to see Rosslyn as a safer and cheaper alternative to the district. New and hardly further (and indeed closer to downtown from many parts of DC), it was the natural turning point for such development.
On top of major national institutions like USA Today and ABC nestling in at Rosslyn, numerous governmental agencies also made their way. Most notably, at their former Rosslyn headquarters on 1400 Wilson Boulevard, DARPA played a pivotal role in establishing the groundwork of the internet with their ARPANET project of the late sixties.
Onwards and Upwards Into the 21st Century
Until just recently, Rosslyn in the 21st century had seen a steady progression of growth as usual. Following a trajectory not totally unexpected, the dulling of development however during the Great Recession of 2008 certainly slowed things down a bit. The massive progress initiated in the 70s and 80s was not being continued with or improved upon.
The imaginative wonderance of the future back then received a blunt reality check. Like the generous pension plans divvied out by employers pre-2000, the reliance on debt and credit as a mechanism for creation was at a groundswell. Investment in the future was thus put on hold to catch up to the irresponsible spending of the past. Sure, there had been a vast increase in total amount of generated wealth, but by this same nature so too did the cost of everything else rapidly rise. There was more money to spend, but there were also more services to spend money towards.
The recession was a natural reversion in response to unwieldy growth and unsustainable business practices. It was result of rule-bending to expedite progress. But you can only run a con so long: reversion back to the norm is always inevitable. However, human ingenuity knows no bounds and will always figure out a way forward.
So by 2010 there was beginning to emerge a sense of recovery, ambition and optimism. Spurred on by the Obama administration, the desire for something greater was returning. Two years after hitting the modern day economic low point, things were starting to rebound. And, meshing our ingrained optimism with the willpower for realisation, even if the market was not quite ready – what’s to stop us from forcing it into existence? There’s no better exemplification of this mindset than that of Rosslyn’s 1812 N. Moore.
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With 1812 N. Moore as its icon, the post-recession rebound had now begun.
Construction of 1812 N. Moore went underway in 2010, and by late 2013 it was finished. Perhaps it was a peremptory push, a premature attempt to finally excite the economy out of its rut. But it was mammoth building nonetheless: a grand exclamation; the tallest building in the DC area.
But it did not find a suitor quickly or easily. Perhaps it was a bit too intimidating. Maybe just too expensive. Or maybe it simply wasn’t in the game plan then for cautious corporations to consider a major relocation during a market downturn.
It ended up remaining empty for around 4 years when in 2017 Nestle, the largest food manufacturer in the world, announced their plans to move their headquarters there. Considering the undeniable uptake in new business since – with Gerber, Deloitte, joining Nestle, and with Apple now rumored to have interest – the impact that this decision has had and will continue to have cannot be understated.
It’s likely this Nestle relocation will become the centripetal force behind Rosslyn’s development, the major mover that will invigorate Rosslyn into the future.
So what then is it that defines present-day Rosslyn? Is it still mostly dictated by its role as a corporate district? Or is its proximity to DC and linkage to Georgetown most characteristic of the district?
As with most things in the internet age, no longer does one theme suffice. We are evolving from a society of strict specialization into one more and more of specialized cohesion. With the ubiquity and ease of access to all things on the internet, we demand more and expect better.
That is: through enhancements in technology things are easier to develop more fully. Through the advancements of globalization, our minds have been broadened, opened up by the endlessness of new ideas, cultures, and activities. We increasingly seek inspiration from the unknown, and we are not placated by complacency.
Think about it: before as recently as the turn of the century, people seldom even ate out at restaurants. It was considered a delicacy to most. Now, it is standard to eat out regularly.
Now, a stuffy corporate district no longer flies. It’s not enough to excel at just business. And why should it? With the amount of wealth that works in Rosslyn, there’s no shortage of a market for excellent entertainment, eating, and shopping. And if there’s a market to serve, it’s only a matter of filling that void with choice options that will attract sustained clientele.
Rosslyn’s Business Improvement District, or Rosslyn BID, has recently and ambitiously undertaken this role to enliven the entertainment element of Rosslyn. Just this past year they have ramped up efforts to establish a community atmosphere, putting on a book festival, summer movie nights and a weekly farmer’s market among other initiatives.
The goal of Rosslyn BID is to turn Rosslyn into a comprehensive center of activity, not just of business. And so far, so good: their progress is said to have played a pivotal role in attracting Nestle.
Their vision is still far from complete, but each step they take instills confidence that the future of Rosslyn is exceedingly bright.
Whether you’re reaching Rosslyn via metro, entering from Virginia, or arriving from Georgetown on a stroll across Key Bridge, there is lots to check out. From a community park to delicious food
As the largest green space in Rosslyn, Gateway Park is a three-acre area with fountains, a field, landscaping and plantings, and an amphitheater. It’s the first destination you’ll see after crossing the Key Bridge; perfect for summer picnic & stroll! The amphitheater is also the venue where several annual events are held, including Rosslyn Cinema, a free weekly outdoor movie screening – voted the best community event in Arlington!; a Jazz Festival – 28 years running, with this year’s festival on Saturday September 8th); plus a festive market and bonfire come holiday season.
Though hard to compete with neighboring Georgetown’s world-class fare, Rosslyn is catching up in terms of dining offerings. In particular, there are numerous delicious Italian restaurants, from Piola’s wood-oven pizzas and Il Radicchio’s handmade pasta to the intimacy of Mele Bistro – with the acclaimed and award-winning Sfoglina recently announcing their intention to open a second location in Rosslyn later this year.
With so many daytime working professionals, there’s no shortage of happy hour spots either. By the waterfront, you’ll find crafty cocktails at Amuse as part of Hotel Le Méridien. Further up on Wilson Boulevard rests Barley Mac, a cool and chic Americana outfit with an extensive whiskey selection.
The US Marine Corps War Memorial, honoring those who is a huge destination for tourists from all over the world. Based on the iconic and Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph from the victory at Iwo Jima, the statue is unforgettable both for its inspirational message and as a landmark set high on a ridge overlooking the US Capitol.
Living in Rosslyn
With a prime real estate locate not just next to DC but also facing the water, Rosslyn houses some of the most breathtaking residential buildings in Arlington. Between the sweeping balconies of Turnberry Tower, the five-star amenities of the Waterview and Prospect House’s unforgettable views of DC, there is an excellent array of apartments and condominiums both new and old.