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Bethesda Metro Stop - Red Line - 7450 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, MD 20814

Bethesda is a census designated place in southern Montgomery County, Maryland, United States, just northwest of Washington, D.C.It takes its name from a local church, the Bethesda Meeting House (1820, rebuilt 1849), which in turn took its name from Jerusalem's Pool of Bethesda. (In Aramaic, beth hesda means "House of Mercy" and in Hebrew, "bait" "chesed" means "House of Kindness".) The National Institutes of Health main campus and the National Naval Medical Center are in Bethesda, as are a number of corporate and government headquarters.Bethesda station.jpg


Bethesda is one of the most affluent and highly educated communities in the country, placing first in Forbes list of America's most educated small towns and first on CNNMoney.com's list of top-earning American towns. In April 2009, Forbes ranked Bethesda second on its list of "America's Most Livable Cities." In October 2009, based on education, income, health, and fitness, Total Beautyranked Bethesda first on its list of the U.S.'s "Top 10 Hottest-Guy Cities."


As an unincorporated area, Bethesda has no official boundaries. The United States Census Bureau defines a Census-Designated Placenamed Bethesda whose center is located at 38°59' North, 77°7' West. The United States Geological Survey has defined Bethesda as an area whose center is at 38°58′50″N 77°6′2″W, slightly different from the Census Bureau's definition. Other definitions are used by the Bethesda Urban Planning District, the United States Postal Service (which defines Bethesda to comprise the zip codes 20810, 20811, 20813, 20814, 20815, 20816, and 20817), and other organizations. According to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2000, the community had a total population of 55,277. Most of Bethesda's residents are in Maryland Legislative District 16.

History

Bethesda is situated along a major thoroughfare that was originally the route of an ancient Native American trail. Between 1805 and 1821, it was developed into a toll road called the Washington and Rockville Turnpike, which carried tobacco and other products between Georgetown and Rockville, and north to Frederick. A small settlement grew around a store and tollhouse along the turnpike. By 1862, the community was known as "Darcy's Store" after the owner of a local establishment, William E. Darcy. The settlement was renamed in 1871 by the new postmaster, Robert Franck, after the Bethesda Meeting House, a Presbyterian church built in 1820 on the present site of the Cemetery of the Bethesda Meeting House. The church burnt in 1849 and was rebuilt the same year about 100 yards south at its present site.

Throughout most of the 19th century, Bethesda was a small crossroads village, consisting of a post office, a blacksmith shop, a church and school, and a few houses and stores. It was not until the installation of a streetcar line in 1890 and the beginnings of suburbanization in the early 1900s that Bethesda began to grow in population. Subdivisions began to appear on old farmland, becoming the neighborhoods of Drummond, Woodmont, Edgemoor, and Battery Park. Further north, several wealthy men made Rockville Pike famous for its mansions. These included Brainard W. Parker ("Cedarcroft", 1892), James Oyster ("Strathmore", 1899), George E. Hamilton ("Hamilton House", 1904; now the Stone Ridge School), Luke I. Wilson ("Tree Tops", 1926), Gilbert Grosvenor ("Wild Acres", 1928–29), and George Freeland Peter ("Stone House", 1930). In 1930, Dr Armistead Peter's pioneering manor house "Winona" (1873) became the clubhouse of the original Woodmont Country Club (on land that is now part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus). Merle Thorp's mansion, "Pook's Hill" (1927, razed 1948) — on the site of the current neighborhood of the same name — became the home-in-exile of the Norwegian Royal Family during World War II.

That war, and the expansion of government that it created, further fed the rapid expansion of Bethesda. Both the National Naval Medical Center (1940–42) and the NIH complex (1948) were built just to the north of the developing downtown. This, in turn, drew further government contractors, medical professionals, and other businesses to the area. In recent years, Bethesda has consolidated as the major urban core and employment center of southwestern Montgomery County. This recent growth has been significantly vigorous following the expansion of Metrorail with a station in Bethesda in 1984. Alan Kay built the Bethesda Metro Center over the Red line metro rail which opened up further commercial and residential development around the surrounding vicinity.

Geography

 
The intersection of Maryland Route 187 (Old Georgetown Road), Maryland Route 355 (Wisconsin Avenue), and Maryland Route 410 (East West Highway), near the Bethesda Metro station entrance, in Bethesda.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 13.2 square miles (34 km2). 13.1 square miles (34 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (0.38%) is water.

