The Army's oldest active proving ground, it was established on October 20, 1917, six months after the United States entered World War I. The location allowed design and testing of ordnance materiel to take place near contemporary industrial and shipping centers. The first gun was fired there on January 2, 1918. APG was created as a successor to the Sandy Hook Proving Ground, which was too small for some of the larger weapons being tested. At the peak of World War II, Aberdeen Proving Ground had billeting space for 2,348 officers and 24,189 enlisted personnel.
Aberdeen Proving Ground occupies . Its northernmost point is near the mouth of the Susquehanna River, where it enters the Chesapeake Bay. On the south it is bordered by the Gunpowder River. The installation lies on two peninsulas separated by the Bush River. The northeastern is known as the Aberdeen Area and the southwestern, the former Edgewood Arsenal, is called the Edgewood Area. Edgewood Chemical Activity is a chemical weapons depot located here. Elimination of the chemicals held here was put on an accelerated schedule after the September 11, 2001 attacks, and all chemical weapons were destroyed by February 2006.
Other parts of the proving ground not attached to the main installation include the Churchville Test Area in Harford County, and the Carroll Island and Graces Quarters in Baltimore County, Maryland. The Churchville Test Area is a test track with hills that provide steep natural grades and tight turns to stress engines, drivetrains, and suspensions for Army vehicles, including Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and HMMWVs.
The U.S. Army Ordnance Corps Museum is located at APG.
There were 805 households out of which 78.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 84.1% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 5.2% were non-families. 4.3% of all households were made up of individuals and none had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.52 and the average family size was 3.63.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 40.1% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 44.9% from 25 to 44, 4.4% from 45 to 64, and 0.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25 years. For every 100 females there were 113.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 117.6 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $38,875, and the median income for a family was $40,306. Males had a median income of $26,943 versus $26,194 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $12,808. About 4.2% of families and 5.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.4% of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.
A sex scandal at Aberdeen Proving Ground came into light in 1996.