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With its concentration of boutiques, restaurants, antique shops and theaters, it is a major draw for all who live in Alexandria as well for visitors. The historic center of Alexandria is known as "Old Town".A portion of the City of Alexandria—most of the area now known as "Old Town" as well as the areas of the city northeast of what is now King Street—and all of today's Arlington County share the distinction of having been originally in Virginia, ceded to the U. Government to form the District of Columbia, and later retroceded to Virginia by the federal government in 1846, when the District was reduced in size to exclude the portion south of the Potomac River.Over time, a movement grew to separate Alexandria from the District of Columbia (the District of Columbia retrocession).
The best location was Hunting Creek tobacco warehouse, since the deep water could easily accommodate sailing ships.
Map includes the names of property owners at that time. Virginia's comprehensive Tobacco Inspection Law of 1730 mandated that all tobacco grown in the colony must be brought to locally designated public warehouses for inspection before sale.
One of the sites designated for a warehouse on the upper Potomac River was at the mouth of Hunting Creek.
On May 2, 1749, the House of Burgesses approved the river location and ordered "Mr.
Washington do go up with a Message to the Council and acquaint them that this House have agreed to the Amendments titled An Act for erecting a Town at Hunting Creek Warehouse, in the County of Fairfax." A "Public Vendue" (auction) was advertised for July, and the county surveyor laid out street lanes and town lots. Almost immediately upon establishment, the town founders called the new town "Belhaven", believed to be in honor of a Scottish patriot, John Hamilton, 2nd Lord Belhaven and Stenton, the Northern Neck tobacco trade being then dominated by Scots.