Cross Canal

Historical Significance

The Cross Canal neighborhood was a quiet rural area during the Civil War, named for its position just across the Alexandria Canal at the northeast tip of the city. Barges moved cargoes of grain, whiskey, lumber, or coal through the canal locks along First Street from 1843 until the canal closed in 1886. African Americans may have moved to Cross Canal in search of affordable housing, or in order to be close to jobs at the wharves. Some worked at the Old Dominion Glass Factory, a bottle manufacturer located on North Fairfax Street from 1901 to 1925.

Physical Description

The Cross Canal area centers around the 800 block of North Fairfax Street between Montgomery and First Streets, bordered on the western side by South Royal Street. None of the buildings survive. However, a plaque at North Fairfax and Montgomery Streets commemorates the neighborhood.

Geographical and Contact Information

Centers around the 300 block of Montgomery Street area
Alexandria, Virginia

Cite this Page:

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “Cross Canal,” African American Historic Sites Database, accessed June 19, 2019,
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