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Virginia Square Metro Stop - Orange Line - 3600 Fairfax Dr., Arlington, VA 22201

Virginia Square is a neighborhood in Arlington County, Virginia. It is centered at the Virginia Square station on the Orange Line of theWashington Metro subway system, between Clarendon and Ballston. The neighborhood consists of a mix of high-rise apartments, garden apartments, and single-family homes generally dating to the 1940s.

The Virginia Square neighborhood is home to the Arlington campus of George Mason University including its Law School, the Arlington Arts Center, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the main branch of the Arlington Public Library. The area’s name is derived from the former Virginia Square Shopping Center (now occupied mainly by a major satellite office of the FDIC with a Giant supermarket on part of the property). Among local restaurants, Mario’s Pizza has been a landmark since 1957 and El Pollo Rico since 1988.

Virginia Square Shopping Center

The Virginia Square Shopping Center opened in early 1952, to complement the adjoining Kann's-Virginia store.  At opening, the 15-store center included a Giant supermarket, People's DrugFanny Farmer candy, L. Frank Co. women's apparel, Jonas men's apparel, the Bo Peep Shop, and Mary Baynes Gift Shop.  An F.W. Woolworth variety store also operated at the center. Following the 1975, closure of the Kann's-Virginia and Kimel's Furniture Store, the center entered into a period of decline.  In March 1986, the Virginia Square retail landmark Mary Baynes Gift Shop closed its doors.  Redevelopment of the Center, talked about for almost a decade, finally commenced in Summer 1988, when the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation demolished the old center and erected a new satellite office and other buildings on the site.

Photo: Virginia Square neighborhoodCompared to other urban villages, Virginia Square is a bit less "urban," and a bit more "village." It is centered on a Metro station, but the area immediately around the Metro doesn't have as much commercial development as neighboring Ballston or Clarendon. Still, Virginia Square does have a little bit of everything. It's a residential community, a 9-to-5 working center, an educational and cultural hub, and a neighborhood with some history, all at the same time.

Virginia Square originally derived its name from the Virginia Square Shopping Center, which now houses a Giant supermarket and the FDIC. There are still some local business stalwarts from this era here today. Mario's Pizza has been serving slices to the community since 1957. Casual Adventure, an outdoor clothing and shoe store, dates from the same period and has thrived in one incarnation or another for 45 years.

While these older businesses continue to prosper, the area has also seen a lot of development in the more recent past. In 1991, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, opened a building right across from the Virginia Square-GMU Metro station, and now employs 500 people here. In 1996, the Arlington campus of George Mason University, only a block from the Metro station, began a large renovation and expansion project. Two apartment buildings within blocks of the Metro have also altered the landscape. Over the years, the neighborhood has gradually evolved from a car-centric area to true urban village.

Photo: Central LibraryFortunately, Virginia Square still retains its eclectic identity. A few blocks away from the Metro, we find residential neighborhoods, highlighted by single-family homes with grassy front yards. Quincy Park, the largest of four parks within walking distance of the Metro station, features picnic areas, a playground, and baseball fields, and is a favorite destination for brown-bag lunchers in the warm weather. The presence of Arlington Central Library and two nearby churches accentuate the small-town feel.

Virginia Square is located on the Wilson Boulevard-Clarendon Boulevard corridor, which was named one of 10 "Great Streets" in the U.S. by the American Planning Association in 2008.