Howard County

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About Howard County

Howard County is the fifth most populous county of Maryland’s twenty-three counties, with nearly 300,000 residents. The area is known for highly educated and affluent residents. Countywide, 60% of residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 36.1% of Maryland residents. The median annual household income in Howard County was $107,452 annually, the highest of any county in the state. It is significantly higher than the state’s median annual household income of $72,345 and the national median annual household income of $52,250. In spite of the high median income, 18.1% of Howard County households earned less than $50,000 annually and 6.1% earn less than $25,000 annually.

Howard County residents are 62.2% White alone, 17.5% Black, 14.4% Asian, and 5.8% Hispanic or Latino. The racial composition statewide is 54.7% White alone, 29% Black, 5.5% Asian, and 8.2% Hispanic or Latino. In Howard County, 18.2% of residents are foreign-born compared to 13.9% statewide. Though Howard County’s racial demographics resemble the statewide distribution, the county is more diverse than other counties in the Baltimore Region. Columbia, founded on the principle of diversity, remains the center of diversity in the county with the population 55.5% White, 25.3% Black or African American, 11.4% Asian, and 7.9% Hispanic or Latino. Howard County is expected to become even more diverse. Whereas 59% of the population was non-Hispanic White in 2010, only 34% of the population is projected to be non-Hispanic White in 2040.


The post-World War II economic boom and construction of the Interstate Highway System stimulated suburban growth in Howard County. The population more than doubled from 1940 to 1960. In the next decade James Rouse, a commercial developer, intervened in the haphazard suburban development by covertly purchasing 14,000 acres of land with the intention of building a new city of 100,000 residents. In 1967, Rouse established Columbia, a now-famous planned community, envisioning a racially and economically integrated community that exemplified the latest advances in community planning. He wanted Columbia to be a true city with sufficient jobs and the full range of community amenities. Today, Columbia has reached its planned population of 100,000 people and Howard County entered the 21st Century with nearly 300,000 residents and over 155,000 jobs, primarily centered in Columbia. Howard County was part of Anne Arundel County and primarily an agrarian area through the 18th and 19thCenturies. It was home to a few small shipping and manufacturing centers. In the 18th century, the port of Elk Ridge was the largest Maryland port north of Annapolis before the deeper water filled with sediment. The proximity to the Piedmont Hills subsequently allowed many mills to establish in Howard County. The two most significant were Ellicott Mills (present-day Ellicott City) and Savage Mills. In 1830, the B & O railroad built the first American commercial railroad from Ellicott Mills to Baltimore City to deliver products to the port in Baltimore. Howard County formally separated from Anne Arundel County in 1851. Howard County would remain largely rural for over the next 100 years. Towns emerged as resorts for city dwellers, such as Lisbon, or at the intersection of roads, such as Clarksville at the intersection of Route 32 and Route 108.

About the Columbia Association

The Columbia Association has a governance structure independent of the County. Residents from each of Columbia’s 10 villages elect one representative to the Columbia Council, which serves as the CA’s Board of Directors. This board creates policy, allocates the organization’s $60,000,000 annual budget, develops strategic initiatives, addresses community issues, and appoints the CA president. The directives of the board are executed by five departments and four independent offices under the board’s authority. Each village also elects a village board, which enforce the deed covenants. The Columbia Association also plays an important role in the development process for Columbia properties.

Course Reports

Fall 2015

Revitalizing Focus: Older Neighborhoods

Ellicott City Revitalization

Fulton South Community Park Project

Proposals for Addressing Exotic Invasive Species: The Middle Patuxent Environmental Area and Surrounds

ViewFinder: Second Chances

Innovation-Led Economic Development in Howard County

  • Instructor: Dr. Scott Dempwolf
  • Project: Innovation-Led Economic Development in Howard County - Presentation | Report

Policy Interventions to Address Poverty in Howard County

Homelessness in Howard County

Regional Patapsco Greenway Project

Columbia, Maryland: Residential Perspectives on the Community’s 50th Birthday

Flooding Hazard in Howard County: Causes and Green Infrastructure Solutions

Spring 2016

Owen Brown Village Center

Real Estate Proposals - Owen Brown Village

ViewFinder: Getting Ahead

Rails to Trails in Howard County: Guilford Gateway Trail

Agriculture Proposals

  • Instructor: Philip Gottwals | Project: Food Hub Business Concept - Report | Presentation
  • Instructors: Dr. Neta Moye & David Ashley | Project: Feasibility of Small Farms Growing Hops & Specialty Grains Profitably - Report | Presentation

Energy Conservation: Public to Private Sector Knowledge Exchange

Aging in Place Survey of Older Adults

Measuring Neighborhood Stability

Columbia Lakefront Plaza

GIS Exploration of Howard County

Management of Urban Forest Edges

Emergency Notification System Analysis

Data Driven Model of Evidence Based Practices for Corrections Programs

Promoting Online Public Engagement & Increasing Civic Engagement

Database Plan Development for County-Occupied Commercial Buildings

Building an Urban Design Website


Summer 2016

Columbia Gateway Innovation District: Alternative Future Visions

Project Story Map

multimedia journey through all of Howard County's PALS projects in 2015-16.

PALS Showcase - May 6, 2016

Photos courtesy of Bethany Swain

Aperture: 5
Camera: NIKON D7100
Iso: 2200
Orientation: 1