Columbia Pike and its surrounding neighborhoods are part of Arlington’s rich history. Established in 1810 as the Columbia Turnpike, Columbia Pike is an invaluable transportation corridor currently being transformed into a walkable main street.
In 1810 the United States Congress chartered a turnpike company to build three separate roads through the newly-formed District of Columbia to neighboring areas. The purpose of Columbia Pike was to provide access westward from the Long Bridge, completed in 1808 (and the precursor to the current 14th Street Bridge complex), to the Little River Turnpike, now Virginia State Route 236. The new road was built on a pre-existing cow path and initially named the Washington Graveled Turnpike. The road was subsequently known as the Washington Road, the Columbian Road and the Arlington Turnpike.
The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the rise of the trolley car as a primary mode of transportation in the County and trolley lines crisscrossed Columbia Pike. However, trolleys did not run along Columbia Pike. By the middle of the 20th century, automobiles became the preferred transportation option.
By the 1990s, there was tremendous growth in traffic congestion and a growing interest in sustainable development. As a result, Arlington began looking at alternative transit options for Columbia Pike. In addition, Arlington established a vision for the Pike as one of a complete street—offering a choice of transportation options all serving people accessing various land uses or contexts.
Read more about Columbia Pike History (PDF), by Arlington’s Historic Preservation Office.
Find out more about Columbia Pike’s history
Pike 200 Minutes: A video series of one-minute looks at the 200-year history of the Columbia Pike.
Columbia Pike Documentary Project: This video is all about a group working to capture the diverse heritage of Columbia Pike in pictures.
Columbia Pike Walkabouts