Bethesda Ave at night

Bethesda, Maryland, is a census-designated town in southern Montgomery County, located northwest of Washington, D.C. The name comes from a local church, built in 1820, called the Bethesda Meeting House. As an unincorporated area, Bethesda lacks official boundaries. Beginning as a small settlement built around a store and tollhouse along the Washington and Rockville Turnpike, the community, first called “Darcy’s Store,” was renamed in 1871 after the church.

Throughout the 19th century, Bethesda remained a small village centered around its crossroads. Within the community was a post office, a church and school, a blacksmith shop, few stores, and some houses. Like much of the area surrounding D.C., the beginning of suburbanization coincides with the development of streetcar lines in 1890. Farmland was subdivided, wealthy people built stunning summer mansions, and the population grew.

Bethesda expanded rapidly, and in the 1940s both the National Naval Medical Center (1942) and the National Institute of Health complex (1948) were built just north of the growing downtown. These two facilities were major draws to more development in business and medicine.

The residential community of Bethesda is one of the most highly educated and wealthy in the United States. In 2000, according to the Census, nearly 80% of residents aged 25 or older had bachelor’s degrees with nearly half the residents holding professional or graduate degrees. Nearly a third of the households have children under the age of 18. Bethesda is a highly desirable area as it is well-maintained, family friendly, and has easy access to downtown, Washington, D.C.


Cleveland Park is a residential neighborhood in the Northwest quadrant of D.C. The first settler of what is now the neighborhood was George Washington’s aide-de-camp, General Uriah Forrest when he built the Rosedale estate in 1793. Now part of a public conservancy, the grounds and farmhouse are considered to be the oldest home in Washington.

The neighborhood came by its name after 1886 when President Cleveland purchased a stone farmhouse opposite Rosedale and remodeled it into a summer estate called Oak View. The subdivision of Oak View was platted and, about the same time, the subdivisions of Cleveland Heights and Cleveland Park. Early development was spurred by the upland topography that provided a breezy escape from the hot, humid air of the then built-up area of Washington, D.C. Because of this, the houses built during this period feature amenities of summer houses such as wide porches, overhanging eaves and large windows.

Development continued in bursts, hinged upon events such as the bankruptcy of the Cleveland park Co. in 1905 and the Great Depression of the 1930s. This resulted in houses of very different sizes, styles and nature being built next to one another. The success of the neighborhood even during difficult times is attributed to its being connect to downtown Washington via the Rock Creek Railway.

What draws people to Cleveland Park nowadays are features such as the National Zoo and the Art Deco styled Uptown Theatre as well as its unique restaurants and green, gently rolling hills. Cleveland Park is filled with parks, playgrounds and well-lit streets, making for a village feel and family-friendly environment.

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