The main commercial corridor that runs through Bethesda is Maryland Route 355 (known as Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda and as Rockville Pike and Hungerford Drive in more northern communities), which, to the north, connects Bethesda with the communities of North Bethesda and Rockville, ending, after several name changes, in Frederick, Maryland. Toward the South, Rockville Pike becomes Wisconsin Avenue near the NIH Campus and continues beyond Bethesda through Chevy Chase, Friendship Heights, Maryland and into Washington, DC, ending in Georgetown.

The area commonly known as "Downtown Bethesda" is centered at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue, Old Georgetown Road and East-West Highway. Other focal points of downtown Bethesda include the Woodmont Triangle, bordered by Old Georgetown Road (Maryland Route 187), Woodmont and Rugby Avenues, and the Bethesda Row, centered at the intersection of Woodmont Avenue and Bethesda Avenue. Much of the dense construction in that area followed the opening of the Bethesda station on the Red Line of the Washington Metro rapid transit system, also located at this intersection and the centerpiece of the Bethesda Metro Center development. The Medical Center Metro stop lies about 0.7 miles north of the Bethesda stop, Medical Center, which serves the NIH Campus, the National Naval Medical Center, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

Demographics

Historical populations
CensusPop.
196056,527
197071,62126.7%
198062,736−12.4%
199062,9360.3%
200055,277−12.2%
source: U.S. Census Bureau

As of the census of 2000, there were 55,277 people, 23,659 households, and 14,455 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 4,205.8 inhabitants per square mile (1,624.2/km²). There were 24,368 housing units at an average density of 1,854.1 per square mile (716.0/km²).

There were 23,659 households out of which 28.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.4% were married couples living together, 6.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% were non-families. 32.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.92.

In the CDP the population was spread out with 21.8% under the age of 18, 4.6% from 18 to 24, 29.2% from 25 to 44, 27.1% from 45 to 64, and 17.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 87.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.0 males.

Bethesda is a very wealthy and well-educated area. According to the 2000 Census, Bethesda was the best-educated city in the United States of America with a population of 50,000 or more. 79% of residents 25 or older have bachelor's degrees and 49% have graduate or professional degrees. According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the CDP was $117,723, and the median income for a family was $168,385. Males had a median income of $84,797 versus $57,569 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $58,479. About 1.7% of families and 3.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.8% of those under age 18 and 4.1% of those age 65 or over. Many commute to Washington D.C. for work. The average price of a four bedroom, two bath home in Bethesda in 2010 was $806,817 (which ranks it as the twentieth most expensive community in America).

Bethesda is often associated with its neighboring communities, Potomac, Maryland, Chevy Chase, Maryland, Great Falls, Virginia, and McLean, Virginia for their similar demographics. In 2009, Self magazine ranked Bethesda as the second healthiest place for women in the country, a year after being ranked number one. As of 2009, 8 Pulitzer Prize winners live in Bethesda, as do several well-known political commentators (including George Will, David Brooks, and Tom Friedman).

Landmarks

 
Building 50 at NIH.

Important institutions located in Bethesda include the National Institutes of Health campus, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division. Bethesda is also home to the National Naval Medical Center soon to be Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, currently referred to as Bethesda Naval Hospital. The Bethesda Naval Hospital is also the place where the President goes to get his yearly check-up. Adjoining the hospital to the east is the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. In which, Bethesda is home to many of the U.S. Navy's and U.S. Government's Medical Care and Medical Research center(s).

The headquarters of defense conglomerate Lockheed Martin, managed health care company Coventry Health Care and hotel and resort chains Marriott International and Host Hotels & Resorts, Inc. are located in Bethesda. Software company Bethesda Softworks were originally located in Bethesda, but moved to Rockville, Maryland, in 1990. The Discovery Channel also had its headquarters in Bethesda before relocating to Silver Spring in 2004. On the professional services side, numerous banks (PNC, Wachovia, Capital One Bank) brokerage firms (SmithBarney, Merrill Lynch, Charles Schwab, Fidelity) and law firms (Ballard Spahr, JDKatz, Paley Rothman, Lerch Early & Brewer) maintain offices in Bethesda. Bethesda has two farmers markets, the Montgomery Farm Woman's Cooperative Market and the Bethesda Farmer's Market

 
Bethesda Avenue at night

Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT) has developed much of the west side of downtown Bethesda into an area called Bethesda Row. The vibrant district includes Barnes and Noble, an Apple Store, a cinema, and dozens of shops and restaurants. Also located in downtown Bethesda is one of the Madonna of the Trail monuments, erected by the National Old Trails Association working in concert with the Daughters of the American Revolution. Judge Harry S. Truman, presided over the dedication of the Bethesda monument, on April 19, 1929. Nearby is the Bethesda Post Office. Also starting in the heart of downtown Bethesda, is the Capital Crescent Trail which follows the old tracks of the B&O Railroad stretching from Georgetown, Washington, D.C., to Silver Spring, MD. Bethesda Naval Medical Center and the Bethesda Theater are two important Art Deco architectural structures in the suburbs surrounding Washington, D.C.

