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Reston is a census-designated place in Fairfax County, Virginia. Founded in 1964, Reston was influenced by the Garden City movement that emphasized planned, self-contained communities that intermingled green space, residential neighborhoods, and commercial development. The intent of Reston's founder, Robert E. Simon, was to build a town that would revolutionize post–World War II concepts of land use and residential/corporate development in suburban America. In 2018, Reston was ranked as the Best Place to Live in Virginia by Money magazine for its expanses of parks, lakes, golf courses, and bridle paths as well as the numerous shopping and dining opportunities in Reston Town Center.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimated Reston's population to be 60,070 as of December 2017.
In the early days of Colonial America, the land on which Reston sits was part of the Northern Neck Proprietary, a vast grant by King Charles II to Lord Thomas Fairfax that extended from the Potomac River to the Rappahannock. The property remained in the Fairfax family until they sold it in 1852.
Carl A. Wiehle and William Dunn bought 6,449 acres in northern Fairfax County along the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Railroad line in 1886, later dividing the land between them, with Wiehle retaining the acreage north of the railroad line. Wiehle envisioned founding a town on the property, including a hotel, parks, and community center, but completed only a handful of homes before his death in 1901.
Wiehle's heirs eventually sold the land, which changed hands several times before being purchased by the A. Smith Bowman family, who built a bourbon distillery on the site. By 1947, the Bowmans had acquired the former Dunn tract south of the railroad, for total holdings of over 7,000 acres. In 1961, Robert E. Simon used funds from his family's recent sale of Carnegie Hall to buy most of the land, except for 60 acres (240,000 m2) on which the Bowman distillery continued to operate until 1987.
Simon officially launched Reston on April 10, 1964 (his 50th birthday) and named the community using his initials. He laid out seven "guiding principles" that would stress quality of life and serve as the foundation for its future development. His goal was for Restonians to live, work, and play in their own community, with common grounds and scenic beauty shared equally regardless of income level, thereby building a stronger sense of community ties. The initial motto of the community, as articulated by Simon, was "Work, Play, Live" (or, as more often was memorialized onto Reston merchandise, "Live, Work, Play.")
Simon's seven principles are:
Simon envisioned Reston as a model for clustered residential development, also known as conservation development, which puts a premium on the preservation of open space, landscapes, and wildlife habitats.