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Upcoming symposium celebrates 293 years of Alexandria’s waterfront history

The Old Town Alexandria waterfront (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Alexandria’s waterfront turns 293 this year and, may we just say, it doesn’t look a day over 200.

A symposium called The Alexandria Forum is returning next month to look back those nearly 300 years of history at the edge of the Potomac River. This year’s theme is The Waterfront Revisited: Birth and Rebirth, 1730-2023.

While Alexandria’s coastline as it exists today wouldn’t be built until a few years later, tobacco warehouses built in 1730 near the river’s edge turned Alexandria into a flourishing port.

The city was officially founded as a city in 1749, two years before Georgetown, and in the 1780s, the city began a massive project to replace the cliffs along the water’s edge with several more city blocks, creating the coastline as it exists today.

The Alexandria Forum will dive into this history, with new information from excavations and more.

According to the release:

The Alexandria Forum is returning! On October 20th, the Office of Historic Alexandria will host this day-long conference, launching with the theme – The Waterfront Revisited: Birth and Rebirth, 1730-2023. The program will be held at the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum and explore the theme of revealing the history of the Alexandria Waterfront through new research lenses, technologies, excavations, and sources.

Presentations will weave together the many strands of historical evidence currently under examination, from deeds to store ledgers, from manifests to material culture, and provide new insights. The event’s keynote speaker is Dr. Abby Schreiber, sharing her recent research on a comprehensive documentary study of the waterfront. Event speakers also include Molly Kerr, Audrey Davis, African American Heritage Trail Committee Members with Committee Chair Dr. Krystyn Moon, Blake Wilson, Dr. Garrett Fesler, Dr. Ben Skolnik, and Dr. Tatiana Niculescu.

The symposium is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 20, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Alexandria History Museum at the Lyceum (201 S Washington Street). Tickets are $60 per person, or $40 for Office of Historic Alexandria members, volunteers and students.

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