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Howard County, Maryland
Flag of Howard County, Maryland
Seal of Howard County, Maryland
Map of Maryland highlighting Howard County
Location in the state of Maryland
Map of the U.S. highlighting Maryland
Maryland's location in the U.S.
Founded 1838
Named for John Eager Howard
Seat Ellicott City
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

253.55 sq mi (657 km²)
252.04 sq mi (653 km²)
1.51 sq mi (4 km²), 0.60%
 - (2020)
 - Density

1,139/sq mi (439.6/km²)
Congressional districts 3, 7
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Howard County is a county located in the central part of the U.S. state of Maryland, between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. It is considered part of the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area.

Howard County is frequently cited for its affluence, quality of life, and excellent schools. For 2011, it was ranked the fifth wealthiest county by median household income in the United States by the U.S. Census Bureau. Many of the most affluent communities in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, such as Clarksville, Glenelg, Glenwood and West Friendship, are located along the Route 32 corridor in Howard County. The main population center of Columbia/Ellicott City was named 2nd among Money magazine's 2010 survey of "America's Best Places to Live."[1] Howard County's schools frequently rank first in Maryland as measured by standardized test scores and graduation rates.[2]

In 2020, its population was 328,200. 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.[3]

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, a major planned community of 100,000 founded by developer James Rouse in 1967.

Politics and government[]

Howard County has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in every election from 1992 on. The less-populated western and northern parts of Howard County lean Republican. The more heavily populated southern and eastern parts are heavily Democratic.

Although the county votes more Democratic in federal elections, it has a record of acting as a bellwether in state-wide elections since the late 20th century: Since at least the 1950s, Howard County has voted for the successful senatorial candidate in both Maryland’s Class I and Class III seats, and since 1998 the county has voted for the successful gubernatorial candidate, flipping Republican for Bob Ehrlich in the 2002 gubernatorial election over Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, and voting Larry Hogan over Democrats Anthony G. Brown and Ben Jealous in the 2014 and 2018 elections respectively.

At the state level of government, Howard County is represented by seven Democrats and two Republicans in the Maryland House of Delegates. It is represented by three Democrats in the Maryland Senate. One Democratic state senator from the county represents a district that spills into heavily Republican Carroll County to the north, as do the two Republican state delegates.

From 1914 to 1968, Howard County was governed by a system of three elected commissioners with four-year terms.[4] Prior to 1962, the only polling location in the county was located in Ellicott City. In May 1962, voters were offered a second location to vote, also in Ellicott City at the National Armory on Montgomery Road.[5] Senator James Clark proposed a five-person County Council and a County Executive in 1965.[6] In 1968, the county implemented a charter form of government.[7] In 1984 a councilmanic referendum was approved, switching council from at-large representation to district representation.[8] The County Council serves as the county's legislative branch; members also provide constituent service and sit as members of the Zoning Board and Liquor Board. The current Howard County Executive is Democrat Calvin Ball III, who was elected in November 2018 and took office on December 3, 2018.[9] Most of the county is in Maryland's 7th congressional district, which was represented by Democrat Elijah Cummings until his 2019 death. The district is now represented by Kweisi Mfume. A small portion is in Maryland's 3rd congressional district, represented by Democrat John Sarbanes.

