Northern Virginia Relocation-Take a Drive Down Shirley Highway

Shirley Highway in Northern Virginia
It is obvious when you look at the large overhead signs, I-95 is the interstate running outside the beltway and I-395 runs inside the beltway to DC. However if someone asks you how to get to DC and you say take Shirley Highway then you know you are a "native" of Northern Virginia. Officially Shirley Highway runs from the Pentagon to just north of Route 1 in Woodbridge. The start of the construction of the highway started in 1941 and lasted until 1952 when the four lane road was completed. Originally known as the Fort Belvoir bypass the road was renamed for Henry Shirley who was the first the first highway commissioner in Virginia.

Our first family home was just outside DC on Shirley Highway in the Parkfairfax neighborhood. Built in 1941 as an apartment complex to alleviate a housing shortage for government workers the neighborhood today is thriving condominium complex known for it's hilly streets, landscaped courtyards and ease of commuting back to the city.

Parkfairfax-Two Past Presidents Called it Home and So Could You

A few more miles down Shirley Highway is the famous or is that the infamous Springfield Interchange? Before there was a need for 50 ramps and 20 lanes to get commuters past Springfield there was an airport instead. In 1945 part of the area that is now part of the north bound lanes of Shirley Highway (I-95) was the unpaved 3000 foot runway that was part of Springfield Airport.

What Happens When You Build a Highway Instead of An Airport?

Even after the airport disappeared in the early 1950's Springfield was still a rural community just being discovered by families.
With new homes in central Springfield starting at $16,000 it was the perfect place to move and still be able to work in the city. Families flocked to the area and over the years the small sleepy area grew and spread into North Springfield, West Springfield and even though there isn't officially an East Springfield development went that direction as well.

Springfield Virginia-Homer Simpson Doesn't Live Here

As prices in closer in areas in Fairfax County began to escalate and families started looking for bigger and newer the migration further south on Shirley Highway to Prince William County began. Commuting options began to expand and along with it the neighborhoods of Lake Ridge began to grow. Starting in the late 1970's when the visitor center opened at Old Bridge and Harbor Drive until today Lake Ridge has been a popular choice for anyone who wanted to live in large community with a "small town" feel.

Lake Ridge-Avoiding the Cookie Cutter Home Syndrome

Now Shirley Highway is a thing of the past. The small green signs are still there if you look for them. They are dwarfed by the the large signs for I-95 or I-395 headed north and south from DC into Virginia. Your GPS won't direct you to take Shirley Highway but a native of the area may. Don't be alarmed they haven't lost their minds it is just a habit that is hard to break.

If you are interested in learning more about any of the neighborhoods along the 17.3 mile stretch of the original Shirley Highway give me a call at 703-346-2213. No hassle, no pressure just straight talk about whether now is the right time for you to buy a new home in Northern Virginia.

                                   Real People*Real Lives*Real Estate

If you are interested in learning more about the Northern Virginia Real Estate market including Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William Counties give Cindy Jones and Integrity Real Estate Group a call at 703-346-2213.

Military Relocation Specialist serving military families relocating to and from the Pentagon, Fort Belvoir, Quantico MCB and all of the Military District of Washington installations. 

Military Relocation Professional

Check out www.varealestatetalk.com and www.cjrealtygroup.com for more information.

Integrity Real Estate Group
Real People*Real Life*Real Estate

Licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia



Comment balloon 16 commentsCindy Jones • October 21 2009 06:08AM


HA!  When I have a slip of the tongue and refer to Interstate 95 as "Shirley Highway", folks have no frame of reference. 

The term "Shirley Highway" either dates one, as in my case, or identifies a native, as in your case.  One way or another, it shows a deep familiarity with the area which is a definate plus when speaking with folks about the transportation alternatives from Fredericksburg to DC.

Excellent Cindy.  I love it. 

BTW, before they improved the access and egress lanes onto and off of the highway, I referred to it as "The Road From Hell!".  Or, after a gentleman was struck and killed after breaking down, "The Killer Highway".  In fact, until they widened the highway to replace a shoulder that was used as a traffic lane for some time, I refused to drive on it with buyers in my vehicle.  We just chugged up and down Route 1. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Cindy, I want my blog to be just like yours when it grows up.  This is fabulous!

