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									Arlington
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after hours
By Laura Mullane / Photography by Regis Lefebure
THE COUNTY ’S EMPHASIS ON CREATING COMMUNITIES WHERE PEOPLE CAN LIVE, WORK, SHOP, AND PLAY MEANS an equal amount of attention has been paid to “play.” Arlington boasts an exciting nightlife, thriving arts scene, an abundance of recreational opportunities, and a wealth of tourist attractions and accommodations, including 41 hotels offering 10,000 hotel rooms. A visitor staying in Arlington can zip right over to the capital for the day (in fact, Crystal City hotels are actually closer to the White House than some hotels located right in DC). The joke in Arlington
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used to be that if you were looking for nightlife, go across the river to Georgetown. Even just 10 years ago Arlington had a reputation as a place where the sidewalks rolled up after 5 o’clock. No longer. Due in large part to the transformation of Clarendon, Arlington has become an after-five destination not only for those who live and work here, but also for others throughout the Washington area. Even on a rainy, cold weekday night, a visitor to Clarendon will find large crowds dining at the neighborhood’s homegrown restaurants, like Faccia Luna and Clarendon Grill, and crowding the many bars and clubs to catch the latest up-and-coming band. One such club is IOTA, so named for its size—it had a capacity of less than 60 people when it first opened in 1994, though it has since expanded. Owned by the brother and sister team of Stephen Negrey and Jane Negrey Inge, who were raised in Arlington, it has become known as the place where promising musicians play

holidays when former residents are coming home.” If the bustling nightlife is a surprise for those new to Arlington, get ready for an even bigger one: Arlington’s thriving arts scene. Arlington is home to more than 500 individual artists and 50 arts organizations—including theater companies such as Signature Theatre and Teatro de la Luna, artist studios, dance companies like Bowen McCauly, and musical groups and events like the Rosslyn Jazz Festival. It is one of the few communities of its size to have its own symphony orchestra and opera company. “Every night there are six or seven performances, exhibits, or concerts to choose from,” says Norma Kaplan, division chief for Arlington County Cultural Affairs. In addition, the county’s annual arts audience is estimated to be nearly twice the population. The explosion of Arlington’s arts community can be attributed to the county’s innovative Arts Incubator program that was launched in 1990 to grow the arts in a cost-effective way. Through this initiative, Arlington was

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A restored Tiffany window at the Arlington Arts Center; a taste of the Middle East at Layalina; the Iwo Jima Marine Corps War Memorial.

before moving on to bigger venues. Norah Jones, John Mayer, and Jack Johnson are just a few names who played at IOTA before they hit it big. Galaxy Hut is another small space that opened in Clarendon before its big boom. Strictly a beer-and-wine joint, it opened in 1990 before the bar scene in Clarendon was a “scene” at all. “I was the first bar on the strip,” said owner Alice Despard. “It really was a rundown retail area from the ’30s. Then the floodgates opened. Clarendon became the center of gravity.” The popularity of Clarendon has changed the clientele of her bar (“We were more bohemian before; now we’re a little more wellheeled”) but not the neighborly feel of the place. The same can be said for Clarendon as a whole. “It has a small-town feel,” says Liane Kluge, a Clarendon regular who worked at Clarendon Grill before becoming the marketing director for a healthcare association in Arlington. “You always see the same people, especially around the
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able to find an audience for the arts and, as a consequence, grow both. The program has become a model for government-arts partnership. In fact, in December 1996, the Arts Incubator became the first arts organization in the country to win one of 10 “Innovations in American Government” awards given each year by the Ford Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Signature Theater, located in Shirlington, is a nationally-known theater that grew out of the Arts Incubator program. Signature soon will be moving to a new state-of-the-art theater/library complex. Interestingly, Arlington has become famous in the arts community for its cutting-edge projects—not something that would typically be associated with a community that is home to the Pentagon. “We’ve developed a reputation as more unique, more risk-taking, and more funky than DC,” said Kaplan. In fact, the Washington Post described

