History of Ballston: Named after the Ball family (relatives of George Washington), whose family cemetery lies in the neighborhood at N. Stafford Street and N. Fairfax Dr. Ballston began as Birch's Crossroads and later became Ball's Crossroads at what is now the intersection of North Glebe Road and Wilson Boulevard. This intersection is one of the oldest crossroads in Northern Virginia. A historical marker that stands at the new Ballston Point complex near the crossroads states: This intersection has been a focal point since about 1740, when two roads were developed, one from the future site to Alexandria to the mouth of Pimmit Run, the other from Awbury’s Ferry (at the site of Rosslyn) to The Falls Church. The first came to be known as the Glebe Road because it passed the glebe of Fairfax Parish and in order to distinguish it from other roads to the Falls. The second was eventually named Wilson Boulevard in honor of President Wilson. The intersection became known as Ball’s Crossroads when Ball’s Tavern was established here in the early 1800s.
In 1896, an electric trolley line was constructed north of the crossroads along the present route of Fairfax Drive, whose name derives from that of the trolleys' final destination, Fairfax City. Construction of the trolley line, which branched at Clarendon to serve both Rosslyn and downtown Washington, D.C., temporarily shifted much the area's development away from the crossroads. A historical marker that stands near the northwest corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Stafford Street, one block east of the Ballston Metrorail station (which is at the former site of the Ballston trolley station) states:
"By 1900 a well-defined village called Central Ballston had developed in the area bounded by the present-day Wilson Boulevard, Taylor Street, Washington Boulevard, and Pollard Street. More diffuse settlement extended westward to Lubber Run and southward along Glebe Road to Henderson Road. The track of the Washington, Arlington, and Falls Church Electric Railroad ran along what is now Fairfax Drive; the Ballston Station was at Ballston Avenue, now North Stuart Street. Here Clements Avenue, now Stafford Street, divided to pass on either side of an old Ball family graveyard."
On November 4, 1951, the Parkington Shopping Center opened at the intersection formerly known as Balls Crossroads, on the site of the present Ballston Common Mall. Parkington was anchored by the headquarters location of the Hecht Company and was reputed to have the largest parking garage in the U.S. when it opened. For some time afterward, Ballston became commonly known as Parkington. Ballston entered a period of decline in the 1960s and 1970s, but grew and changed considerably after the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority opened the Ballston Metrorail station (originally to be called the "Glebe Road" station) on December 1, 1979. The construction of the station necessitated the relocation of the Ballston Volunteer Fire Department located at 911 North Stuart Street. As a condition of the sale of the fire station the volunteer firefighters insisted the name be changed from "Glebe Road" to "Ballston," thus reviving the "Ballston" name which had all but faded into history. Ballston is home to tall modern apartment complexes and condominiums, the Ballston Common Mall, the "Best Burger" in Arlington (made by Big Buns Gourmet Grill), and many restaurants and bars. Ballston also boasts a number of parks, trails and open outdoor spaces and a number of people can be seen engaged in some sport on any given evening.
Commercial, government & educational activity
Ballston is also home to several U.S. government agencies and organizations including the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, DARPA (the funding agency for the original Internet research), and the Office of Naval Research, as well as non-profit groups, such as The Nature Conservancy. Additionally, many government contractors and high tech companies have offices in Ballston such as CACI, SAIC, as well as the headquarters of ESI International. In September 2011, Accenture agreed to move their offices from Reston, VA to a 360,000 sq. ft. facility under construction by JBG Cos. on the corner of Wilson and Glebe Rd. in Ballston.
The Washington Capitals professional ice hockey team built the Kettler Capitals Iceplex on the eighth level of the Ballston Common Mall's public parking garage. The facility includes two full-size rinks for the Capitals' practice and for paid public use. The rinks offer about 8,100 hours of ice skating annually. The facility holds 1,200 seats and a conditioning center for the Capitals. It also houses the organization's front office staff. In addition, the facility houses a conference room that is available for public use without charge when the organization is not using it for its own purposes. The Mall's owners hope that the facility will bring in additional revenue for the Mall, which did not become a big money maker after the owners constructed a multiplex movie theater there with the same type of anticipation.
Ballston is also home to a satellite campus of Marymount University.
Ballston Farmers Market:
Taste of Arlington
Ballston hosts the annual Taste of Arlington food festival, a street fair which has been produced each Spring since 1987. The 2009 Taste of Arlington event featured over forty area restaurants offering portions of their cuisine to ticket-holders, and drew approximately 15,000 people. The festival is organized by the Ballston-Virginia Square Partnership, the regional business development organization, and is produced in cooperation with other area community development organizations and the National Science Foundation. Funds are raised for area charities through ticket sales.
When you're in Ballston, you can't help but feel like you're "downtown."
Ballston 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. Ballston-MU Metro station is a major transportation hub, connecting Metrobus and ART buses with Metrorail's Orange Line. Near the Metro station, tall office and residential buildings, hotels, restaurants, and sidewalks full of people create that big-city, downtown feel. A few blocks from the Metro is Ballston Common Mall, a four-level mall complete with restaurants, a food court, a 12-screen movie theater, and the Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Nationally-known organizations, both public and private, are major employers within blocks of the Metro station. The National Science Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, Quest Diagnostics, and Marymount University are some of the prominent organizations with offices in Ballston. Even though there are a lot of office buildings, Ballston stays active at night. The combination of residences, restaurants, shopping, entertainment, and the Metro station keep the neighborhood alive after five.
Once you get away from the few blocks where Ballston resembles a busy little metropolis, the area blends into a nice little hamlet, as the high density growth tapers off to residential neighborhoods with parks, schools, and single-family homes. Residents enjoy living on quiet streets, just a short walk from Metrorail, shopping, and all of Ballston's other amenities.
Points of Interest in Ballston
All points of interest listed below are within walking distance of Ballston-MU Metro station. (Some are closer to Virginia Square-GMU station.) Ballston is also served by several Metrobus routes and ART-Arlington Transit. The Custis and Bluemont Junction trails provide access to Ballston by bicycle.
Arlington Central Library – 1015 North Quincy St.
Ballston Common Mall – 4238 Wilson Blvd. 120 stores in the heart of Ballston.
Ballston Farmers Market - Welburn Square (The Ballston Circle) at the Ballston Metro. May 26-October 13.
Clarenford Station Park – 13th St. & N. Vermont St. Preschool-age playground.
David M. Brown Planetarium – 426 N. Quincy St. Open for public multimedia programs throughout the school year on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons.
The Commuter Store, Ballston - in Ballston Common Mall, 4238 Wilson Blvd., Suite 2232. The courteous and knowledgeable staff at our four Arlington locations will assist you in planning the best way for you to travel, whether by bus, rail, carpool, vanpool, or bicycle. Purchase transit fares, pick up bus schedules and other literature.
I-66 Parking Garage – N. Quincy and N. 15th Streets, next to Washington Lee High School. Site of community garage sale, first Saturday of each month, April-November. Also an access point for the Custis Trail.
Lubber Run Park and Community Center - N. Columbus St. & 2nd St. N.
Marymount University Ballston Center – 1000 N. Glebe Rd. Founded in 1950 by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Marymount is a comprehensive, coeducational Catholic university. There is a free shuttle for students to travel between Ballston Center and the main campus at 2807 N. Glebe Rd.
National Science Foundation – 4201 Wilson Blvd. An independent agency of the U.S. Government, established to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense.
Quincy Park – 1021 N. Quincy St., adjacent to Central Library.
Washington Lee High School, War Memorial Stadium & Track –1300 N. Quincy St.
Washington Lee Aquatics Center – 1300 N. Quincy St.