Reston Historical Map Assignment
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
- Google Earth (I really recommend that you use Google Earth for this assignment!)
- Google maps
- Recent topographic map
- Mapquest (relatively current map)
- Aerial Map of Reston Master Plan Special Study Area (2009)
- Historical Topographic maps Here you can search for earlier topographic maps, but you usually must know the name of the map that you are looking for. For example, there is no "Reston" quadrangle map for 1973, but "Reston" appears on the "Vienna" maps for 1966, 1973, 1982, 1998. Here is the 1966 Vienna topographic map, the part showing Reston.
- Now, I've also come across this online spatial analysis tool where you can directly compare Reston changes over time.
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.
- Urban Population Growth
- Human Population: Urbanization
- World database of large urban areas, 1950-2050
- David Satterthwaite, The transition to a predominantly urban world and its underpinnings
- Urban Population (% of Total) in World
Watch my video remarks on this assignment.
In a one to two page paper,
- identify at least ten differences between then (Reston 1973) and now (Reston 2013)
- I suggest that you provide a two/three sentence introduction to your project, then list each of your items with its accompanying explanation, then end with a short conclusion.
- Provide grid coordinates for each item. When you click to the larger version of the aerial 1973 photo, you will find a simple grid coordinate system. So, when you are writing about a specific feature, please identity the block of the grid in which the feature is located (or missing), for example D-3.
- Each of your differences/items can be something very specific, such as a major building, or it can be something a bit more general such as South Lakes Drive.
- Your explanation of each item should be in the form of a complete sentence. For example, "South Lakes High School does not appear on the 1973 photo. It would later be built and opened in 1979, approximately in block F-3."
- Yes, you can identify more than ten differences, but not more than twenty.
Here are some formal requirements for your paper:
- Must have an introduction and conclusion (each not to exceed three lines)
- May not exceed two pages (If you are going to go longer, please get permission.)
- One-inch margins
- Double-spaced (If you set up your ten items as an unordered, bulleted list, then you can single-space your explanation of each item.
- Name and date at top left
- Proper English grammar, spelling and style usage
- You may consider submitting a draft of your paper for feedback before submitting the assignment for a grade.
Your assignment should be submitted on Blackboard following the directions for submitting assignments.