Ballston the last underground station on the Orange Line and the last Arlington stop on that line until East Falls Church is completed in 1985, will escalate its passengers up into a neighborhood dominated by Hecht's green Parkington department store building and dozens of new and used car lots.

The escalator surfaces on Fairfax Drive, with a view of the backs of stores along nearby Wilson Boulevard, vacant weed-filled land, a church, a new bank building nearby and the I-66 trailer, where residents can inquire about construction of the controversial highway being built five blocks away. Just beyond Ballston, Metro surfaces and joins the I-66 right-of-way.

Only a block or two from the Ballston stop are the 1930s Arlington suburbs, vast neighborhoods of small, one-and two-story frame houses, many with cinderblock garages, tool sheds and vegetable gardens.

Many houses are being bulldozed and replaced with clusters of townhouses, such as the 18-unit project being built at 1116 N. Taylor St. by John L. Rhodes.

"I'm putting these up because the county wanted to refurbish Ballston," Rhodes said. "Metro is having an impact and Arlington County wanted something done" around the stations.

"You're not going to know this area in five years . . . right not they don't even have sidewalks along here," Rhodes said. Dirt alleys and streets without sidewalks are still common sights near all of Arlington's new Metro stops.

But while there has been a large turnover of residents and businesses around Ballston, there also are some that have been little landmarks.

Giovanni Caffo has run his Ballston Shoe Repair shop for 26 years, just a short walk from his home at 1034 N. Taylor St., where he and his wife have lived for 40 years.

The Cafos, who have a well-kept, white frame house with a large side yard filled with boxwood, don't expect to use the subway themselves, although Caffo said he hopes it will help his business. But old shops like his, in old buildings around a new subway stop, don't have a long lease on life.

"Anyway, I'm 82 and if they sell my building I guess I'll just retire." Clarendon

The Quality Shop Men's Clothing Store at 3028 Wilson Blvd., the first store to receive a license when Arlington began licensing businesses in the 1920s, is the first store most Metro riders will see when they come out of the Clarendon subway station.

Like most Clarendon stores, the Quality Shop hasn't seen many pedestrians since the 1940s. "There are few walk-ins. No foot traffic. But we expect immediate results from Metro,' says Ronald Sidle, who has operated the shop for 20 of its 49 years.

While Clarendon also includes the Court House, Virginia Square and Ballston stations, the heart f the Clarendon shopping center is still in the maze of diagonal streets around Wilson and Washington boulevards.

Small shops are visible in almost every direction, some empty and many due to be demolished when current leases run out. But there is a Greenwich Village atmosphere among the decrepit buildings and a growing Vietnamese version of China Town, with almost a dozen Vietnamese stores and restaurants.

The major landmark -- among a string of antique shops, a Little Tavern, jewelers, delicatessen, brass bed shop, natural food store, bakery and other small stores -- is Sears, which sprawls over parts of three blocks and is one of the few stores that can boast a large free parking lot for its patrons.

But even around Clarendon the commercial community is rarely more than one or two blocks wide, with quiet residential neighborhoods only 300 yards from the subway. Housing is primarily modest homes built in the 1920s and 1930s but now fetching high prices as middle-and upper income families discover the neighborhood and its easy access to the subway.

"It's a great location and houses seem to be for sale everywhere here," says Nancy Cohrs, who has rented on 9th Road for four years. "Three houses next door have all sold within the past six months, none for less than $83,000, and the one on the corner for $107,000 because it has a big lot. Our house has been on the market, too, but the owner was asking $140,000 and it didn't sell. He'll probably try again next year."

Morella 'enegan and her husband, an attorney with a Washington law firm, bought their clapboard house at 9th and Irving because it was near a subway station.

"We lived in an apartment in Manhattan but moved here because Manhattan wasn't a good place to raise children," said Morella Henegan, who is expecting her first child. "We looked in the Rosemont section of Alexandria (near a future subway station), but here we found a lot more house for the money . . . and it's a short walk to Metro."

