Fairfax County, founded in 1742, was named for Lord Thomas Fairfax who received a land grant of five million acres from King Charles II of England. The region once included what is now Loudoun County, along with Arlington County and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church. Beginning around 1750, roads were built, industry increased and forests were cleared for farmland, creating many changes in the regional landscape. During the late 1700s, economic, commercial and demographic changes took place as well.
Two of the county's most distinguished citizens, George Washington and George Mason (father of the U.S. Bill of Rights), became major forces behind the formation of the American nation. Their homes – Mount Vernon and Gunston Hall – have been preserved, offering visitors a glimpse of life in the late 18th century.
Virtually caught in the middle of the Civil War, Confederate troops were positioned in the western section of Fairfax County and Union soldiers encamped in the northern and eastern portions. The First and Second Battles of Manassas (Bull Run) were fought just south and adjacent to the county. Both battles were responsible for thousands of casualties.
Remaining largely rural until well into the 20th century, the region experienced revitalization and growth in the 1930s when the expanding federal government created a corresponding need for housing near Washington, D.C. Once an agricultural area dotted with dairy farms, the landscape has evolved to include residential developments, business complexes and shopping districts alongside its farms, historic sites and acres of parkland. In the 1970s, the region joined the ranks of the nation’s top 10 Standard Metropolitan Areas.
Today’s Fairfax is buzzing with change. The region parallels the development of our nation and the transformation from a rural crossroads to a prosperous and thriving metro area. Continuing to be a leader in economic development and quality of life, the area maintains its high standards of health, education and resident services. Attracting thousands of high-tech businesses to the area, today’s Fairfax is a region that is preserving its heritage while securing its future – and yours.