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Takoma Park, Maryland
—  City  —

Location in Maryland
Coordinates: 38°58′48″N 77°0′8″W / 38.98°N 77.00222°W / 38.98; -77.00222
Country United States
State Maryland
County Montgomery
Founded 1883
Incorporated 1890
 - Type Municipal council-manager
 - Mayor Bruce Williams (D)
 - City 2.36 sq mi (5.5 km2)
 - Land 2.36 sq mi (5.5 km2)
 - Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 400 ft (121 m)
Population (2000)
 - City 17,299
 - Density 8,152.4/sq mi (3,150.6/km2)
 - Metro 5,139,549
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 301
FIPS code 24-76650
GNIS feature ID 0598146

Takoma Park is a city in Montgomery County, Maryland, United States. It is a suburb of Washington, D.C. and part of the Washington Metropolitan Area. Founded in 1883 and incorporated in 1890, Takoma Park, informally called "Azalea City," is a Tree City USA and a nuclear-free zone. A planned commuter suburb, it is situated along the Metropolitan Branch of the historic Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, just northeast of Washington. It is governed by an elected mayor and six elected councilmembers, who form the city council, and an appointed city manager, under a council-manager style of government. The city's population was 17,299 according to the 2000 national census.[1]



Takoma Park was founded by Benjamin Franklin Gilbert in 1883 and incorporated in 1890. It was one of the first planned Victorian commuter suburbs, centered on the B&O railroad station in Takoma, D.C., and bore aspects of a spa and trolley park. For many decades it was the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which maintains a regional hospital, college, radio station and several churches and other local facilities in the city.

In the early 1960s an extension of Interstate 95, also known as the North Central Freeway, was proposed that would have cut the city in two. In the mid-to-late 1960s, a campaign led by future Mayor and civil-rights activist Sam Abbott to halt freeway construction and replace it with a Metro line on the site of the former train station, and worked with other neighborhood groups to halt plans for a wider system of freeways going into and out of DC.

This controversy also raised the profile of Takoma Park at a time in the late 1960s and 1970s when it was becoming noted regionally and nationally for political activism outside the Nation's capital, with some commentators describing it as "Berkeley East".

Also dividing the community is the boundary line of the District of Columbia, which contains part of the original Gilbert tract. This area is now known as Takoma, Washington, D.C. While politically separate from Takoma Park, Maryland, it shares its history and much of its culture.

Much of the old town Takoma Park was incorporated into the Takoma Park Historic District; listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Before 1995, the eastern boundary of the city of Takoma Park was the county line between Montgomery and Prince George's counties, causing the community to be divided across two counties and the Maryland/D.C. line (where the original downtown area was located). For several years, Takoma Park lobbied the State of Maryland for legislation allowing county boundaries to be adjusted. The State finally agreed to this change, with the stipulation that cross-county municipalities would no longer be allowed; the new municipal boundary would forever remain within the county of its choosing.

In August 1995, the city held a public referendum asking registered voters living in three Prince George's County neighborhoods whether they wanted to be annexed to the city of Takoma Park. There was a majority of votes, 211 out of 304, in favor of annexation to the city.[2]

In November 1995, the State-sponsored referendum was held asking whether the portions of the city in Prince George's County should be annexed to Montgomery County, or vice versa. The majority of votes in the referendum were in favor of unification of the entire city in Montgomery County.[3] Following subsequent approval by both counties' councils and the Maryland General Assembly, the county line was moved to include the entire city into Montgomery County (including territory in Prince George's County newly annexed by the city) on July 1, 1997.[4] This process became known as Unification.

The city has experienced substantial gentrification in the 1990s and early 2000s, with many group houses containing accessory apartments being converted back into single-family homes. The majority of the city's population remain tenants, many of whom live in a cluster of high-rise and mid-rise apartment buildings surrounding Sligo Creek, which cuts a deep valley through the community. Takoma Park sits on the edge of the Mid-Atlantic fall line and is thus extremely hilly, with many narrow, gridded streets.


