Main Births etc
Bethesda, Maryland
—  census-designated place  —
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 downtown Bethesda.
Boundaries of Bethesda CDP from U.S. Census Bureau
Location of Bethesda in Montgomery County, Maryland
Coordinates: 38°59′5″N 77°6′47″W / 38.98472, -77.11306Coordinates: 38°59′5″N 77°6′47″W / 38.98472, -77.11306
Country  United States of America
State  Maryland
County Montgomery
 • Total 34.2 km2 (13.2 sq mi)
 • Land 34.0 km2 (13.1 sq mi)
 • Water 0.2 km2 (0.1 sq mi)
Elevation 97 m (318 ft)
Population (2010)
 • Total 60,858
 • Density 1,623.9/km2 (4,205.8/sq mi)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 20800-20899
Area code(s) 301
FIPS code 24-07125
GNIS feature ID 0583184

Bethesda is a census-designated place in southern Montgomery County, Maryland, just northwest of the United States capital 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.[1] (In Aramaic, בית חסדא beth ḥesda means "House of Mercy" and in Hebrew, בית חסד "beit ḥesed" means "House of Kindness".) The National Institutes of Health main campus and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are in Bethesda, as are a number of corporate and government headquarters.

Bethesda is one of the most affluent and highly educated communities in the United States, placing first in Forbes list of America's most educated small towns[2] and first on's list of top-earning American towns in 2012.[3] In April 2009, Forbes ranked Bethesda second on its list of "America's Most Livable Cities."[4] In October 2009, based on education, income, health, and fitness, Total Beauty ranked Bethesda first on its list of the U.S.'s "Top 10 Hottest-Guy Cities."[5]

As an unincorporated area, Bethesda has no official boundaries. The United States Census Bureau defines a census-designated place named 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 / 38.98056, -77.10056, 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 2010, the community had a total population of 60,858. Most of Bethesda's residents are in Maryland Legislative District 16.


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.[6]

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 Thorpe'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.[6]

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.[6] 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.


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 and into Washington, D.C., 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 Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1960 56,527
1970 71,621 26.7%
1980 62,736 −12.4%
1990 62,936 0.3%
2000 55,277 −12.2%
2010 60,858 10.1%


Population by Race in Bethesda Maryland (2010)
Race Population % of Total
Total 60,858 100
Caucasian 50,642 83
Asian 5,681 9
Hispanic 4,144 6
African American 2,014 3
Two or More Races 1,736 2
Other 665 1


As of the census[9] 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). The racial makeup of the CDP was 85.86% White, 2.67% Black or African American, 0.17% Native American, 7.92% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 1.23% from other races, and 2.11% from two or more races. 5.43% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

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,[10] 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).[11]

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.[12] 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).[13]


Building 50 at NIH.

Important institutions located in Bethesda include the National Institutes of Health campus, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division. Bethesda is also home to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, formerly referred to as Bethesda Naval Hospital (National Naval Medical Center, NNMC). The Medical Center 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, as well as a number of other military medical and research institutions.

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, 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. Walter Reed 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.[14]

Bethesda is the home of Congressional Country Club, which is recognized as one of the most prestigious country clubs in the world. Congressional has hosted four major golf championships, including the 2011 U.S. Open, won by Rory McIlroy. The AT&T National, hosted by Tiger Woods, has been played at Congressional four times.

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.


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
  • Seven Locks Elementary School
  • Westbrook Elementary School
  • Wyngate Elementary School
  • Wood Acres Elementary School

Public middle schools located in Bethesda include:

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:

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.


Companies based in Bethesda include:

  • Advisorshares
  • American Capital
  • U.S. Headquarters of AREVA Inc.
  • Cambridge Information Group
  • Coventry Health Care
  • Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
  • GetWellNetwork
  • HMSHost
  • Honest Tea

  • Host Hotels & Resorts
  • Iridium Satellite LLC
  • Latinum Network
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Marriott International
  • Ritz Carlton
  • United States Enrichment Corporation
  • Youth for Understanding


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 Walter Reed Medical Center at the Medical Center Washington Metro stations. The Montgomery County Ride On bus system also has several routes through Bethesda.


