Reston, Virginia

Reston, Virginia
Planned community,
Census-designated place

Location of Reston in Fairfax County, Virginia
Reston, Virginia
Reston, Virginia
Reston, Virginia

Location of Reston in Fairfax County, Virginia

Coordinates: 38°57′16″N 77°20′47″W / 38.95444°N 77.34639°W / 38.95444; -77.34639Coordinates: 38°57′16″N 77°20′47″W / 38.95444°N 77.34639°W / 38.95444; -77.34639
Country United States
State Virginia
County Fairfax
Founded April 20, 1964
Founded by Robert E. Simon
  Total 15.7 sq mi (40.6 km2)
  Land 15.3 sq mi (39.7 km2)
  Water 0.3 sq mi (0.9 km2)
Elevation 360 ft (100 m)
Population (2010)
  Total 58,404
  Density 3,810/sq mi (1,471.0/km2)
Demonym(s) Restonian
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
  Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 20190, 20191, 20194
Area code(s) 703, 571
FIPS code 51-66672[1]
GNIS feature ID 1499951[2]

Reston is a census-designated place (CDP) in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States, within the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The population was 58,404 at the 2010 census.[3] An internationally known planned community founded in 1964, it was built with the goal of revolutionizing post–World War II concepts of land use and residential/corporate development in suburban America.[4] The Reston Town Center is home to many businesses, with high-rise and low-rise commercial buildings that are home to shops, restaurants, offices, a cinema, and a hotel. It comprises over 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2) of office space.[5] Municipal, government-like services are provided by the nonprofit Reston Association, which is supported by a per-household fee for all residential properties in Reston. In 2012, Reston was ranked 7th in the Best Place to Live in America by CNNMoney Magazine.[6]



A now abandoned whiskey distillery, long operated by the Bowman family
The Midtown Reston Condominiums, a residential building at the Reston Town Center

The land on which Reston sits was initially owned by Lord Fairfax during the 18th century. C.A. Wiehle (for whom Wiehle Avenue is named) bought the land later in the 1880s. He died after construction of several buildings. His sons did not share his vision, and sold the land to A. Smith Bowman, who built a bourbon distillery on the site while maintaining a farm on most of the area, a 7,300-acre (30 km2) tract. An office retail development and a road are named for him. In 1961, Robert E. Simon bought most of the land, except for 60 acres (240,000 m2) on which the Bowman distillery continued to operate until 1987.[7][8][9]

Reston was conceived as a planned community by Robert E. Simon. Founded on April 10, 1964 (Simon's 50th birthday) and named for his initials, it was one of the first modern, post-war planned communities in America, which sparked a revival of the planned community concept.[10] Simon's family had recently sold Carnegie Hall, and Simon used the funds to create Reston. Simon hired Conklin Rossant Architects as master planners to incorporate higher density housing to conserve open space, as well as mixed use areas for industry, business, recreation, education, and housing.

The first section of the community to be built, Lake Anne Plaza, was designed by James Rossant (who studied under Walter Gropius at the Harvard Graduate School of Design) to emulate the Italian coastal town of Portofino. Lake Anne village was designed with modern architectural themes that extend to a nearby elementary school, a gasoline station, and two churches. Lake Anne also has an art gallery, several restaurants, the Reston Historic Trust Museum, shops, and a senior citizens' fellowship house. All are local businesses, as there are no chain stores or chain restaurants allowed in Lake Anne. Close by are the cubist townhouses at Hickory Cluster that were designed by the noted modernist architect, Charles M. Goodman, in the International Style. Other sections of the town, such as Hunters Woods, South Lakes, and North Point, were developed later, each with a neighborhood shopping center and supermarket.


The growth and development of Reston has been monitored by newspaper articles, national magazines, and scholarly journals on architecture and land use. In 1967 the First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Lyndon Johnson, visited Reston to take a walking tour along its pathways as part of her interest in beautification projects. Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin visited Reston elementary schools named for them. The Washington Post featured a road trip to Reston in January 2006,[11] and a relatively new website "Beyond DC" has a page devoted to Reston with almost 150 photos.

