Columbia, Maryland

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Columbia, Maryland

Introduction to Columbia, Maryland

Columbia is an unincorporated planned community located in Howard County, Maryland. It is situated about 20 miles southwest of Baltimore. Neighboring communities include Ellicott City (to the north), Elkridge (to the east), Laurel (to the south), and Gaithersburg (to the west).

The planning of Columbia began in 1963 when creator and developer James W. Rouse acquired more than 14,000 acres in Howard County with the intention of creating a visionary community planned along sociological as well as economic and engineering lines. To help determine how to incorporate the most vital social and institutional components of a new city into a physical environment, the Rouse Company convened a group of nationally known experts in the social sciences who met regularly over a six-month period. What evolved was a development plan focusing on the creation of neighborhood and village centers to preserve a small-town feel while adhering to four main goals: meeting residents basic needs (housing, jobs, recreation, education, health care); respecting the land; providing for growth and improvement; and achieving financial success.

Over the past three decades, the population of Columbia has grown more than ten-fold. There are thousands of businesses employing tens of thousands of people. The centerpiece of the community is the Mall in Columbia, which stands today as a large regional shopping mall with five anchor department stores and over 200 smaller stores and restaurants. Although the community has over time gradually acquired many of the characteristics of other contemporary U.S. suburbs, Rouse's vision has remained relatively intact and his experiment can be termed a success. Money magazine in 2006 ranked Columbia (together with Ellicott City, its Howard County neighbor to the north) #4 out of the 100 "Best Places to Live" in the United States.

Things to do in Columbia

In the summer, live entertainment can be found at the Columbia lakefront. Merriweather Post Pavilion, located in Symphony Woods in Columbia's Town Center, offers outdoor concerts performed throughout the summer. Every June, the Columbia Festival of the Arts electrifies the community with featured world-class music performers. "Wine in the Woods" is an annual celebration held in May showcasing wineries from across the state, and featuring live entertainment, food from local vendors, unique arts and crafts, and live demonstrations of food and wine.

For outdoor recreation, Columbia has three lakes (Kittamaqundi, Wilde, and Elkhorn) ideal for sailing, fishing, and boating. Surrounding the lakes are parks equipped with miles of jogging, strolling and biking paths, as well as hundreds of play areas for kids. Also in Columbia are a variety of recreational facilities, including numerous swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), water slides, ice and roller skating rinks, an equestrian center, a skateboard park, a sports park with miniature golf, batting cages, picnic pavilions, running tracks, and numerous indoor and outdoor tennis, basketball, volleyball, racquetball and squash courts.

Columbia's planners were careful to preserve some of the community's historic buildings such as Dorsey Manor, the stone house at Wilde Lake, the Barn at Oakland Mills, Oliver's Carriage House, and Historic Oakland (also known as Oakland Manor), one of the most beautiful and historic buildings in Howard County. Museums and galleries in Columbia include the African Art Museum of Maryland, Columbia Arts Center, and the Howard County Center of African-American Culture.

Sports fans in Columbia can enjoy the very best of professional sports of many varieties in nearby Baltimore, home to the following teams:

  • Orioles (MLB baseball)
  • Ravens (NFL football)
  • Blast (MISL soccer)
  • Bayhawks (MLL lacrosse)
  • Pearls (ABA basketball)

Baltimore is also the home of the U.S. Lacrosse Museum and National Hall of Fame.

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High Points

Columbia strengths, compared to Peers (similar size places nationally) or State (other places in Maryland):

Category Trophy
Well-Paid Single Women
(vs. Peers)
Top 4% trophy Columbia Well-Paid Single Women
College Educated Adults
(vs. Peers)
Top 4% trophy Columbia College Educated Adults
Well-Paid Single Men
(vs. Peers)
Top 6% Columbia Well-Paid Single Men
Median Family Income
(vs. Peers)
Top 9% Columbia Median Family Income
People in Middle Class or Better
(vs. Peers)
Top 15% Columbia People in Middle Class or Better
Racial Diversity
(vs. State)
Top 17% Columbia Racial Diversity

Comparative Profile of Columbia, Maryland

Comparing Columbia to similar size places nationwide (Peers) and to other places in Maryland (State):

Ratings range from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest).