  • 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.

In popular culture[]

  • Bethesda is featured in the 1993 movie Dave, the 2003 movie Shattered Glass, and the 2012 movie The Bourne Legacy.
  • Bethesda is featured in the book series The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, written by American author Ann Brashares, who has ties to the area.
  • Bethesda is featured in the 2008 video game Fallout 3, developed and published by Bethesda Softworks, where the city has been completely destroyed by nuclear warfare (it should be noted that the name of the publisher and its development subsidiary, Bethesda Game Studios, are also named after this city).
  • Bethesda is mentioned in a 1994 episode of The Simpsons, a 2013 episode of Family Guy, and the 2007 movie Fred Claus.
  • Bethesda is featured in several episodes of the American science fiction television series, The X-Files and the 2008 Canadian mini-series XIII.
  • Bethesda is featured in the American space opera Babylon 5, where it is home to the Bethesdadome, the medical headquarters of the Earth Alliance.
  • Bethesda is claimed to be "Where the diners are famed for/ Waitresses so rude" in the Joan of Arc song "To've Had Two Of".
  • Bethesda is also mentioned in the 5th episode of the 3rd season of Showtime's Homeland.[16]

Notable people[]

  • Kenneth Feinberg, the Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, Special Master of the BP Oil Spill, administer of the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, oversaw the disbursement of donations to the injured victims and families of the deceased in the Aurora Victim Relief Fund, One Fund Boston, and to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, as well as serving as the Special Master for Executive Compensation (a/k/a the Pay Czar).
  • Jacob Tamarkin, a Russian American mathematician from the early 20th century.
  • Ezra Taft Benson, the United States Secretary of Agriculture under Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidency, and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1985 until 1994.
  • Katie Ledecky, a 2012 Olympic swimmer for the United States.
  • William Eacho, United States Ambassador to Austria.
  • Robert R. Nathan, an economist, New Dealer, and chair of Americans for Democratic Action
  • Jo Ann Emerson, US Representative, Missouri, 8th District.[17]
  • Lisa Loeb, American singer-songwriter and actress.
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, American actress, comedian and producer.
  • Spike Jonze, American director, producer, screenwriter, and actor.[18]
  • Daniel Stern, American film and television actor.[19]
  • Allison Macfarlane, Chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. [20]
  • Ken Rosser, Los Angeles based legendary guitarist.[21][22]

See also[]

  • Bethesda Magazine
  • List of people from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area
  • Greenwich Forest, a residential community


  1. ^ Bethesda. (2009). In Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Retrieved from
  2. ^ Detwiler, Jacqueline. "America's most educated small towns". Forbes. 
  3. ^ "25 top-earning towns - Bethesda, MD (11) - Money Magazine". CNN. 2008-07-16. 
  4. ^ Greenburg, Zack O'Malley (2009-04-01). "America's Most Livable Cities". Forbes. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  5. ^ "Top 10 Hottest-Guy Cities". Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  6. ^ a b c Offutt, William; Sween, Jane (1999). Montgomery County: Centuries of Change. American Historical Press. pp. 161–162. 
  7. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2007-03-19. 
  8. ^ "Bethesda Maryland Population Statistics". US Census Bureau. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  9. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  10. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau: Bethesda CDP". 
  11. ^ Clabaugh, Jeff (2010-09-22). "Bethesda ranks #20 on expensive homes list". 
  12. ^ "The healthiest places for women". 
  13. ^ "Best place to live". 
  14. ^ Gaynair, Gillian. "Bethesda Row to Welcome New Stores." Washington Business Journal (2007)
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ [
    • Colleen Marie Haskell,(born December 6, 1976) is an American television producer and actress. She was a contestant on the first season of the American reality show Survivor.
    / "EMERSON, Jo Ann, (1950 - )"]. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
    • Colleen Marie Haskell,(born December 6, 1976) is an American television producer and actress. She was a contestant on the first season of the American reality show Survivor.
    . Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^

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