Fairfax (/ˈfɛr.fæks/ FERR-faks), officially the City of Fairfax, is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 22,565. It is the county seat of Fairfax County. Although it is an enclave of Fairfax County, the two are separate political entities.
Situated in Northern Virginia, Fairfax is part of the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area. Fairfax is 16 miles (25 kilometers) southwest of Washington, D.C. Washington Metro's Orange Line serves Fairfax through its Vienna Station. CUE Bus and Metrobus operate in Fairfax.
George Mason University (GMU), Virginia's largest public institution, is located in Fairfax. In 2013, 33,917 students attended GMU. Virginia International University, an international school, is situated in Fairfax.
In 2009, Fairfax was ranked Number 3 in the "Top 25 Places to Live Well" by Forbes Magazine. Forbes commended Fairfax for its strong public school system, high median income, and growing sole proprietors.
Fairfax Court House, Virginia, with Union soldiers in front and on the roof, June 1863
The city derives its name from Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, who was awarded five million acres (20,000 km²) in land located in Northern Virginia by King Charles. The area the City of Fairfax now encompasses was settled in the early 18th century by farmers from Virginia's Tidewater region. The town was established as the Town of Providence by an act of the state legislature in 1805.
The town (then described as a village) was the scene of the first land battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Fairfax Court House (June 1861). On June 1, 1861, a Union scouting party clashed with the local militia, though neither side gained an advantage. A second battle was waged two years later on June 27, 1863. At the Battle of Fairfax Court House (June 1863), Union troops were defeated. However, the battle delayed the movements of Confederate cavalry chief Jeb Stuart, with disastrous consequences for Lee at Gettysburg a few days later.
Fairfax was officially renamed the Town of Fairfax in 1874. It was incorporated as a city in 1961, and under Virginia law was separated from Fairfax County (though it remains the county seat).
In 1904, a trolley line was built connecting Fairfax with Washington, D.C.
The former Fairfax County Courthouse is the oldest and most historic building in Fairfax. The first Fairfax courthouse was established in 1742 near present-day Tyson's Corner, and is the namesake for Old Courthouse Road. It intersects with Gallows Road, which today is a major commuter route, but at the time was the road where condemned prisoners were led to the gallows at the old courthouse. In 1752, the courthouse was moved to Alexandria, which offered to build the new courthouse at their own expense. (The reason the courthouse was moved from the Tyson's Corner location was because of "Indian hostilities" as noted on the stone marker at the northwest corner of Gallows Road and Route 123.) The courthouse operated there until 1790, when Virginia ceded the land where the courthouse was located for the creation of Washington, DC. The General Assembly specified that the new courthouse should be located in the center of the county, and was established at the corner of Old Little River Turnpike (now Main Street) and Ox Road (now Chain Bridge Road) on land donated by town founder Richard Ratcliffe. The courthouse changed hands repeatedly during the civil war, and the first officer casualty, John Quincy Marr, occurred on the grounds.
Its design was used as a prototype for many Virginia courthouses built between 1800 and 1850. The first meeting of the Fairfax Court was held April 21, 1800. During the American Civil War the Courthouse was used by the union forces as a military headquarters which resulted in the damage or loss of several records. The original building of the Fairfax County Courthouse was used as the Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court until 2009, when that court moved to the expanded main courthouse. The old building is now used for office space.
One of the oldest buildings in the city is what used to be an elementary school. In 1873, the Fairfax Elementary School remains the oldest two-story building the city has ever seen and was built for the outrageous sum of $2,750. This building reflects a new era of free public education in Virginia and the growth of the Fairfax area. Throughout the years the school building was used for housing special education and adult education classes as well as a police academy training center. However, on July 4, 1992, the building was renovated and opened as the Fairfax Museum and Visitor Center.
The Old Town Hall is the social and architectural cornerstone of Fairfax; Joseph Edward Willard had it built in 1900 as a gift to Fairfax. It now houses the Huddleson Library, the Fairfax Art League, and can be rented out for weddings as well as business meetings.
Sites on the National Register of Historic Places
Site Year Built Address Listed
29 Diner (Tastee 29 Diner) 1947 10536 Fairfax Boulevard 1992
Blenheim circa 1855 3610 Old Lee Highway 2001
City of Fairfax Historic District Junction of VA 236 and VA 123 1987
Old Fairfax County Courthouse* (now the Juvenile Court) 1800 4000 Chain Bridge Road 1974
Old Fairfax County Jail* 1891 10475 Main Street 1981
Fairfax Public School (Old Fairfax Elementary School Annex) 1873 10209 Main Street 1992
Ratcliffe-Allison House 1812 10386 Main Street 1973
*The Old Courthouse and the Old Jail lie within the county exclave within the city.
Fairfax is located at 38°51′9″N 77°18′15″W (38.852612, −77.304377). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.3 square miles (16 km2), virtually all of which is land.