Reston experienced increasing traffic congestion as it grew in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This was a time when Reston's population was growing but the Dulles Toll Road had not been built. Commuter traffic between Reston and Washington created serious traffic congestion on the roads that connected Reston to Washington DC. In 1984 the toll road opened, and in 1986 the West Falls Church Washington Metro station opened. Most recently the Fairfax County Parkway, a major north-south artery, was opened.[12]

Reston has grown to a point where it now fits the definition of an edge city. While Reston takes on the statistical properties of an edge city, its tightly controlled design averted several problems they typically face, such as hostile pedestrian situations and lack of mass transit. Many of the neighborhoods in Reston were designed to be medium density, which is atypical of an edge city. In other ways it is a textbook example, with a majority of medium-rise office buildings, and some citizens opposed to the expansion of its high-density core.[13]

Ebola virus scare

Main article: Reston virus

A filovirus, at first suspected to be Ebola virus (EBOV), was discovered among crab-eating macaques (Macaca fascicularis) within the Covance Primate Quarantine Unit in 1989. This attracted significant media attention, including the publication of The Hot Zone. The filovirus was found to be distinct from EBOV and to be nonpathogenic for humans. It was named after the community, and is now known as Reston virus (RESTV). Macaques found to be or suspected to be infected with RESTV were euthanized, and the facility was sterilized.[14] The facility was located in an office park near Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue. It was eventually torn down, and a daycare was built in its place.


Lake Anne Plaza in Reston

The careful planning and zoning within Reston allows for common grounds, several parks, large swaths of wooded areas with picturesque runs (streams), wildflower meadows, two golf courses, nearly 20 public swimming pools, bridle paths, a bike path, four lakes, tennis courts, and extensive foot pathways.[15] These pathways, combined with bridges and tunnels, help to separate pedestrians from vehicular traffic and increase safety at certain street crossings. Reston was built in wooded areas of oak, maple, sycamore, and Virginia pine.

Reston is the location for a regional government center serving citizens in the northern part of Fairfax County. The Reston Regional Library, Reston Hospital Center, and the Embry Rucker Community Shelter are located nearby. The Reston police sub-station is also the office headquarters of the locally elected supervisor of the Hunter Mill District within the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Reston is one of just a handful of communities in the U.S. that has been designated a Backyard Wildlife Habitat community. Usually this designation is for single-family homes.

Reston serves as the headquarters for the North American command of the German armed forces and oversees upwards up 1,500 troops deployed in the United States at any given time.[16]

Guiding principles

Part of the New Town movement, from the beginning Reston was designed to follow "guiding principles" in its development that would stress quality of life. Citizens would be able to live in the same community while going through different life cycles with different housing needs as they aged. It was hoped that Restonians could live, work, and have recreation in their own community, with common grounds and scenic beauty shared equally regardless of income level.[4]

Beyond the influence of the New Town movement, Reston was part of a back-to-the-land movement popular in the 1960s and early 1970s. The principles incorporated in the community can be seen as a reaction to the new suburban communities of the post-war era (e.g., Levittown). Among the problems in these communities that Reston responded to included income segregation, a lack of natural preservation, suburbs that served only as bedroom communities for commuters, a lack of public space in new developments, and a lack of community ties in new developments. Many early residents settled in Reston because of the ideals of the community.

