by Veronica Garabelli
Like Bono or Madonna, Tysons Corner is shedding its last name … at least unofficially. Many who work or live in the sprawling office and retail center in Fairfax County would like the area to be known simply as Tysons. In fact, a page on the county’s website describing ambitious plans to revamp the area in coming years is labeled “Transforming Tysons.”
What has been the reaction to the informal name change? Michael Caplin, executive director of the Tysons Partnership, a forum for issues arising from the area’s redevelopment, says that, for the most part, the new name has been a smooth transition.
“Mostly people are saying, ‘That’s what we’ve been calling it for years,’ a couple of people are saying, ‘Why draw the distinction?’ but there’s a general consensus that it makes sense,” Caplin says.
Tysons Corner was once farmland owned by William Tyson in the 19th century. Back then, it was known as Tysons Crossroads. The name was changed to Tysons Corner in the 1960s when the area was being developed for a major shopping center and office buildings. Since the area has evolved, the rural-sounding name doesn’t fit anymore, Caplin says.
Currently about 20,000 people live in Tysons Corner and 100,000 people work in the area. Under the redevelopment plan, the heavily car-dependent area will become a walkable, sustainable urban center by 2050. It would be home to up to 100,000 people and the locale for 200,000 jobs.
A big step in that direction is the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, which eventually would extend the D.C. transit system to Washington Dulles International Airport. Caplin says Metro stops in Tysons Corner should begin operating by the end of next year.
One person who is watching the area’s transformation closely is Emily Mann, a standards administrator for The Appraisal Foundation. Mann, who’s in her 20s, moved to Vienna in high school and now lives in Tysons Corner. She recently chose to stay there instead of moving closer to Washington.
“The stuff in Tysons is nicer quality,” Mann says. “They have newer, nicer places in Tysons that cost the same as what would be closer to the city.”
Mann currently thinks of Tysons Corner as a suburban area for families and businesses, but she believes efforts to change its image can succeed, especially with the addition of Metro service. “I think if they want to rebrand it, it could be a Ballston,” a trendy area in Arlington, Mann says. “I think the potential is there.”
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