How Much Have We Lost?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Washington Examiner Features Hybla Valley


The Washington Examiner ran a terrific article featuring Hybla Valley earlier this week in one of its housing features.

Fifty-million years ago, Hybla Valley was an oxbow turn in the Potomac River and George Washington's Mount Vernon was in Maryland. At some point, the mother of all floods occurred, the Potomac River cut through a small slice of land, and Hybla Valley became an oxbow lake. Over the next fifty million years, the lake filled in and Hybla Valley turned into some of the flatest most fertile land in Fairfax County.

George Mason's grandson owned part of Hybla Valley and had his vacation house at Huntley Manor just outside the 44th District. Later, the area became known as Hybla Valley. Some trace the word to the town of Hybla in Sicily that means "sweet."

In the early 1900's, a large amount of Hybla Valley was slated to become a landing area for Zeppelins from Europe. That didn't work out and a large part of Hybla Valley ended up in the control of the federal government and ultimately became Huntley Meadows Park and a small airport.

When my grandparents moved to Mount Vernon, Hybla Valley was a series of farms and Hybla Valley Airport which closed around 1955. Over the ensuing decades, they turned into retail and homes. When I was a kid, we used to go to carnivals on some of the old runways. When my wife and I were renovating our house, we lived in a condo on the old airport grounds called South Meadows.

Today, Hybla Valley is a community in transformation. The older neighborhoods are turning over. New developments are sprouting up. Mount Vernon Plaza was completely renovated by Federal Realty. It has come a long way from an airport, a dusty southern highway, and acres of dairy farms.

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