Reston was planned with the following principles, as stated by Robert E. Simon in 1962:

In the creation of Reston, Virginia, these are the major goals:
  1. That the widest choice of opportunities be made available for the full use of leisure time. This means that the New Town should provide a wide range of cultural and recreational facilities as well as an environment for privacy.
  2. That it be possible for anyone to remain in a single neighborhood throughout his life, uprooting being neither inevitable nor always desirable. By providing the fullest range of housing styles and prices – from high-rise efficiencies to 6-bedroom townhouses and detached houses – housing needs can be met at a variety of income levels and at different stages of family life. This kind of mixture permits residents to remain rooted in the community if they so choose – as their particular housing needs change. As a by-product, this also results in the heterogeneity that spells a lively and varied community.
  3. That the importance and dignity of each individual be the focal point for all planning, and take precedence for large-scale concepts.
  4. That the people be able to live and work in the same community.
  5. That commercial, cultural and recreational facilities be made available to the residents from the outset of the development – not years later.
  6. That beauty – structural and natural – is a necessity of the good life and should be fostered.
  7. Since Reston is being developed from private enterprise, in order to be completed as conceived it must also, of course, be a financial success.
    The Reston Concept: New Town[17]

Greenbelt, Maryland, a 1930s community built as part of a federal New Deal housing experiment, is another example of a New Town. Subsequent New Town movement communities include Roosevelt Island in New York City and Columbia, Maryland. However, Reston was the first post-war community in the U.S. to use clustered townhouse development,[18] a strategy that allows for the preservation of open space along with higher density. Reston was also the first 20th-century private community in the U.S. to incorporate natural preservation in its planning (Greenbelt was a publicly supported community).[11]

Buildings in Reston Town Center
USGS Headquarters

An important part of Reston's development is its five village centers and one town center. Each village center, all of which (save North Point) predate the Reston Town Center, was designed to be a half-mile walk from most homes and incorporate the daily retail and community service needs of residents. Denser developments, such as apartments and clustered town homes are clustered around each village center. The first village center built was the critically acclaimed Lake Anne (see below), followed by (in chronological order) Hunters Woods, Tall Oaks, South Lakes, and North Point.[11]

Reston was planned before the term "new urbanism" entered into mainstream use, but it follows new urbanism guidelines in a number of ways.[19] Reston was built with an extensive path system, and recently Fairfax County has constructed many sidewalks.[20] It is possible to bike to downtown Reston in 15 minutes from most locations. The downtown and original areas also incorporate mixed-use development. Further mixed-use development is planned for areas where Washington Metro stations are or will be located.[21] However, Reston differs from New Urbanism principles in several important ways. Almost all buildings are oriented away from main streets, and few major arteries have complete sidewalk networks, although pedestrian and bike travel is easily accomplished on the isolated nature paths referred to above. This is a result of Fairfax County controlling Reston's transportation planning—until recently, the Fairfax County zoning code only required sidewalks to be built by developers in certain cases. The inward orientation of buildings was a preference of the early developers of Reston, who wished to avoid the commercial strip look that dominates many suburban developments in favor of a more naturalistic look.[11] In addition, the Dulles Toll Road Corridor of office parks cuts a half-mile wide swath across the community, with only five north-south connections, making cross-town travel by car and foot difficult. The creation of a sixth connection at Soapstone Drive has been talked about in the past by planners, and the creation of mixed-use developments around planned Metro Stations may help better knit the community together.

Culture and activities

A special tax district within Fairfax County was created to fund the various educational, cultural, and recreational activities of the Reston Community Center.[22] Its main building is located on the southern side of Reston at Hunters Woods Plaza. The center has a theater, indoor heated swimming pool with jacuzzi, ballroom, meeting rooms, and classroom space. A smaller branch of the Reston Community Center is located at Lake Anne Plaza.[23]

Annual calendar of events

Theater and music

The local theater group, the award-winning[24] Reston Community Players, present four stage productions annually in the high-tech theater at the Reston Community Center in the Hunters Woods Plaza. The Reston Chorale and Reston Community Orchestra also have regular performances here and throughout the town.[25]

In the summer free concerts are offered at Lake Anne Plaza on Thursday evenings (where years ago a young Nikki Hornsby from Burke, Virginia, was paid to sing while playing her guitar) and at the Reston Town Center on Saturday evenings.[26] Various festivals take place at these locations also.[27] Canoes, rowboats, kayaks, and paddle boats can be rented on Lake Anne during the summer.[28] Residents can also enjoy low-cost theatrical and choir performances presented by the local high school. The theatre department at South Lakes High School has received numerous awards over the years, including the honor of representing the Mid-Atlantic region in the 2000 Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland.

