Washington, D.C. – Escaped elephants, beaches, Little Saigon – think you know Arlington, Virginia? Once home to General Robert E. Lee, Arlington has also been home to a world-themed amusement park and Tops Drivette. It was where Orville Wright tested planes and where desegregation was first implemented in Virginia's public schools. WETA TV 26 brings you these stories and more in its new production "ARLINGTON: HEROES, HISTORY & HAMBURGERS." The documentary premieres December 2 at 8 p.m. and airs several times throughout December on TV 26.
WETA's 80-minute tribute to Arlington County features archival footage, interviews with residents and insight from historians Kathryn Holt Springston, Sara Collins and Arlington County historic preservation coordinator Michael Levanthal. The program documents the history of Arlington starting with life on the land 10,000 years ago and concluding in recent times with a look at the county's diversity.
"WETA has a proud tradition of creating intriguing history programming, and we're delighted to focus on Arlington," said Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA. "This documentary celebrates the rich history of our neighborhood."
"ARLINGTON" looks back to the region's history during the colonial era through to the Civil War. The program highlights some of the area's historic homes and the families that inhabited them. Some of the homes discussed are Glebe House, the Ball Sellers House and Arlington House.
The program turns to Arlington at the start of the 20th century, when the area boasted beaches on the Potomac, a racetrack and Luna Park – a world-themed amusement park. Luna Park had restaurants, water rides and even some exotic animals. Once, three of its elephants escaped and were not found until several days later in Burke, Virginia.
One of the remarkable moments in "ARLINGTON" is the use of recently discovered footage of Orville Wright experimenting with his new flying invention at Fort Myer. The segment reveals how the first aviation-related fatality occurred there in 1908, when Orville's co-pilot died during a test flight.
"ARLINGTON" features interviews with many lifelong residents of the county who relate recent history in vivid detail. One such interview is with Herb Ware, a former math teacher at Stratford Jr. High School, the first school in Virginia to integrate. Ware remembers the heightened security the initial day African-American students attended his class. A mother of one of those students also recounts the events that day.
The program shifts to Arlington in the 1970s and the arrival of the Metro. Many neighborhoods experienced change during this time. Clarendon, which had been a shopping hub, was torn apart by the construction. Vietnamese store owners saw opportunity in the lowered lease rates and settled in Clarendon – which became known as Little Saigon.
"ARLINGTON: HEROES, HISTORY & HAMBURGERS" is a production of WETA. Gary Broom is producer of the program; executive producers are John Begeny and Susan Richmond.
Funding is provided by the Georgetown University Center for Professional Development at Arlington and WETA members.
WETA TV 26 and 90.9 FM are public broadcasting stations serving Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia with educational, cultural and public affairs programming and related services. WETA is committed to producing programs that highlight the history and people of the Greater Washington area. For the past six years, WETA has produced "WETA's Hometown Heroes," an Emmy Award-winning series that profiles individuals who have devoted themselves to bettering our community. In 2002, WETA presented the documentary "Silver Spring: Story of an American Suburb." WETA's headquarters are located in Arlington, Virginia. WETA was founded by public television pioneer and Arlington luminary Elizabeth P. Campbell. For more information on WETA and its services, visit www.weta.org.
October 13, 2004