The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.


How did Silver Spring get its boundaries? And how would you define them?

You could ask five residents what Silver Spring's boundaries are and receive five different answers, ranging from a neighborhood near the DC line to a city the size of the District of Columbia itself. But how did it end up this way to begin with? The answer involves a railroad, zip codes, and possibly Marion Barry.

Silver Spring, as the Census Bureau sees it. Image from Wikipedia.

Unlike northeastern states where every square inch of land sits inside a municipality, or western states where cities compete for territory to access natural resources or tax revenue, much of Maryland and Virginia are unincorporated. Part of the reason is that counties in these states can perform functions like zoning and schools, reducing the incentive for communities to become a town or city.

Silver Spring is one those places. As a result, most definitions of Silver Spring fall into two camps: one I call "Little Silver Spring," or areas near its historical center, or "Big Silver Spring," which comprises most of eastern Montgomery County. To find out which one is more dominant, local organization Silver Spring Inc. will have residents draw their own boundaries in an interactive event at Fenton Street Market this Saturday.

Big Silver Spring

Francis Preston Blair founded Silver Spring in 1840 when he fell off his horse and discovered a mica-flecked spring. It became one of several towns that grew up around the Metropolitan Branch railroad, which starts in DC and heads northwest. Meanwhile, the rest of eastern Montgomery County remained largely undeveloped save for a few suburban developments and small villages with names like White Oak, Colesville, and Norwood.

Silver Spring became the reference point for the larger area, and "Big Silver Spring" was born. In the 1930s, home builder R.E. Latimer boasted that his new subdivision Burnt Mills Hills was three miles "beyond the Silver Spring traffic light" at Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road. Ken Lubel, owner of Tires of Silver Spring and a longtime resident, notes that Silver Spring addresses once appeared as far north as Columbia.

"Big Silver Spring," or the Postal Service's definition of Silver Spring. Image by Christy Batta.

The invention of zip codes in the 1960s made Big Silver Spring official right as suburbanization took hold. The first three digits of each five-digit zip code referred to a larger region.

Naturally, Silver Spring got its own prefix, "209," and with it the rest of eastern Montgomery County. (This may have been due to then-DC mayor Marion Barry demanding that Silver Spring and Takoma Park give up the DC zip codes they were originally assigned.) New residents thus identified with Silver Spring and participated in activities there, like these students at then-new Springbrook High School marching in the 1970 Silver Spring Thanksgiving parade.

The US Postal Service assigns Silver Spring addresses to all of zip codes 20901, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 10, and parts of 20912, which is mostly in the city of Takoma Park. This definition stretches from the District line to the Patuxent River to the north, and roughly from Rock Creek Park and Georgia Avenue to the west to Prince George's County to the east, and even dipping into Prince George's in a few places. At its widest point, Big Silver Spring is about 12 miles long.

Big Silver Spring has over 306,000 residents, comprising 30% of Montgomery County's population, and covers 62.4 square miles, almost as large as the District of Columbia. If it were an incorporated city, it would be larger than St. Paul, Minnesota or Buffalo, New York. The Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce likes to use a version of Big Silver Spring.

Little Silver Spring

"Little Silver Spring" usually refers to what's now downtown Silver Spring, where Blair fell off his horse, and other areas inside the Capital Beltway. The Census Bureau generally uses this definition, claiming the area from the Beltway to the north to the District line and Takoma Park to the south, and from Rock Creek Park in the west to Prince George's County in the east.

Little Silver Spring has about 71,000 residents in just under 8 square miles. (Incidentally, this definition includes an area between Grubb Road and Rock Creek Park that has a Chevy Chase address.)

Sean Emerson's map of the "Real Silver Spring."

Proponents include the Planning Department and the Silver Spring Regional Services Center, which also counts Four Corners as part of Silver Spring. Local bloggers Silver Spring, Singular and Sean Emerson of Around the Corners argue that a narrow definition of Silver Spring protects its identity while encouraging other communities to distinguish themselves as well.

And communities in Big Silver Spring are doing just that. Citizens associations in Colesville and Glenmont erected signs to set themselves apart. Montgomery County has worked hard to brand Wheaton as a distinct place from Silver Spring.

What do boundaries mean, anyway?