The People

Characteristic Compared
to Peers
to State
Well-Paid Single Women 10 10
Well-Paid Single Men 10 10
Racial Diversity 8 9
Female Share of the Population 6 5
Age of the Population 6 5
Children Under 5 Years Old 6 6
Male Share of the Population 5 7
Senior Citizens 2 2


Characteristic Compared
to Peers
to State
Portion of People Married 6 7
Average Household Size 5 6


Characteristic Compared
to Peers
to State
College Educated Adults 10 10
Median Family Income 10 9
People in Middle Class or Better 9 9
People Above Poverty 8 8

Commute & Sprawl

Characteristic Compared
to Peers
to State
Working at Home 9 8
Public Transportation Use 7 7
Short Commute Times 2 5
Walking and Biking to Work 1 5


Characteristic Compared
to Peers
to State
Housing Recently Built 9 9
Seasonal and Vacation Housing 6 6
Studio & One-Bedroom Rentals 5 6
People Living Alone 5 5
Affordability of Property Taxes 3 2
Affordability of Rents 2 2

Detailed pages on related topics: Colleges in Columbia, Graduate Schools in Columbia
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Columbia Almanac

Category Value
Nearest Large City 13 miles W of Baltimore, Maryland
County Howard
Standard Zip Codes 21044, 21045, 21046
Phone Area Codes 410
Time Zone Eastern (-5 hours from GMT)
Daylight Savings The city observes Daylight Saving Time.
Latitude 39.24
Longitude -76.839

Columbia Climate

Nearest Weather Stations

  • Temp ranges are avg daily min and max for the month
  • Precipitation is rainfall (and rainfall equiv of snowfall)
Distance 5.1 miles
Jan Temp 22 to 41 F
Apr Temp 39 to 66 F
Jul Temp 63 to 87 F
Oct Temp 42 to 68 F
Annual Precip 45.2 inches
Distance 6.6 miles
Jan Temp 23 to 42 F
Apr Temp 41 to 67 F
Jul Temp 64 to 88 F
Oct Temp 44 to 68 F
Annual Precip 45.6 inches
Distance 9.8 miles
Jan Temp 24 to 41 F
Apr Temp 42 to 65 F
Jul Temp 66 to 87 F
Oct Temp 44 to 67 F
Annual Precip 41.9 inches
Detailed pages on related topics: Colleges in Columbia, Graduate Schools in Columbia
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Columbia Population (2000)

Category Count Percent
Total Population 88,254 100%
Male 42,553 48.2%
Female 45,701 51.8%
Under 18 23,168 26.3%
18+ 65,086 73.7%
65+ 6,595 7.5%
Median Age 35.5
Average Family Size 3.09
White 58,708 66.5%
African-American 18,949 21.5%
Asian 6,440 7.3%
American Indian & Alaskan 232 0.3%
Other 1,442 1.6%
Mixed Race 2,437 2.8%
Hispanic (included in categories above) 3,636 4.1%

Columbia Ancestry

(From 2000 Census, as reported by individuals)

Note: This is national, not racial, ancestry, so, e.g., the Census doesn't have categories for Hispanic and African-American people. CityTownInfo is currently gathering additional ancestry data for this site.
Ancestry Percent
Other (often includes Hispanic and African American) 33.6%
German 12.1%
English 8.8%
Irish 8.7%
Italian 4.9%
US/American 4.5%
Polish 3.2%
Russian 2.4%
Scottish 1.7%
European 1.6%
Scotch-Irish 1.3%
French (except Basque) 1.2%
Jamaican 0.9%
African 0.9%
Dutch 0.9%
Eastern European 0.8%
British 0.8%
Swedish 0.8%
Haitian 0.7%
French Canadian 0.6%
Ukrainian 0.6%
Iranian 0.6%
Norwegian 0.5%
Welsh 0.4%
Slovak 0.4%
Hungarian 0.4%
Nigerian 0.4%
Egyptian 0.4%
Greek 0.4%
Ghanian 0.3%
Czech 0.3%
Lithuanian 0.3%
Danish 0.3%
Afghan 0.2%
Swiss 0.2%
Portuguese 0.2%
Lebanese 0.2%
Austrian 0.2%
Canadian 0.2%
Romanian 0.2%
Ethiopian 0.2%
Liberian 0.2%
Detailed pages on related topics: Colleges in Columbia, Graduate Schools in Columbia
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Nearby Cities and Towns

