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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Projected Howard County growth pre-Columbia

     I recently had some time to go to the Columbia Archives to read a copy of the 1960 Howard County General Plan.  This was a time when the County planners saw the growth in the County but still had no idea that a developer by the name of Jim Rouse was looking at the County as the location for his vision of what a planned community should look like.  At this time only 11% of the County's land was labeled as developed (18,267 acres out of a total of 160,640 acres).  The planners projected another 20-22,000 acres to be developed by the year 2000.  Columbia's acreage alone is 20,500.  With the spill over development from Columbia we can be sure that the developed acreage of Howard County in 2000 was substantially above the 1960 projection.
    The population of Howard County had begun to rapidly increase in the 10 years preceding 1960.  The population had increased 56% during this ten year period from 23,000 to 36,000.  The number of building permits issued had increased from 292 in 1950 to 523 in 1960.  The population projection in 1960 for the year 2000 was between 220,000 and 260,000.  The actual number in the 2000 Census was 248,000.
     The view of the County planners in 1960 was still that for large retail development Howard Countians would still travel outside of Howard County.  The plan didn't envision a large retail mall in the County because of the existence of the Westview Mall in Baltimore to the north and the Laurel Mall to our south.  The plan did envision community sized shopping center of 120-150,000 sq. ft.  The reality today is that the square footage of the Columbia Mall is 1,400,000 sq. ft. and plans are for another expansion.  The number of retail establishments in the County in 1960 was 346.  The Columbia Mall alone has over 200 stores.
    The area that the planners missed by the largest amount was their estimate of median income.  Their estimate of the median income for 2000 was $10,400.  The actual income was in 2000 was $85,000.  Some of the inaccuracy of income projections in 1960 was the misunderstanding of how the development of Columbia would bring in a population of highly educated professionals.  In 1960 the projected growth in employment in the County was seen in mostly manufacturing.  Many of these jobs were blue collar in the areas of food, lumber. paper, plastics, fabricated metals, machinery, rubber, paint products and the trucking industry.  While the Applied Physics Lab had moved to the County in the 1950's from Silver Spring the impact of the development of the National Security Agency and the growth of the Federal workforce were unknown in 1960.
     In 1960 the school system in the County was much smaller with only 6985 students.  Today we have over 50,000 enrolled students.  In 1960 there was one senior high school (Howard High), two junior highs, two junior/senior high schools (Glenelg, Tubman), two junior highs and 13 elementary schools.  Today we have 40 elementary schools, 19 middle schools, 12 high schools and 3 education centers.  In 1960 it was envisioned that the County might develop a junior college to serve county students.  Community colleges were not developed in 1960.  Today the Howard Community College enrolls 13,000 credit students and 16,000 continuing education students.
     The rural Howard County of 1960 needed only a small police department.  There were 11 police officers in 1960 which was an increase from 3 in 1950.  There was only the Ellicott City police station.  It was projected that the County would need 60 policemen by 1980 at 4 police stations.  Today there are 445 police officers and 189 civilian employees.
    Other 1960 service projections- 10-12 libraries by 2000 and "a hospital in a rural, pastoral setting to encourage healing (especially for mental patients)"   A "Children's Shelter Center for abused and neglected children" which didn't foresee the development of family foster care.

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1 comment:

Harry Schwarz said...

Great research, Duane. Thank you for the information.