Columbia, Maryland began with the simplest yet boldest of ideas: that a city could enhance its residents’ quality of life.
Columbia was planned and developed by The Rouse Company, led by its founder James Rouse. Beginning with an idea and the purchase of more than 14,000 acres in the mid-1960s, it has reached its original population projection and in almost every other way has met the goals put forth in its original proposal and advertising. James Rouse recruited nationally known experts in a wide array of disciplines to look at the possibilities – the optimum way to develop a community that would work best for the people who were to live there. This process produced a determination of the most vital social and institutional components of the new city and how they might best be reflected in a physical environment. The development of Columbia was guided by four basic goals:
To build a complete city that meets the basic needs of its people including housing, jobs, recreation, educational and cultural institutions, health care, etc. In the more than 35 years since the first residents moved to Columbia the vital elements that make a city have been put into place. Today, Columbia has over 32,000 residential units ranging from subsidized apartments to single family home ranging in price from $160,000 to over $1 million. There are approximately 2800 businesses employing over 60,000 people and more than 500 stores and restaurants. There is a broad array of recreational facilities and services, a full range of educational institutions from preschool to graduate school, religious facilities, public transportation, health care, arts and entertainment and community facilities.
To respect the land. Rouse believed strongly that “there should be a strong infusion of nature throughout a network of towns; that people should be able to feel the spaces of nature as part of their everyday life.” Over 4700 acres have been set aside for parks, playgrounds and natural areas and more than 80 miles of pathways allow easy access for walkers, joggers and bike riders.
To provide for the growth of people. Rouse believed that “the ultimate test of civilization is whether or not it contributes to the growth — the improvement of mankind. Does it uplift, inspire, stimulate and develop the best in man? The most successful community would be that which contributed the most by its physical form, its institutions, and its operation to the growth of people.” The Columbia Association, the neighborhood and village design, the creation of the Columbia Foundation to provide seed money for non-profit organizations, and a philosophy of caring that permeates the community, help to create an atmosphere that allows personal growth and fosters a sense of community.
To make a profit. The success of Columbia is tied to its financial success. It was important that it be proven that good development could also be good for the developer. Every idea was plugged into the economic model to be sure that it could work. The combination of idealism and pragmatism made James Rouse and Columbia successful.
Columbia today is reaching completion, but Columbia will never be finished. Continuing dedication to keeping the community vital is a responsibility held by Columbia Association, General Growth Properties, Village Associations and other organizations and this drives the private sector to follow suit. A second generation is beginning to make Columbia home as the children of the early residents begin to raise families of their own. Columbia turned 40 years young in 2007. The history of Columbia is still being written.
Merriweather Post Pavilion
Yes, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead played here! Merriweather Post Pavilion is one of the world’s most beautiful and storied amphitheatres – nestled in 40 acres of forest, smack between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. If the backstage walls could talk, they’d echo Roger Daltrey and Robert Plant trading some wicked stories about when the Who and Led Zeppelin played here in the ‘70s. Now Animal Collective has ensured its legendary status, by naming its genius CD “Merriweather Post Pavilion” in homage to the band’s favorite venue. A concert season at Merriweather Post Pavilion is like putting your iPod on shuffle: the calendar features the best in rock, country, rhythm and blues, pop, jazz, hip hop, alternative, electronica and classical. Originally built to be the home of the National Symphony Orchestra, Merriweather was designed by the renowned architect Frank Gehry, who is best known for defying architectural conventions. The natural outdoor setting is one that can’t be matched. The fantastic sound system and large video screens make this amphitheatre a favorite for bands and fans. Merriweather is music, but so much more.
The Mall in Columbia
Maryland’s finest shopping destination is anchored by five fashionable department stores, and over 200 of the most sought after retail stores offering the season’s must-buy items for him, her and the home. Additionally, The Mall in Columbia offers The Plaza, an open air park-like area with a soothing water feature, cinema complex, Maryland’s only stand alone L.L. Bean and several al fresco dining favorites. “The Mall in Columbia is currently celebrating its 40th Anniversary. While The Mall has certainly evolved over the past four decades, we have always remained focused on the community and providing our shoppers with the best experience possible. Not only do we offer over 200 premier retailers to shop at, but also year-round family-friendly entertainment with an AMC Theater, our weekly Family Fun Days, our Children’s Play Area and so much more. As a result, we were voted Best Mall for Families in Maryland Family Magazine Readers.” said Michelle José, Marketing Manager, The Mall in Columbia.
Arts & Culture in Columbia
African Art Museum Of Maryland
A visit to the African Art Museum of Maryland is enjoyed by a varied audience. And encourages an understanding of African art and culture with exhibits, events and activities.
11711 East Market Place, Maple Lawn, Fulton, MD 20759
Columbia Archives is the primary resource on the history of Columbia, Maryland and the career of its visionary founder, James W. Rouse. A service of the Columbia Association, it offers tours, programs & research assistance to visitors, students, residents, and teachers.
6310 Hillside Court, Columbia, MD 21046
Columbia Art Center
Offers year-round art classes, rotating gallery exhibitions, a gallery gift shop, summer art camp for children, art birthday parties, studio rentals, a Japanese Garden, art and life enhancement lectures and more!
Long Reach Village Center, 6100 Foreland Garth, Columbia, MD
Columbia Festival Of The Arts
A four-season multidisciplinary arts festival showcasing regional, national and international visual and performance artists at both free and ticketed events.
5575 Sterrett Place, Suite 280, Columbia, MD
Columbia Home Tour
Celebrating its 5th year, this annual event in June features a self-guided tour of five distinct homes throughout the villages of Columbia. Also includes a reception at Amherst House in Kings Contrivance. Proceeds to benefit Rebuilding Together Howard County.
Howard County Center for African American Culture, Inc.
An educational organization dedicated to the collection, preservation and interpretation of African American history and culture of Howard County Maryland and the surrounding region with on-going exhibits and events.
5434 Vantage Point Road, Columbia, MD
Historic Oakland Manor
This 19th-century property boasts an elegant manor, scenic gardens, and a patio tent. Voted 2011 “Best Place to Rent for Special Occasions” by the readers of Howard Magazine. Historic Oakland Manor is open to the public Monday-Friday between 9:00am-5:00pm. For the best possible experience, please call ahead or schedule an appointment for tours.
5430 Vantage Point Road, Columbia, MD
Recreation in Columbia
Columbia Horse Center
An equestrian facility offering lessons for children and adults. It also has an Equi-Lease Program, show teams, horse sales, summer and winter camps, clinics and boarding. Discounts available for Columbia Association members. Facility is available to the public. Introductory lessons are provided at 1:00PM on Saturdays.
10400 Gorman Road, Columbia, MD
Columbia Ice Rink
Public skating rink. Lessons offered to all ages and ability levels.
5876 Thunderhill Road, Columbia, MD
410-730-0322, 410-730-0321 (hotline)
The Columbia Sports Park
Includes skating ramps, batting cages and miniature golf.
5453 Harper’s Farm Road, Columbia, MD
Columbia Swim Center
An indoor swimming center with water slides. Slides are available Fridays – Sundays from September through May and on Fridays only in June. Slides are closed in July and August.
10400 Cross Fox Lane, Columbia, MD
Fairway Hills Golf Club
5100 Columbia Road, Columbia, MD
Hobbit’s Glen Golf Course
1130 Willowbottom Drive, Columbia, MD