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ZipUSA: 22102
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ZipUSA: 22102

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By Glenn GarelikPhotographs by Amy Toensing



If money talks, then this suburban mall shouts. Hard to believe it was once a rural crossroads.



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"It's a fad I never thought would last," says Charles "C. D." Walsh of the heavy cigar smoke in the mahogany-paneled steak house where he tends bar in Northern Virginia. "But it hasn't dropped off in the least. I guess black lung just goes with the territory."

The territory is the upscale Palm restaurant, where despite the crash-and-burn of many once hot local dot-coms, business remains strong. So it is in the rest of Tysons Corner, an intense agglomeration of stores, office buildings, and hotels 12 miles (19 kilometers) west of Washington, D.C.

Once Tysons was nothing more than a general store at the junction of a couple of farm-to-market roads. Today it is a megamall, as well as the capital of a bruised but not bowed high-tech corridor that runs from there 14 miles (22 kilometers) west to Dulles Airport. Tysons increased its resilience in the nineties by buttressing its retail core with corporate offices. Soon after, big information-technology and defense firms attracted services, managerial support, and swarms of developers, financiers, and lawyers. By the end of the decade tech businesses had created tens of thousands of jobs. Even with recent layoffs, Tysons continues to thrive because diversification and boom times for the defense industry have absorbed some of the economic shocks suffered elsewhere.

"The Washington area used to be the quintessential government town," says Bobbie Kilberg, president of the Northern Virginia Technology Council. "But our entrepreneurial spirit was emboldened by the economic boom, and the bust hasn't taken that away."

Part of the area's armor is the northern tier of zip code 22102: In contrast to Tysons, this graceful swath of real estate is residential, even rural, bordering the wild gorges of the Potomac River. Here you find a national park, horse farms, old-money mansions, and the 376-acre campus of the exclusive Madeira School for girls.

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More to Explore

In More to Explore the National Geographic magazine team shares some of its best sources and other information. Special thanks to the Research Division.

Did You Know?
The concept of shopping centers is not a modern one. Ancient Greek agoras, or marketplaces, Middle Eastern bazaars, such as the still operating and famous Grand Bazaar of Istanbul built in the 15th century, and today's shopping centers have similarities: groups of stores and shops conveniently clustered together making it easier for the pedestrian shopper to purchase goods. With the advent of the automobile in the 1920s and post-World War II suburban development, shopping centers, or malls as they are sometimes called, expanded throughout North America. The largest in the world is the 5.2-million-square-foot (480,000-square-meters) West Edmonton Mall in Canada. It has more than 100 eating places, a miniature golf course, an indoor water park, a hockey rink, a nightclub, movie theaters, an amusement park, a zoo, a hotel, and, of course, more than 800 stores.

Fun Facts
• The holiday song played most often in shopping centers is "Jingle Bells," and the second most popular is "White Christmas."

• Country Club Plaza, the first "unified" shopping mall in the U.S., opened near Kansas City, Missouri, in 1922. The first fully enclosed mall in the U.S. was the Southdale Center in Edina, Minnesota, in 1956. There were 1,182 enclosed malls in the U.S. as of 2001.

• There are 45,721 shopping centers in the U.S.; California has the most with 6,086, Wyoming the least with 55. 

— Mary McPeak

Did You Know?

Related Links
Tysons Corner Center
www.shoptysons.com
Tysons Galleria
www.shoptysonsgalleria.com
Visit the homepages of the two shopping centers covered in our article.

International Council of Shopping Centers
www.icsc.org
This website provides information about the shopping center industry throughout the world.

Fairfax County Convention and Visitors Bureau
www.visitfairfax.org/things.htm
Information about Fairfax County, Virginia, where Tysons Corner is located.

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Bibliography
Cohen, Nancy E. America's Marketplace: The History of Shopping Centers. ICSC and Greenwich Publishing Group, 2002.

Garreau, Joel. Edge Cities: Life on the New Frontier. Anchor Books, 1992.

Gottmann, Jean. Megalopolis: The Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the United States. The Twentieth Century Fund, 1961.

Hacinli, Cynthia. "Best of Tysons Corner," Washingtonian (March 2002), 143-56.

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NGS Resources
Mitchell, John G. " Urban Sprawl," National Geographic (July 2001), 48-73.

Beddingfield, Katie. "Mall Tourists," National Geographic Traveler (March 2000), 32.

Atwood, Albert, W. "Across the Potomac from Washington: Growing Pains Afflict Arlington County and Alexandria as the Nation's Capital Overflows into Near-by Virginia," National Geographic (January 1953), 1-33. 

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