Ballston pedestrian bridge (Wikipedia)

Why Is It Named Ballston?

Do you know why the county is named Arlington? How about Ballston?

I have a soft spot for Ballston because that’s where I first lived when I arrived in the area well over a decade ago. And, in tribute to my first residence, I wanted to dig up and share some etymological history.

Ballston pedestrian bridge (Wikipedia)

Ballston pedestrian bridge (Wikipedia)

John Ball and his brother Moses, cousins of George Washington, owned 257 acres of land in the area in the 1700s. In Colonial times, the intersection of what would become Glebe Road and Wilson Boulevard (FYI, named for President Woodrow Wilson) was a crossroads of commercial traffic, heading south to Alexandria or east to Washington.

In 1774, one of the Ball descendants built constructed a two-story log tavern at the crossroads to serve farmers traveling the roads to take their goods to market. Ball’s Tavern grew to become the the center of the community, at times, serving as the social hub, a general store, post office and local voting precinct.

Atlas of fifteen miles around Washington, including the counties of Fairfax and Alexandria, Virginia / compiled and published from actual surveys by G.M. Hopkins. (1878)
Atlas of fifteen miles around Washington, including the counties of Fairfax and Alexandria, Virginia / compiled and published from actual surveys by G.M. Hopkins. (1878)

Ball’s Crossroads was established as a village in Arlington County in 1874, and a little over two decades later, in 1895, the official name was changed to Ballston, maintaining a permanent link to the Ball family.

If you want to dig into a little more Arlington County history, check out the Arlington Historical Society.

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