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Old 01-18-2011, 06:47 AM
 
524 posts, read 449,912 times
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Default McLean Photo Tour

Hey all,

Finally got a chance to take these yesterday and thought I'd post them here for your enjoyment. I've seen questions asked about McLean, about the schools, housing, affordability, nightlife, etc. I thought that since I grew up in the McLean/Falls church area, I'd go ahead and step up.

Anyway, fair warning before I get started, I'm a somewhat verbose individual and like a story to go along with my pictures, so I'll be writing a lot in between photos, passing along memories, etc. You can always skip over it if you want.

Anyway, let's get this started, and welcome.



McLean itself was established in 1910 and is considered an upscale suburb of Washington D.C. It is home to many Fortune 500 companies such as Freddie Mac, Capital One, Booz Allen, etc. It is bordered (generally) by Arlington and Falls Church to the southeast, Vienna/Tysons Corner to the west, Great Falls (and Maryland) to the north, and several other locations in close proximity.

I know I've seen folks question why McLean is so expensive, or has that shroud of "exclusivity" and in my personal opinion, it can be traces to Hickory Hill, the old Kennedy mansion, being located there. That's just my guess, I know that currently many high ranking former Republicans (Powell, Gingrich, Cheney, Libby, etc.) make their home in McLean.

Anyway, enough talk, on to more photos.

Shopping

The first thing that springs to mind when considering shopping in McLean is Tysons Corner, but we're sticking to the town itself. McLean's center intersection is Old Dominion Drive and Chain Bridge Road. Most shopping in McLean is found in small strip malls, single or two story, that branch in all four directions from this intersection. Here are two examples.





I think part of what makes McLean appealing is that there are many self-owned businesses in town. This is not to say there are not chain stores, but the town isn't dominated by them like many strip malls. Further, McLean has many stores that have been around since before I was born, and I believe the locals like it that way. Consider the following:



McLean Shoe Repair, 1955.



Fairfax Cleaners, who I'm almost positive was a sponsor of one of my tee-ball teams (I'm 31, for reference)



McLean Pizza, in business since 1962.



The Medicine Chest pharmacy, which has been there as long as I can remember. I apologize, I realized later I should have taken a picture of the whole store (it's stand alone) but I was going for a specific theme here. Plus I like the sign.



McLean Hardware, one of the most important stores in McLean. I don't know why, but I've heard it said that McLean is happy so long as there isn't a direct Metro station, and McLean Hardware never goes out of business. I have no idea why that is, but continuing with the theme, this store has been around since before I was born.



Saved this one for last...since 1928...though I'm pretty sure they haven't always been in this location.

Upscale Shopping

Wanted to make a separate section for this. McLean also has a number of upscale stores for those with discerning tastes and a fat wallet.



Balducci's Food Market. This used to be called Sutton Place Gourmet but it seems to be the same sort of place. Funny anecdote, I actually worked at Sutton Place for one summer, which is where I learned what "toast points" were. My friend "Mike" worked there too, in the bakery, and an older woman came in and asked for some. He had no idea so he asked the manager, and was told it was just toasted bread cut into triangles. He tried to show the older woman the bread selection, and she selected a loaf. Then she asked him to take it in the back, toast the whole thing, and cut it up for her. Yes, this really happened. Yes, I'm sure this is one example of why some people think McLean folks can be snotty.



Thieves Market Antinques.



A McLean tailor and Clothier, and Cecile's Wine Cellar. Again, I'm trying to highlight part of McLean's appeal, many family owned, non-chain businesses.



McLean Cigars. This has changed names once or twice. The PG stands for Paul Garmirian, which is a pretty fancy brand. I had to throw this picture on here since I went to school with his daughter.

That's enough for Part 1. Part 2 will be housing. Part 3 will be restaurants and recreation.
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Old 01-18-2011, 07:01 AM
 
Location: Virginia
18,717 posts, read 13,827,372 times
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Great job! I'm so glad you did this. It's fun to have a photo tour that shows the little shops.
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Old 01-18-2011, 07:14 AM
 
524 posts, read 449,912 times
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Default Schools and Housing In McLean

McLean has two high schools, McLean and Langley. Both are very highly rated (Langley slightly more so) and consistently return high scores on SAT's, SOL's, etc. There are two major middle schools, Longfellow and Cooper. Longfellow houses the GT program and generally feeds to McLean, while Cooper feeds to Langley. Both middle schools put many kids into TJ high school, the magnet Science and Technology high school.

