Can Tyson Corner show the country how to fix its suburbs?
“A textbook case of suburban sprawl”—that’s what local officials call the northern Virginia town of Tysons Corner, a place best known for its gargantuan shopping mall. Situated on the outer edge of the Washington, D.C., Beltway in Fairfax County, Tysons is the kind of place that’s good for gassing up, grabbing a Cinnabon, and maybe browsing the wares at dime-a-dozen chains like Kay Jewelers or the Gap. But it’s not the kind of place you would want to live—unless you happen to be a car, in which case it’s a paradise on earth. In this town of slightly less than 1,700 acres there are 900 acres of parking, with the remaining land given over to drab, isolated office parks and too-wide suburban roads without a sidewalk in sight. Little wonder that while 120,000 people work in Tyson’s Corner, only 18,000 choose to live there.
Illustration by Maxwell Holyoke-Hirsch.