Four miles (6 km) from Reston there are year-round concerts at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, where the National Symphony Orchestra has its summer home away from the Kennedy Center. This venue offers world-class performances ranging from opera and ballet to symphonic and popular music. Visitors can purchase reserved seats inside the pavilion or picnic on sloping lawns while enjoying a concert. During the cooler months bluegrass music can be heard indoors at The Barns of Wolf Trap.[29]

Parks and recreation

Restonians can avail themselves of the many cultural activities in Washington, D.C., by driving 20 miles (32 km) into the city or taking buses to connect to a Metro train. Two upscale shopping centers are located nearby in Tysons Corner,[30] as well as the shops located throughout Reston and nearby Herndon.

Two miles (3 km) from Reston on Leesburg Pike (Route 7) is the Colvin Run Mill, operated by the Fairfax County Park Authority. It is a working 1811 gristmill that won a first-place restoration award from the American Institute of Architects in 1973. The miller's house, barn, and historic post office/gift shop provide visitors with a glimpse of nineteenth century rural Virginia life.[31] Daily public tours are offered. A few miles to the west along the same road there is the historic 1820 Dranesville Tavern, also operated by the park authority and rented out for weddings, parties, and corporate functions.

Also in Reston is the 476-acre (1.9 km2) Lake Fairfax Park, operated by the county. It features boat rentals from a new marina, a large outdoor pool complex called "The Water Mine", overnight campground facilities, picnic areas, and fireworks on Independence Day.[32]

The Reston Zoo is located on the northeast edge of the community.[33][34] It has 30 acres (120,000 m2) dedicated to family-friendly animal interaction with wagon rides and feeding stations. The animals include zebras, antelope, bison, ostrich, alligators, camels, goats, a reptile house, and waterfowl.[35]

Reston has an assortment of pools, which are dedicated for recreational use in the summer, located near man-made freshwater lakes. An indoor pool is open year-round in the Reston Community Center.[36] The Reston Association Nature Center provides services such as nature walks, charity events, and conservation efforts. There are also events held at the Reston Town Centre all year round, including an ice-skating ring during winters.

Two golf courses are located in Reston, one public and one private.[37] Each neighborhood has its own public swimming pool, a total of 15, and there are many tennis courts located near Lake Anne.[38]

The Washington and Old Dominion trail, a 45-mile-long (72 km) pathway built solely for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, also runs through Reston.

Reston has 55 miles (89 km) of pathways that wind throughout the community.[39] The centerpiece of Reston's focus on nature is the Vernon J. Walker Nature Education Center. Walker Nature Center's 72 acres (290,000 m2) of hardwood forest provide the setting for a picnic pavilion, campfire ring, and other facilities that support its outreach programs. On November 19, 2008, construction began on a new nature house on the north side of the center. When completed in 2009, it was LEED gold-certified.[40]

Museums and galleries

Reston is home to two dedicated art galleries, one in Reston Town Center[41] called the Greater Reston Arts Center, the other at Lake Anne.[42] The Lake Anne gallery has space where patrons can view the artists' studios and works.

Reston also has a museum about its history, called the Reston Historic Museum. It has maps, photos, and books that detail Reston in its current and past states.[43]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, "professional, scientific, and technical services" are by far the largest economic activity in Reston, consisting of 757 different companies employing 21,575 people in 2007.[44] The Information sector[45] follows second with 9,876 employees working at 150 companies in Reston. Reston straddles the Dulles Technology Corridor and is home to Carahsoft, ComScore, Leidos, Maximus, NII, NVR, VeriSign, and Learning Tree International. It is also home to the United States Geological Survey, the National Wildlife Federation, the American College of Radiology and CNRI. Google Federal Services operates an office in Reston.[46] Gate Group's North American division offices are in Reston.[47]