As far as elementary schools go, there are several which feed into the two middle schools. I know Haycock houses the GT program, and I believe Kent Gardens has some sort of language immersion. I don't know much about the other schools, but they're all highly rated and education quality is not something you need to worry about too much.

I didn't take any pictures of schools for obvious reasons, just felt like they needed to be addressed. You came here for housing, so let's get to it.

Housing

McLean has several distinct sections, but in my opinion, they've generally broken down into four sections or so. The 22043 section where I grew up, which is McLean with a Falls Church mailing address, downtown McLean (also known as West McLean) the Chesterbrook/Franklin Forest area which borders Arlington and D.C., and the Langley/Great Falls area. Those last three are a mixture of 22102 and 22102 area codes, I believe.

In the McLean/Falls Church and West McLean areas, you will find a lot of older homes, ramblers and split level types. Here are a few examples.







Yes, that's my car you're seeing in some of the pictures. I felt odd taking pictures from the sidewalk, before I realized it probably looked worse doing it out my car window. You'll be getting a mixture of both.

Anyway, these are houses on the smaller side in McLean, and will generally be offered for sale in the $600,000 - $700,000 range in the current market.

McLean also has a selection of medium/larger houses in well kept neighborhoods, such as these:









I especially like this last house (minus my car framing the shot) because of the two level front deck. I've driven past this house in the summer, and whoever owns this had long plants on the upper deck which hung down and had kind of a hanging garden look. It looked really neat.

The last type of house is what I like to call the "How the hell do they pay the heating bill on that thing" style of house. They're nice to look at, but I feel like half the house would be empty if I lived in one of them. Many of these used to be the rambler/split level homes, but the recent trend is to buy those, level them, and build a dream home. A.N.V. signs are all over the place in McLean right now. Here are some examples:







There's more to this last one, but I was already as far back as I could get and I still couldn't fit the whole thing into one shot.

Langley/Great Falls

Referring to any section of McLean as the "wealthy section" isn't really saying much, it's just the difference between living comfortably and living extravagantly. Most of what you'll find in Langley are houses like in parts two and three. I haven't found a neighborhood in Langley/Great Falls yet that was predominantly split levels or ramblers, it is mostly houses ranging from large to gigantic. If I could point to one major difference, it is that many of the large McLean houses are crammed together, while the Langley section has a lot of land to go with them. Here are two shots:



This was another house that I couldn't fit into the entire shot, but you get the idea.



I've always liked this one. Houses in this area have a "stately" feel to them, with touches like columns and circular driveways like you see here. And large yards.

That's it for part 2, I'll have part three up in a few minutes.
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Old 01-18-2011, 07:51 AM
 
524 posts, read 449,912 times
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Default Restaurants and Recreation

Okay, last part. Part of the reason McLean is a desired location is its proximity to other locations. If you want nightlife, Arlington is a short drive away. Washington D.C. is only a few minutes further is you want theater, sports, and fancy restaurants. Falls Church and its ethnic cuisines are a short drive the other direction. Tysons and all its Cheesecake Factory glory is just minutes away as well.

McLean however, is very, very quiet, which is part of why I believe it appealing to families trying to raise kids. Activities are close by but the streets are quiet, and if the kid doesn't have a car, it's not easy to immediately find trouble.

This is not to say McLean doesn't have a few places to go. McKeever's Pub has been around forever, and there's a bar next to where the old Three Pigs Barbeque was, though it appears to be closed currently. As for resaturants, here's a sampling of what you'll find.



The Cafe Oggi, a nice, semi-expensive restaurant with a small outside deck.