The commuting time for her husband on the Metro, to the McPherson Square station near the White House, will be about 10 minutes. Virginia Square

Beyond the gravel, weeds, Metro construction trailers, used-car lot, church and boarded-up homes that surround the Virginia Square Metro station is the hallmark of things to come -- the 20-story Tower Villas condominium that looms above its one-and two-story neighbors.

Nearby, along Fairfax Drive, are real estate firms, more churches, the George Mason University School of Law housed in the abandoned Kann's department store "and more banks -- there must be a dozen of them -- than I've seen anywhere outside of La Jolla, California," said Tower Villa resident William Howser.

Howser, a consultant to the Veterans Administration "near the McPherson Square Metro station," says he now walks 2.4 miles to Rosslyn to catch the subway to work "because I like the exercise. But Metro soon will be one block away and it's going to change everything. This has been a decayed area for five to eight years."

Virginia Square also has many single-family homes within a block of the station. "But most of these houses have been bought up by real estate firms. They own almost all of them," said one woman who rents in the area.

One place the firms don't own is 3706 N. 9th St., the tidy, 35-year-old brick home of Mary W. Utterback, in the shadow of Tower Villa and about 200 yards from the Metro escalator.

"This is a nice little home and we're slated to be part of a county park someday," Utterback said. "I'm for Metro. We need it. Although I don't know what it will do to us and I expect to ride it very little. I'm almost 83 and don't want to go to D.C. anyway. You get your pocketbook taken."

The Utterback house is not for sale, although like most homeowners around the new stations she has had calls from real estate agents.

But the blocks around the Utterback house are filled with boarded-up homes and decaying, unrepaired houses developrs are renting until the time is ripe to bulldoze them and go highrise.

Robert C. Hall Jr., rector of St. George's Episcopal Church next to the Metro stop, says "I'm very much a Metro fan. We expect it to rejuvenate the whole community here . . . but we also expect there won't be a parking place within three or four blocks starting next week." Court House

Court House, the first Orange Line stop after Rosslyn and the political and legal heart of Arlington, still looks like the small Virginia town that existed 30 to 40 years ago when Arlington was an uphill trolley ride from Washington. It is still an area of one-story shops, car dealers court house buildings and modest hmes.

The names may have changed, and glossy motor homes and trailers now sit along Wilson Boulevard opposite Colonial Village and Dyer Brothers Paint Store, where Dusty Reines has sold vehicles of one sort or another for 26 years.

But unless you have business with the county, bank at one of the three "First" banks near the subway exit -- First Virginia, First Federal and First American -- or want a quick lunch, there is little to do at this stop.

There is a school and playground, backyards with swings and portable pools only one or two blocks away from the Court House station and the decaying Wilson Boulevard strip.

The Court House escalator will disgorge passengers onto Wilson Boulevard, where most shops are clustered, opposite the tire-filled lot of Leeth Brothers and several dilapidated propertieson the fringe of Colonial Village, bought last year by Mobil Oil for partial conversion to condominiums and highrises.

Leeth manager Kulio Valacquez predicts a burst of business when commuters descend on the four new stations Saturday.

"They'll want to get a tire and leave their cars here all day while they take subways to work," Valacquex predicted.

The opening of the new stations is expected to bring increased parking and rush-hour traffic problems as commuters are driven to the stations or attempt to park all day within walking distance of the stations. Parking around the Court House is not expected to get much worse, however, since vacant lots and area streets that do not have permit parking already are jammed with the cars of county government employes.

Metro-related traffic may well add to the congestion along Wilson Boulevard, especially with road construction projects the county is about to begin now that the huge subway ditches have been covered.

"For four years it's been absolutely horrible here because of Metro . . . the ground was always shaking, the electricity, gas and water would go out and, of course, they took our garage and driveway," says Coelene Shrader, who has lived more than 25 years at 1412 Adams St., one block from the new Metro stop.

"The county took the land across the street and made it a parking lot -- it's supposed to be a park someday -- and now they're going to build 15th Street over the underground Metro line. A county man told us they want more of our property . . . for 15th Street and its sidewalks," said Shrader. "This was a peaceful, quiet place when we moved in here . . . we just want to be left alone and lead a normal life. But I guess that's no longer possible."