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A view of the Reston Town Center
Reston is a census-designated place (CDP) in Fairfax Countymarker, Virginiamarker, United Statesmarker, within the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The population was 56,407 at the 2000 census. An internationally known planned community, it was built with the goal of revolutionizing post-World War II concepts of land use and residential/corporate development in American suburbia.

The Reston Town Centermarker is the de facto central business district, with high-rise and low-rise commercial buildings that are home to shops, restaurants, offices, a cinema, and a hotel. It comprises over of office space.

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.


The Paramount 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 tract. An office retail development and a road are named for him. In 1961, Robert E. Simon bought most of the land, except for on which the Bowman distillery continued to operate until 1987.

Reston was conceived as a planned community by Robert E. Simon. Founded on April 20, 1964 (Simon's 50th birthday) and named for his initials, it was the first modern, post-war planned community in America, sparking a revival of the new town concept. 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 Harvard Universitymarker's Graduate School of Designmarker) to emulate the Italian coastal town of Portofinomarker. 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 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. 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.

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 and a relatively new website "Beyond DC" has a page devoted to Reston with almost 150 photos.

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 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 Churchmarker Washington Metromarker station opened. Most recently the Fairfax County Parkway, a major north-south artery, was opened.

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 homes.

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.

Ebola scare

A filovirus, suspected to be either another subtype of the Ebola or a new filovirus of Asian origin, was discovered among crab-eating macaques within the Covance Primate Quarantine Unit in 1989. This attracted significant media attention, including the publication of The Hot Zone. The filovirus was named after the community. The monkeys suspected of the virus were euthanized and the facility was sterilized. The facility was located in an office park off of Sunset Hills Road. It was eventually torn down and a daycare was built in its place.

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 age. 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.

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:

Related communities

Greenbelt, Marylandmarker, 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 Islandmarker in New York Citymarker and Columbia, Marylandmarker.


Reston was the first post-war community in the U.S. to use clustered townhouse development, 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).

Town and village centers

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 Centermarker, 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.

New urbanism

Reston was planned before the term "new urbanism" entered into mainstream use, but it follows new urbanism guidelines in a number of ways. Reston was built with an extensive path system, and recently Fairfax County has constructed many sidewalks. 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 future Metro stations will be located.

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.

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 Glade 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.

Cultural and other activities

A special tax district within Fairfax County was created to fund the various educational, cultural, and recreational activities of the Reston Community Center. 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.

Theater and music

The award-winning 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.

In the summer free concerts are offered at Lake Anne Plaza on Thursday evenings and at the Reston Town Center on Saturday evenings. Various festivals take place at these locations also. Canoes, rowboats, kayaks, and paddle boats can be rented on Lake Anne during the summer. 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 Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Four miles (6 km) from Reston there are year-round concerts at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Artsmarker, where the National Symphony Orchestra has its summer home away from the Kennedy Centermarker. 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.

Reston also houses the offices and headquarters for MENC: The National Association for Music Education, which supervises and promotes music education in schools across the United States.

Parks and recreation

Restonians can avail themselves of the many cultural activities in Washington, D.C., by driving into the city or taking buses to connect to a Metro train. Two upscale shopping centers are located nearby in Tysons Cornermarker, as well as the shops located throughout Reston and nearby Herndonmarker.

Two miles (3 km) from Reston on Leesburg Pike (Route 7) is the Colvin Run Millmarker, 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 Architectsmarker in 1973. The miller's house, barn, and historic post office/gift shop provide visitors with a glimpse of nineteenth century rural Virginia life. 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 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.

The Reston Zoo is located on the northeast edge of the community. It has 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.

Reston has an assortment of pools, which are dedicated for recreational use in the summer, located near man-made freshwater lakes. An indoor poor is open year-round in the Reston Community Center. The Reston Association Nature Center provides services such as nature walks, charity events, and conservation efforts.

Two golf courses are located in Reston, one public and one private. Each neighborhood has its own public swimming pool and there are many tennis courts located near Lake Anne.

The Washington and Old Dominion trail, a long pathway built solely for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, also runs through Reston.

Reston has of pathways that wind throughout the community. The centerpiece of Reston's focus on nature is the Vernon J. Walker Nature Education Center. Walker Nature Center's 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 will be LEED gold-certified.

Museums and galleries

Reston is home to two dedicated art galleries: one in Reston Town Center, the other at Lake Anne. 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.


Reston is served by the Reston Regional Library. The library contains over 215,000 volumes and houses an extensive collection on the history of Reston.


