Reston sits on 8,000+ acres that had been purchased in 1861 by a German-born physician named C.A. Wiehle (the good doctor retired at 35 years old and was looking for something to occupy his time). Dr. Wiehle had a dream to construct a new town, complete with a hotel, industry, parks and a community center. For a number of reasons, his dream never became a reality, and after switching hands several times, the property was purchased by Robert E. Simon, Jr. (hint: his initials RES are the basis for the town's name, Reston).
The town was officially founded on April 20, 1964 (Simon's 50th birthday; the man was nothing if not humble!) and is widely considered the first modern, post-WWII planned community in the United States. Simon was thoroughly disgusted by the inordinate amount of time wasted commuting to stores and shops and work and residences, and wanted everything to be self-contained in a central location. The careful planning and zoning within Reston allows for common grounds, several parks, large swaths of wooded areas with picturesque streams, wildflower meadows, two golf courses, nearly 20 public swimming pools, bridle paths, a bike path, four lakes, tennis courts, and extensive bike paths. As a result, it's a great place for a bike commute.
As always, here's a few snippets of trivia that may win a bet or bring you victory in Final Jeopardy one day:
There's a strain of the Ebola virus named Ebola Reston, after monkeys imported from the Philippines that were in a Reston medical research facility were found to have the virus in 1989.
The Ebola Virus; if you see this, you are already in trouble!
Each neighborhood has its own public swimming pool, and residents can freely swim in any of the other 19 public pools in the city.
The Washington Metro is attempting to expand a line to Reston that will connect to downtown DC, and will be called the "Silver Line". Based on the current rate of debate and political struggle, it should be finished by 2071.
Reston is also the home of the "Dulles Technology Corridor" which contains the "vital electronic pathways that carry more than half of all traffic on the Internet"; it's home to more telecom and satellite companies than any other place. It's also home to the Internet Society, and used to contain the mainframe that houses the master list of all Internet domain names on Earth!
The next and final installment will talk about the trail that makes this possible, the Washington & Old Dominion Bike Trail.