The Writer's Center in Bethesda publishes Poet Lore, the longest continuously running poetry journal in the United States.

Bethesda Lane opened in 2008. This extension of the Bethesda Row development, located near the corner of Bethesda Avenue and Arlington Road, includes many new retail shops and restaurants underneath luxury apartments.

Bethesda is also home of the exclusive Burning Tree Club, the Bethesda Country Club, and the Bethesda Community Baseball Club, which operates the Bethesda Big Train, a summer collegiate baseball team.

Education

Public primary schools located in Bethesda include:

  • Ashburton Elementary School
  • Bannockburn Elementary School
  • Bethesda Elementary School
  • Bradley Hills Elementary School
  • Burning Tree Elementary School
  • Carderock Springs Elementary School
  • Glen Haven Elementary School
  • Seven Locks Elementary School
  • Westbrook Elementary School
  • Wyngate Elementary School
  • Wood Acres Elementary School

Public middle schools located in Bethesda include:

  • North Bethesda Middle School
  • Thomas W. Pyle Middle School
  • Westland Middle School

Public high schools located in Bethesda include:

  • Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School
  • Walt Whitman High School
  • Walter Johnson High School

Private schools located in Bethesda include:

  • Holton-Arms
  • Landon
  • Norwood
  • Our Lady of Lourdes School
  • Sidwell Friends Lower School
  • Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart
  • The Woods Academy
  • The Harbor School
  • The French International School - Lycee Rochambeau
  • Washington Waldorf School

Bethesda is also home to a federally funded and operated health science university, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU). The primary mission of USU is to prepare graduates for service in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Public Health Service. The university consists of the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, a medical school, and the Graduate School of Nursing, a nursing school.

Economy

Companies based in Bethesda include:

  • American Capital
  • U.S. Headquarters of AREVA Inc.
  • Cambridge Information Group
  • Coventry Health Care
  • Get Well Network
  • HMSHost
  • Honest Tea
  • Host Hotels & Resorts
  • Iridium Satellite LLC
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Marriott International
  • Ritz Carlton
  • United States Enrichment Corporation

Transportation

Public Transit (Rail and Bus)

Washington Metro's Red Line services two primary locations in Bethesda: the downtown area at the Bethesda, and the area near the National Institutes of Health and the National Naval Medical Center (Bethesda Naval Hospital) at the Medical Center Washington Metro stations. The Montgomery County Ride On bus system also has several routes through Bethesda.

Bus

  • Vamoose Bus, provides daily transportation from their stop in Bethesda to Penn Station / Madison Square Garden in Midtown Manhattan in New York City.
  • Tripper Bus, a privately owned company, provides service from the Bethesda Metro station to Macy's 34th Street flagship store In New York City.

Popular culture associations

  • The book series The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares, takes place in Bethesda, as the author has ties to this area.

Bethesda Metro Stop is an island platformed Washington Metro station in Bethesda, Maryland, United States. The station was opened on August 25, 1984, and is operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Providing service for the Red Line, the station serves downtown Bethesda and is below the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue (Maryland Route 355) and Montgomery Lane. It is the first station wholly within Montgomery County, after the Red Line leaves Washington, D.C.. This station is planned to be one of the Metro stations on the Purple Line system, formerly known as the Bi-County Transitway. Its escalators empty into a bus depot served by Metrobus, Ride On, and the Bethesda Circulator trolley bus, situated one level below the intersection of Wisconsin, Old Georgetown Road (Maryland Route 187), and East-West Highway (Maryland Route 410).

The station opened on August 25, 1984. Its opening coincided with the completion of 6.8 miles (10.9 km) of rail northwest of the Van Ness–UDC station and the opening of the Friendship Heights, Grosvenor, Medical Center and Tenleytown stations. It is relatively deep; prior to the opening of the Wheaton station, the Bethesda station had the longest escalator (475 feet (145 m)) in the Western Hemisphere. The station's construction has been a major boon to the area, with several office buildings being built on (in the Bethesda Metro Center complex) and around it.