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"Built by the People Themselves" explores the processes of community development and suburbanization in Arlington County, Virginia. Arlington is a small county located in northern Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

This site is a piece of the doctoral dissertation for Lindsey Bestebreurtje at George Mason University. Together these works trace the processes of community development, suburbanization, and segregation that Arlingtonians, black and white, used to create lasting communities that met their own needs and reflected their own preferences. Since its earliest suburban development, Arlington was made up of diverse neighborhoods, each with divergent, competing visions for the area’s future.

The exploration of the process of creating and defending communities within the suburban environment will analyze how the physical environment of Arlington reflected social tensions as competitions over race, class, space, and aesthetics literally built a physical manifestation of a county divided under Jim Crow. This study tracks the roles of the government, community institutions, and planning.