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History from the Source

Seven-year-old interviews Reston’s founder.

Kira Peterson remembers meeting Reston’s founder Robert E. Simon when she was in Kindergarten.

“It was a long time ago,” said the seven-year-old Reston resident, recalling the event. She was sitting on the bronze statue of Simon that adorns Washington Plaza at the Lake Anne Village Center.

“He came over and said, ‘You’re sitting on my statue,’” said Kira, a second-grader at Leesburg Christian School.

KIRA HAD ANOTHER memorable meeting with Simon last Friday when she interviewed him for a history project for school at La Kasbah Restaurant at Lake Anne Village Center.

One of Kira’s first question’s — “In what year did the town begin?” — turned out to be a tough one.

“I guess there a couple of dates,” said Simon. “I guess I pick the first year when people moved in, in 1964.”

But Simon also told Kira that building started 1963. “We like to say it’s about 40 years old,” said Simon, 92.

Kira also asked how Reston got its name. “I think my mother and former wife got together and figured it out,” said Simon. “My full name is Robert E. Simon, Jr., and now R-E-S-ton is Reston.”

ANOTHER OF Kira’s questions evoked a story about the creation of Lake Anne. “I remember standing in a valley with a little stream running near my feet,” said Simon. “And the engineers told me, ‘When we dam up this stream, it’s going to be a big lake.’”

Kira wanted to know what other big changes Simon has seen over the years.

“When we started we had about 10 people. I guess by 1967 we had 1,200 people,” said Simon. “And today we have 60,000 people.”

“Now that’s a big change,” said Cheska Peterson, Kira’s mother.

In one of the final questions, Simon was asked about Reston’s future. He predicted that Metro’s arrival would increase bus service. “That means we’ll have more people and fewer cars,” said Simon.