At one time Atlantic Coast Airlines and USAfrica Airways had headquarters facilities in Reston.[48][49][50]

Of the 20 largest venture capital firms in the D.C. area, five are in Reston. The amount of capital under management of the Reston firms, $6.9 billion, represents 53% of those top 20 regional venture capital firms.[51]


Reston is a 10-mile drive from Tysons Corner and the Capital Beltway to the east, and 6 miles (10 km) from Washington Dulles International Airport to the west. Reston has four local exits on the Dulles Toll Road. Direct access to and from the airport is free.[52] The Dulles Toll Road splits the community along a west-to-east axis, while several roads run north-south: Fairfax County Parkway on the western side, Reston Parkway through the center of town, Wiehle Avenue through the northeastern residential section, and Hunter Mill Road on the eastern border. Office space in Reston is primarily located along two roads running east-west on either side of the Dulles Toll Road: Sunrise Valley Drive to the south and Sunset Hills Road to the north.[53]

Twelve percent of Reston citizens use a method other than car to commute to work. Five percent work from home. Two percent take the bus.[54]

The Metro's Silver Line was built in the Dulles Toll Road's median. One of its stations near the Wiehle Avenue/Dulles Toll Road interchange (phase one), Wiehle–Reston East, opened on July 26, 2014. A second station at the Reston Parkway/Dulles Toll Road interchange (phase two), Reston Town Center, will open upon the Silver Line extension in 2018, as will a third station (Herndon), which will straddle the Herndon/Reston border at the existing Herndon Monroe transit hub. Fairfax County provides several commuter express buses from free park-and-ride lots to the West Falls Church station.

The Reston Internal Bus System (RIBS) is a set of five routes that circulate within the community, using Reston Town Center as a transfer point.[55] The fare system is the same as that of Fairfax Connector.[56] RIBS has been operated for 20 years by Fairfax County's Fairfax Connector bus service.[57] Metrobus service is available to Washington Dulles International Airport from the Herndon Monroe Park and Ride (which is located in Reston), and it is also possible to take routes to the West Falls Church station, which then connects with Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.[58]

Because it is a planned community, Reston has many walking trails throughout. Bicycles are also permitted on the trails. Motor vehicles, except maintenance and police vehicles, are prohibited from using the walking trails.[59]


Boundaries of the Reston CDP as of 2003, from the United States Census Bureau

Reston is located in northern Fairfax County at 38°57′16″N 77°20′47″W / 38.95444°N 77.34639°W / 38.95444; -77.34639.[60] Neighboring communities are Great Falls to the north, Wolf Trap to the east, Franklin Farm, Floris, and McNair to the southwest, the town of Herndon to the west, and Dranesville to the northwest.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the Reston CDP has a total area of 15.7 square miles (40.6 km2), of which 15.3 square miles (39.7 km2) is land and 0.35 square miles (0.9 km2), or 2.10%, is water.[3] Reston contains four artificial lakes: Lake Anne, Lake Audubon, Lake Newport, and Lake Thoreau. Another artificial lake, Lake Fairfax, is only partially on Reston property, but is technically Fairfax County parkland.


Primary and secondary schools

As a part of Fairfax County, Reston is served by Fairfax County Public Schools and a number of private schools. Reston has one high school within its boundaries, South Lakes High School, which serves most of Reston.[61] On the same lot as the high school is Reston's only junior high school, Langston Hughes Middle School. Students who live in the far northern part of Reston attend Herndon High School.[62] Reston has a number of elementary schools including:

There are several private schools located in Reston, including:

Colleges and universities

Reston has several higher education resources, including a satellite campus of NVCC (Northern Virginia Community College), the University of Phoenix – Northern Virginia campus, and Marymount University – Reston Center.

