Gainesville occupies a small area of land, at only 10.3 miles square, but boasts both waterfront properties along Lake Manassas and walking trails in the Conway Robinson Memorial State Forest. The forest is located along Manassas National Battlefield Park, a major point of interest for history buffs. With so much new construction going up, neighborhoods are configured around subdivisions, as opposed to traditional neighborhood structures. Prices for housing are among the highest for both Virginia and the U.S. Because the town is a bedroom community for Washington D.C., and also draws many retirees from the city, it is plush with shopping and retail. At least six large shopping centers, replete with all the big box stores, are located there.

When the Manassas Gap Railroad came through in 1852, the town of Gainesville, VA became a crossroads for commerce and travel. It remained a major shipping point for cattle well into the 1960s. Today, the town is part of a housing boom based around major new developments of townhomes and single-family residences. The town will renew its history with the railroads in 2022, when the new Gainesville railway station opens, providing commuter services for area residents to Washington D.C., Fairfax County and Manassas.

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