Virginia

Reston's Roots: Black Activism in Virginia's New Town

Welcome to Reston: An Open Community Brochure (Courtesy of Reston Historic Trust & Museum)

Around the same time that Walt Disney envisioned a futuristic alternative to urban living—EPCOT (The Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow)—a man named Robert E. Simon Jr. dreamed of a better way to live in the suburbs. It was an era of hope when many were asking: “Through careful planning, innovate design, and high ideals, can we manufacture a better way to live?”

1898 pen-and-ink drawing of a periodical cicada's life cycle

Brood X in the Eighteenth-Century Headlines

As a historian, seeing the media “buzz” surrounding cicadas makes me wonder how our ancestors reacted to their periodical swarms. Who were the first people to realize what was going on? Did they understand the seventeen-year cycle? Were they afraid, curious, or unbothered? As I suspected, Washington-area locals have been fascinated by Brood X for a very long time. 

The Centuries-Long Saga of the ‘Oyster Wars’

An Oyster War battle in 1884

The battle lasted about half an hour, and when the smoke cleared, Captain Frank Whitehurst lay dead in a pool of his own blood on the deck of the Albert Nickel, a Baltimore oyster schooner. While Whitehurst met a fate avoided by most, the so called “Oyster Wars” had been brewing for more than 100 years prior to that fateful night on the Severn River.

For nearly two centuries, Maryland and Virginia were engaged in conflict over one of the region’s valuable resources — oysters. Full of inconsistent enforcement and rampant law-breaking, it took the president’s signature to end the Oyster Wars.

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