However, many people still identify with their mailing address. Landlords on Craigslist are more than willing to claim Big Silver Spring. And earlier this year, a concertgoer showed up at the Fillmore with a Silver Spring sleeve tattoo. All of the familiar landmarks were there, like the Lee Building and Chompie the shark, but so was the sign for Snowdens Mill, a subdivision 6 miles away in zip code 20904.

Jarrett Walker writes about the "emotive power" and "resonance" of a place name that often transcends boundaries. Silver Spring has historically been one of the DC area's biggest cultural and activity centers, and by drawing boundaries, you're commenting on how much that destination "resonates."

In other words, Silver Spring could be whatever "feels" like Silver Spring to you. I tend to believe in Big Silver Spring, if only because I went to Blake High School, a full 10 miles from downtown Silver Spring in a place once called Norwood. But we hung out in downtown, and its diverse student body looked way more like Silver Spring than it did Olney, which was much closer.

What does your Silver Spring look like? Join me and Silver Spring Inc. and draw your boundaries this Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm at Fenton Street Market, located at Veterans' Plaza in downtown Silver Spring.

Dan Reed is an urban planner at Nelson\Nygaard. He writes his own blog, Just Up the Pike, and serves as the Land Use Chair for the Action Committee for Transit. He lives in downtown Silver Spring. All opinions are his own. 


Add a comment »

Ednor Road & New Hampshire Avenue out by Sherwood High School is mailing address of Silver Spring

by John Muller on Aug 26, 2014 11:33 am • linkreport

Mailing address doesn't tell the neighborhood.
During the debate over closing Wheaton Library, some opponents were accused of being "not Wheaton reisdents". Some lived somewhat nearer to Wheaton Woods Elementary (Rockville mail address) than Wheaton Plaza (which ironically often lists as a Kensington mail address).

I think of Silver Spring as going from the DC line to the road towards DC - ie Seminary Road/16th Street. Downtown SS starts from DC line, centers around the Majestic movie theater, ends past the Ethiopian restuarants.

I take the Metro's word on it that Forest Glen is between SS and Wheaton.

by asffa on Aug 26, 2014 11:49 am • linkreport

I believe in a "medium Silver Spring" definition, pretty close to what Google Maps shows. Start with the Census definition, then add in Four Corners and Forest Glen. By the time you get to White Oak, it's not Silver Spring anymore.

by BeyondDC on Aug 26, 2014 11:51 am • linkreport

I'd say everything inside the Beltway, minus Long Branch and that corner of Takoma Park, plus Four Corners (I'd go as far as the Lockwood Dr turnoff; after that, it's White Oak).

by Justin..... on Aug 26, 2014 11:59 am • linkreport

About Christy Batta's map - No. Don't think most people outside SS want to next be called Ashton-Sandy Spring-Silver Spring, etc.

by asffa on Aug 26, 2014 12:12 pm • linkreport

The company I work for has struggled with whether to call places like Wheaton neighborhoods of Silver Spring or places in their own right. As Dan shows, it sort of comes down to an argument between the Post Office and the Census bureau. However, it might be worth noting that USPS does consider Wheaton, MD as an "acceptable" city name for 20902 although the "preferred" city name is Silver Spring, MD.

by jonglix on Aug 26, 2014 12:21 pm • linkreport

jonglix- I'd think it would be helpful to treat Wheaton as a place in its own right if only that then visitors can plan to take that extra time to get a train from the Metro.

by asffa on Aug 26, 2014 12:35 pm • linkreport

I could see the wisdom in including White Oak or even Burtonsville as part of Silver Spring, but Wheaton has to be its own place.

by BeyondDC on Aug 26, 2014 12:40 pm • linkreport

That's generally what the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce uses. They refer to downtown Silver Spring and the Route 29 corridor (which would include White Oak and presumably Burtonsville), but Wheaton has its own chamber, which it shares with Kensington.

by dan reed! on Aug 26, 2014 12:43 pm • linkreport

I live in Olney I ride the Z2 from Silver Spring Station to Olney and back daily and the route traverses the "upper limits" of the postal area of Silver Spring which incidentally ends right when you get to Ashton United Methodist Church which is on the 17300 block of New Hampshire Ave. I knew that the Hampshire Greens golf course and neighborhood above Rt. 198 had Silver Spring addresses of 20905 but didn't know until much later that zip code stretched farther than that. I just assumed all of that was Ashton until you passed Sherwood HS and then its Sandy Spring.

by MDL on Aug 26, 2014 12:55 pm • linkreport

I heard that every unincorporated part of Montgomery County is considered Silver Spring. Is that false?

by Bargain on Aug 26, 2014 1:09 pm • linkreport

It's false. For example, Germantown is unincorporated. But it's not considered part of Silver Spring.

by Paul on Aug 26, 2014 1:25 pm • linkreport

Bethesda, Potomac, White Flint/North Bethesda, Germantown, and Clarksburg are all unincorporated.

