Alexandria, with an estimated population of 128,284 (2000), is located along the western bank of the Potomac River, six miles south of Washington, D.C. The "Old Town" area of Alexandria was established in 1749. Market Square in Old Town is the oldest continuously operating marketplace in the US, and was once the site of the second largest slave market in the country. The area now is a popular destination for those visiting the general area.
Like the rest of the geographic areas of northern Virginia and southern Maryland, the modern city of Alexandria has grown out of its proximity to the nation's capitol. The prime economic base for the area is rooted in service industries, linked by contracting to several federal agencies to include the Department of Defense. Some of the largest employers in the area include the Institute for Defense Analyses, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and the Center for Naval Analyses.
Landmarks within the city include the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, Christ Church, the John Carlyle House, Little Theatre, the Lee-Fendall House, City Hall, the Jones Point Lighthouse, the south cornerstone of the original District of Columbia, Green Spring Gardens Park, the Pope-Leighey House, and River Farm. Parks in the area include over 950 acres divided into 70 major parks and 30 recreational areas. These facilities provide users with swimming, tennis, volleyball, basketball, bike paths, golf courses, and a water park.
Schools both public and private include the Alexandria Campus of Northern Virginia Community College, Virginia Theological Seminary, Virginia Tech's Alexandria Architecture Center, and Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Social Work. Alexandria is home to many associations, charities, and non-profit organizations including the national headquarters of the Salvation Army.