is a county
located in the central part of the U.S. state
, between Baltimore
and Washington, D.C.
. It is considered part of the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area
Howard County, Maryland is frequently cited for its affluence, quality of life, and excellent schools. In 2006 it was ranked the third wealthiest county by median household income in the United States by the U.S. Census Bureau. The main population center of Columbia/Ellicott City was named 4th amongst Money Magazine's "America's Best Places to Live." Also, Howard County's schools frequently rank first in Maryland as measured by standardized test scores and graduation rates.
The county was named for John Eager Howard, an officer in the American Revolutionary War and later the fifth Governor of Maryland. In 2000, its population was 247,842. Its county seat is Ellicott City. The center of population of Maryland is located on the county line between Howard County and Anne Arundel County, in the unincorporated town of Jessup.
Due to the proximity of Howard County's population centers to Baltimore, the county has traditionally been considered a part of the Baltimore Metropolitan Area. Recent development in the south of the county has led to some realignment towards the Washington, D.C. media and employment markets. The county is also home to Columbia, Maryland a major planned community of 100,000 first developed by James Rouse in 1967. At first considered unreasonably utopian, Columbia recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and is now considered to be the first and most successful community of its kind.
History and Politics
Howard District was formed in 1838 by the splitting of Anne Arundel
. It had the same status as a county
except for not being represented in the Maryland General Assembly. In 1851, it became an official county.
Current and Past County Executives:
The current members of the County Council are:
The county is serviced by the Howard County Police Department
, the Howard County Sheriff's Office
, and the Maryland State Police
Howard County is located in the Maryland Piedmont
region, with rolling hills making up most of the landscape. Its largest community is Columbia
(though, in fact, this is not an incorporated city under Maryland law; in fact, Howard County has no incorporated municipalities). The northern portion of Howard County is part of the outskirts around Baltimore
; the southern is more oriented toward Washington, D.C.
Howard County is also the only "Maryland-locked" county in the state, being the only county entirely enclosed by land and river boundaries with other Maryland counties.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 254 square miles (657 km²), of which, 252 square miles (653 km²) of it is land and 2 square miles (4 km²) of it (0.60%) is water.
Howard County lies in the transition between the Humid subtropical climate
zone and the Humid continental climate
zone. The easternmost tip of the county has a true subtropical climate, with hot, humid summers and cool, rainy winters. As one travels west in the county away from the Baltimore
area, the winter temperatures get lower and snow is more common. Annual rainfall is about 45 inches throughout the county.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 247,842 people, 90,043 households, and 65,821 families residing in the county. The population density
was 983 people per square mile (380/km²). There were 92,818 housing units at an average density of 368 per square mile (142/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 74.33% White
, 14.42% Black
or African American
, 0.24% Native American
, 7.68% Asian
, 0.04% Pacific Islander
, 1.11% from other races
, and 2.19% from two or more races. 3.02% of the population were Hispanic
of any race. 15.1% were of German
, 11.0% Irish
, 9.3% English
, 6.6% Italian
and 5.7% American
ancestry according to Census 2000
There were 90,043 households out of which 40.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.50% were married couples living together, 9.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.90% were non-families. 20.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.71 and the average family size was 3.18.
In the county the population was spread out with 28.10% under the age of 18, 6.30% from 18 to 24, 34.40% from 25 to 44, 23.80% from 45 to 64, and 7.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 96.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.90 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $74,167, and the median income for a family was $85,422. Males had a median income of $57,959 versus $40,412 for females. The per capita income for the county was $32,402. About 2.50% of families and 3.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.80% of those under age 18 and 6.90% of those age 65 or over.
Howard County's Population History from the U.S. Census Bureau
The following is a population history for Howard County. The ranking compares the population of Howard County to those of the other 23 Maryland counties and Baltimore City.
- 1900.......16,715......22nd (Calvert and Caroline fewer)
- 1910.......16,106......23rd (Calvert fewer)
- 1920.......15,826......22nd (Calvert and Kent fewer)
- 1930.......16,169......19th (Calvert, Charles, Kent, Queen Anne's, St. Mary's fewer)
- 1940.......17,175......20th (Calvert, Kent, Queen Anne's, St. Mary's fewer)
- 1950.......23,119......18th (Calvert, Caroline, Garrett, Kent, Queen Anne's, Somerset, Talbot fewer)
- 1960.......36,152......14th (Calvert, Caroline, Charles, Dorchester, Garrett, Kent, Queen Anne's, Somerset, Talbot, Worcester fewer)
- 1970.......61,911......11th (Howard passing Cecil, St. Mary's, Wicomico in population)
- 1980......118,572......7th (after only Anne Arundel, Balt. Cty and City, Harford, Montgomery, Prince George's)
- 1990......187,328......6th (passing Harford)
Howard County Public Schools
system manages 71 schools and serves approximately 49,000 students. The graduation rate from this school district is an above average 92%. One of the primary measures of excellence in Howard County living is the quality of its public school system. Howard County's schools, which serve nearly 50,000 students, are ranked among the best in the state. Student test scores consistently top the list for all Maryland school districts. Public school construction has kept pace with the county’s growth in recent years to safeguard against crowded classrooms. Reservoir High School
is currently the largest school in the county with 1,500 students.
Culture & Attractions
Howard County has no incorporated municipalities.
Unincorporated areas are also considered as towns by many people and listed in many collections of towns, but they lack local government. Various organizations, such as the United States Census Bureau, the United States Postal Service, and local chambers of commerce, define the communities they wish to recognize differently, and since they are not incorporated, their boundaries have no official status outside the organizations in question. The Census Bureau recognizes the following census-designated places in the county:
- Ellicott City
- Jessup (This CDP is shared between Howard and Anne Arundel Counties.)
- North Laurel
- Savage-Guilford (a combination of the communities of Savage and Guilford recognized as a unit by the Census Bureau)
Other entities, such as the United States Postal Service, use a different selection of local place names. In all these cases, since the places are unincorporated, the boundaries are determined by the classifying authority. Other unincorporated places not listed as Census-Designated Places but known in the area include:
- Hanover (a portion is also in Anne Arundel County)
- Henryton (a portion is also in Carroll County)
- Sykesville (also in Carroll County)
- West Friendship
- Woodstock (a portion is also in Carroll County)