The Arlington Farms was a wartime residential project for women government employees that was built nearby the Pentagon. The photographs depict the exterior of the building of the Arlington Farms recreation hall where Saturday night dances were held.
Residents are seen writing letters, sunbathing, and playing cards. These images are part of a collection of Washingtoniana photographs. Today, you can view some of these photos at the National Archives.
During World War II, the men in Arlington Farms took advantage of the wartime economy and began to recruit women into government jobs. By 1940, the women made up 40% of the American workforce, allowing them to take on the demands of the new jobs and the increased demand for housing. After the war, women were encouraged to enter the workforce in unprecedented numbers, and the ensuing rationing of food, clothing, and shelter had a dramatic effect on the quality of life for many men.
The Arlington Farm housing complex was renovated during World War II to house and temporary home to women military and civil servants. While the majority of the dorms were for military servicewomen, six did remain reserved for civilians. Many of the residents of the housing project worked in the Pentagon, the Navy Annex, and the Army Signal Intelligence Service. Additionally, they enjoyed recreational activities with the young men stationed in the Capitol area.
The Arlington Farms were a temporary housing complex for women who served during the Second World War. The United States Federal Works Agency built the community on the grounds of the historic Custis-Lee family estate. They included women in these positions to serve the country. During the war, the women were often required to relocate to Washington, D.C., to work in the capital. In Arlington County, women who had previously worked in the area were recruited by the U.S. Civil Service Commission and the WAVES.
During World War II, women were recruited to the Army through the WAVES program. The men served in the Pentagon, the Navy Annex, and the Army Signal Intelligence Service. While there, these women also enjoyed recreational activities with the young servicemen stationed in the area. After the war, the land was used for the Pentagon and other military facilities. Besides, it was home to a variety of military jobs.
Arlington Farms was nicknamed “Girl Town” and was a temporary home for soldiers and sailors stationed at nearby bases. In addition to the department store, beauty shop and recreation hall pictured in the photographs above, Arlington Farms also had a chapel, a post office, and a cafeteria.
The complex’s buildings were demolished in the 1960s and today Arlington National Cemetery occupies the land.