The commercial area now known as Ballston was called Parkington from the 1950s into the 1980s.
The name referred to the large parking garage built there to accommodate the growing suburban population of the Washington area. The main shopping attraction of Parkington was the Hecht’s store, which was included into the formation of the Ballston Mall and is now known as Macy’s. The Hecht Company, as it was known at the time, constructed the garage themselves.
During the holidays, Hecht’s advertised it’s “Kiddies’ Train Ride” in local papers, including the Alexandria Gazette. The ad read
“Clear the tracks for the Disneyland Special! Kids, get your Mommie and Daddy to bring you to the Hecht Co. at Parkington today and every day till Christmas! Take the most exciting train ride you ever had! Buy your ticket for just 9 [cents] and hop aboard for a wonderful, magical train ride through Disneyland…where you’ll see your favorite Disney characters – Donald Duck, Alice-in-Wonderland [sic], the Mad Hatter, and many, many more! Buy and armful of tickets and go ’round as many times as you’d like!” There was even a “bucking bronco” nearby. Of course, the train was only for kids, but “doting parents can watch too!”
What About You?
Do you remember the train ride at Hecht’s, or Christmas shopping in Parkington? What other Arlington holiday traditions do you remember? Let us hear from you!