While the city is the county seat, a small portion of the county comprising the courthouse complex, the jail and a small area nearby is itself an exclave of the county within the city. Fairfax County's Government Center is west of the City of Fairfax.
Census Pop. %±
1880 376 —
1900 373 —
1910 413 10.7%
1920 516 24.9%
1930 640 24.0%
1940 979 53.0%
1950 1,946 98.8%
1960 13,585 598.1%
1970 21,970 61.7%
1980 20,537 −6.5%
1990 19,622 −4.5%
2000 21,498 9.6%
2010 22,565 5.0%
Est. 2014 24,483  8.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
As of the census of 2010, there were 22,565 people, 8,347 households, and 5,545 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,581.7 people per square mile (1382.9/km²). There were 8,680 housing units at an average density of 1,377.8 per square mile (532.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 69.6% White, 4.7% Black or African American, 0.5% Native American, 15.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 5.9% from other races, and 4.0% from two or more races. 15.8% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
In 2000 there were 8,347 households out of which 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.1% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.6% were non-families. 24.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.11.
In the city the population was spread out with 20.4% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 36.2% from 25 to 44, 27.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39.1 years. For every 100 females there were 97.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $67,642, and the median income for a family was $78,921 (these figures had risen to $93,441 and $105,046 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $50,348 versus $38,351 for females. The per capita income for the city was $31,247. About 2.4% of families and 5.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.3% of those under age 18 and 2.1% of those age 65 or over.
Old Town Fairfax has undergone an extensive redevelopment, which began in 2005. The redevelopment added a new City of Fairfax Regional Library, more than 45,000 square feet (4,200 m2) of retail and restaurant space, more than 70,000 square feet (6,500 m2) of office condominiums, and 85 upscale residential condominium units.
In May, 2009, the City of Fairfax was rated as No. 3 in the "Top 25 Places to Live Well" by Forbes Magazine. Forbes commended Fairfax for its strong public school system, high median salary, and a rate of sole proprietors per capita that ranks it in the top 1 percent nationwide. According to the magazine, "These factors are increasingly important in a recession. When businesses and jobs retract, as they have nationwide, municipalities with strong environments for start-ups, and those that offer attractive amenities, are better suited to recover from economic downtimes, as there are more business activity filling the void."
In addition ExxonMobil operates an office in Annandale, near Fairfax. The office, originally owned by Mobil, became a part of ExxonMobil in 1999.
According to the City's 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
# Employer # of Employees
1 SunTrust 450
2 City of Fairfax 350
3 Federal Technology Services 300
4 Verizon Wireless 260
5 Fairfax Nursing Center 250
6 Ted Britt Ford 250
7 Inova Care Center 210
8 Fairfax Honda 200
9 Brown's Automotive Group 200
10 Mid-Atlantic Cars 200
Arts & Culture
Chocolate Lovers Festival
The annual Chocolate Lover's Festival is held in the heart of Old Town Fairfax in early March. Events have included craft shows, historic building open houses, children's activities, collections of vendors selling various edible chocolate products, and even chocolate sculpture contests.
Fairfax Civil War Day
Every year, during the Spring, a Civil War re-enactment camp is held at the Blenheim estate, a city-owned historical property. The encampment features military muster, drill, and a firing demonstration, .
Fairfax Spotlight on the Arts
Each April, the City of Fairfax, in cooperation with George Mason University, Northern Virginia Community College and City of Fairfax schools, sponsors the Fairfax Spotlight on the Arts Festival. The festival runs for three weeks and features music, dance, theater, art and choral concerts. Events take place at venues throughout the city and the colleges.
National Trails Day
In June, a National Trails Day is held to celebrate the trails, open spaces and parks in the City of Fairfax.
Independence Day Celebration Parade and Evening Show
The largest hometown parade and fireworks celebration in the Washington metropolitan region is held in the City of Fairfax. The day's events include a parade through Old Town Fairfax, tours of historic buildings and local museums, an Old Fashioned Fireman's Day at the Fire Station #3, and a live concert and fireworks display at Fairfax High School.
In September, a festival of Irish and Celtic song, dance and music is held in and around Old Town Fairfax.
Fall for the Book Festival
Each fall, the Fall for the Book Festival features readings, discussions, lectures and exhibits from nationally-recognized writers and professionals. Festival events are held in the City of Fairfax, at George Mason University, and throughout the metropolitan Washington region. Two community reading programs coordinate with Fall for the Book: "All Fairfax Reads," coordinated by the Fairfax County Public Library, and "Mason Reads" at George Mason University.
A Fall Festival is held in historic downtown Fairfax on the second Saturday in October. This event includes more than 500 arts, crafts, and food vendors, and is usually held outdoors on the streets of the city. Attendance is about 35,000 to 45,000.
