Many people who move to Arlington Ridge, says Maggie Gaffen, a four-decade resident who’s raised a family there, find that they never want to leave.

Among the many reasons, she says, are the South Arlington neighborhood’s proximity to the District and its compact size. “It’s very small, and people get to know each other,” said Gaffen, communications director of the Arlington Ridge Civic Association (ARCA).

Gaffen has grown so fond of the community that she stayed there long after her children moved away. “I have friends that I’ve known forever — it’s that kind of neighborhood,” she said. “We’re all growing old together.”

“I plan to stay in my house until they carry me out,” she added.

Arthur Fox, ARCA president and a 20-year resident, agreed. “There’s not a lot of turnover,” Fox said, adding that the community attracts primarily families and retirees. “Once people get here, they like it and they stay. It’s a real family kind of a place.”

While some neighboring communities are dominated by apartments and high-rises, Arlington Ridge is distinguished by vast green open space and brick center-hall Colonials, Fox said.

“If you want to live in a single-family home with a nice back yard and good schools, Arlington Ridge is the most wonderful place to find yourself,” Fox said, adding that the community has 1,200 single-family houses. “We have the best of the suburban and urban lifestyle.”

A 9/11 connection:
The Hume School, built in 1891, is the oldest standing school building in Arlington County and the current site of the county historical society. Classes continued in the school until December 1956. The building is visible in the opening shots of the 1987 movie “No Way Out.”

Around 1841, James Roach created a Federal-style mansion atop Prospect Hill, one of the highest points of the ridge. Union soldiers seized the land in 1861 and built Fort Albany. Long after the Civil War ended, Prospect Hill became a popular site among photographers seeking to capture images of the Pentagon smoldering from the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

Another fort, Fort Scott, was built in May 1861 to defend Washington. It’s now a designated historic district and Arlington Ridge’s largest park, at 11.63 acres, according to ARCA.

Living there:
Arlington Ridge is bordered by Army Navy Drive to the west and north and by South Joyce Street, 26th Street South and South Grant Street to the east. The southern boundary is irregular, with the western half of the neighborhood ending north of Gunston Park and Gunston Middle School but a notch east of South Lang Street extending farther south, to Four Mile Run.

Tonya Finlay, an agent with Neighborhood Real Estate, said 55 single-family houses sold in or near the neighborhood in the past 12 months, the most expensive being a five-bedroom, five-bathroom, three-half-bath house for $2.13 million.

According to Trulia, homes now for sale in Arlington Ridge range from two studio condominiums in the $173,000s to a new six-bedroom, five-bathroom house for $2.4 million.

A drive of less than 10 minutes in any direction will bring you to numerous shopping centers and restaurants. Nearby neighborhoods such as Shirlington Village, Clarendon and Crystal City provide a multitude of dining and nightlife options, and Pentagon City has one of the area’s largest shopping malls.

Exercise enthusiasts can bike, walk or run on the Four Mile Run Trail, which winds through Arlington Ridge along the county’s border with Alexandria. Or challenge neighbors to a pickup game on Gunston Middle School’s lighted turf soccer fields.

Annual community events geared toward families have become tradition, such as the Halloween parade, or the July 4 gathering to watch D.C. fireworks from the ridge’s best vantage point, Prospect Hill. “Arlington Ridge really is a best-kept secret,” said Finlay, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1992.

Oakridge Elementary, Gunston Middle and Wakefield High.

The Pentagon City and Crystal City Metro stations, on the Blue and Yellow lines, are just east of Arlington Ridge, in walking distance for some residents. Metrobus and ART bus lines also serve the neighborhood. The neighborhood lies between Interstate 395 and Route 1, and Reagan National Airport is a short drive away.

“I can get to the Kennedy Center faster from where I live now than when I lived in Capitol Hill,” Fox said.

In the past 12 months, there were two aggravated assaults, two robberies and five burglaries in Arlington Ridge, according to the Arlington County Police Department’s public information officer, Dustin Sternbeck.

The ARCA 2013 neighborhood conservation plan indicated that 90 percent of the neighborhood’s residents agreed that they live in a safe area.

“I have three children that walk to school,” Finlay said. “We feel very safe here.”