Do you call those areas Silver Spring?

by Matt' Johnson on Aug 26, 2014 1:27 pm • linkreport

I like Sean Emerson's map, ie; little Silver Spring. All those other places have names that people associate with them so there's no need to use Silver Spring as a catch all.

by Thayer-D on Aug 26, 2014 1:32 pm • linkreport

What about the Silver Spring School District? Could that be the border, too?

by Dave G on Aug 26, 2014 1:39 pm • linkreport

Silver Spring and Wheaton needed to incorporate and take zoning, school, tax, etc. out of the county's hands. We need stronger local controls.

by Redline SOS on Aug 26, 2014 1:47 pm • linkreport

Zip codes preceded Marion Barry by nearly 20 years. He first became mayor in 1979. They also preceded homerule which was something like 1973.

by Marion on Aug 26, 2014 1:53 pm • linkreport

Dave G, there's no such thing as a "Silver Spring School District".

by alexandrian on Aug 26, 2014 1:53 pm • linkreport

@Redline SOS:
Even if Silver Spring and Wheaton were to incorporate, they wouldn't take schools, zoning, or taxes out of the county's hands.

Schools are generally a county function throughout Maryland. None of Montgomery County's other municipalities have independent school districts, and there's no reason to think Silver Spring or Wheaton would be an exception. Besides, that would be a very expensive proposition. Depending on where the municipal boundary was drawn, there might not even be a high school building in the city limits, so a new one would need to be built from scratch.

Silver Spring and Wheaton wouldn't get planning and zoning authority because they're in the Washington Regional District. Just like Takoma Park, which is an incorporated city, but which does not have it's own zoning authority.

As for taxes, being in a city does not mean you don't pay county taxes. It just means you pay taxes to both the county and the city (because the county is still providing some services). The end result would likely be higher taxes.

Becoming a city is not a magic panacea to separate citizens from their county (except in Virginia, where that is precisely what happens).

by Matt' Johnson on Aug 26, 2014 1:54 pm • linkreport

@Dave G

There isn't a Silver Spring school district, it's all part of Montgomery County Public Schools. And since Blair HS moved to Four Corners in 1998, there hasn't been a high school in Little Silver Spring. Maybe you could use the Downcounty Consortium as a boundary, but that also includes Wheaton, Glenmont, and Aspen Hill. Meanwhile, kids living in Silver Spring west of 16th Street go to Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

by dan reed! on Aug 26, 2014 1:55 pm • linkreport

@Dave G

That would be harder to determine since the "school district" or really "cluster" depending on HS is broken up into two consortiums (Northeast and Downcounty) that contain most of the high schools in Silver Spring with some exceptions. School assignment is based upon the school boundaries and where your home address falls within the boundaries and not upon the closest school to your home. The consortiums only allows students to choose between the High schools in the consortium.

by MDL on Aug 26, 2014 2:00 pm • linkreport

Maybe it's because I grew up in Fairland (although I called Colesville, growing up), but I have a fairly broad definition of Silver Spring. Basically, everything east of Rock Creek Park, except for Olney and Takoma Park.

The whole area is unincorporated, and except for the section west of 16th St. but east of Rock Creek Park, the closest downtown is downtown Silver Spring.

by David on Aug 26, 2014 2:19 pm • linkreport

I would define Silver Spring as the "little Silver Spring," which really should be called downtown Silver Spring. I think the other communities with 209 zips should stop identifying as Silver Spring because it muddles the real estate and rental markets which then turns off potential buyers and renters.

I am not involved in real estate or renting in anyway. I have just heard this from many friends looking for places to live int he DC metro area.

