PALS and Howard County, Maryland




About Howard County


Howard County is the fifth most populous county of Maryland’s twenty-three counties, with nearly 300,000 residents. The area is known for highly educated and affluent residents. Countywide, 60% of residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 36.1% of Maryland residents. The median annual household income in Howard County was $107,452 annually, the highest of any county the state. It is significantly higher than the state’s median annual household income of $72,345 and the national median annual household income of $52,250. In spite of the high median income, 18.1% of Howard County households earned less than $50,000 annually and 6.1% earn less than $25,000 annually.

Howard County residents are 62.2% White alone, 17.5% Black, 14.4% Asian, and 5.8% Hispanic or Latino. The racial composition statewide is 54.7% White alone, 29% Black, 5.5% Asian, and 8.2% Hispanic or Latino. In Howard County, 18.2% of residents are foreign-born compared to 13.9% statewide. Though Howard County’s racial demographics resemble the statewide distribution, the county is more diverse than other counties in the Baltimore Region. Columbia, founded on the principle of diversity, remains the center of diversity in the county with the population 55.5% White, 25.3% Black or African American, 11.4% Asian, and 7.9% Hispanic or Latino. Howard County is expected to become even more diverse. Whereas, 59% of the population was non-Hispanic white in 2010, only 34% of the population is projected to be non-Hispanic white in 2040.



Howard County was part of Anne Arundel County and primarily an agrarian area through the 18th and 19th Centuries. It was home to a few small shipping and manufacturing centers. In the 18th century, the port of Elk Ridge was the largest Maryland port north of Annapolis before the deeper water filled with sediment. The proximity to the piedmont hills subsequently allowed many mills to establish in Howard County. The two most significant were Ellicott Mills (present-day Ellicott City) and Savage Mills. In 1830, the B & O railroad built the first American commercial railroad from Ellicott Mills to Baltimore City to deliver products to the port in Baltimore. Howard County formally separated from Anne Arundel County in 1851. Howard County would remain largely rural for over the next 100 years. Towns emerged as resorts for city dwellers, such as Lisbon, or at the intersection of roads, such as Clarksville at the intersection of Route 32 and Route 108.

The post-World War II economic boom and construction of the Interstate Highway System stimulated suburban growth in Howard County. The population more than doubled from 1940 to 1960. In the next decade James Rouse, a commercial developer, intervened in the haphazard suburban development by covertly purchasing 14,000 acres of land with the intention of building a new city of 100,000 residents. In 1967, Rouse established Columbia, a now-famous planned community, envisioning a racially and economically integrated community that exemplified the latest advances in community planning. He wanted Columbia to be a true city with sufficient jobs and the full range of community amenities. Today, Columbia has reached its planned population of 100,000 people and Howard County entered the 21st Century with nearly 300,000 residents and over 155,000 jobs, primarily centered in Columbia.

About the Columbia Association


The Columbia Association has a governance structure independent of the County. Residents from each of Columbia’s 10 villages elect one representative to the Columbia Council, which serves as the CA’s Board of Directors. This board creates policy, allocates the organization’s $60,000,000 annual budget, develops strategic initiatives, addresses community issues, and appoints the CA president. The directives of the board are executed by five departments and four independent offices under the board’s authority. Each village also elects a village board, which enforce the deed covenants. The Columbia Association also plays an important role in the development process for Columbia properties.


Course Reports


Fall 2015

ARCH 700 - Urban Design Studio VII

LARC 642 - Graduate Studio III

LARC 452: Green Infrastructure & Community Greening

JOUR 368V/668V - Advanced Video Storytelling

URSP 708 - Community Planning Studio
  • Instructor: Dr. Scott Dempwolf
  • Project: Innovation-Led Economic Development in Howard County - Presentation | Report

ECON 454 - Public Finance and Public Policy

GVPT 388 - Topical Investigations

INFM 736 - Information Management Capstone

ANTH 468O/689O - Researching Environment & Culture

BSCI 215 - Global Sustainability


Spring 2016

ARCH 407 - Graduate Design Studio IV

RDEV 688I - Real Estate Development Capstone

JOUR 368V/668V - Advanced Video Storytelling

LARC 341 - Regional Design Studio

AREC 489N - Economics of Local Agriculture
  • Instructor: Philip Gottwals
  • Project: Food Hub Business Concept - Report | Presentation


BUSI 758Q - MBA Consulting Practicum
  • Instructors: Dr. Neta Moye & David Ashley
  • Project: Feasibility of Small Farms Growing Hops & Specialty Grains Profitably - Report | Presentation


CPSP 249E - Service Learning Practicum: Environment, Technology & Economy


SPHL 498G - Public Health in the City


URSP 601 - Research Methods


LARC 471 - Community Design Studio

GVPT 368K/368I - GIS for Social Science Research

PLSC 480 - Urban Ecology

INFM 737 - Information Management Capstone


Summer 2016

URSP 705 & 706 - Community Planning Studio


Project Story Map

multimedia journey through all of Howard County's PALS projects in 2015-16.


PALS Showcase - May 6, 2016

 Photos courtesy of Bethany Swain