During and after World War II, federal government expansion fueled a growing population in the Washington, DC area. Federal employees and military service members sought affordable housing, first in close-in areas, then at greater and greater distances. Some military personnel chose to live in the Braddock District because of its proximity to the Pentagon and Fort Belvoir. Veterans using the GI Bill of Rights to attend college were drawn to the area by the universities.
Pressure to provide new roads, housing and services mounted. Commuting improved with the construction of Shirley Highway; 35,000 cars traveled on it daily by the time of its completion to Woodbridge. By 1955, construction of the Beltway had been approved.
By 1950, suburban development was changing Annandale and areas on the eastern edge of Braddock District. By 1960, North Springfield and large areas of Annandale had been developed and home sales in Ravensworth Farm were just starting. Between 1950 and 1960, the Fairfax County population almost tripled from 98,557 to 248,897.
Burke International Airport
In June 1951, the federal government announced plans to build a new airport in the Burke area to be completed by 1955. Local residents organized and battled for seven years to place the airport in a different location. They won, and the airport, Dulles International, was built in Chantilly, Virginia. A mixed victory, 4,500 acres of land and many farms had been taken by the government and their owners displaced.
Integrating the Schools
In 1954, Luther Jackson opened as the first high school for black students in Fairfax County. That same year, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v Board of Education struck down school segregation. Thus began a process of integrating Fairfax County schools that extended into the 1960s. At the same time, a mushrooming student population drove an increasing demand for new classrooms and teachers.
Written by Mary Lipsey and John Browne