Takoma Park is located just northeast of Washington, D.C.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.36 square miles (6.1 km2), all land. Sligo Creek and Long Branch (both tributaries of the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River) flow through the area.


As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 17,299 people, 6,893 households, and 3,949 families residing in the city. The population density was 8,152.4 inhabitants per square mile (3,147.7 /km2). There were 7,187 housing units at an average density of 3,387.0 per square mile (1,307.7 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 48.79% White, 33.97% African American, 0.44% Native American, 4.36% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 7.44% from other races, and 4.97% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 14.42% of the population.

There were 6,893 households out of which 30.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.5% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.7% were non-families. Approximately 4.5% of all couples were unmarried same sex couples.[6] 32.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.13.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.6% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 35.9% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, and 8.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 89.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $48,490, and the median income for a family was $63,434. Males had a median income of $40,668 versus $35,073 for females. The per capita income for the city was $26,437. About 8.4% of families and 10.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.5% of those under age 18 and 20.5% of those age 65 or over.


Takoma Park is known for a variety of cultural events, most notable of which is the Takoma Park Folk Festival, which attracts an audience from across the Mid-Atlantic region.

Other annual festivals include the Takoma Park Street Festival, the Takoma Jazz Fest, the Takoma Park Independent Film Festival, the Institute of Musical Traditions (a performance society founded by House of Musical Traditions), and the Takoma Park Fourth of July Parade, which is attended by residents and participating politicians from across the metropolitan region.[7] The parade typically includes dance groups representing a wide variety of global cultures, neighborhood performance troupes, and groups supporting causes, such as LGBTQ and fair-trade, reflecting Takoma Park's historic reputation for political activism.

The Takoma Park Folk Festival is a music festival held annually in the city. It has been in existence since 1978, founded by Sam Abbott, former Mayor of the city and civil-rights activist.[8] In addition to hosting concerts on several stages by musicians from around the world, the festival also celebrates cultural diversity of the region, with a wide variety of ethnic food and crafts.

The festival features numerous varieties of music from local and national artists, including blues, klezmer, bluegrass, Celtic, and hip-hop, and traditional music and dance from around the world. Other performers specialize in traditional and progressive folk music. In addition to music and dance, the festival features traditional storytellers from around the world.[9]

Takoma Park is notable for being the home of Takoma Records, a nationally-known blues label started by blues guitarist John Fahey, who (together with other local music institutions) popularized the city as a haven for folk musicians. Mary Chapin Carpenter, Al Petteway and many other prominent local and national artists have made their home in and around Takoma Park.

Takoma Park also hosts a variety of local characters who contribute to the city's sense of identity and culture, including "Catman" and Motor Cat,[10] Roscoe the Rooster,[11] Banjo Man[12] and "Fox Man",[13] a local animal rights activist and founder of the city's Tool Library. Takoma Park also has a year round farmer's market which sells local produce and free range meats.

Law and government

In accordance with the city's principles, Takoma Park allows non-U.S.-citizen residents to vote in its own municipal elections. The city was also forbidden, by statute, from doing business with any entity having commercial ties with the government of Burma (Myanmar),[14] though after a United States Supreme Court decision struck down a similar Massachusetts provision, enforcement of the provision was suspended in the year 2000. As of 2007, the Free Burma Committee is inactive.[15] Takoma Park is also forbidden from purchasing any World Bank financial instruments.. In 2008, the city unanimously approved a resolution to oppose foie gras.[16]

Takoma Park is widely noted for being a "Nuclear Free Zone" along with cities including Berkeley, California and Madison, Wisconsin. It has an active Nuclear Free Zone Committee which advocates for nuclear disarmament and is entrusted with making purchasing recommendations to the city. Being a certified Tree City, residents must obtain a permit to cut down any tree on their property measuring more than 8 inches in diameter. This has contributed to the preservation of historic second-growth hardwood forest which covers much of the city, as visible in satellite photos.