Location Pop. Median Family
Income (2000)
Columbia 88,254 $83,753
Baltimore 651,154 $35,438
Brookeville 120 $93,444
Ellicott City 56,397 $91,968
Laurel 19,960 $58,552
Owings Mills 20,193 $61,079
Sykesville 4,197 $75,758

Columbia Public Libraries

Howard County Library
Columbia, Maryland
(410) 313-7750
Library Web Site

library logo

More Information for Librarians

Columbia Hospitals

(Voluntary non-profit - Private)
(410) 740-7890
Emergency Service: Yes

Starbucks in Columbia

(As of 2005)
Columbia Mall
10300 Little Patuxent Pkwy.
Dobbin Center Way
6490 Dobbins Center Way
Howard CC - Instrc Lab Bldg Lounge
10901 Little Patuxent Pkwy
5485 Harpers Farm Road
Target Columbia T-1044
6111 Dobbin Rd
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Featured Colleges in the Columbia Area (QuickSchools™)

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Columbia High Schools (2004)

(Sorted by Number of Students)

Serves 1,562 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 14.3

Serves 1,440 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 15.1

Serves 1,316 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 15.9

Serves 1,198 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 15.9

Serves 1,062 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 14.4

A Special Education School
Serves 103 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 3.8

Columbia Colleges

Click school name for a detailed profile.

Howard Community College

(List of Maryland Colleges)

Detailed pages on related topics: Colleges in Columbia, Graduate Schools in Columbia
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City, State Similarity   1 Person Houses 65+ College Grads Commute Minutes Family Income Kids 0-4 Non White Pop. Poverty Prop. Crime Seasonal Housing Viol. Crime
      loose loose loose loose loose loose loose loose loose loose loose loose
1. Charlotte, North Carolina 88.2   29.5% 8.8% 36.4% 26 $56,517 7.1% 41.7% 540,828 10.6% 86.8 0.3% 13.5
2. Aurora, Colorado 85.4   27.4% 7.4% 24.6% 28 $52,551 8.1% 31.1% 276,393 8.9% 54.8 0.2% 6.4
3. Garner, North Carolina 84.6   23.3% 10.9% 28.2% 26 $58,302 6.7% 33% 17,757 6.8% 69.9 0.2% 5.4
4. Katy, Texas 83.7   17.8% 8.1% 23.5% 34 $57,741 7.5% 16% 11,775 8.4% 56.2 0.4% 9.9
5. Arlington, Texas 82.7   24.8% 6.1% 30.4% 28 $56,080 8.3% 32.3% 332,969 9.9% 58.8 0.3% 5.7
6. Lakewood, Colorado 82.5   30.7% 12.1% 32.8% 27 $57,171 6.1% 12.8% 144,126 7.1% 53.6 0.3% 4.6
7. Hurst, Texas 81.7   22.2% 12.4% 24.5% 27 $57,955 7.2% 14% 36,273 6.6% 73.1 0.2% 5.2
8. Goodlettsville, Tennessee 79.7   24.9% 11.9% 24% 26 $54,159 6.7% 13.6% 13,780 9.4% 58.2 0.2% 6.2
9. Longwood, Florida 76.6   19.8% 12.4% 22.3% 26 $55,758 6.2% 12.7% 13,745 6.6% 43.7 0.3% 7.1
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