For the final Reston Then and Now — a series where we’ve used Fairfax County’s aerial photography to track changes in the area — we’re looking at the area overall and at how far it’s come since its founding.
Reston was founded in 1964, but some of the paths that are roads today — like Baron Cameron Avenue — are still visible in photography from 1937. Reston’s iconic man-made lakes are also absent, leaving most of the area that’s Reston today just open fields.
By 1976 though — 10 years after Reston was founded — the region was starting to take shape in the neighborhoods around Lake Anne and Lake Thoreau. The village design envisioned by founder Robert E. Simon is still apparent in those early aerial photographs showing retail and residential areas clumped together.
But over the years, those isolated communities start to become increasingly interconnected to the point of being almost indistinguishable from above. By the mid-1990s, the only major patch of green space around Reston is Colvin Run near Lake Fairfax and southeast of Lake Anne.
After the Reston Town Center starts showing up in aerial photography in 1990 (construction began in 1988) the development starts to shift west of the original area and more toward major transit routes.
In the photography from 1990, construction also starts to bunch around the Dulles Toll Road in the Reston Station neighborhood. The Toll Road was built in 1982, and by the early 2000s, the urban centers of Reston shift away from the villages to the north and south and more towards the developments along the major highway. This density starts to ramp up in 2011 as the area builds up for the Silver Line’s opening in 2014.
The density continuing to focus around the Silver Line is poised to continue as developers plan new mixed-use buildings near Woodland Park by the planned Herndon Silver Line Metro station.