Voter Registration and Party Enrollment of Howard County[10]
Party Total Percentage
Democratic 117,487 52.20%
Republican 52,849 23.48%
Independents, unaffiliated, and other 54,751 24.32%
Total 225,087 100.00%
United States presidential election results for Howard County, Maryland[11]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 48,390 26.43% 129,433 70.70% 5,239 2.86%
2016 47,484 29.28% 102,597 63.26% 12,112 7.47%
2012 57,758 37.72% 91,393 59.69% 3,957 2.58%
2008 55,393 38.14% 87,120 59.99% 2,720 1.87%
2004 59,724 44.63% 72,257 54.00% 1,829 1.37%
2000 49,809 44.17% 58,556 51.92% 4,414 3.91%
1996 40,849 42.77% 47,569 49.81% 7,090 7.42%
1992 38,594 38.67% 44,763 44.85% 16,441 16.47%
1988 44,153 56.22% 34,007 43.30% 370 0.47%
1984 35,641 57.78% 25,713 41.68% 334 0.54%
1980 24,272 47.04% 20,702 40.12% 6,625 12.84%
1976 21,200 50.80% 20,533 49.20% 0 0.00%
1972 19,265 63.55% 10,668 35.19% 383 1.26%
1968 9,957 53.81% 5,752 31.08% 2,796 15.11%
1964 6,833 45.50% 8,185 54.50% 0 0.00%
1960 7,051 56.57% 5,412 43.42% 2 0.02%
1956 6,534 64.48% 3,599 35.52% 0 0.00%
1952 5,497 59.09% 3,693 39.70% 112 1.20%
1948 3,113 51.64% 2,725 45.21% 190 3.15%
1944 3,344 51.57% 3,140 48.43% 0 0.00%
1940 3,082 43.60% 3,957 55.98% 30 0.42%
1936 2,638 38.65% 4,138 60.63% 49 0.72%
1932 1,970 31.83% 4,161 67.22% 59 0.95%
1928 3,296 51.36% 3,088 48.12% 33 0.51%
1924 1,989 38.48% 2,786 53.90% 394 7.62%
1920 2,608 51.46% 2,397 47.30% 63 1.24%
1916 1,346 40.51% 1,913 57.57% 64 1.93%
1912 1,004 33.92% 1,523 51.45% 433 14.63%
1908 1,276 41.20% 1,764 56.96% 57 1.84%
1904 1,258 39.00% 1,914 59.33% 54 1.67%
1900 1,800 47.58% 1,904 50.33% 79 2.09%
1896 1,981 51.19% 1,786 46.15% 103 2.66%
1892 1,410 41.35% 1,920 56.30% 80 2.35%

Fire and Rescue[]

The county is serviced by the Department of Howard County Fire and Rescue

Law enforcement[]

The county is serviced by the Howard County Police Department, the Howard County Sheriff's Office, and the Maryland State Police.

Health care[]

Howard County General Hospital, located in Columbia, is the county's main hospital.

Howard County is the location of Healthy Howard, a program aimed at providing low-cost health care to some of its residents.


Howard County is located in the Maryland Piedmont region, with rolling hills making up most of the landscape. Its largest community is Columbia, which 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 of Baltimore, while the southern is more oriented toward Washington, D.C.

According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 253.55 square miles (656.7 km2), of which 252.04 square miles (652.8 km2) (or 99.40%) is land and 1.51 square miles (3.9 km2) (or 0.60%) is water.[12]

Adjacent counties[]


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 (1,100 mm) throughout the county.[13] Over a 50 year period from 1950 to 2010, there were 394 National Climatic Data Center reportable events causing 617 injuries, and 99 fatalities. There were 9 reported tornadoes, reaching a maximum of F2 with no recorded fatalities.[14]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1860 13,338
1870 14,150 6.1%
1880 16,140 14.1%
1890 16,269 0.8%
1900 16,715 2.7%
1910 16,106 −3.6%
1920 15,826 −1.7%
1930 16,169 2.2%
1940 17,175 6.2%
1950 23,119 34.6%
1960 36,152 56.4%
1970 61,911 71.3%
1980 118,572 91.5%
1990 187,328 58.0%
2000 247,842 32.3%
2010 287,085 15.8%

As of the census[15] 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 or Latino 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 (these figures had risen to $97,837 and $110,907 respectively as of a 2007 estimate[16]). 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.

Population history[]

The following is a population history for Howard County from the U.S. Census Bureau.[17] The ranking compares the population of Howard County to those of the other 23 Maryland counties and Baltimore City.[18][19]

  • 1870.......14,150......19th
  • 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, Baltimore County and City, Harford, Montgomery, Prince George's)
  • 1990......187,328......6th (passing Harford)
  • 2000......247,842......6th
  • 2004......266,738......6th
  • 2008......274,995

Education and public library[]

The Howard County Public School System manages 71 schools and serves approximately 49,000 students. The graduation rate from this school district is an above-average 92%, and the county's schools 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 in an effort to safeguard against crowded classrooms. Howard High School is currently the largest school in the county with over 1,600 students.