Plus, "big Silver Spring" areas are great in their own way and should not be ashamed of their identities. Except maybe Aspen Hill.

by ted on Aug 26, 2014 2:35 pm • linkreport


lol at the " I think the other communities with 209 zips should stop identifying as Silver Spring..." I have never lived in "little" Silver Spring, but my whole life I have had a Silver Spring address. If I was not living in Silver Spring, then why does the post office insist I actually live there.

All you people new to the area do not realize that NO ONE wanted to be identified with downtown Silver Spring because it was such a craphole. An abandoned 5-story dept store and tons of retail space empty. Now, because of the revitalization efforts, they want to claim the name for themselves.

Until the post office, or local neighborhoods, decide they want to change my city to something else, I live in Silver Spring. Deal with it.

by Ciderbarrel on Aug 26, 2014 3:41 pm • linkreport

ted What's wrong with Aspen Hill?

by asffa on Aug 26, 2014 4:00 pm • linkreport

There's Silver Spring and the rest that isn't, but has it as part of it's mailing address.
If you're new to the area, then perhaps that somebody might think these aren't DC suburbs but suburbs of Silver Spring. That'd be false.
Downtown Silver Spring is only recently sort of fancy real estate - earlier people were not like "I'm going to move here to be close to SS" when these neighborhoods came about. Proximity to DC and gov. jobs is what brought people in. Just saying.

by asffa on Aug 26, 2014 4:05 pm • linkreport

Marion Barry was not the mayor of DC when Zip Codes took effect and had nothing to do with assigning or changing those numbers.

by Just Sayin' on Aug 26, 2014 4:07 pm • linkreport

Also, zip codes are assigned and often changed or switched by the Post office for their own reasons, not because they reflect the boundaries of their towns.

by asffa on Aug 26, 2014 4:09 pm • linkreport

Would also be interesting to examine the usage of "Alexandria" - the City, or also a sizable chunk of southeast Fairfax County?

by Willow on Aug 26, 2014 5:23 pm • linkreport

Great article, Dan.

I know people won't agree but in my mind's eye Silver Spring is a massively defined area with sub-neighborhoods such as Woodside off Georgia Avenue and White Oak and Hillandale off New Hampshire Avenue.

Blake, Blair, Springbrook, Wheaton and Kennedy are all technically in Silver Spring according to mailing address.

Then there's Historic Silver Spring or what's left of the old downtown Silver Spring. Where's Jerry McCoy?

by John Muller on Aug 26, 2014 6:06 pm • linkreport

Aspen Hill was named in 1864 after its post office, and it currently got at least 3 different zip codes,_Maryland
there's no way these towns are "Silver Spring"

by asffa on Aug 26, 2014 8:38 pm • linkreport

I realize that historically SS has covered a wide swath of moco. But as I said on Dan's blog, here is the problem:
Rent and real estate ads claim to be in Silver Spring, or just 10-15 minutes from the metro. Buyers and renters new to the DC metro area (which is a large proportion of the buyers/renters) assume this to mean that the place is in downtown Silver Spring, near the metro.

But often buildings as far away as Aspen Hill make these types of claims, much to the dismay of the potential buyer/renter who takes the red line to Silver Spring in hopes of checking out an apartment, only to find out that he/she now needs to get on the Y8 or Z6 bus and ride for another 40 minutes to reach his/her destination.

This not only dissuades the person from buying renting in downtown SS (bcz they don't have time to read the fine print on ever SS ad), but probably alao from all SS

by ted on Aug 26, 2014 8:44 pm • linkreport

Simply, Silver Spring doesn't have the respect of other neighboring suburbs.

What's the first question you ask someone who lives in Arlington? - What part? You don't assume someone lives in Clarendon or Ballston.

Same thing with Alexandria.

Unfortunately when I tell people I live in Silver Spring, the first question is, "Oh are you in downtown [Silver Spring]". I then have to go into a big explanation of where I am proximity to downtown, and it's obvious the person could care less where it is I actually live.