Posted by Margaret Woda, Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) over 9 years ago

cindy, I have not thought of adding local color or flavor like this to my blog...very nice.

Posted by ERIC TRAUTMANN, I Know NJ, I Sell it Everyday! (Weichert Realtors HQ) over 9 years ago

Cindy, WOW this brings back many memories for me. I moved to Northern VA in 1971 and retired from DOC in 2006 and built our retirement home in Lewisburg WV. We go back to VA every month and I do not miss the traffic or people.  This is indeed a great post.

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®, Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate (Vision Quest Realty) over 9 years ago

I have many memories of the area.  I was raised in the Woodbridge area until the age of 12 and then moved to Burke.  I graduated from West Springfield High School in '82.  I wouldn't trade growing up there for anything.  I loved the area and really enjoyed going to the Smithsonians on the weekend.  For us, Washington was just a 30 minute trip up the highway.  I even remember going to the skating rink in Dumfries...the movies at Marumsco Plaza...I wonder if it is even still there...

Great post.  I lived in Northern Virginia for over 20 years and still love the state today!  I'm also still a Redskins fan!  

Posted by Carolyn Shipp, Mineral Wells Texas Real Estate (Source 1 Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Cindy ~ The way you linked this post to your previous blogs is sooooo cool! Very impressive and I agree with Margaret, I want my blog to be like yours when I grow up!

Posted by Terrie Leighton, Reno Real Estate Agent ~ Selling Homes in Reno (Ferrari-Lund Real Estate ) over 9 years ago

Lenn-and those of us who have been around the area for awhile also know that the "mixing bowl" is not in Springfield but is actually the interchange at the Pentagon.  I learned early on in my driving days to just floor it and could cross six lanes of traffic getting in and out of Springfield without a problem.  Don't know why the had to spend multi-millions to make it easier for out of towners :-)

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 9 years ago

Margaret-I feel like a drug commercial....I learned from reading your posts.  Looking forward to seeing you next week.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 9 years ago

Eric-I've never had anyone who called me to assist them buying or selling home that complained about my blogging style.  I think if we know our area adding the personal stories helps make connections.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 9 years ago

Carolyn-no movies at Marumsco Plaza.  It is getting ready for a total redo (long overdue).  I graduated from Lee and both of my kids graduated from West Springfield.  The area has changed over the years but it is still the only place I know to call home.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 9 years ago

Rebecca-you are fortunate not to have to deal with the DC traffic everyday anymore.  You've moved to "gods country" and I'm sure waking up everyday in WV is a treat.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 9 years ago

Terrie-from what I've learned about SEO on Active Rain linking our current posts to our old posts is good for the Google juice.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 9 years ago

Hi Cindy -- I lived in N. Va for a long time and used to call it both Shirley Highway and 395.  When I moved to the area in 1983, I could live my life without the fear of rush hour -- sure, there was traffic and backups, but not like there was in 1993 or even 2002 when I left.  I remember the Springfield interchange being fairly easy to get around and when they envisioned 10 years of construction and when it was finally done, it was like a city unto itself it was so massive.

Boy...how I wish I had bought say 20 townhomes in various communities back in the mid-80s like a friend of mine did, rented them out, took out 15 year mortgages on them, and then sold them in 2000-04 for about 400-600% more and he retired!

Posted by Chris Olsen, Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate (Olsen Ziegler Realty) over 9 years ago

Chris-the 10 years of construction was annoying and the resulting interchange didn't eliviate any backups during rush hour!  So much for that brilliant idea.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 9 years ago

Take a drive down Shirley Highway, huh? Wow, um, that sounds suggestive to me. You? Oh well, it's a nice post anyway. We appreciate it.

Posted by Aaron Vaughn | Builder | Investor, If the deal makes sense, the cash will follow. (Conifer Homes) over 9 years ago

Aaron-thanks for stopping by.  Shirley and I appreciate it :-)

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 9 years ago

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