Since 2005, Howard County Library has consistently been ranked among the top 5 libraries in its size category by HAPLR (Hennen's American Public Library Ratings). (Under the library's sponsorship, a campaign called "Choose Civility" started in Howard County in 2006. According to its website, "Choose Civility is an ongoing community-wide initiative, led by Howard County Library, to position Howard County as a model of civility. The project intends to enhance respect, empathy, consideration and tolerance in Howard County." The campaign's distinctive green bumper stickers are often seen in Howard County and neighboring areas.)

Government and infrastructure[]

State representation[]

A portion of the Maryland House of Correction, operated by the Maryland Department of Corrections, was located in Howard County.[20]


Top employers[]

According to Howard County's 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[21] the top employers in the county are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Howard County Public School System 7,850
2 Applied Physics Laboratory 4,400
3 County of Howard 2,869
4 Verizon Wireless 2,028
5 Giant 1,953
6 Howard County General Hospital 1,720
7 Columbia Association 1,600
8 SAIC 1,058
9 Wells Fargo 842
10 MICROS Systems 815

Other companies based in Howard County include Arbitron.

Culture and attractions[]

Unincorporated census-designated places[]

Howard County has no incorporated municipalities.

Unincorporated areas are 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:

  • Columbia
  • Elkridge
  • Ellicott City
  • Jessup (a portion is also in Anne Arundel County)
  • 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. Unincorporated places not listed as Census-Designated Places but known in the area include:

  • Clarksville
  • Cooksville
  • Daniels
  • Dayton
  • Dorsey
  • Fulton
  • Glenelg
  • Glenwood
  • Granite
  • Hanover (a portion is also in Anne Arundel County)
  • Henryton (primarily in Carroll County)
  • Highland
  • Ilchester
  • Lisbon
  • Marriottsville (a portion is also in Carroll County)
  • Scaggsville
  • Simpsonville
  • Sykesville (primarily in Carroll County)
  • West Friendship
  • Woodbine
  • Woodstock



Howard County does not have any public or commercial airport facilities. There are two privately owned airstrips, Glenair in Glenwood, Maryland, and Haysfield Airport in Ellicott City, Maryland.[22]

Public Transportation[]

Bus routes that operate in Howard County are managed by multiple services, including Howard Transit, Connect a Ride, The Maryland Transit Administration, Commuter Solutions of Howard County, and Neighbor Ride.[23]

Notable Residents and Natives[]