Silver Spring is big, but other towns/cities in the area are too and they don't seem to have as much issues/confusion. People that come to this area are focused in on specific areas and should do enough due diligence to know where they should and shouldn't look.

by Lane on Aug 26, 2014 9:25 pm • linkreport

from Wiki:
Municipalities and communities of Montgomery County, Maryland, United States
County seat: Rockville

Cities: Gaithersburg Rockville Takoma Park
Towns: Barnesville Brookeville Chevy Chase Chevy Chase View Chevy Chase Village Garrett Park Glen Echo Kensington Laytonsville Poolesville Somerset Washington Grove

Villages & Special Tax Districts
Chevy Chase Section Three Chevy Chase Section Five Drummond Friendship Heights Martin's Additions North Chevy Chase Oakmont

CDPs (Census Designated places): Ashton-Sandy Spring Aspen Hill Bethesda Brookmont Burtonsville Cabin John Calverton‡ Chevy Chase Clarksburg Cloverly Colesville Damascus Darnestown Derwood Fairland Forest Glen Four Corners Friendship Heights Village Germantown Glenmont Hillandale Kemp Mill Layhill Leisure World Montgomery Village North Bethesda North Kensington North Potomac Olney Potomac Redland Silver Spring South Kensington Spencerville Travilah Wheaton White Oak

Unincorporated communities: Ashton Beallsville Boyds Brinklow Carderock Carole Highlands Chevy Chase Chinatown Comus Dawsonville Dickerson Ednor Fairview Hyattstown Kentlands Norbeck Norwood Seneca Sandy Spring Shady Grove Sherwood Forest

by asffa on Aug 26, 2014 9:47 pm • linkreport

Meanwhile, the situation in Hyattsville is far worse. Despite the fact that Hyattsville actually is an incorporated city, the Post Office insists that neighborhoods many miles away from the city line also have a Hyattsville address.

The situation has gotten bad enough that the city has deployed a webpage which allows potential Hyattsville residents to check if they actually live in Hyattsville: . Take a look at 2421 Kenilworth Ave in Google Maps, and note that a Hyattsville mailing address that pops up. This is nowhere near the city limits.

Unlike the Silver Spring situation, this does real damage to the city's image because the far-away areas that share a Hyattsville address suffer from quite a bit of crime. TV stations and other news sources are generally content to report the Post Office's assigned city for an address, regardless of where the murders actually happen.

by jms on Aug 26, 2014 10:04 pm • linkreport

Parts of Silver Spring seem to identify as SS while also having local identities--Woodside and Four Corners, for example.

Other parts for MoCo have similar, but more subtle problems. No one really recognized North Bethesda until recently, but parts still have Rockville postal addresses. There are various "pretend Potomacs", including the Potomac Woods postal area that includes a very un-Potomac-like part of Rockville. Chevy Chase also has fluidity once you get beyond the villages. The dividing line seems to be E of the subdivisions along Jones Bridge. At least its not like CC, DC which was used to identify just about anything N of Cleveland Park on Connecticut in the 90s.

by Rich on Aug 26, 2014 10:24 pm • linkreport

@Lane et al
I agree that silver spring is the Rodney Dangerfield of DC suburbs. And apparently we are not as bad of as hyattsville. But I still maintain that its too much for dc newbies to try and distinguish between glenmont and 4 corners, etc and downtown SS. The onus is on residents of silver spring to market ourselves in an effective way. And to that end I'm just proposing that if u are selling/renting a house or apt in Colesville or glenmont or burtonsville, don't mislead people to think u are part of downtown SS. Instead play up you neighborhoods benefits of which there are many for all our areas. Otherwise we will never get any respect.

by ted on Aug 26, 2014 10:35 pm • linkreport

ted - usually people can use Google Earth

by asffa on Aug 26, 2014 10:48 pm • linkreport

Rich "North Bethesda" until recently was "White Flint"

by asffa on Aug 26, 2014 10:54 pm • linkreport

I'm someone who moved to the (Silver Spring) area 3 years ago and have wanted to stay in the area (even if in Takoma Park, but as close to downtown Silver Spring as one can get in TP). For what it's worth, the "medium" definition always resonated with me; to a large extent, based on commercial density (e.g., Four Corners' commercial area felt small, and derivative of SS).

When I moved here (from the Boston area [specifically, Waltham, about 13 miles west of Boston, population about 50k]), I honestly thought SS was a small city, extending at least several miles from the DC border. It seemed really weird to me that none of this was part of any city or municipality of any sort.

