Keri Shull’s Neighborhood Spotlight: Falls Church

While much of Northern Virginia is predominantly part of Arlington or Fairfax County, the little slice of land known as Falls Church stands alone. This small, independent city is quaint and quirky with a charming reputation. The area is well known for its array of beautiful homes, picturesque qualities, and safe Mom-and-Pop feel, though there are plenty of city-like conveniences to keep Falls Church sufficiently modern. Despite urban development happening much more slowly here than in other nearby areas, Falls Church is far from lacking in amenities and entertainment. There are two Metro stations, a downtown center, and the area offers a healthy balance of restaurants, shops, parks, theaters, music venues, and historic sites to suit any lifestyle. Falls Church is just 10 miles outside of Washington D.C. and surrounded by some of Northern Virginia’s fastest growing neighborhoods  — Arlington  to the east, Mclean  to the north, and Vienna  to the west — but it stands out for its unchanging, authentic small town feel.

 

History of Falls Church

Falls Church is one of the oldest cities in Virginia. It was first settled in 1699 by English settlers from the Tidewater region, but explored and recorded by John Smith nearly a century before that. Falls Church, like many other colonial Virginia settlements, began as a neighborhood of plantations dependent on enslaved labor. During the Civil War, the town changed hands several times and was the site of many historic moments. The earliest known occurrence of U.S. wartime aerial reconnaissance happened in Falls Church at one of the many taverns opened to serve travelers going to and from the capital, and Julia Ward Howe wrote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” here in 1861. Following Reconstruction, Falls Church remained a rural farm community until it gained township status in 1875 and became the largest town in Fairfax County. Falls Church fought on the wrong side of the anti-segregation movement for many years, even after it became an independent city in 1948, leading to the foundation of the first rural chapter of the NAACP at Tinner Hill Arch.

Housing in Falls Church

Housing in Falls Church is quite varied. Different geographical sections of Falls Church offer different housing types. In the southwest section of town, townhomes and luxury condos dominate residential real estate. Multiple styles of single-family homes are available in the northeast section of Falls Church, ranging from affordable ramblers to expensive mini-mansions. Downtown Falls Church is nearly all condo and apartment buildings, with only a few single-family homes or townhomes available on the outskirts of the city center. Nearly all homes are on beautifully landscaped lots with plenty of greenery along safe streets. There is a well balanced mixture of affordable starter homes, investment properties, and valuable new construction.

Entertainment in Falls Church

Falls Church is well known for its restaurant, art, and music scene. Dozens of ethnic eateries draw in patrons from all over the D.C. metro area, ranging from hole-in-the-wall places to five star restaurants. There are also many pubs, taverns, and even a few breweries to keep your whistle wet. The art scene in Falls Church rivals that of D.C.; it’s home to numerous art galleries and design studios, as well as the State Theatre which routinely hosts live theatrical performances. Live music is huge in Falls Church with dozens of venues dedicated to showcasing new, local talent. There are also plenty of home-grown businesses like coffee shops, natural markets, gyms, and speciality stores. For nationally-known chains and larger retail options, Tysons Corner is just a 10 minute drive away.

Outdoor enthusiasts won’t feel left out living in Falls Church. There are 12 different parks spread out all over the city — about one every half mile — and even a golf course called Jefferson District. Joggers, bicyclists, hikers, and dog-walkers will find several different trails to enjoy. Nearly every park has play equipment for kids, lighted basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts, picnic tables, and grilling equipment, making Falls Church the perfect place for some some quality time with the family. Cherry Hill Farm is another outdoor hotspot for families. Its historical significance has been preserved as a living museum and even hosts a wide variety of educational programs for kids.

Local Community in Falls Church

The local community in Falls Church is friendly and welcoming to people from all different walks of life. For such a small town, there are a lot of different cultural influences present. After the Vietnam War in 1975, the area became home to a large population of South Vietnam immigrants which has left a lasting mark on Falls Church — Eden Center is a shopping district made up entirely of Vietnamese businesses! About 75 percent of all residents have at least a four year degree and over 90 percent work in white-collar industries. However, there are also more artists and designers living in Falls Church than nearly any other city in America. The downtown area of Falls Church is very popular with young professionals who commute to the district along with empty nesters, and retirees. Families prefer to live outside the downtown area of Falls Church where there are more single-family homes and townhomes, but routinely visit the city center for community events. There are weekly farmers markets, annual festivals, and plenty of local fundraisers that keep Falls Church humming with activity all year long.