Fairfax County is a county in Northern Virginia, in the United States. As of April 2009[update], the estimated population of the county is 1,037,605 making it by far the most populous jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with 13.1% of Virginia’s population, and the most populous jurisdiction in the Washington Metropolitan Area. 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 county with a population of 250,000 or more in the United States after neighboring Loudoun County.
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.
Fairfax County is bounded on the north and southeast by the Potomac River. Across the river to the northeast is Washington, D.C., across the river to the north is Montgomery County, Maryland, and across the river to the southeast are Prince George’s County, Maryland and Charles County, Maryland. The county is partially bounded on the north and east by Arlington County and the independent cities of Alexandria and Falls Church. It is bounded on the west by Loudoun County, and on the south by Prince William County.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 407 square miles (1,050 km2), of which 395 square miles (1,020 km2) is land and 12 square miles (30 km2) is water.
 Adjacent jurisdictions
- City of Fairfax, Virginia – surrounded by Fairfax County
- Loudoun County, Virginia – northwest
- Prince William County, Virginia – southwest
- Charles County, Maryland – south
- Falls Church, Virginia – east
- Arlington County, Virginia – east
- Alexandria, Virginia – east
- Prince George’s County, Maryland – southeast
- Montgomery County, Maryland – north
An area of 11 square miles (30 km2) of the county is known to be underlain with natural asbestos. Much of the asbestos is known to emanate from fibrous tremolite or actinolite. Approximately 20 years ago, when the threat was discovered, the county established laws to monitor air quality at construction sites, control soil taken from affected areas, and require freshly developed sites to lay 6 inches (150 mm) of clean, stable material over the ground.
For instance, during the construction of Centreville High School a large amount of asbestos-laden soil was removed and then trucked to Vienna for the construction of the I-66/Nutley Street interchange. Fill dirt then had to be trucked in to make the site level. Marine clays can be found in widespread areas of the county east of Interstate 95, mostly in the Lee and Mount Vernon districts. These clays contribute to soil instability, leading to significant construction challenges for builders.
 Government and politics
|2008||38.9% 200,914||60.1% 310,359|
|2004||45.9% 211,980||53.3% 245,671|
|2000||48.9% 202,181||47.5% 196,501|
|1996||48.2% 176,033||46.6% 170,150|
|1992||44.3% 170,488||41.6% 160,186|
|1988||61.1% 200,641||38.3% 125,711|
|1984||62.9% 183,181||36.8% 107,295|
|1980||57.4% 137,620||30.8% 73,734|
|1976||53.6% 110,424||44.7% 92,037|
|1972||66.3% 112,135||32.4% 54,844|
|1968||49.0% 57,462||38.2% 44,796|
|1964||38.7% 30,755||61.2% 48,680|
|1960||51.7% 26,064||48.1% 28,006|
The county is governed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, composed of nine members elected from single-member districts and a chairman elected at-large. The districts are named Braddock, Dranesville, Hunter Mill, Lee, Mason, Mount Vernon, Providence, Springfield, and Sully.
The Fairfax County Government Center is west of the City of Fairfax in an unincorporated area. Fairfax County contains an exclave unincorporated area located in the central business district of the City of Fairfax, in which many county facilities (including the courthouses and jail) are located.
Fairfax County was once considered a strong Republican bastion in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. However, Democrats have in the past decade made significant inroads, gaining control of the Board of Supervisors and the School Board (officially nonpartisan) as well as the offices of Sheriff and Commonwealth Attorney. Democrats also control the majority of Fairfax seats in the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate.
Following the election of November 2008, Republicans hold just one of the three congressional seats that include parts of Fairfax County. Communities closer to Washington, D.C. generally favor Democrats by a larger margin than do the outlying communities. In elections in 2000, 2001, and 2005, Fairfax County supported Democrats for U.S. Senate and governor. In 2004, John Kerry won the county, becoming the first Democrat to do so since Lyndon B. Johnson in his 1964 landslide (the last time Democrats carried the state until 2008). Kerry defeated George W. Bush in the county 53% to 46%.
Democratic Governor Tim Kaine carried Fairfax County with over 60% of the vote in 2005, leading him to win 51.7% of votes statewide. On November 7, 2006, U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D) carried the county with about 58.9% of the votes.
In the state and local elections of November 2007, Fairfax Democrats picked up one seat in the House of Delegates, two seats in the Senate, and one seat on the Board of Supervisors, making their majority there 8-2.
On November 4, 2008, Fairfax County continued its shift towards the Democrats, with Barack Obama and Mark Warner each garnering over 60% of the vote for president and U.S. Senate, respectively. Also, the Fairfax-anchored 11th District United States House of Representatives seat held by Thomas M. Davis for 14 years was won by Gerry Connolly, the Democratic Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
Braddock supervisor Sharon Bulova won a special election on February 3, 2009 to succeed Gerry Connolly as chairman of the Board of Supervisors, continuing a Democratic hold on the office of chairman that dates back to 1995. Delegate David Marsden won a special election on January 12, 2010 to succeed Ken Cuccinelli in the 37th State Senate district. Following this election, Fairfax County is now represented in the Virginia State Senate by an all-Democratic delegation.