Kazan, a Turkish restaurant that has been in business for quite awhile as well. Though it has been awhile since I've been there so it might not be that fancy, but I'll include it here anyway

These are the only two shots I was able to get of fancier restaurants, but McLean also has a J. Gilberts (steakhouse) one or two very nice sushi restaurants, as well as the Cafe Tatti, a fancy French restaurant that predates my birth and is very highly regarded.

I know I'm hammering away at this theme, but in keeping with the family-owned theme, McLean also has several restaurants that are family places and have been around forever.



Appropriately named.



Rocco's, which I think may damn near be at McLean Hardware status. If Rocco's ever closes, the whole town might be rendered catatonic.

Recreation

Though a lot of new development has sprung up, thus reducing forest area, McLean does have several parks, trails, and recreation places available. First is Lewinsville Park, a center for much of McLean Youth sports.





Yes, in the first shot, that is artificial turf installed for soccer/lacrosse. McLean does put a lot of money into its parks and recreation program. Here are two shots of the Little League complex.





McLean Little League has four well maintained fields, as well as a clubhouse that could double as someone's residence.



The McLean racquet and health club, located in the middle of downtown. Pools, racquetball, etc. This one is private and expensive, but there is also a public recreation center (Spring Hill) a few minutes outside of downtown.





These are two shots of Chesterbrook Swim and Tennis Club. McLean has several private swimming clubs scattered around, there are at least four including Chesterbrook off the top of my head. I know Tuckahoe is right off Great Falls street in West McLean, and McLean Swim and Tennis is right next to the high school. I believe there is another one up towards Langley called Highlands, a friend of mine was a member, but it's hidden away in a forest and hard to find unless you know where to look.



The old Firehouse. When I was in school, this was supposed to be a teen center, I don't know if it still serves that purpose. I do know that no one ever went there unless one of the high school bands was playing. It looks like it has gotten a facelift since I last saw it, so maybe they've done something to make it more attractive to teens. This is another McLean landmark.

Churches

Most folks have probably heard of the McLean Bible Church, which is so large it is practically a compound. McLean does have several other churches, all of them large. Here is the baptist church in the middle of the town.



And the Methodist church on 123. Bonus points for this shot, I took it while driving 50 MPH without looking, just hit the button and hoped it came out well. Turned out it did.



I know there is also an Episcopal Church (St. Dunstans) right next to Chesterbrook swim club, and another Methodist Church located in the middle of the West McLean neighborhoods. Also, there is a large Lutheran church currently undergoing renovations that is on the corner of Westmoreland and Chain Bridge, leading into town.

If you aren't Christian, I know there is the Temple Rodef Shalom on Westmoreland, more in the McLean/Falls Church area. That place is also enormous. I'm not aware of any Mosques in McLean, I may have never seen them.



Last shot, and you may be wondering why I saved a house shot for last. It isn't the house so much as the area. Growing up, McLean used to have a farm in the middle of town, Evans Farm. Surrounded by large houses and development, this farm (more the Evans Farm Inn restaurant and petting zoo than anything) just sort of existed. Finally the gentleman passed it on to his heirs, who immediately entered talks to sell the property to developers. There was a big outcry and a "Save Evans Farm" petition from residents, until it came time for them to match the developers offer if they wanted to save the place. That ended things quick.

Anyway, several mansions were built on the property, and I understand Redskins great Sonny Jurgensen lives in one of them, or used to. Anyway, just kind of an example of how things are going now, most under-developed land is snapped up and turned into dream homes.

That's all for now, so I'll leave you with one last shot.

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Old 01-18-2011, 08:49 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC (formerly Vienna, VA)
5,632 posts, read 5,438,932 times
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Awesome, awesome photo tour! I love the long-winded descriptions. The part I like about McLean is the library (I know they are being renovated) with the community center across the street and that nice little park nearby. Thanks so much for doing this!
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:15 AM
 
Location: Home is where the heart is
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Beautiful. I like the descriptions, too. I like the house with the fancy scroll work above the front door. How elegant that looks.
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:19 AM
 
Location: Brambleton, VA
1,993 posts, read 2,681,570 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Forehead View Post
Last shot, and you may be wondering why I saved a house shot for last. It isn't the house so much as the area. Growing up, McLean used to have a farm in the middle of town, Evans Farm. Surrounded by large houses and development, this farm (more the Evans Farm Inn restaurant and petting zoo than anything) just sort of existed. Finally the gentleman passed it on to his heirs, who immediately entered talks to sell the property to developers. There was a big outcry and a "Save Evans Farm" petition from residents, until it came time for them to match the developers offer if they wanted to save the place. That ended things quick.

