News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, March 18, 2019

Flashback Monday: An Old School Newcomers Guide For Reston, Complete With Ski Slope. Wait, What?

Not according to Fairfax County it isn't!

Set the controls of the Earth Toned Wayback Machine to 1975, when Reston was a well-established Fairfax County community, considered a desirable place to live. But according to a fancypants "newcomers guide," which was kind of like a printout of Nextdoor entries without the ads for $10 sofas and panicked messages about kids ringing doorbells, Reston also had a full-service ski slope. Wait, what?

Our favorite correspondent, the Peasant from Less Sought After South Reston, has the details:

Whilst recently rummaging through the packrattery in his packratorium, The Peasant stumbled across a long-forgotten “Newcomer’s Guide to Metropolitan Washington” that he received when first going over to the dark side as a member of the Deep State decades ago. Published in 1975 by Washingtonian Magazine, the guide helped newbies navigate the Capital Region, aka the swamp, with scads of practical information.

Imagine our delight upon perusing this publication to find that, even in the primordial days of the 1970s – “the decade that taste forgot and time cannot improve” – Reston was one of the few Fairfax County communities deemed worthy of mention in this esteemed publication. After speaking of “vaguely Victorian” Clifton, “still fairly rural” Herndon, “classic middle class suburb” Vienna, and “pleasant little, rapidly subdivided” Centreville, we are told that Reston is “a new town of more modest goals than its sister town, Columbia, in Maryland.” Although not amused by such a slanderous comparison with our evil satanic twin in Howard County, we are at least mollified to learn that “Reston seems to work, and its wide variety of housing is much in demand.”

Further on, in the list of community specific profiles, we engage the Wayback Machine to learn that in the halcyon (if tasteless) days of the mid-1970s, the “Reston Homeowners Association” assessment was $60 per year, 48 express buses ran to and from Washington, monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment was $230 and up, and single family houses ranged in price from $42,500 to $105,000. One puzzle: fire and rescue comes from Fairfax County “with support from private firefighters supplied by Reston”. We wonder whether those private firefighters used tastefully taupe toned engines.

But most puzzling, what’s with the mention of a “ski slope with tow” in the list of recreational facilities? Were we once known as the Aspen of the East? Was the Macaroni Grill or its spiritual predecessor the center of hot apr├Ęs-ski nightlife, with bellbottom pants swaying and disco music blaring? Was Reston thus the actual inspiration for The Village People to compose their hit song Y.M.C.A. – “I said, young man, ‘cause you’re in a new town…”

So many questions. So few answers.

Our favorite part is when the guide started talking about the then-brand spanking new developments in Prince William and Loudoun that "make commuting a true test of endurance," ultimately concluding that Sterling Park was, if not at the westernmost edge of what most scientists at the time believed was a Flat Virginia where you'd fall off and land in, say, Kentucky, then way too far away for ordinary mortals to navigate to their bomb-strapping-to-dolphins gig:

How little they knew about the gravitational pull of three-sided-brick facades and X-rated parks, the end.

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