Reston straddles the Dulles Technology Corridor and is home to the headquarters of two Fortune 500 corporations of 11 in the Washington, D.C.marker area: (NVR and Sallie Mae). It is also home to the United States Geological Survey, the National Wildlife Federation, and CNRI. Google operates an office in Reston.

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.


Reston is a 10-mile drive from Tysons Cornermarker and the Capital Beltway to the east, and Washington Dulles International Airportmarker to the west. Reston has four local exits on the Dulles Toll Road. Direct access to and from the airport is free.

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.

When Metrorailmarker is extended to Dulles Airport along the right-of-way in the middle of the Dulles Toll Road, two stations will be located in Reston. The first will be near the Wiehle Avenue/Dulles Toll Road interchange (phase one) and the second will be at the Reston Parkway/Dulles Toll Road interchange (phase two). A third station will straddle the Herndon/Reston border at the existing Herndon Monroe transit hub. Fairfax Countymarker provides several commuter express buses from free park-and-ride lots to the West Falls Churchmarker Metrorailmarker station.

The Reston Internal Bus System (RIBS) is a set of four routes that circulate within the community, using Reston Town Center as a transfer point. The fare system is the same as that of Fairfax Connector. RIBS has been operated for 20 years by Fairfax Countymarker's Fairfax Connector bus service. Metrobus service is available to Washington Dulles International Airportmarker 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 metro station, which then connects with Ronald Reagan Washington National Airportmarker.

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.

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.


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

Reston is located at (38.954577, -77.346357).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 17.4 square miles (45.0 km²), of which, 17.1 square miles (44.4 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.5 km²) of it (1.21%) is water. 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 park land.


Primary and secondary schools

As a part of Fairfax County, Reston is served by Fairfax County Public Schoolsmarker and a number of private schools. Reston has one high school within its boundaries, South Lakes High Schoolmarker, which serves most of Reston. 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 Schoolmarker. Reston has a number of elementary schools including:

  • Buzz Aldrin Elementary School
  • Neil Armstrong Elementary School
  • A. Scott Crossfield Elementary School
  • Dogwood Elementary School
  • Forest Edge Elementary School for Communication & Technology
  • Fox Mill Elementary School
  • Hunters Woods Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences
  • Lake Anne Elementary School
  • Sunrise Valley Elementary School
  • Terraset Elementary School

There are several private schools located in Reston, including:

  • Children's House Montessori School of Reston
  • Academy of Christian Education (elementary)
  • Edlin (elementary and middle school)
  • Reston Montessori School
  • United Christian Parish Preschool
  • Lake Anne Nursery and Kindergarten

Colleges and universities

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

Public libraries

Fairfax County Public Library operates the Reston Regional Library in the CDP.


As of the census 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.

Reston was Virginia's best educated community, proportionately, with 66.7% of adult residents (25 and older) holding an associate degree or higher, and 62.8% of adults possessing a baccalaureate degree or higher.

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). 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. A portion of the housing is set aside for Section 8 low-income housing. Subsidized senior citizen housing is also available.

The home ownership rate (owner-occupied housing units to total units) was 66.7%.


As noted above, Reston is unincorporated; it receives "municipal" services either from the county or from the Reston Association, which operates recreational facilities across the town and maintains pathways and other common grounds.

It has been proposed to incorporate Reston as a municipality. A referendum to incorporate Reston failed in 1980 by a 2-1 margin; however, the proposal was resurrected in 2005 by the Reston Citizens Association.

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.

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.

Local media

Reston is served by the Washington, D.C.marker market, and has three local newspapers: the Reston Observer, the Fairfax County Times, and the Reston Connection.

Notable residents

Notable current and former residents of Reston include:


Image:Reston,_Virginia_-_Lake_Anne_plaza.jpg|Lake Anne Plaza in Reston.Image:Usgs-headquarters.jpeg|USGS Headquarters.

Panoramic view from Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride lot


  1. Reston Town Center
  2. Ebola Reston Outbreaks Department of Human Virology Stanford University
  3. " Reston CDP." United States Census Bureau. Retrieved on April 4, 2009.
  4. Home page. Reston Zoo. Retrieved on April 4, 2009.
  5. Reston Community Center
  7. " Google Offices." Google. Retrieved on July 12, 2009.
  8. " Library Branches." Fairfax County Public Library. Retrieved on October 21, 2009.
  9. " Reston CDP, Virginia." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on October 21, 2009.
  12. Holley, Joe. Taylor Morris, 62: Radio Host Played Classic Rock", The Washington Post, August 3, 2009. Accessed August 10, 2009.

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