The Democratic trend did not continue in November 2009, however, as Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell won Fairfax County with 51% of the vote on his way to statewide victory.
|Chairman||Sharon Bulova||Democratic Party||2009||At-Large|
|Member||John Cook||Republican Party||2009||Braddock|
|Member||John Foust||Democratic Party||2007||Dranesville|
|Member||Cathy Hudgins||Democratic Party||1999||Hunter Mill|
|Member||Jeff McKay||Democratic Party||2007||Lee|
|Member||Penelope Gross||Democratic Party||1995||Mason|
|Member||Gerald Hyland||Democratic Party||1988||Mount Vernon|
|Member||Linda Smyth||Democratic Party||2003||Providence|
|Member||Pat Herrity||Republican Party||2007||Springfield|
|Member||Michael Frey||Republican Party||1991||Sully|
|Office||Name||Party and District||First Election||Next Election|
|Delegate||Barbara Comstock||Republican Party (34)||2009||2011|
|Delegate||Mark Keam||Democratic Party (35)||2009||2011|
|Delegate||Ken Plum||Democratic Party (36)||1977||2011|
|Delegate||David Bulova||Democratic Party (37)||2005||2011|
|Delegate||Kaye Kory||Democratic Party (38)||2009||2011|
|Delegate||Vivian E. Watts||Democratic Party (39)||1995||2011|
|Delegate||Tim Hugo||Republican Party (40)||2001||2011|
|Delegate||Eileen Filler-Corn||Democratic Party (41)||2010||2011|
|Delegate||Dave Albo||Republican Party (42)||1993||2011|
|Delegate||Mark D. Sickles||Democratic Party (43)||2003||2011|
|Delegate||Scott Surovell||Democratic Party (44)||2009||2011|
|Delegate||David L. Englin||Democratic Party (45)||2005||2011|
|Delegate||Charniele Herring||Democratic Party (46)||2009||2011|
|Delegate||Adam Ebbin||Democratic Party (49)||2003||2011|
|Delegate||Jim Scott||Democratic Party (53)||1991||2011|
|Delegate||James LeMunyon||Republican Party (67)||2009||2011|
|Delegate||Tom Rust||Republican Party (86)||2001||2011|
|Office||Name||Party and District||First Election||Next Election|
|Senator||Patsy Ticer||Democratic Party (30)||1995||2011|
|Senator||Mary Margaret Whipple||Democratic Party (31)||1995||2011|
|Senator||Janet Howell||Democratic Party (32)||1991||2011|
|Senator||Mark Herring||Democratic Party (33)||2006||2011|
|Senator||Chap Petersen||Democratic Party (34)||2007||2011|
|Senator||Richard L. Saslaw||Democratic Party (35)||1980||2011|
|Senator||Toddy Puller||Democratic Party (36)||2000||2011|
|Senator||Dave Marsden||Democratic Party (37)||2010||2011|
As of the census of 2000, there were 969,749 people, 350,714 households, and 250,409 families residing in the county. The population density was 2,455 people per square mile (948/km²). There were 359,411 housing units at an average density of 910 per square mile (351/km²). The racial makeup of the county was:
- 72.91% White
- 8.83% Black or African American
- 0.26% Native American
- 13.00% Asian
- 0.07% Pacific Islander
- 4.54% from other races
- 3.65% from two or more races.
- 11.03% of the population were Hispanics or Latinos of any race.
In 2000 there are 350,714 households, of which 36.30% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.40% were married couples living together, 8.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.60% were non-families. 21.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.74 and the average family size was 3.20.
The age distribution was 25.40% under the age of 18, 7.50% from 18 to 24, 33.90% from 25 to 44, 25.30% from 45 to 64, and 7.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 98.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.20 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $81,050, and the median income for a family was $92,146; in a 2007 estimate, these figures rose to $102,460 and $120,804, respectively. Males had a median income of $60,503 versus $41,802 for females. The per capita income for the county was $36,888. About 3.00% of families and 4.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.20% of those under age 18 and 4.00% of those age 65 or over. A more recent report from the 2007 American Community Survey indicated that poverty in Fairfax County, Virginia had risen to 4.9%.
Judged by household median income, Fairfax County is among the highest-income counties in the country, and was first on that list for many years[specify]. However, in the 2000 census it was overtaken by Douglas County, Colorado. According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates for 2005, it had the second-highest median household income behind neighboring Loudoun County, at $94,610. In 2007, Fairfax County reclaimed its position as the richest county in America, in addition to becoming the first jurisdiction in American history to have a median household income in excess of $100,000. In 2008, Loudoun County reclaimed the first position, with Fairfax County a statistically insignificant second.
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.
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 is, along with Washington, a “core” employment jurisdiction of the Washington Metropolitan Area as indicated by this map. A U.S. Department of Labor study published in 2007 described Fairfax County as the second “economic pillar” of the Washington-area economy, along with the District of Columbia. The county has been described in Time as “one of the great economic success stories of our time.”
