Reflections on Northern Virginia-Traveling on 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 drawfed 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.   No hassle, no pressure.  Let's see if now is the right time for you to buy a new home in Northern Virginia.



©2009 Cindy Jones, Associate Broker RE/MAX Allegiance

                                   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.

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Licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia



Comment balloon 8 commentsCindy Jones • January 18 2009 10:02AM


I never knew that!  Of course somedays Shirley Highway is Shirley Parking Lot  LOL.

Posted by James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes, When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move (Real Living | At Home) about 10 years ago

Hi Cindy:  Thanks for a great overview in telling the story of Shirley Highway.  I lived in Alexandria off Duke Street in the early 1990's... and loved the area.  At times... I miss it very much.  Thanks again for taking me back down a very nice memory lane in my life.  Take care...

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) about 10 years ago

Thanks for the reminders,  There are so many things I remember about Northern VA since I moved away, and so many neat things that you reminded me of that I had forgotten.  Have a great day!

Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (Crye-Leike REALTORS®) about 10 years ago

James-Yes it can be a parking lot.  Tuesday though no one can drive on it.  I can't remember any time before that the road has been closed for an Inaguration or any other event in our area.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) about 10 years ago

Karen-thanks for stopping by.  I've lived and traveled up and down Shirley Highway most of my life.  The history of the road is just another piece of trivia I have stored in my memory banks.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) about 10 years ago

Jim-I'm sure you and Ellen have lots of information about the area as well.  Next time you are in town give a yell!

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) about 10 years ago

What a great piece of information on the local area.  Once again you show that you know Northern Virginia well.

Posted by Pat Fenn (Marketing Specialist for CJ Realty Group/Cindy Jones Broker ) about 10 years ago

Pat-thanks!  It helps  when you have lived in the area for a long time and research local history on a regular basis.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) about 10 years ago

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