With that said, even now SS to me feels Rodney Dangerfield-esque. I've even had colleagues, most of whom live in Arlington, Alexandria, WOTP DC, and WOTP MoCo, ask why I live in SS/TP. Completely personally, no judgement, I like the vibe in dtSS compared to Bethesda, Old Town, Ballston, or Clarendon. But, among 40 senior people in my company, I am literally 1 of 3 who lives in the SS/TP area.

There is a suburban city adjacent to Boston (also adjacent to Waltham, where I once lived) that celebrates its 13 villages within one city. Cannot Silver Spring be some number of neighborhoods within one broader (well, medium) area?

by EMD on Aug 26, 2014 11:54 pm • linkreport

This is true regarding the zip code changes. I don't think Silver Spring was affected, but other MC and PGC communities that shared zip codes with the District, were changed because of complaints from DC officials. For example, the Chevy Chase (Md.) zip changed from 20015 to 20815, making 20015 a DC-only code.

by Ethan on Aug 27, 2014 6:06 am • linkreport

Silver Spring is the Broolkyn of DC, at least before Brooklyn became cool.

by Thayer-D on Aug 27, 2014 8:30 am • linkreport

Dennis avenue should be the boundary between Wheaton and Silver Spring. Everything not incorporated between TAkoma Park and KEnsington and Chevy Chase is SS too. And then everything from the PG border to Randolph along 29 to Burtonsville. White Oak is a shopping area, not a community, at least not now. Maybe the Percontee folks should ask for a new zip code. They want everything else handed to them.

by Woody brosnan on Aug 27, 2014 8:31 am • linkreport

Someone on the Silver Spring Incorporated site posted this link, which shows the country definition.

by aname on Aug 27, 2014 9:14 am • linkreport

I don't think what is happening to Silver Spring is that uncommon. When I lived about 8 miles outside of the city limit of Richmond VA at one point, my mailing address was still Richmond - and Richmond is its own incorporated municipality, I was well out in the County. They don't even have these little sub-area names except for a few examples (short pump being one). You otherwise were 'near west end', 'far west end', 'north side'. Likewise my BF is from Pittsburgh, or actually, a borough a few miles outside of Pittsburgh. Almost all of Allegheny County is called Pittsburgh, even though there are dozens of distinct boroughs with elected officials and official borough names.

The only thing I'm annoyed by as has been pointed out, is the housing/rental ads and having to sort through all of the silver spring adds to figure out which ones are really inside the Beltway vs somewhere north of Randolph Road.

by Gull on Aug 27, 2014 9:51 am • linkreport

aname - Nice map. :)

by asffa on Aug 27, 2014 10:04 am • linkreport

aname - also, TBH I don't think those living outside those boundaries with a SS mailing address think they live in SS.
There are usually so many signs making that clear.

by asffa on Aug 27, 2014 11:46 am • linkreport

@ jms "Unlike the Silver Spring situation, this does real damage to the city's image because the far-away areas that share a Hyattsville address suffer from quite a bit of crime. TV stations and other news sources are generally content to report the Post Office's assigned city for an address, regardless of where the murders actually happen."

That's plenty true for Silver Spring, too. "Little" SS gets tagged with a lot of crap that goes on in junkier "Big" SS areas.

by jag on Aug 27, 2014 2:17 pm • linkreport

Great article,
I grew up in the Hillandale neighborhood of Silver Spring about a mile north of the 495 intersection with New Hampshire. It's very nice area and I would consider it Silver Spring not White Oak. While white oak is a very large community, Hillandale is a separate place and still just a neighborhood in east county. Though downtown SS is considered the "real SS", I consider all the neighborhoods like Aspen Hill,White Oak, Layhill, Glenmont, Colesville, Cloverly, Fairland, Cherry Hill,and Burtonsville to some extent though its a very different community in itself.
On a different note White Oak is considered to be a horrible neighborhood in Silver Spring, while it isn't the best neighborhood, alot of the stereotypes are exaggerated. Downtown Silver Spring is the best part of SS but silver spring is a nice area with alot of good, diverse people.

by HK on Aug 27, 2014 2:38 pm • linkreport

UPPER MARLBOBO is a similar example of an un-incorporated area which sprawls over a whopping 77 square mile zip-code - all the way from Central Avenue (Largo) far southward to the very rural, bucolic Croom and Cheltenham areas.

