Back to previous page


Post Most

From the Editor: Will we reap what our commutes sow?

By ,

It is easy to dismiss last week’s note that the Fairfax Economic Development Authority is changing its mailing address.

Instead of Vienna, the business promotion group said, it would now base its operations in Tysons Corner.

The EDA is not changing its physical location, just its address, thanks to a recent Postal Service ruling that gave people in the 22102 and 22181 Zip codes the option of calling their home Tysons Corner rather than McLean or Vienna.

A stunt perhaps. But something bigger is happening in the region’s largest business center and it is time for us to throw out our past assumptions about Tysons Corner being some soul-less edge city where jobs and retail dominate and few people actually live.

The pending arrival of Metrorail and the county’s new blueprint for the sprawling metropolis are setting in motion some profound changes. Hardly a week goes by when there is not a story in this paper about some plan for new high-rise housing near one of the four future rail stations. Wal-Mart recently announced plans to bring a store to the neighborhood. Others are exploring their options.

Today about 110,000 people work in Tysons Corner and 17,000 live there. But over time, according to the EDA, about 200,000 people could work there and 100,000 could live in the area.

It is difficult to imagine the car-clogged suburban crossroads ever having the upper-income cachet of leafy Vienna or McLean, but who knows? Perhaps the tyranny of our horrible commutes is finally beginning to sink in, and a generation raised on spending an hour to travel to piano practice or soccer games is ready for something different.

I was having lunch last week with a longtime observer of the local business scene who said the day may have arrived when city living is again in vogue and the suburbs as we have known them are destined to deteriorate.

Where are you living these days? I asked him.

He told me he’d bought a condo in Georgetown.

© The Washington Post Company