The history and process of renaming streets in the City of Fairfax

 

Lion Run street sign

Did you know that street names in Fairfax have changed from time to time?

In 2004 the City changed the name of Lee Hwy. (Rt. 50 & Rt. 29) to Fairfax Blvd. as part of a rebranding effort. The City also changed Rebel Run to Lion Run in June 2020. This change coincided with Fairfax High School changing its team name from Rebels to its new name: Lions.

 

Farther back in history other street name changes were made for various reasons. For example, Old Lee Hwy was originally part of Lee Hwy until the early 1930s (before the route for Lee Hwy changed to its current route). This street has had more than one name, including the Fairfax-Falls Church Rd. 

What is now known as Route 123 (Chainbridge Rd.) has had several different names. It was first called Ox Road. When the Town of Fairfax was incorporated, the name of the section in front of the courthouse was called Payne Street. It kept this name as late as the 1950s, when it became Chain Bridge Rd. 

After the formation of George Mason University, Mechanic St. and part of Kenmore Dr. were changed to create University Dr. between Route 50 and Route 123. This happened around the late 1950s. Also, around 1961, Little River Turnpike was renamed Main Street. This happened when the City became independent. 

The City of Fairfax itself has changed its name several times. It was founded as the Town of Providence in 1805. In 1874, the Town of Providence officially became the Town of Fairfax following Culpeper’s name change from Fairfax to Culpeper. In 1961 the town separated from Fairfax County and became independent, with the City of Fairfax as its new name.

What is the process for changing street names today?

It’s important to note first that the Mosby Woods Community Association does not own the neighborhood roads and does not have any control over the street names. Our roads are owned by the City of Fairfax and all street name changes require an action by the City Council. Per Section 82-38 of the City of Fairfax code, street names “are hereby declared the official names of such streets, unless officially changed by subsequent action of the city council.”

If the City decides to rename a street (as they did with Fairfax Blvd., for example) they would notify the United States Postal Service (USPS). USPS would update its address database for all the homes and businesses on that street. The USPS process for this is well established and used frequently. Mail sent to the old addresses would be automatically sent to the new addresses for 18 months. Customers would not need to submit any forms to USPS and would not incur any financial charges for the change. Residents would need to inform their personal contacts, banks, etc. of the change during the USPS 18-month transition period.

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