VA wine festival, taverns and history galore: Fun facts about Northern Virginia

VA wine festival wine

From the VA wine festival to Gadsby's Tavern nothern Virginia boast a good deal of trivia and history.

DealChicken spends a lot of time hunting and pecking around Northern Virginia in search of the best daily deals. So it’s no surprise in an area with history and pop culture to boot he’s come across his share of facts and trivia from Northern VA—wine festival, taverns, morbid history, racial strife, you name it. Here’s a bit of local lore that even your favorite fine-feathered know-it-all didn’t know until recently.

In the late 18th century, some men you may know as George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, John Adams and other historic celebrities stopped by Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria on their way inland. While it may not have been a tried and true VA wine festival, the tavern was an important spot in the center of economic, social and political colonial life: Alexandria.  Gadsby’s is still open today, so if you pop in for a quick pint or some ol’ fashioned colonial food, know that you sat where your founding fathers did.

Northern Virginia is an area steeped in history, culture, technology and commercialism, but one place in particular holds great value in both the past and present. Known for the birthplace of the name “Stonewall”, as well as home to the Festival of Lights, the Vintage VA Wine Festival and the Summer Jam Festival, Bull Run is every bit as important as the Liberty Bell or the Alamo. During the First Battle of Bull Run, Thomas Jackson earned his name by standing his ground and becoming a “stone wall” so that his peers may retreat and reinforce.

While you pound your steering wheel in frustration in the midst of I-395 traffic, you can think about what mysteries lay beneath the unique 5-sided building we know as the Pentagon. While DealChicken can’t go into detail about all the secrets, he does know that it only takes seven minutes to get between any two points in the building, despite its corridors covering more than 17.5 miles in length. It’s also the largest office building in the world, harboring more than 68,000 telephone lines.

Today, Arlington County is the home of the Capital’s practice center and the nation’s most famous cemetery, but it was part of D.C. a little more than 160 years ago. In 1846, Alexandria County (later renamed Arlington County to avoid confusion) was retroceded to Virginia after problems dealing with land and commercialism. The people unanimously voted via a referendum that Congress give back the land; Government—0, the People—1.

Northern Virginia is quickly becoming an urban landscape, and we have the centrality of Washington-Dulles International Airport to thank for it. In 2011, it was in the top 25 busiest airports in the world with more than 23 million passengers stepping foot through the arched glass building. It was named after President Eisenhower’s secretary of state John Foster Dulles and was almost renamed Washington Eisenhower, but the Senate resolution never passed.

While the rest of us look forward to eating the Thanksgiving turkey to continue our most prized tradition, the President looks to “pardon” him. Well, at least since 1989. For 23 years, presidents down the line have made a new Thanksgiving tradition that “pardons” the turkeys, and then sends them to live out their lives peacefully in Frying Pan Park in Herndon, VA.

Tyson’s Corner’s influence seems to spread each and every day, but one landmark has been untouched, and will forever remain so, since 1966. Ms. Catherine Filene Shouse bought what was originally a farm in 1930, and eventually convinced the U.S. Congress to keep Wolf Trap farm untouched by roads and businesses. Congress then voted in 1966 to convert it to the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts—the first and only national park to be dedicated to the performing arts.

When one hears “Tyson’s Corner”, it conjures many images including one of the largest and most popular malls this side of the Mississippi and the center of all NoVa traffic headaches: I-495. Being as large as Tyson’s really is (it’s the 12th largest employment center in the U.S.), it also contains 26.6 million square feet of office space, which is a quarter of Fairfax County’s total inventory.

When George Washington died in 1799, Congress sought to capitalize on this primo tourist attraction and built him a crypt below the steps of the Capitol building. Unfortunately for them, he had other plans that his wife Martha helped protect, and was buried in his Mount Vernon home. The Capitol crypt still lies empty to this day, forever a reminder that the government can’t take everything away from you.

While we all probably Remember the Titans, most don’t know that this true story is based in Alexandria. T.C. Williams High School was the home of Coach Herman Boone and the undefeated Titans during the Civil Rights struggle of the 1970s. The team made headlines when their desegregated team overcame racial and political adversity to win the State Championship. The school made it to the headlines again more recently when their junior ROTC program participated in President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Parade.

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