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Arlington as “the hotbed of cultural abandon” and “one of the hippest local jurisdictions at attracting adventurous arts and artists.” The success of the arts in Arlington is also attributable to the number—and quality—of its arts facilities. In January, a gleaming Arlington Arts Center reopened after a significant renovation. The new building is a work of art in itself, featuring three Tiffany stained-glass windows that the county rescued from demolition years earlier. While Arlington’s nightlife and arts scene occupy the evening hours, the county’s abundance of recreational opportunities and tourist attractions easily fills the days. With 1,100 acres of parks and open space, the outdoors is very accessible. This open space includes 36 miles of walking and biking trails plus an additional 53 miles of bike routes. The avid cyclist can enjoy seven self-guided tours, including a 23-mile Arlington history tour. One of the more popular walking and biking trails runs along the Potomac River all the way to Mount Vernon. Along the way you can enjoy spectacular views of Georgetown, the monuments of Washington and, in warmer months, boats quietly moving down the river. You also get an up-close look at Reagan National Airport and low-flying planes on approach for landing. At the north end of Crystal City, a $100 million 28-acre indoor/outdoor acquatic center and recreational complex is under construction. Called North Tract, it is

Watching low-flying planes land near Gravelly Point; martinis at Faccia Luna,

a Clarendon watering hole; a rider enjoying one of the 53 miles of bike routes.

expected to be completed in 2008. In addition to a 50meter pool, North Tract will include a hydrotherapy pool, a rock-climbing wall, on-site walking trails, plenty of space for playgrounds, and spray gardens. One of Arlington’s most famous sites is the Iwo JimaMarine Corps War Memorial. Modeled after the Pulitzer prize-winning photograph by Joe Rosenthal of Marines raising the flag at Mount Suribachi during World War II, the Iwo Jima memorial is the largest bronze sculpture in

Arlington
Monuments, memorials, and museums… Broadway productions, independent theater, or a simple matinee… Symphonies, opera, a rock concert or a small indie band…
Whether you’re visiting the Washington, D.C. region for business or leisure – or a little of both – there are a million things to do. Stay in Arlington, and you’ll be in the heart of the action, with Metro access to any destination in the region. Enjoy Arlington’s vibrant urban villages, providing doorstep access to exciting restaurants, sights, shopping, nightlife and more. To learn more about Arlington, and get a FREE Visitors Guide, call

the world. From the memorial, visitors can walk to what is without question the most famous attraction in Arlington: the National Cemetery. Arlington National Cemetery occupies 567 acres and is the final resting place for more than 260,000 people. More than 20 funeral services are performed each day and about 4 million people visit it each year. But it is more than just headstones. There are also numerous memorials and monuments to wars, individuals, military units, and groups. Some of them are well-known—the gravesites of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy, the Robert E. Lee memorial (Arlington House), and the Space Shuttle Challenger memorial. Others are more obscure—the Rough Riders memorial, the Iran Rescue Mission monument, and the Spanish-American War Nurses memorial. Undoubtedly the most famous memorial at Arlington National cemetery is the Tomb of the Unknowns, better-known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The idea for the Tomb of the Unknowns came after World War I, when the nation was trying to come to terms with the incredible losses it had suffered. The tomb sits on top of the grave that holds the remains of a soldier exhumed from an American cemetery in France and is meant to symbolize all of the country’s war dead who have not been identified. There are additional tombs of

unknowns remembering the unidentifiable dead of the Civil War, World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars. When standing on the hill in front of Arlington House, you can look across to the Lincoln Memorial on the other side. It is both a literal and figurative bridge, linking Washington, DC and Virginia; Lincoln and Robert E. Lee; North and South. When President Kennedy stood on that spot just 11 days before he was killed, looked down the hill and across the bridge to Washington, he said, “I could stay here forever.” After he died, the place where he stood was selected to be his gravesite. This made Kennedy only the second and, so far, last president to be buried at the cemetery. William Howard Taft was the first. The burial of these two men did a lot to bolster the reputation of Arlington National Cemetery, which had long been considered second-rate because it was meant to be the burial ground for poor soldiers. Today, the cemetery is seen as our country’s most hallowed ground. Leaving the cemetery and strolling across Memorial Bridge into Washington, the importance of Arlington County’s proximity to the capital is clear. Their shared history, economy, and culture link them inextricably. Yet as Arlington continues its headlong push toward maintaining a smart-growth, wholly livable community, it’s how they’re different that will matter the most. A i

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Arlington has it all.

866.456.0595 or visit www.arlingtontourism.com


								
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