The economy of Fairfax County is a robust service economy. Many residents work for the government or for contractors of the federal government. The government is the largest employer, with Fort Belvoir in southern Fairfax being the county’s single largest employer. The economy of Fairfax County is larger than that of Vietnam.
Fairfax County also is home to large companies such as CSC (formerly Computer Sciences Corporation), Gannett, Capital One, General Dynamics, and NVR. The county is home to seven Fortune 500 company headquarters. The county is also home to 11 Hispanic 500 companies, a ninth of the number found in the state of California. Volkswagen Group of America, CSC, and Hilton Hotels Corporation have announced plans to move to Fairfax County after the county lost homegrown company headquarters AOL and Nextel. Volkswagen of America is headquartered in the county. ExxonMobil has various industry operations in Annandale, at a site that was formerly the headquarters of Mobil Oil.
The economy of the county is supported by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, which provides services and information designed to promote Fairfax County as a leading business and technology center. The FCEDA is the largest non-state economic development authority in the nation. Fairfax County is also home to the Northern Virginia Technology Council, a trade association for local technology companies. It is the largest technology council in the nation, with technology industry figures such as Bill Gates and Meg Whitman speaking at various local banquets. Fairfax County has a higher concentration of high-tech workers than the Silicon Valley.
 Tysons Corner
The Tysons Corner CDP of Fairfax County is Virginia’s largest office market and the largest suburban business district in the nation with 25,700,000 square feet (2,390,000 m2) of office space. It is the country’s 12th-largest business district, and is expected to grow substantially in the decades to come. It contains a quarter of county’s total office space inventory, which totaled 105,200,000 square feet (9,770,000 m2) at year-end 2006, which is about the size of Lower Manhattan.
Every weekday, Tysons Corner draws over 100,000 workers from around the region. It also draws 55,000 shoppers every weekday as it is home to neighboring super-regional malls Tysons Corner Center and Tysons Galleria. In comparison, Washington, D.C. draws 15 million visitors annually, or the equivalent of 62,500 per weekday.
After years of stalling and controversy, the $5.2 billion expansion of Washington Metro in Virginia from Washington, D.C. to Dulles International Airport received funding approval from the Federal Transit Administration in December 2008. The new line, informally dubbed the Silver Line, will add four stations in Tysons Corner, including a station between Tysons Corner Center and Tysons Galleria.
Along with the expansion of Washington Metro, Fairfax County government has a plan to “urbanize” the Tysons Corner area. The plan calls for a private-public partnership. It would use a grid-like street system to make Tysons Corner a more urban environment, tripling available housing to allow for more workers to live near where they work. The goal is to have 95% of Tysons Corner within 1⁄2-mile (800 m) from a metro station.
The average weekly wage in Fairfax County during the first quarter of 2005 was $1,181, 52% more than the national average. By comparison, the average weekly wage was $1,286 for Arlington – the Washington metropolitan area‘s highest – $1,277 for Washington, D.C., and $775 for the United States as a whole. The types of jobs available in the area make it very attractive to highly-educated workers. The relatively high wages may be partially due to the high cost of living in the area.
In early 2005, Fairfax County had 553,107 total jobs, up from 372,792 in 1990. In the area, this is second to Washington’s 658,505 jobs in 2005 (down from 668,532 in 1990).
As of the 2002 Economic Census, Fairfax County has the largest professional, scientific, and technical service sector in the Washington, D.C. area – in terms of the number of business establishments; total sales, shipments, and receipts; payrolls; and number of employees – exceeding the next largest, Washington, D.C., by roughly a quarter overall, and double that of neighboring Montgomery County.
 Arts and culture
The annual “Celebrate Fairfax!” festival is held in June at the Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfax City.
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts 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.
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.
 Major highways
- 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 Route 400 (George Washington Memorial Parkway)
- State Routes 7100 and 7900 (Fairfax and Franconia-Springfield Parkways)
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.
 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 prtected 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 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.
 Towns, independent cities, and other localities
The independent cities of Falls Church and Fairfax were formed out of areas formerly under the jurisdiction of Fairfax County, but are politically separate, despite the status of the City of Fairfax as county seat.
It has been proposed to convert the entire county into a single independent city, primarily to gain more control over taxes and roads. The most recent such proposal was made June 30, 2009.
Other communities within Fairfax County are unincorporated areas. Virginia law dictates that at least 100 members of the proposed municipality must sign a petition, the population of the proposed town must be at least 1,000 persons, and the population density of the affected county does not exceed 200 persons per square mile to begin the incorporation process. As of the 2000 census the thirteen largest communities of Fairfax County are all unincorporated CDPs, the largest of which are Burke, Reston, and Annandale, each with a population exceeding 50,000. (The largest incorporated place in the county is the town of Herndon, its fourteenth-largest community.)
 Unincorporated Census Designated Places
 Other localities
 Notable people from Fairfax County
 Historic figures
 Sports figures