By its very design, Reston is a self-contained community, balancing living space with recreation, open spaces, appropriate commercial development and more. Add to that the wide variety of activities and programs available — as well as the broader resources available in our surrounding area, and it’s easy to see that you’ll never run out of things to do and places to explore. This part of our website provides quick links to a variety of resources for you to explore.
A Unique Community’s Fascinating History
Reston today is a large, self-sufficient community spread over more than 7,000 acres. But it began as an undeveloped tract of wilderness in the Northern Virginia Piedmont.
Reston’s history dates back to the 1890s, when a doctor from Philadelphia made an unsuccessful attempt to establish a town (then called the Town of Wiehle) in the area now known as Reston. Later, in the 1950s, two entrepreneurial brothers from Kentucky drew up a town master plan, but this effort likewise failed to materialize. More efforts followed, but each was unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the idea of community-building was undergoing major changes. In response to the evolving demands of modern living, the concept of “new towns” emerged in western England and Scandinavia. The idea behind these communities was highly attractive: self-sufficient, small-to-medium sized cities with a broad range of carefully planned and balanced housing, commercial, industrial, educational and recreational facilities. They were urban landscapes in rural settings — and they were proving the viability of creating living areas that combined quality of life, amenities and individual dignity.
Then, in 1961, Robert E. Simon, Jr., saw this land, fell in love with it, and succeeded in gathering the elements needed to begin the process of bringing the new town concept to Northern Virginia. Using proceeds from the sale of a family property, New York City’s Carnegie Hall, Simon purchased the 6,750-acre parcel. He called the new town “Reston,” using his own initials and the English suffix for town. Within its 11.5 square-mile area, more than 58,000 residents would eventually come to live, work, play and enjoy life.