New at Alexandria’s Waterfront
Riverside Black History and Art Experiences
Pictured: Jones Point Park
This year, Alexandria’s waterfront continues to evolve with two new experiences that highlight undertold stories of Alexandria’s Black history and culture.
In February 2023, the new southern waterfront route of the self-guided Alexandria African American Heritage Trail debuts with nearly double the number of stops as the northern route. The southern route, presented in the form of an online StoryMap, highlights the people, places and neighborhoods from the time of Alexandria’s founding through the 20th century and was developed as a volunteer community initiative with support from the Office of Historic Alexandria. Corresponding signage and markers will be installed along the route in summer 2023.
Pictured: “Two Boxes of Oranges and Admonia Jackson” rendering; Image Credit: Studio Cooke John
In late March, Two Boxes of Oranges and Admonia Jackson will be unveiled as the fifth temporary public art installation on Old Town Alexandria’s waterfront, on display until November 2023 as part of the City of Alexandria’s Site See: New Views in Old Town series. Created by Jamaican-born, New York-based award-winning artist Nina Cooke John of Studio Cooke John, the installation is inspired by the ships uncovered on Alexandria’s waterfront in 2015 and 2018 and the many layers of history that are not readily seen. The installation forms an abstracted ship’s hull with steel vertical elements that rise and bend, referencing the curve of the hull’s frame. Visitors can stand within the space and imagine a time in Alexandria’s history when the ships carried not only cargo like tobacco, molasses, rum and limes, but also enslaved people who were traded as part of the transatlantic and domestic slave trades. The outer blue of the installation is contrasted with an orange inner surface depicting text pulled from ships’ manifests listing items like herring, coconuts and gin, alongside names and descriptions of enslaved people, such as “Jane Tailor, female, 5’ 2”.” Also listed are “two boxes of oranges” and “Admonia Jackson.”