Located in Montgomery County, Maryland, Bethesda is a town without any official boundary lines. This thriving town in the metropolitan section of Washington, DC is known as a census-designated place with a population of over 60,000. Due to a large number of commuters who work in Bethesda, many of whom are government workers, the daytime population may exceed one million people. Residents of Bethesda mostly reside in District 16 of the Maryland Legislature. Bethesda is home to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the main campus of the National Institutes of Health, and multiple government and corporate headquarters.
The future of Bethesda could not have been predicted based on its humble beginnings. It was reportedly referred to by an unnamed colonial resident as a "wide spot in the road." Indian hunting trails occupied the space that is now Wisconsin Avenue. After the Indians had been driven westward (by the end of the 1600s), English plantations were built from the large forest lands. By the 1700s, tobacco and wheat farms were added to the plantations. Farmers transported their crops down the trail that would become Wisconsin Avenue to Georgetown port. Travelers on foot or in wagons, livestock, and Brtish soldiers used this dirt trail during Colonial times.
The Tavern and the Turnpike
Travelers on the dirt trail needed a place to rest and find refreshment. Around the mid-1700s, a stone tavern was erected on the trail to meet that need. Food and lodging drew visitors to this establishment, the first commercial structure in the area, and Bethesda began growing around this focal point toward becoming an established town.
By the early 19th century, the old trail fell into disrepair, and a new business was started to improve the roadway leading from the old district to the town of Rockville. In 1817, a new turnpike opened for travel and became the first paved road in Montgomery County. The hard-surface road consisted of a 20-foot strip leading to Rockville. Plans were made to continue road construction to Frederick and points beyond. A toll booth was constructed near the current intersection of Georgetown Road and Wisconsin Avenue to collect fees from travelers to help with road upkeep.
Bethesda Becomes a Town
Prosperity grew from the building of the turnpike. More farmers built prosperous farms and erected homes. A community began to grow. The federal government established a post office in 1862. It was located in William Darcy's store and was named, simply, Darcy's Store. Mr. Darcy's successor, postmaster Robert Franck (along with community consent), petitioned the United States government to rename the town "Bethesda."
The name was officially changed on January 23, 1871. The town was named after a local church called the Bethesda Meeting House in the early 19th century. The origin of the name was the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. The Aramaic meaning of the name is "house of mercy," and the Hebrew meaning is "house of kindness." Growth came slowly, and after the Civil War, the population of Bethesda was only 20 residents.
The Chevy Chase Land Company
In 1890, the Chevy Chase Land Company started accumulating land to the east of Bethesda for the creation of a Sylvan enclave for the politically and socially elite class in Washington, DC. The following year, the trolley made its debut with an electric track that moved up the pike and turned left to follow the course of the old Georgetown Road. Farmers could move their crops to market with ease and city dwellers could easily travel to enjoy the slower pace and cleaner air of country settings.
During this century and the early 20th century, many beautiful homes were built, and showcase neighborhoods sprung up as peaceful hideaways from the more urban lifestyle many people enjoyed during the work days.
Residents of Bethesda have always taken pride in the quality of life that Bethesda offers. One source of pride is the beautification of their homes, lawns, and gardens.
An ally in keeping Bethesda beautiful is the helpful services offered by the lawn care experts at Lawn Love. Check out our website for a free, customized estimate. We take all of the pain out of maintaining a beautiful, picturesque lawn.