About Fairfax County
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Fairfax County is a county in Virginia, in the United States. Per the 2010 Census, the population of the county is 1,081,726, making it the most populous jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with 13.5% of Virginia's population. The county is also the most populous jurisdiction in the Washington Metropolitan Area, with 19.8% of the MSA population, as well as the larger Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area, with 13.1% of the CSA population.
Fairfax was the first county in the United States to reach a six-figure median household income, and has the second-highest median household income of any local jurisdiction in the United States after neighbor Loudoun County. The county is home to the headquarters of intelligence agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and National Reconnaissance Office, as well as the National Counterterrorism Center and Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The county is also home to half of the metropolitan area's Fortune 500 companies.
Fairfax County Education
The county is served by the Fairfax County Public Schools system, to which the county government allocates 52.2% of its fiscal budget. Including state and federal government contributions, along with citizen and corporate contributions, this brings the 2008 fiscal budget for the school system to $2.2 billion. The school system has estimated that, based on the 2008 fiscal year budget, the county will be spending $13,407 on each student.
The Fairfax County Public School system contains the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a Virginia Governor's School. TJHSST consistently ranks at or near the top of all United States high schools due to the extraordinary number of National Merit Semi-Finalists and Finalists, the high average SAT scores of its students, and the number of students who annually perform nationally recognized research in the sciences and engineering. However, as a Governor's School, TJHSST draws students not only from Fairfax County, but also Arlington, Loudoun, Fauquier, and Prince William counties, as well as the City of Falls Church.
George Mason University is located just outside the city of Fairfax, near the geographic center of Fairfax County. Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) serves Fairfax County with campuses in Annandale and Springfield a center in Reston which is a satellite branch of the Loudoun campus. The NVCC Alexandria campus borders Fairfax County. The University of Fairfax is also headquartered in Vienna, Virginia. Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Medicine recently constructed a medical campus wing at Inova Fairfax Hospital in order to allow third and fourth year medical students to study at other state-of-the-art facilities in the Northern Virginia region.
Fairfax County Arts and Culture
Annual festivals include the "Celebrate Fairfax!" festival held in June at the Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfax City, the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival held in May at the Reston Town Center in Reston, and the International Children's Festival held in September at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, which features a performing arts center situated outside the town of Vienna.
Fairfax County supports a summer concert series held in multiple venues throughout the county on various nights. The concert series are called Arts in the Parks, Braddock Nights, Lee District Nights, Mt. Vernon Nights, Nottoway Nights, Spotlight by Starlight, Sounds of Summer and Starlight Cinema.
The Patriot Center, located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University just outside of the City of Fairfax, hosts a number of concerts and shows. Also the nearby Center for the Arts at George Mason is a major year-round arts venue in Fairfax County. Another major Fairfax County venue is the Workhouse Arts Center, which is located in Lorton, Virginia and includes studios for artists, event facilities for performing groups, and gallery exhibitions. Smaller local art venues include:
- Alden Theater at the McLean Community Center
- ArtSpace Herndon
- Center Stage at the Reston Community Center
- Greater Reston Arts Center
- James Lee Community Center Theater
- Vienna Arts Society (www.ViennaArtsSociety.org)
Fairfax County Transportation
Roads - Several major highways run through Fairfax County, including the Capital Beltway (Interstate 495), Interstate 66, Interstate 95, and Interstate 395. The American Legion Bridge connects Fairfax to Montgomery County, Maryland. The George Washington Memorial Parkway, Dulles Toll Road, and Fairfax County Parkway are also major arteries. Other notable roads include Braddock Road, Old Keene Mill Road, Little River Turnpike, State Routes 7, 28, and 123, and US Routes 1, 29, and 50.
The county is in the Washington, D.C. metro area, the nation's third most congested area. Northern Virginia, including Fairfax County, is the third worst congested traffic area in the nation, in terms of percentage of congested roadways and time spent in traffic. Of the lane miles in the region, 44 percent are rated "F" or worst for congestion. Northern Virginia residents spend an average of 46 hours a year stuck in traffic.