The Holiday Craft Show
An annual Holiday Craft Show is held at Fairfax High School on the third Saturday and Sunday of November. The event features hundreds of craft vendors. Attendance is about 8,000 to 10,000.
Festival of Lights & Carols
On the first Saturday in December, the city holds a Festival of Lights and Carols. Activities include photos with Santa, caroling, a yule log, hot mulled cider, illumination of Old Town Fairfax, and the lighting of the city Christmas tree.
Notable residents and natives
Roxanne Barcelo, Filipino actress, model, and singer
L. A. "Skip" Bafalis, former member of the United States House of Representatives from Florida
Adam Birch, former WWE professional wrestler known as Joey Mercury; born in Fairfax
Sam Champion, (raised in Fairfax, Virginia and a graduate of Fairfax High School) is the weather anchor of ABC's Good Morning America and weather editor of ABC News
Serena Deeb, former WWE professional wrestler; born in Fairfax
Christina Hendricks, actress, went to high school in Fairfax
Joseph R. Jelinek, United States Army Brigadier General lived in Fairfax while serving as Deputy Director of the Army National Guard
Courtney Jines, "lifelong actress" who has been acting professionally since the age of 6
Brian Kendrick, TNA wrestler, born in Fairfax
Sabrina Lloyd, actress on the TV series Sliders and Sports Night, born in Fairfax.
Jay Matternes, paleoartist
tobyMac Award-winning Christian Singer/Songwriter
Lorenzo Odone, subject of the 1992 film Lorenzo's Oil
Yoochun, South Korean-born actor, member of pop band JYJ, and former member of TVXQ; raised in Fairfax.
Park Yu-hwan, South Korean-born actor, and brother of Yoochun; raised in Fairfax.
Nathan Sonenshein, rear admiral
Victoria Stiles, makeup artist notable for her work with celebrities and fashion magazines.
Jason Sudeikis, actor and comedian, formerly a cast member of Saturday Night Live
Mike Schleibaum, band Darkest Hour founding member and guitarist, born in Fairfax
Michael Schwimer, major league baseball player
CMDR Pierre Thuot, USN, astronaut aboard the Space Shuttles Atlantis, Endeavour & Columbia, raised in Fairfax and graduated from Fairfax High School.
Ariel Winter, actress, currently on ABC's Modern Family and voice of Disney's Sofia the First
Fairfax County facilities
Fairfax County's Government Center is west of the City of Fairfax. Fairfax County contains an exclave located in the central area of the City of Fairfax, in which many county facilities (including the courthouse and jail) are located.
Primary and secondary schools
Fairfax High School
The public schools in the City of Fairfax are owned by the city, but administered by the Fairfax County Public Schools system under contractual agreement with Fairfax County. U.S. News & World Report often ranks Fairfax County schools among the best in the country.
City of Fairfax schools are Fairfax High School, Lanier Middle School, Daniels Run Elementary School, Providence Elementary School, Mosby Woods Elementary School (which is a magnet school) and Fairfax Academy.[dead link]
Colleges and universities
George Mason University, the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is located just to the south of the Fairfax city limits. The Town of Fairfax purchased 150 acres (0.61 km2) for the university in 1958, though the property remained within the county when the town became a city. In 1966, GMU became a four-year university just outside the city. Along with various administrative offices, the Fairfax campus also contains such facilities as the Center for the Arts complex, the Patriot Center, a 66,000-square-foot (6,100 m2) Aquatic and Fitness Center, and a 113,900-square-foot (10,580 m2) Recreation Sports Complex.
Northern Virginia Community College, the second largest multi-campus community college in the United States, and the largest educational institution in Virginia, has its Annandale Campus immediately to the east of the city limits.
Fairfax County Public Library operates the City of Fairfax Regional Library in Fairfax. The library includes the Virginia Room, a collection of books, photographs, and manuscripts related to Fairfax County history, government, and genealogy.
The Fairfax Eagles rugby league team plays in the American National Rugby League.
The intersection of U.S. Route 50 and U.S. Route 29 is located within the city. The two major highways join together to form Fairfax Boulevard for approximately 2.8 miles (4.5 km) before separating. State Route 123 and State Route 236 both pass through the city. SR 236 is named Main Street in the city and then becomes Little River Turnpike once the city line is crossed. In addition, Interstate 66 is located along the northern border of the city.
Although these stations are located outside city limits, trips to and from Fairfax are served by:
The Vienna station of the Washington Metro, commonly referred to as " Metro."
The Burke Centre station of Virginia Railway Express and Amtrak.
The City of Fairfax operates the CUE Bus, its own independent bus network.
Multiple routes of the Washington Metrobus serve Fairfax.
Portal icon Virginia portal
Fairfax County, Virginia
List of Famous People from the Washington Metropolitan Area
National Register of Historic Places in Fairfax, Virginia
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