Fairfax City is located at the crossroads of Northern Virginia's major north/south and east/west highways, and within 30 minutes of both Dulles International and Washington National Airport. Interstate 66 borders the city to the north, the Capital Beltway is less than three miles east, and the Vienna station of the Metro regional rapid-rail system is just a mile northwest.
The Fairfax School Division is comprised of four school buildings housing some 2,600 students in grades K through 12. Fairfax High School offers a rigorous curriculum in addition to the Fairfax Academy for Communications Arts. The Academy provides specialized coursework in both the fine and performing arts and information technology. Seventy-two percent of the graduates are attending quality, four-year colleges and universities in Virginia and nationwide.
Fairfax City is home to George Mason University, one of the largest in the Virginia State system. Both the Fairfax Symphony and the Virginia Opera perform at the University Center for the Arts, and the Patriot Center is a venue for both concerts and sports events.
Within the city of Fairfax's six square miles there are 21 parks with pavilions, play equipment, sports fields, and trails. Strip malls provide an abundance of local shopping and there are several large shopping malls as well. Fair Oaks Mall is a short distance west of the city limits.
Residents of the community enjoy numerous special events during the year including the Chocolate Lovers Festival, Spotlight on the Arts, the Fall Festival, the July 4th Celebration, the Festival of lights and history related events including the Blenheim Civil War Weekend that includes re-enactments from the battle.
The city of Fairfax has a rich history that is evident in its historic downtown area, its 18th and 19th century buildings, and its Fairfax Museum & Visitors Center. Though the city covers only six square blocks, the Historic District has covered considerable ground in American history. The colonial court house, where George and Martha Washington's' wills were probated and remain, has served as the center of Fairfax County life for nearly 200 years. The portfolio of City-owned historic properties includes: Blenheim Estate, c.1855; Ratcliffe-Allison House and Pozer Garden, c.1812; Fairfax Elementary School (Fairfax Museum & Visitor Center), 1873; Grandma's Cottage, c.1840; and Old Town Hall, 1900.
The area that now comprises the city of Fairfax was first settled in the early 1700s by farmers migrating from Virginia's Tidewater region for religious and economic reasons. Fairfax County was established in 1742, when Alexandria, where the county court was located, temporarily became a part of the District of Columbia. The county court was established at the corner of what was then called Little River Turnpike (Main Street) and Ox Road, a major regional crossroads both then and now. The little town surrounding the court was then known as Earp's Corner and in 1805, by an act of the state legislature, named the Town of Providence. However, for years it was commonly called "Fairfax Court House" and was officially renamed the Town of Fairfax in 1874.
Fairfax was the scene of several noteworthy events during the Civil War. Captain John Quincy Marr, the first officer casualty of the Confederacy, was killed at Fairfax Courthouse on June 1, 1861. By late 1862, Union forces under the command of Brigadier General Edwin H. Stoughton occupied the town. In an audacious raid led by Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby in March of 1863, Stoughton was captured while he slept in a house belonging to Truro Episcopal Church.
Through the early 20th century, the Town of Fairfax remained a community of farms and small estates, with a tiny core of commerce, government and society in the few blocks surrounding the courthouse. But in the 1950s and 1960s, Fairfax grew rapidly (including an almost 700 percent increase in population during the '50s). In 1961, the town was incorporated as the City of Fairfax. The city's boundaries expanded in three directions as it grew to its present 6.4 square-miles. After an early-'70s peak of 22,700, the population has stabilized at around 21,000. However, new home construction is increasing the population yet again.
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