By Mark Huffman
Annandale is one of Fairfax County’s older communities and its network of roads made it an important crossroads and commercial hub when it developed soon after World War II. That holds true today.
Bounded on the south by Braddock Road, Annandale stretches to Gallows Road to the north while Little River Turnpike runs down the middle. The Capital Beltways divides its east and west halves.
In spite of Fairfax County’s well-documented traffic congestion, Annandale offers convenient access no matter where you are going.
Like most of Fairfax County, Annandale took shape after World War II, when nearby Washington, DC went through its growth explosion. Prior to that time it was a rural area of dairy farms with rolling pastures.
Annandale’s first subdivision was built in 1939 but the community experienced its most rapid growth in the 1960s. By the early 1980s, most residential development had been completed. In terms of housing, Annandale offers condos, townhouses and single-family homes.
While many residents are drawn to Annandale for its location and wide variety of housing, others like it for its small-town atmosphere. They tend to buy homes here and stay.
Annandale resident Helen Winter and her husband bought a house here in 1969 when Helen’s husband got a job in DC. They chose it for its convenient location but stayed because of its small-town feel.
“My neighborhood is full of people who are caring and interested in what’s going on,” Winter said.
That, of course, also describes Winter, who has been an active member of the Annandale community for four decades. She’s been a major force in beautification efforts through her participation in the Annandale Chamber of Commerce and the Annandale Woman’s Club, which has planted trees along Little River Turnpike.
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Pat Sawhney, associate Broker at Remax 100, has lived in Annandale almost as long as Winter, moving here from New York State when her husband went to work for the government. In addition to its road network, Sawhney cites convenient grocery shopping, a large post office and the George Mason Regional Library â€“ part of the Fairfax County Public Library.
â€œWhen buyers are making a housing location decision, if living really close in is not affordable then Annandale is the next best choice for convenience and commuting benefits and a choice of housing types,â€ Sawhney said.
Annandale’s Central Business District lies around the intersections of Little River Turnpike, Gallows Road and Columbia Pike. Toll House Park provides the central focal point, recalling the early days when there was an actual toll house on Little River Turnpike.
In recent years many Korean merchants have chosen Annandale as a location, giving the business district a distinct international flavor. A number of small shopping centers provide locations for large supermarkets as well as smaller stores and restaurants.
Annandale is also home to a large Northern Virginia Community College campus, providing convent and affordable access to higher education for the community’s residents. The college’s first rate facilities are also an important venue for cultural events.
Three major Fairfax County Parks Authority facilities are also located there. Hidden Oaks Nature Center has a pond and interactive exhibits. Green Spring Gardens on Annandale’s eastern border is an outdoor classroom from children an a year-round resource for home gardeners. Wakefield Recreation Center on Braddock Road is a state of the art health club facility open to county residents, offering an indoor pool, weights and cardio machines and many organized activities.