Fairfax is an independent city in the U.S. state of Virginia. It is the county seat of Fairfax County. Although it an enclave of Fairfax County, the two are separate political entities. Situated in the Northern Virginia region, Fairfax forms part of the Washington Metropolitan Area. The city derives its name from Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron. The area the City of Fairfax now encompasses was settled in the early 18th century by farmers from Virginia’s Tidewater region. One of the oldest buildings in the city is what used to be an elementary school. In 1873, the Fairfax Elementary School remains the oldest two-story building the city has ever seen and was built for the outrageous sum of $2,750. This building reflects a new era of free public education in Virginia and the growth of the Fairfax area.
Old Town Fairfax has undergone an extensive redevelopment, which began in 2005. The redevelopment added a new City of Fairfax Regional Library, more than 45,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, more than 70,000 square feet of office condominiums, and 85 upscale residential condominium units. In May 2009, Fairfax was ranked No. 3 in the “Top 25 Places to Live Well” by Forbes Magazine. Forbes commended Fairfax for its strong public school system, high median salary, and a rate of sole proprietors per capita that ranks it in the top 1% nationwide.
The public schools in the City of Fairfax are owned by the city, but administered by the Fairfax County Public Schools system under contractual agreement with Fairfax County. U.S. News & World Report often ranks Fairfax County schools among the best in the country.