News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, February 3, 2023

‘Sturdy, Vigorous, and Buoyant’: How a Planned Community Stays Afloat

In case you missed it, the first issue of The Reston Letter focused on golf, transportation, and education. But that was in 1963, when the first incarnation of the newspaper promoted the development of our plastic fantastic planned community, which was then still just a gleam in Bob Simon’s eye.

Published by Reston’s developers over the next several years as architects drew schematics for sunken living rooms, county planners changed zoning rules, and the primordial waters of Lake Anne rose from “natural springs,” the original Reston Letter served as an advertisement for a different kind of living. Sixty years later, it’s... not all that different.

One issue welcomed in breathless tones the opening of a Safeway at the mixed-use Lake Anne Village Center, after the resident population crossed the 400-person mark. Today, we’re breathlessly welcoming a Wegmans at the mixed-use Halley Rise development, which at one point touted self-driving cars the likes of which our earth-toned forefathers would have seen on the Jetsons. Another talked about what was then called the Reston North Golf Course, pointing out that the plan was to have FIVE golf courses by 1980—the 18-hole South Reston course that has been... in the news lately, plus three additional “nine-hole layouts,” along with a fancy circular stable intended to lure the horsey crowd away from “Great” Falls. Today, we’re waiting for the next developer suggestion: a putt-putt course on the roof of a parking garage. 

Speaking of which, another issue pointed out the “unusual underground shared parking area” of what was then called the Hill Cluster. That garage barely made it into the new millennium, but we can relive the same excitement and low-key claustrophobia as we wander Level G-97 of the Metro garage at Reston Station. The Letter also touted the "quiet, smokeless Reston Industrial Park," which they thought would `draw manufacturers due to its proximity to the W&OD railroad line, as opposed to spandex-clad cyclists and (for a brief but exciting spell) Ebola.

Since it was published by developers, the Letter had tons of advertising slogans. One was “Belief in people... makes Reston sturdy, vigorous, and buoyant.” The other, less poetic slogan was, "Reston... where the smart people go when they come to life." That brings to mind the unofficial slogan the kids, most of whom are now grandparents, used to say: "Were not dead, we're Reston," the end. 

This post was originally published in the Reston Letter.

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