- Interstate 66
- Interstate 95
- Interstate 395
- Interstate 495 (Capital Beltway)
- U.S. 1
- U.S. Route 29
- U.S. Route 50
- State Route 7
- State Route 28
- State Route 123
- State Route 193
- State Route 236
- State Route 237
- State Route 243
- State Route 267 (Dulles Toll Road)
- State Routes 286 and 289 (Fairfax and Franconia-Springfield Parkways)
- George Washington Memorial Parkway
Air - Washington Dulles International Airport lies partly within Fairfax County and provides most air service to the county. Fairfax is also served by two other airports in the Washington area, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. Manassas Regional Airport, in neighboring Prince William County, is also used for regional cargo and private jet service.
Public transportation - Fairfax County contracts its bus service called the Fairfax Connector to Veolia Transportation. It is also served by WMATA's metrobus service. Fairfax County is served by the Washington Metro trains. The Orange, Blue, Yellow and the planned Silver lines all serve Fairfax County. In addition, VRE (Virginia Railway Express) provides commuter rail service with stations in Lorton and Franconia-Springfield. VRE's Fairfax County stations are Lorton and Franconia/Springfield on the Fredericksburg line, and Burke Centre, Rolling Road, and Backlick Road on the Manassas line.
Parks and recreation
The county has many protected areas, a total of over 390 county parks on more than 23,000 acres (93 km2). The Fairfax County Park Authority maintains parks and recreation centers through the county. There are also two national protected areas that are inside the county at least in part, including the Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge, the George Washington Memorial Parkway, and Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. The Mason Neck State Park is also located in Lorton. Fairfax County is member of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. The Reston Zoo is in Reston, Virginia. The National Zoo is located nearby in Washington, D.C.
Trails - The county maintains many miles of bike trails running through parks, adjacent to roads and through towns such as Vienna and Herndon. The Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Trail runs through Fairfax County, offering one of the region's best, and safest, routes for recreational walking and biking. In addition, nine miles (14 km) of the Mount Vernon Trail runs through Fairfax County along the Potomac River.
However, compared to other regions of the Washington area, Fairfax County has a dearth of designated bike lanes for cyclists wishing to commute in the region. On May 16, 2008, Bike-to-Work Day, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation released the first countywide bicycle route map. The Fairfax Cross County Trail runs from Great Falls National Park in the northern end of the county to Occoquan Regional Park in the southern end. Consisting of mostly dirt paths and short asphalt sections, the trail is used mostly by recreational mountain bikers, hikers, and horse riders.
Fairfax County History
Fairfax County was formed in 1742 from the northern part of Prince William County. It was named for Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron (1693–1781), proprietor of the Northern Neck. The oldest settlements in Fairfax County were located along the Potomac River. George Washington settled in Fairfax County and built his home, Mount Vernon, facing the river. Gunston Hall, the home of George Mason is located nearby. Modern Fort Belvoir is partly located on the estate of Belvoir Manor, built along the Potomac by William Fairfax in 1741. Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, the only member of the British nobility ever to reside in the colonies, lived at Belvoir before he moved to the Shenandoah Valley. The Belvoir mansion and several of its outbuildings were destroyed by fire immediately after the Revolutionary War in 1783, and George Washington noted the plantation complex gradually deteriorated into ruins.
In 1757, the northwestern two-thirds of Fairfax County became Loudoun County. In 1789, part of Fairfax County was ceded to the federal government to form Alexandria County of the District of Columbia. Alexandria County was returned to Virginia in 1846, reduced in size by the secession of the independent city of Alexandria in 1870, and renamed Arlington County in 1920. The Fairfax County town of Falls Church became an independent city in 1948. The Fairfax County town of Fairfax became an independent city in 1961. Located near Washington, D.C., Fairfax County was an important region in the Civil War. The Battle of Chantilly or Ox Hill, during the same campaign as the second Battle of Bull Run, was fought within the county; Bull Run straddles the border between Fairfax and Prince William County. Other areas of activity included Minor's Hill, Munson's Hill, and Upton's Hill, on the eastern border of the county, overlooking Washington, D.C.
The growth of the federal government in the years during and after World War II spurred rapid growth in the county. As a result, the once rural county began to become increasingly suburban. Other large businesses continued to settle in Fairfax County and the opening of Tysons Corner Center spurred the rise of Tysons Corner itself. The technology boom and a steady government-driven economy also created rapid growth and an increasingly growing and diverse population. The economy has also made Fairfax County one of the wealthiest counties in the nation.
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