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How King beat Cameron to be Alexandria’s main street

With all due respect to Mount Vernon Avenue, King Street is probably Alexandria’s most iconic roadway — but it wasn’t intended to be.

Today, King Street is synonymous with Old Town and runs out to the northwest corner of the city, where it becomes Leesburg Pike. According to Historic Alexandria, the office that oversees the city’s museums and historic sites, back in 1749 city planners had intended for Cameron Street to be the main avenue in Alexandria.

“Cameron Street, named for the Baron of Cameron, was meant to be the city’s main thoroughfare, but King Street has since taken that crown,” Historic Alexandria said in a Facebook post. “This unintentional change was likely because King became more passable than Cameron.”

Historic Alexandria said there were likely two reasons Cameron Street’s popularity never took off the way King Street did.

“First, the head of Oronoco Creek used to make the intersection of Cameron + Pitt Street marshy,” the post said. “Second, Christ Church, built-in 1773, essentially cut off travel on Cameron, making King Street the new main east-west route.”

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