Reston Historical Map Assignment

Reston 1973
Image credit USGS (entity ID AR1VDGQ00010031) You can click on the image of Reston for a much larger image.


It is hard to believe just how much Northern Virginia has changed in the last forty (or even twenty) years, but the area certainly has changed from being a peaceful, farming area outside the beltway to a wealthy, developed suburbia, and it is still changing! One tool that historians have to examine evidence of the changes that have taken place in an area is aerial photography. Of course, we can only use photo reconnaissance in cases where we have aerial images, which usually means from the 1930s onwards (mainly from 1950 to the present). For example, check out Loudoun County's Aerial Archive.

Here is an example of a set of maps, based on satellite infrared sensing, that shows the changing nature of the Reston area. You can choose different criteria and dates to get a different view of these changes.

At the top of this page is an aerial photograph of Reston and vicinity done by the United States Geological Survey in 1973 (click on the image for a much larger version that you can zoom in on). I have indicated the location of Lake Anne so that you can better orient the photo. You can also see the Dulles Access road running across the center of the image from east to west. I find this aerial shot very interesting, especially when I start comparing it with the changing Reston of the last twenty-five years that I have been living here. Your assignment is to compare this 1973 aerial photo of Reston with a current map or aerial of Reston, 2013.

There are many places that you can look to find a current map of Reston. The easiest are

Here are just a few sites that have some statistics on the urbanization (or suburbanization) of the world's population, which now has more than half of the population living in urban areas. That urban growth has a lot of implications for economies, land use, etc., and what has happened in Reston is (kind-of) a good test example of what has gone on elsewhere in the world.

Watch my video remarks on this assignment.

In a one to two page paper,

Here are some formal requirements for your paper:

Your assignment should be submitted on Blackboard following the directions for submitting assignments.