  • Stephen Amidon, author, whose 2000 novel, The New City, is set in a fictionalized Columbia in the 1970s.
  • Desmond Armstrong, member of US 1990 FIFA World Cup soccer team
  • Benjamin Banneker, African-American self-educated scientist, astronomer, inventor, writer, and antislavery publicist, born in Ellicott's Mills, November 9, 1731
  • Florence Riefle Bahr, artist and activist
  • Leonard Marion Bahr, portrait painter
  • Michael Benton, U.S. diplomat to Denmark
  • Jayson Blair, disgraced former New York Times reporter
  • Beatrice Capra, amateur tennis player who won several rounds at the US Open in 2010
  • Kenneth Catania, MacArthur Foundation Fellow and Professor of Biology at Vanderbilt University
  • Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize winning author
  • Frank Cho, creator of Liberty Meadows comic strip
  • James A. Clark, president of the Maryland State Senate from 1979 to 1983
  • George Colligan, New York–based jazz pianist
  • Cristeta Comerford, White House Executive Chef
  • D'Monroe, Broadway and Off-Broadway Actor
  • The Dangerous Summer (band), alternative rock band from Ellicott City
  • Divine, actor who briefly rented an apartment in Ellicott City as a young adult in the summer of 1968
  • Willie Germany, NFL defensive back
  • Mary Downing Hahn, award winning author of young adult literature
  • Greg Hawkes, keyboardist for new wave band [The Cars]
  • Mantle Hood, American ethnomusicologist, died in Ellicott City
  • Stephen Hunter, Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic and author
  • Ian Jones-Quartey, creator of the webcomic RPG World
  • JJ Kincaid, New York City radio personality, got his start DJing at the Columbia Ice Rink.
  • Kerry G. Johnson, award winning caricaturist, cartoonist and humorous illustrator
  • Thomas Watkins Ligon, 30th Governor of Maryland; died in Ellicott City in 1881 and is buried at St. John's Cemetery
  • Laura Lippman, award winning mystery author
  • Suzanne Malveaux, CNN Reporter, went to high school in Ellicott City
  • Aaron Maybin, American football defensive end for the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League. Went to high school in Ellicott City
  • Aaron McGruder, animator and cartoonist. Creator of The Boondocks
  • Brendan Mundorf, professional lacrosse player for the Denver Outlaws
  • Edward Norton, Academy Award–nominated actor and grandson of Columbia founder James Rouse, made his professional debut at age 8 at Toby's Dinner Theatre in the Town Center.
  • Saint John Neumann, pastor of Saint Augustine Church in Elkridge, 1849-1851
  • Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of reddit, went to high school in Ellicott City
  • Randy Pausch, professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, author of The Last Lecture
  • Elise Ray, Olympic gymnast
  • Ryan Pinkston, MTV's Punk'd
  • James W. Rouse, urban planner, real estate developer and philanthropist. Also grandfather of famous actor and fellow Columbian Edward Norton
  • Babe Ruth, baseball player; married at St. Paul's Church in [Ellicott City] to Helen Woodford on October 17, 1914
  • SR-71 (band), many of the band's members were from Ellicott City
  • Christian Siriano, fashion designer and winner of the fourth season of Project Runway (born in Columbia)
  • Linda Tripp, central figure in the Monica Lewinsky scandal
  • Terry Virts, astronaut
  • Jonathan Ward, actor (Charles in Charge, Mac and Me)
  • Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle, OM, KBE inventor of the jet engine
  • Wayne Wilson, NFL running back
  • Void (band), punk band on Dischord Records

See also[]

  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Howard County, Maryland


  1. ^ "CNN Money Magazine: 2010 Best Places To Live". Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  2. ^ "APL Environment". Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  3. ^ "Population and Population Centers by State: 2000". Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  4. ^ C.M. Holland. Old homes and families of Howard County, Maryland: with consideration of various additional points of interest. p. 50. 
  5. ^ James A Clark Jr.. Jim Clark Soldier Farmer Legislator. p. 108. 
  6. ^ "Clark Airs Howard Plan". Morning Sun. February 12, 1965. 
  7. ^ Peter C Muncie (November 3, 1968). "5 counties to pick government form". The Baltimore Sun. 
  8. ^ "Columbia Council upholds $500 for anti-districting ad". The Baltimore Sun. October 31, 1984. 
  9. ^ Logan, Erin B. (December 3, 2018). "Ball sworn in as Howard Executive, touts commitment to inclusion". The Baltimore Sun. "Swearing-in and inaugural address of the Howard County Council and Howard County Executive Calvin Ball at Howard High School on Monday, December 3, 2018." 
  10. ^ "Summary of Voter Activity Report". Maryland State Board of Elections. August 2020. 
  11. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". 
  12. ^ "Census 2000 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Counties". United States Census. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  13. ^ "CLARKSVILLE 3 NNE, HOWARD COUNTY, MARYLAND USA". Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
  14. ^ "NOAA National Climatic Weather Center Search". Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
  15. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  16. ^ "Howard County, Maryland - Fact Sheet - American FactFinder". US Census Bureau. Retrieved 2010-10-21. 
  17. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ "GR2009052900126.gif." The Washington Post. Retrieved on October 7, 2010.
  21. ^ County of Howard CAFR
  22. ^ "NASR Airports". 
  23. ^ "Transit Services". Retrieved 6 October 2010. 

External links[]

Coordinates: 39°15′N 76°56′W / 39.25, -76.93

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Howard County, Maryland. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.