Takoma Park is chartered with its own police force, public works department, and has historically maintained its own Volunteer Fire Department and Municipal Library. Until 2007, the city operated a Tool Library as well, and continues to operate its own compost recycling program and silo for corn-burning stoves. As one of the most urbanized areas outside Washington, D.C., Takoma Park is densely developed with narrow houses on deep lots, often featuring mid-block developments and a mix of apartments and homes which are no longer permitted under regional suburban zoning laws, under which many apartments were de-zoned in 1989. Development and reconstruction of the fire station and other public facilities have been highly controversial, with some advocating that facilities be closed and moved to outlying, automobile-friendly areas.


Takoma Park is governed by a city council composed of a mayor and council members for each of six wards. The city administration is run by a City Manager, since 2004, Barbara Burns Matthews. The current Mayor of Takoma Park is Bruce Williams (since 2007). Former mayors are:

  • Benjamin Franklin Gilbert (1890-1892)
  • Enoch Maris (1892-1894)
  • Samuel S. Shedd (1894-1902)
  • John B. Kinnear (1902-1906)
  • Wilmer G. Platt (1906-1912)
  • Stephens W. Williams (1912-1917)
  • Wilmer G. Platt (1917-1920)
  • James L. Wilmeth (1920-1923)
  • Henry F. Taff (1923-1926)
  • Ben G. Davis (1926-1932)
  • Frederick L. Lewton (1932-1936)
  • John R. Adams (1936-1940)
  • Oliver W. Youngblood (1940-1948)
  • John C. Post (1948-1950)
  • Ross H. Beville (1950-1954)
  • George M. Miller (1954-1972)
  • John D. Roth (1972-1980)
  • Sammie A. Abbott (1980-1985)
  • Stephen J. Del Giudice (1985-1990)
  • Edward F. Sharp (1990-1997)
  • Kathy Porter (1997-2007)
  • Bruce Williams (since 2007)

Representative body

Takoma Park has a non-partisan City Council elected by wards. Council members serve terms of two years, and are elected in the odd-numbered years. Non-U.S. citizens may register and vote in the municipal election. The members of the council elected in 2009 are:

  • Ward 1: Josh Wright
  • Ward 2: Colleen Clay
  • Ward 3: Dan Robinson
  • Ward 4: Terry Seamens
  • Ward 5: Reuben Snipper
  • Ward 6: Fred Schultz

Voting methods

In the 2005 election, an advisory referendum on the institution of Instant-Runoff Voting (IRV) for municipal elections passed with 84% approval.[17] In 2006, the City Council amended the City Charter to incorporate IRV. With this, Takoma Park joins a small but growing number of municipalities across the nation who have chosen IRV, such as San Francisco, California, Burlington, Vermont and, more recently, Ferndale, Michigan.

Neighborhoods and Neighborhood Associations by Ward

Ward 1:

Ward 2:

Ward 3:

  • Pinecrest
  • Westmoreland Area Community Organization (WACO)
  • SS Carroll ("The Generals" streets: Grant Ave, Lee Ave, Sherman Ave, Sheridan Ave)
  • Circle Woods Community Association

Ward 4:

  • Ritchie Citizens Association

Ward 5:

  • Between the Creeks

Ward 6:

  • Hillwood Manor
  • New Hampshire Gardens Citizens Association


Primary and secondary schools

Public schools

The city is served by the Montgomery County Public Schools.


Elementary schools that serve the city include:

Most Takoma Park residents are zoned to Takoma Park ES and Piney Branch.


Middle schools that serve the city include:


All of the city is served by Montgomery Blair High School.

With the Downcounty Consortium, students have limited opportunity to enroll in one of four other schools, including Kennedy, Northwood, Einstein, and Wheaton.

Colleges and universities

See also


External links

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