Anyway, several mansions were built on the property, and I understand Redskins great Sonny Jurgensen lives in one of them, or used to. Anyway, just kind of an example of how things are going now, most under-developed land is snapped up and turned into dream homes.
I rented a house near the intersection of Westmoreland and Haycock from 1999-2003. My husband and I were engaged at the time, planning our wedding. I really wanted to have our reception at Evans Farm Inn, but it was gone by then.

Thanks for the photos! I really enjoyed living in that area (although we were in 22043, we did a lot of shopping and dining in McLean). We just couldn't afford to buy a house there.
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:39 AM
 
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Great pics. You were within a block of our house in one of those pictures, so I scrolled with baited breath, afraid of the commentary that might follow.

Thanks also for exercising the good judgment to include Rocco's, but not "The Preppy Pink Pony," in the local stores that you featured. Now if we could just trade one of McLean's upscale hair salons or tutoring businesses for one of Vienna's 6-7 ice cream or gelato places, we'd be a real CDP.
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:13 AM
 
Location: Dudes in brown flip-flops
660 posts, read 965,805 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JEB77 View Post
Great pics. You were within a block of our house in one of those pictures, so I scrolled with baited breath, afraid of the commentary that might follow.

Thanks also for exercising the good judgment to include Rocco's, but not "The Preppy Pink Pony," in the local stores that you featured. Now if we could just trade one of McLean's upscale hair salons or tutoring businesses for one of Vienna's 6-7 ice cream or gelato places, we'd be a real CDP.
I was worried my parents' house would be featured, as well!

It was really disappointing when Moorenko's closed. It was one of the few fun places I could take people to if they were staying in McLean. The CDP is mostly just an assortment of banks, tutoring businesses, and restaurants that time forgot (sorry, JEB77, but we can agree to disagree about the relative value of Rocco's ).

As much as I hate to say it, Vienna blows McLean out of the water when it comes to restaurants and coffee shops.
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:52 AM
 
4,382 posts, read 4,683,531 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen 81 View Post
I was worried my parents' house would be featured, as well!

It was really disappointing when Moorenko's closed. It was one of the few fun places I could take people to if they were staying in McLean. The CDP is mostly just an assortment of banks, tutoring businesses, and restaurants that time forgot (sorry, JEB77, but we can agree to disagree about the relative value of Rocco's ).

As much as I hate to say it, Vienna blows McLean out of the water when it comes to restaurants and coffee shops.
I've heard about Moorenko's, but it was long gone by the time we arrived. Its replacement (Sweetleaf) has ice cream or gelato, but it's treated like a controlled substance, and it's not a lot of fun to ask for ice cream when everyone else there looks ready to run a marathon and is getting either herbal tea or some leafy salad.

There are some places in McLean we really like (such as Pasa Thai and Kazan's, which we do prefer to the Thai and
Turkish restaurants in Vienna, and the Greek Taverna), and some places where you have to be very careful what you order. Rocco's takes a nice picture, and the idea of a family-owned Italian place in McLean does warm the heart. The only problem is that my kids detest their oregano-laden pizza, although the subs and pasta aren't bad. At Pulcinella's, the pizza is really good, but the main dishes are mostly meh. J. Gilbert's virtually screams "save me for special occasions." The idea of shelling out $12 for a hamburger at Joe's Burgers makes me ill. And so on. In Vienna, there are more places like Amma Vegetarian, Plaka Grill and Rose Kabob that aren't expensive and where almost everything on the menu is good.

On the other hand, I really like the variety of homes in our neighborhood and made it to work easily today, whereas it would have been very tough to get out of our old neighborhood on an icy day like today.

Last edited by JEB77; 01-18-2011 at 12:46 PM..
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