Manassas, Virginia is most famous for its roll in the Civil War, including it's proximity to the First and Second Battle of Bull Run. The battles were fought in large part over control of the the railroad junction in the area. This junction, called Manassas Junction, which was also the town's name for a time, connected a railroad line that ran between Washington and Richmond to another line that ran from Manassas towards the Shenandoah Valley. Control of this line was obviously important to both sides during the war. Today, the railroad still plays an important part in the city's downtown. Commuters use the line to travel to and from Washington, DC. Restaurants and shops have since developed around the station.
Manassas is an independent city located almost entirely within the boundaries (although not a part of) Prince William County, Virginia. The city is about 32 miles west of Washington, DC. The Main Streets in Downtown Historic Manassas include Center Street and Main Street with other shops and restaurants located on side streets particlarly closer to the train station. The train station is served by Amtrak and the Virginia Railway Express (VRE), which is the main commuter line between Manassas and Washington, DC. Other nearby Main Street communities in the area include Leesburg, Middleburg, Reston, and Warrenton.
We arrive in Manassas, Virginia and park just outside the Historic Downtown District. Hey, it looks like the water tower is greeting us!
We head westbound on Church Street to get to the heart of Downtown Manassas.
At the intersection of Church and Main Streets is what appears to be an old church. In fact, it was once a church, but is now renovated into a fine dining establishment
Just south of the restaurant and taking up almost the entire block all the way down to Center Street is this conveniently located motel.
Across the street are shops and restaurants, including an outdoor cafe. A fire in 1905 destroyed most of the city's commercial area. An ordinance was passed that only allowed brick or stone for new construction.
Here's a view looking down Center Street. What's this? The day we came to take photos, Manassas was having its Annual Fall Jubilee, hence everyone dressed the Halloween decorations and costumes. It should also be noted that Center Street is the city's other "Main Street" along with Main Street itself.
We continue heading south on Main Steet for now. Here's another brick building, this one painted white. At the time this photo was taken the building seemed vacant, but don't worry. The signs point to a new business coming soon.
More shops and even an art gallery at the intersection of Main Street and Center Street.
A view looking south on Main Street. Up ahead you can see the train tracks and even a large parking garage that's part of the city's train station.
Here's a view looking back north on Main Street along the same stretch of buildings we were looking at before.
And this is the parking garage from earlier along with the historic train station and the train tracks that made Manassas famous. Today the station is an important stop for commuters heading to and from Washington, DC. It's also an Amtrak stop. Both purposes easily explain the need for the parking garage.
Here's a closer view of the historic train station. Manassas was originally known as Manassas Junction because it was here that multiple rail lines met. During the Civil War both Battles of Bull Run were fought nearby because of the importance in controlling these lines. It wasn't until after the war that growth in Manassas really began to take off.
And over here we have the Manassas Visitor Center. As you can see from this angle, the train station is now also being used as a Visitor Center.
Across the tracks, on Battle Street, you can see the many businesses and restaurants that have opened close to the station.
Here are some more of those shops and businesses on the other side of Battle Street. It seems like the town's commercial district still depends on the rail lines almost as much as it did hundreds of years ago.
This is another view of those same sidewalk cafes along Battle Street with the railroad tracks in the background.
We continue heading west along the tracks. Around the corner from those restaurants we saw previously are some shops and cafes lined up across from the station.
And this is another view of those same cafes as seen from West Street. Those folks eating outside might have a good view of any trains passing by. They just need to look over the bushes and pass the trees.
Just west of the train station is a parking lot that was being used for a Farmers Market when we were there. And yes, that is another water tower in the background.
A group of trains were set up on display. Kids can go up and walk along the platform too.
The Loy E. Harris Pavillion is another public place in downtown Manassas, this one located at Center Street and West Street.
So now we're back on Center Street, which as we mentioned earlier is tied with Main Street as the principle commercial corridor in downtown Manassas. Here are some boutiques at the corner of West Street and Center Street.
Across the street is a bookstore with apartments on the second floor. The building was recently restored with a fresh coat of paint.
We'll continue heading east along Center Street. If you're paying attention, then yes, we are in fact making a big circle around town.
A lot of folks were dressed up that day for the Fall Jubilee. Behind these two, you can see the painted brick building. Despite the ordinace mandating brick, it looks like the business owners painted their buildings in many different colors.
Here's a scene looking east along Center Street. This part of Center Street was closed to traffic for the Fall Jubilee. At this point, things were beginning to wind down.
This building at the corner of Battle Street and Center Street houses financial services. But there's also a For Rent sign in the window, so maybe something else is coming down the line.
Also on the corner of Battle and Center Street, this building is painted in bright green and purples, perhaps to reflect its Cajun and Creole influences. You can see plenty of evidence of the Fall Jubileein this shot.
Located catty-corner from the previous picture is an historic post office now turned into an antique store. This one is painted an interesting lavender color.
The sun was casting some long shadows that day in Mansassas. Notice the ghost hanging up along the historic Opera House across the street? Just some more signs of the earlier festivities.
Here's a shot looking back westbound in the direction we came from towards the intersection of Battle Street and Center Street.
And if we head a little further east we make it to the intersection of Main and Center Streets. Look familiar? We were here earlier. The circle is complete. We head back to our car and drive off to cover our next town.
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