Photos: Falls Church Then and Now

Falls Church a city almost exactly 100 years older than the first daguerreotype cameras. It was a recruiting station for the American militia in the Revolutionary War and the scene of minor skirmishes throughout the American Civil War.

But even so, it’s a city that’s gone through numerous changes over the last 80 years of Fairfax County’s aerial photography.

Unlike most of nearby Tysons, Falls Church already has the visible bones of a small city by the photography from 1937. The familiar street network is in place, with several homes situated along the intersection of Broad and Washington Streets.

By 1953, the Winter Hill neighborhood was built, and the cookie-cutter pattern of American suburbia was starting to stamp down on fields around the town.

The aerial photography is spotty after that, with no coverage in the 1960s or 70s, but returns in 1980, when downtown Falls Church’s transition to strip malls and small shopping centers was in full swing.  New streets, like Annandale Road, also connected businesses along Washington Street to homes and other businesses along Broad Street.

There was less change between 1980 and 1990 though, when most the changes took place at the western end of the downtown area where new apartments and new shopping centers were built closer to Lee Street or with new northeast of Broad Street.

Like nearby Vienna, the pace of development in Falls Church slowed dramatically after 1990. Very little of the town’s shape and structure changed between 1990 and 2007, and less between 2007 and 2017.

One of the most visible changes in downtown Falls Church was the construction of the Harris Teeter in 2016, the first grocery store in the city’s downtown in three decades.

Previous Then and Now features from around the area include:

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