If you live in Burke, there's a chance you may have had a conversation or two with your neighbors, family or friends about the little place you call home.
Ask any resident how they would describe the community and the first words you’ll hear are “family-oriented,” “welcoming,” “community-centric.”
But unlike some places nearby that are incorporated as cities and towns — like Herndon, Vienna or Fairfax City — Burke can be difficult for some locals to point out on a map, much less distinguish from other areas of Fairfax County.
It might surprise some to learn some 41,055 people call Burke home.
“When I moved to Burke, I thought more about location than history. But after a while, you learn that it has some interesting history. It’s not a manufactured 20th century town like most of the county, but a place with a long and colorful history,” Tom McFarland said on a post on the Burke Patch Facebook page.
Though many of the historical places that once defined the community have disappeared, it’s inevitable residents will find reminders of Burke’s history sprinkled along the major roads, parks and businesses they visit daily.
Whether or not residents connect with Burke’s history, they do have a distinct community, locals say; it may just be a bit harder to see.
“Because Burke isn’t incorporated, I think its identity can be a little nebulous even to people who live here. But there’s a deep sense of Burke as a really great place to live that unites the old-timers who grew up here with the many who move here from all over the country and the world, and that makes it a true community. People may not know exactly what it is or what its boundaries are, but they identify with Burke," said Brian Slawski, chair of programs for the Burke Historical Society (BHS).
This is part one of a three-part series on the identity of Burke: