- Towson, Maryland
official_name = Towson, Maryland
settlement_type = CDP
imagesize = 250x187px
image_caption = The Hampton in Downtown Towson
mapsize = 250x200px
map_caption = Location of Towson, Maryland
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name2 = Baltimore
unit_pref = Imperial
area_total_km2 = 36.8
area_land_km2 = 36.4
area_water_km2 = 0.4
area_total_sq_mi = 14.2
area_land_sq_mi = 14.0
area_water_sq_mi = 0.1
population_as_of = 2000
population_total = 51793
population_density_km2 = 1424.2
population_density_sq_mi = 3688.7
timezone = Eastern (EST)
utc_offset = -5
timezone_DST = EDT
utc_offset_DST = -4
elevation_m = 141
elevation_ft = 463
latd = 39 |latm = 23 |lats = 35 |latNS = N
longd = 76 |longm = 36 |longs = 34 |longEW = W
Towson is an unincorporated
communityand a census-designated placein Baltimore County, Maryland, United States. The population was 51,793 at the 2000 census. It is the county seatof Baltimore CountyGR|6 and the second-most populated unincorporated county seatin the United States(after Ellicott City, Maryland).cite web |url= http://towsonbusinessassoc.org/towson_md.cfm |title= Towson, Maryland: A Great Place to Live, Work & Play!—A Synopsis of Towson, MD |publisher= Towson Chamber of Commerce|date=2006|accessdate=2008-01-11]
The first inhabitants of the Towson region were the
Susquehannoughpeople who hunted in the area. Though their region included all of Baltimore County, their primary settlement was along the mouth of the Susquehanna River. [Towson: A Pictorial History of a Maryland Town, page 13, Henry George Hahn, Carl Behm, 1977, Donning Co. , ISBN 0915442361]
Towson was settled in 1752 when two Pennsylvania brothers, William and Thomas Towson, began farming northeast of present-day York and Joppa Roads. William's son, Ezekial, started the Towson Hotel at York and Joppa Roads in 1768 to serve the increasing traffic of farmers bringing their produce and livestock to the port of Baltimore. The village became known as "Towsontown".cite book|author=Brook Gunning and Molly O'Donovan|title=Towson and the Villages of Ruxton and Lutherville|publisher=Arcadia Publishing|location=Charleston, SC|date=1999|isbn=0-7385-0226X]
Charles Ridgelycompleted the magnificent Hampton Mansion just north of Towsontown, the largest private house in America at the time. The Ridgely's lived there for six generations, until 1948. [cite book|author=Ann Milkovich McKee|title=Images of America — Hampton National Historic Site|publisher=Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing|date=2007|isbn=978-0-7385-4418-2] It is now preserved as the Hampton National Historic Siteand open to the public.
February 13, 1854, Towson became the county seatof Baltimore County. The Court House, still in use, was constructed with stone donated by the Ridgely family, on land donated by Towson merchant Grafton Bosley.
From 1850 to 1874, another notable land owner / Amos Matthews, had a farm of 150 acres that - with the exception of the 17-acre largely natural parcel where the
Kelso Home for Girls(currently Towson YMCA), was later erected - was wholly developed into the neighborhoods of West Towson, Southland Hillsand other subdivisions beginning in the middle 1920's. [A Brief History of West Towson, by David A. Loizeaux http://www.bcplonline.org/info/history/hist_west_towson.html]
Towson was briefly the scene of a minor engagement between Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War. On
July 10, 1864, a 130-man Confederate cavalry detachment attacked the Northern Central Railwayin nearby Cockeysville, under orders from Gen. Bradley T. Johnson. After cutting telegraph wires along Harford Road, they encamped at Towson overnight. The next day, the Confederate cavalry skirmished with a smaller force of Union cavalry along York Road as far south as Govans, before heading west to rejoin Gen. Johnson's main force. [cite book|author=Daniel Carroll Toomey|title=The Civil War in Maryland|publisher=Toomey Press|location=Baltimore, Md.|date=1983|page=pp. 127-129|isbn=0-9612670-0-3]
The Towson fire of 1878 destroyed most of the 500 block along the York Turnpike causing an estimated $38,000 in damage. [A History of Baltimore County, Neal A. Brooks and Eric J. Rockel, ISBN 0960232613, p. 293] [Maryland Journal, Sept. 14, 1867, Feb., 2 1878; (Towson) Union News, June 9, 1917.]
During the summer of 1894, the Towson Water Company laid wooden pipes and installed fire hydrants that were connected to an artesian well near Aigburth Vale. On November 2 1894, Towson was supplied with electric service through connection with the Mount Washington Electric Light and Power Company. [A History of Baltimore County, Neal A. Brooks and Eric J. Rockel, ISBN 0960232613, p. 297]
At the beginning of the century, Towson remained largely a rural community. Land continued to be sold by the acre, rather than as home parcels. Most residences lay within Towson proper: no houses existed West of Central Avenue along the Allegheny, or Pennsylvania avenues; and there were only three homes along the West Chesapeake avenue corridor. [A History of Baltimore County, Neal A. Brooks and Eric J. Rockel, ISBN 0960232613, p. 298]
As the growth of Baltimore's suburbs became more pronounced after
World War II, considerable office development took place in Towson's central core area. Many of the large Victorian and colonial-style residences in the vicinity of the Court House were demolished in the 1980s and 1990s for offices and parking.
In 1839, Epsom Chapel became the first Christian house of worship in Towson, used by various denominations. As the population grew in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, several churches were built to serve the community, such as Calvary Baptist Church, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Trinity Episcopal Church, First Methodist Church, and Towson Presbyterian Church. Epsom Chapel was demolished in 1950 when
Goucher Collegesold a portion of its property for development of the Towson Plaza shopping center, now Towson Town Center. First Methodist Church moved in 1958 to land also acquired from Goucher College and is now Towson United Methodist Church.
Towson is located at coor dms|39|23|35|N|76|36|34|W|city (39.392980, -76.609562)GR|1.
According to the
United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 14.2 square miles (36.8 km²), of which, 14.0 square miles (36.4 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.4 km²) of it (1.06%) is water.
The community is located immediately north of Baltimore City, inside the Beltway (I-695), east of
I-83and along York Road. Its census boundaries include Pikesville to the west, Lutherville-Timonium and Hampton to the north, Parkville to the east, and Baltimore to the south.
Major neighborhoods in Towson include: Anneslie, Idlewylde, Greenbriar, Rodgers Forge, Stoneleigh, Wiltondale, Southland Hills, Hampton, Hunt Crest Estates, East Towson, and
West Towson. Ruxton, which lies to the west, is sometimes considered a part of Towson. Eudowood is a Towson neighborhood named after Eudocia, the wife of Dr. John T. Stansbury - on whose former estate it is situated. [A History of Baltimore County, Neal A. Brooks and Eric J. Rockel, ISBN 0960232613, p. 292]
Lying north of the city of
Baltimore, and at the southern edge of the Piedmont gives Towson an "in-between" climate, lying between the Humid subtropical climatezone to the south and the Humid continental climatezone to the north. Summers are hot and humid, with daytime highs reaching into the 90s in July and August. Spring and fall bring pleasant temperatures in the 60s and 70s with moderate rainfall. Winters are mild by American standards but can still include occasional snowfall and freezing rain, with typical highs just above 40 degrees and lows in the mid 20s. Annual rainfall totals convert|45|in|cm|0.
As of the
censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 51,793 people, 21,063 households, and 11,331 families residing in the CDP. The population densitywas 3,688.7 people per square mile (1,424.3/km²). There were 21,997 housing units at an average density of 1,566.6/sq mi (604.9/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 86.9% White, 7.53% African American, 0.10% Native American, 3.7% Asian, 1.9% Hispanic, and 0.0% Pacific Islander.
There were 21,063 households out of which 23.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.6% were married couples living together, 7.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.2% were non-families. 36.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.87.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 17.4% under the age of 18, 17.5% from 18 to 24, 24.9% from 25 to 44, 20.1% from 45 to 64, and 20.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 82.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.8 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $53,775, and the median income for a family was $75,832. Males had a median income of $49,554 versus $38,172 for females. The
per capita incomefor the CDP was $32,502. About 2.5% of families and 7.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.8% of those under age 18 and 4.7% of those age 65 or over.
The primary mode of transportation in Towson is the
automobile. The streets are wide and, with the exception of the downtown area, most shops and restaurants have their own free parking for customers. Towson is accessible from exits 25 through 29B of the Baltimore Beltway (I-695).
"Ma and Pa" Railroad
Railroad service began to Towson on
April 17, 1882, with construction of the Baltimore & Delta Railway Company, soon renamed the Baltimore & Lehigh Railroad and later reorganized as the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad. The "Ma and Pa", as it was affectionately known locally, formerly operated between Baltimore and York, Pennsylvania, through Towson. Its passenger station was located just west of York Road on Susquehanna Avenue. Passenger service was discontinued on August 31, 1954, and the railroad line through Towson was finally abandoned altogether on June 11, 1958, leaving only the stone abutments where the tracks crossed York Road on a steel girder bridge. [cite book|author=George W. Hilton|title=The Ma & Pa — A History of the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad|publisher=Howell-North Books|location=Berkeley, CA|date=1963|id=LCCN 63-17444] One passenger on the last passenger train recalled that many riders came from as far away as Boston and Washington, D.C., to participate in the historic event, along with members of the National Railway Historical Society. [cite news|author=John R. Eicker|title=The Ma and Pa's Last Run from Baltimore to York|publisher=" The Baltimore Sun"|date= August 30, 1964] Historic Towson, a local group of history buffs, installed a bronze plaque on the west abutment in 1999, commemorating the defunct railroad's place in Towson's history. [cite news|author=Loni Ingraham|title='Ma and Pa' railroad abutments get HTI plaque|publisher="The Towson Times"|date= May 26, 1999]
The Towson area has several bus lines operated by the
Maryland Transit Administration. These include:
*Route 8, which operates along York Road to Lutherville and downtown Baltimore (formerly the #8 streetcar line)
*Route 11, which serves the Charles Street corridor and
*Route 55, which operates cross-county service to Parkville, Overlea, Rosedale, and Essex
*Route 3, which serves the Loch Raven Boulevard corridor, with selected trips along Joppa Road.
*Route 12 operates along York Road and Dulaney Valley Road to
Stella Maris Hospiceat the times needed for the facility's change of shift. Towson Universityand Goucher Collegealso operate bus services for their students, and the [http://www.baltimorecollegetown.org/asp/shuttle.asp Collegetown Shuttle] has several stops in the area.
Towson has some of Baltimore County's largest shopping areas. These include:
Towson Town Center
Towson Town Center is Baltimore County's largest indoor mall, with four stories of shops and a parking garage, which is also linked to some other shops across the street, including a
Barnes and Noble, which structurally is beneath Joppa Roadnear the Towson Circle.
One block away from Towson Town Center is Towson Commons, a smaller mall that was once most notably home to
Borders Books, but has since declined.
The Shops at Kenilworth
The Shops at Kenilworth, formerly known as Kenilworth Park, is a small indoor mall located on
Kenilworth Drive. The mall at one time was home to an express location of the Motor Vehicle Administration, which has since moved.
The Towson Marketplace is a major shopping area near
Joppa Road, Goucher Boulevard, and Putty Hill Avenue. Once a small indoor mall, the location has been converted into some big box storesand supermarkets, including a Wal-Mart, Target, Marshall's, Sports Authority, Superfresh, and Bed Bath & Beyond.
Colleges and universities
Towson Universityis a public school in southern Towson. With 18,000 students it is the second largest institution in the University System of Maryland. It was founded in 1866 as the Maryland State Normal School for the training of teachers. North of downtown is a small private liberal arts school, Goucher College, which was founded in 1885 as "The Woman's College of Baltimore".
Towson is served by the
Baltimore County Public Schoolsdistrict, and the Baltimore County Board of Education headquarters is located here as well. There are three high schools. Towson High Schoolwas the first secondary school founded and is Towson's largest, while Loch Raven High Schooldates from 1972. The Carver Center for Arts and Technologyis a local magnet school.
Towson is served by four public elementary schools: Rodgers Forge [http://rodgersforgees.bcps.org] , Stoneleigh [http://schools.bcps.org/schools/ces/stoneleigh] , Riderwood [http://riderwoodes.bcps.org] and Hampton [http://schools.bcps.org/schools/ces/hamptones] . All four of the schools are now over-capacity: Rodgers Forge has 625 students, despite a stated capacity of 408; Stoneleigh has 623 students, with a capacity of 499; Hampton's enrollment stands at 377, with a capacity of just 307; and Riderwood currently enrolls 513 students, with a capacity of 501.Fact|date=January 2008
The Towson area has a number of long-established private schools at the
secondary schoollevel, including Towson Catholic High School, Loyola Blakefield, Calvert Hall College High School, Baltimore Lutheran School, Notre Dame Preparatory School.
Notable residents and natives
Spiro Agnew(1918-1996), Vice President of the United States1969-1973
Carmelo Anthony(born 1984), National Basketball Associationplayer
Albert Cassell(1895-1969), architect
William Purington Cole, Jr.(1889-1957), U.S. Congressman for Maryland's 2nd District, 1927-1929 and 1931-1942.
* Divine (1945-1988), actor, the drag persona of Harris Glen Milstead.
* Jean Marie "Jeff" Donnell (1921-1988), film and TV actress
F. Scott Fitzgerald(1896-1940), writer
Jane Frank(Jane Schenthal Frank) (1918-1986), artist
Dorothy Lamour(1914-1996), film actress
G. E. Lowman(1897-1965), radio evangelist
Gino Marchetti, Hall of Fame NFL defensive end (Dallas Texans, Baltimore Colts)
Anita Nall(born 1976), 1992 Summer Olympicsgold medalist swimmer
* Thomas W. Offutt (banker, land owner) president and director of the Second National Bank, Towson [Baltimore County, Its History Progress and Opportunities, by T. Scott Offutt and Elmer R. Haile, The Jeffersonian Publishing Company inc. 1916 - Enoch Pratt Library REF XF Md. 182.1.03] [A Brief History of West Towson, by David A. Loizeaux http://www.bcplonline.org/info/history/hist_west_towson.html]
Michael Phelps(born 1985), 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympicsgold medalist swimmer
Charles Ridgely(1733-1790), Hampton estate founder and ironworksowner
Charles Carnan Ridgely(1760-1829), Governor of Maryland 1815-1818
Eliza Ridgelyof Hampton (1803-1867), 'The Lady with a Harp'
Don Shula(born 1930), Former Head Coach and Player with the Baltimore Colts. Holds NFL record for most wins as a Head Coach.
Johnny Unitas(1933-2002), Hall of Fame NFL quarterback (Baltimore Colts, San Diego Chargers)
In fiction, the character
Elaine Benes, of the 1990s NBC sitcom" Seinfeld", is from Towson. The character Sam Fisherin the " Splinter Cell" novels by Raymond Benson, resided in a townhouse in Towson. Tom Clancy's fictional CIA Analyst character Jack Ryanwas born in Towson.
* [http://www.historictowson.org/ Historic Towson Inc.]
* [http://www.towson.com Towson.com]
* [http://www.towsontowncenter.com Towson Town Center]
* [http://www.towsonchamber.com/ Towson Chamber of Commerce]
* [http://www.towsonjaycees.org/ Towson Junior Chamber]
* [http://www.towson-md.com/ The Greater Towson Committee]
* [http://towsontownspringfestival.com/ Towsontown Spring Festival]
*A Short History of the WTNA, by Richard Parsons [http://www.westtowson.org/Dick%20Parsons%20History.htm]
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