Columbia, Maryland (MD)

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General Information about Columbia

Columbia is a census-designated place and planned community in Howard County, Maryland, United States. It is a suburb of Baltimore and, to a lesser degree, Washington, DC. It began with the idea that a city could enhance its residents' quality of life. Creator and developer James W. Rouse saw the new community in terms of human values, not just in terms of economics and engineering. Opened in 1967, Columbia was designed to not only eliminate the inconveniences of then-current subdivision design, but also eliminate racial, religious, and income segregation.
Today, Columbia has a population of about 94,600 (making it the largest unincorporated community in Maryland). By the early 2000s, the town had acquired many of the characteristics of other contemporary U.S. suburbs, such as increasingly large private homes on large parcels and "big-box" retail stores accessible mostly by automobile. Nevertheless, Rouse's ethos remains a strong influence upon the physical and political development of Columbia.

Read more about Columbia from Wikipedia This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Stats about Columbia

Total Population: 88,391
Cost of Living
Median Household Income: $71,524
Median Home Value: $180,500
State sales tax: 6.0%

Columbia, Maryland

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Ratings and reviews of Columbia




Sensai (currently lives here; has lived here for 5-10 years):

"Gertrude Stein's Revenge"

I believe it was Gertrude Stein, speaking of Oakland, California, who said, "there is no 'there' there". So it is with Columbia. Columbia is the quiessent suburb with no center and no soul. As someone commented to me recently, "everything looks the same there". It does. While Columbia is divided into numerous neighborhoods and villages, the villages and neighborhoods are pretty much all the same in that they lack character. A planned community whose "plan" dates to the 1960s with little updating (or little interest among the fossilated inhabitants thereof) Columbia consists of vast tracts of housing, many of which are marred with the sadness of decline. Shopping is centralized in village centers. There are no diners in Columbia and few interesting restaurants, for example. Churches are not permitted; there are interfaith centers that are determinedly humanistic (as opposed to religious) in nature. Although the villages were designed to create a sense of community they do little of that. Almost all of them contain a food store a liquor store, a cleaners, and (usually) a barber or hair stylist. Most of the restaurants at most of the centers are fast food, although a few good restaurants (Hickory Ridge stands out like a potted plant in an oasis) do exist.

Columbians are determinedly liberal in a 60's sense and are frequently derided as "the world's oldest hippies" or WOH. There are two strata to Columbian society: those people who moved to Columbia at least 25 years ago and everyone else. Most letters to the local newspaper begin with something like: "I have lived in Columbia since (1967 or 1975 or rarely as recently as 1980) and...." Generally only long term residents are considered to have opinions worth hearing because, well, Columbia really belongs to them.

Many Columbians are activists at heart or in fact, which can be a very good thing or a very bad one. A couple of years ago, for example, General Growth, the "owner" of Columbia (if Columbia, much like a cat, can be said to be owned) decided to discontinue the poinsetta Christmas (now holiday I suppose in this city of the ultra politically correct) at the local mall. At least two hundred people showed up to protest.

Thats the yin of Columbian life. The yang is the tendency of our worlds oldest hippies (most of whom are long term residents as well) to band together against new residents who aren't Columbians pride themselves on diversity, but only in ways acceptable to themselves. Fall outside those boundaries and watch out. Since moral arrogance and self righteousness thrive here there is absolutely no compunction about denouncing others in strident, rude, and abrasive (if not abusive) terms.

Would I recommend Columbia as a place to retire? Sure, if you fit the profile and keep to yourself. Don't expect the long termers to be friendly (up to and including saying hello when you greet them; a fair proportion (but not all, to be fair) will look at you, say nothing, and keep walking. Columbia is expensive, it's isolated (half way between Baltimore and Washington and not convenient to the rich mixed neighborhood diversity of either lovely city), and it's boring. Right now it's real estate market is depressed and that's why I live here. That and the proximity of family, work, and career. Otherwise I would be like Gertrude STein's "there" and I wouldn't be here either.

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Mathmusic (currently lives here; has lived here for Over 10 years):

"Did not live up to its promise"

I fully agree with Sensai’s review. We moved here in the mid 1970’s. For the first 15 years, I was impressed by the newness of the city. But new gradually turned to old, I could see the conformity of the residents (which reminds me of Pete Seeger’s song “Little Boxes”) and I saw the many, as Columbians call them, “outparcels” being built. Now I have to honestly say that there is nothing that you can get out of living in Columbia that you cannot get out of living in one of the outparcels. They are just as nicely kept as Columbia, people are actually friendlier and you don’t have to pay the Annual Assessment fee every July.

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