Public libraries

Fairfax County Public Library operates the Reston Regional Library in the CDP.[64][65]

Also located in Reston is the United States Geological Survey Library. This federal research library is open to the public. Today the United State Geological Survey Library's users have access to over 3 million items: over 1.7 million books and journals, 700,000 maps, 370,000 microforms, 270,000 pamphlets, 260,000 black-and-white photographs, 60,000 color transparencies, 15,000 field record notebooks, and 250 videocassettes. Materials include USGS publications as well as those produced by state and foreign geological surveys, scientific societies, museums, academic institutions, and government scientific agencies. As federal depository libraries, the libraries in Reston and Menlo Park provide public access to selected U.S. Government publications.


Historical population
Census Pop.

As of the census[66] of 2000, there were 56,407 people, 23,320 households, and 14,481 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 3,288.6 people per square mile (1,269.9/km²). There were 24,210 housing units at an average density of 1,411.5/sq mi (545.0/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 73.62% White, 9.12% African American, 0.25% Native American, 9.62% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 4.12% from other races, and 3.23% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.10% of the population.

There were 23,320 households out of which 29.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.2% were married couples living together, 8.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.9% were non-families. 29.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the CDP the population was spread out with 22.5% under the age of 18, 6.9% from 18 to 24, 36.3% from 25 to 44, 27.0% from 45 to 64, and 7.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 95.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.1 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $80,018, and the median income for a family was $94,061 (as of a 2007 estimate, these figures had risen to $93,417 and $130,221, respectively[67]). Males had a median income of $70,192 versus $45,885 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $42,747. About 3.2% of families and 4.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.1% of those under age 18 and 7.0% of those age 65 or over.

Reston has a high proportion of college-educated adults, with 66.7% having completed at least some college.[68]


As noted above, Reston is unincorporated; it receives services from the county and from the Reston Association, which operates recreational facilities across and maintains pathways and common grounds.[69]

It has been proposed to incorporate Reston as a municipality. A referendum to incorporate Reston failed in 1980 by a 2–1 margin, however.[70]

The covenants at Reston specify that the assessments paid to the association are to be in proportion to the assessed value of the property as determined by Fairfax County. The Voluntary City notes that this may have been an attempt to imitate local governments. However, it argues that it would have been better to assess all property owners the same amount for three reasons. First, the public goods that residents enjoy are not likely to be dependent on the value of the property they occupy. Second, the tax structure is factored into the price of the property; thus, an inexpensive home saddled with higher assessments would become even more inexpensive, because its value would be diminished by the tying of these payments to the property. Third, payments based on assessed value dampen the incentive to improve the value of the property.[71]

Reston has a federal system of government in which cluster associations form around neighborhoods. These cluster associations are responsible for maintaining common areas and have the power to tax their residents to do so. Many of these clusters have their own websites.

The majority of Reston lies within Virginia's 11th congressional district and is represented in Congress by Democratic Representative Gerry Connolly.[72] A portion of Reston is in Virginia's 10th District and is represented by Congresswoman Barbara Comstock. It is represented by Democrat Ken Plum in the Virginia House of Delegates, and by Janet Howell in the State Senate.

Local media

Reston is served by the Washington, D.C. market, within the distribution area for The Washington Post and The Washington Times. Reston also has two local newspapers: the Fairfax Times, and the Reston Connection. A third, the "Observer," which covered Reston and nearby Herndon, closed in 2010; the co-owner is moving to AOL's Patch service of local news sites, which launched a Reston site in August 2010.[73] A web site called "Restonian" also provides local news coverage.[74]


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Reston has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[75]

Notable residents

Notable people who were born in and/or have lived in Reston include professional basketball player Grant Hill,[76] mystery writer Donna Andrews, musician Roy Buchanan,[77] and chess grandmaster Lubomir Kavalek.

Notable local organizations

Publicly funded organizations:

Civic organizations:

Privately funded organizations:

Panoramic view from Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride lot

See also


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  5. Reston Town Center
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  16. Missing or empty |title= (help)
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  44. " U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on January 21, 2011.
  45. " U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on January 21, 2011.
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