by slowlane on Aug 27, 2014 6:23 pm • linkreport

According the wiki the three incorporated cities - Bethesda has 60k, Gaithersburg 63k, Rockville 63K
(Not sure what the pop. for DTSS or the little map)
CDP -Wheaton has a pop. of 48k, Aspen Hill 48k.
White flint/north Bethesda 43K, Olney 31.5k,
White Oak has 20K, Takoma Park 17K, Burtonsville 13k
A lot of the towns in MontCo. are village sized, (ie. Kensington 2K, Chevy Chase 5k, North Kensington 9k and South Kensington 8k, Forest Glen 8K, Ashton-Sandy Spring 3.5k, etc. etc.

by asffa on Aug 27, 2014 6:58 pm • linkreport

oh, I missed the largest there - Germantown at 87K. It was designed divided into villages and is unincorporated. anyway.

by asffa on Aug 27, 2014 7:05 pm • linkreport

jag "junkier" - really? I feel like reminding the Glen Becks to avoid this end of the Red Line altogether. hehe

by asffa on Aug 27, 2014 7:09 pm • linkreport

@aname: That map is fantastic, and pretty much exactly what I think of when I think Silver Spring.

by Justin..... on Aug 27, 2014 10:33 pm • linkreport

SS is a state of mind...

by dmcd on Aug 27, 2014 10:54 pm • linkreport

Woody - there are a lot of folks in North Four Corners, Woodmoor, and Sligo Woods (which I refer to as "West Four Corners" that would disagree with you on the Dennis Avenue boundary.

The county planners had a few beers the night that they drew up the Silver Spring Regional Service Area, which actually splits several of those neighborhoods in two, assigning some to the East County Area (Briggs Chaney, Burtonsville), and some to the Mid County (Wheaton-Aspen Hill-Olney.)

Northwest Branch and Sligo Creek above Dennis Avenue, connected by the small tributary that runs next to Northwood HS, make a natural (no pun intended) boundary, in the demographic, geographic, economic, and topographic sense.

by Joe in SS on Aug 28, 2014 11:43 am • linkreport

Where does Google get its definition from?,+MD/

by aname on Aug 28, 2014 11:55 am • linkreport

I have lived in Silver Spring for most of my life (back to 1960).

Always outside the Capital Beltway (though my family moved there before there was a Beltway), but always in an area called Silver Spring (as far as the U.S. Post Office was concerned).

Because no municipal boundaries make up Silver Spring (except that Takoma Park, which is incorporated, and should not be considered Silver Spring adjoins it to the southeast), I think it reasonable to start with the Postal Service ZIP codes. Anything that has a ZIP code starting with 209 is Silver Spring.

by C. P. Zillacus on Aug 28, 2014 1:50 pm • linkreport


"Meanwhile, kids living in Silver Spring west of 16th Street go to Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School."

You have the right idea overall, but for the record, 16th isn't the exact line. My kid's in an Einstein HS feeder school with lots of kids from west of 16th (mostly from the North Woodside neighborhood and from apt buildings on/just off of 16th). Once you cross the train tracks into Lyttonsville you go to a different elementary that is indeed in the BCC cluster.

by Megan on Aug 29, 2014 9:28 am • linkreport


I should've been more specific. B-CC's boundaries do include the Rosemary Hills apartments just west of 16th Street (and maybe part of Summit Hills, I can't tell) but the train tracks are the big divider. I went to Woodlin ES (which fed into Einstein), and we could see them from the playground. As far as I knew, China was one other side. In reality, I suppose it wasn't that much different, since those kids went to school in Bethesda, and probably had a very different experience in MCPS than I did.

by dan reed! on Aug 29, 2014 9:36 am • linkreport

I'm a fan of specificity and practicality. It's just not useful to use "Silver Spring" for both my neighborhood that's dense and walking distance to Metro/DTSS/the DC line, as well as my relative's neighborhood that's a 30 minute drive up New Hampshire and full of golf courses, wide open space, and winding two lane country roads (somewhere between Cloverly and Ashton). The more we use local neighborhood names, the better! It's clearer and thus more useful, whether you're trying to place a new acquaintance or find housing or build a sense of community. Plus I just think it's kind of charming.

As for what I think "Silver Spring" is, it's basically summed up by this map linked to earlier
although I might lump in a little more of Forest Glen. But even within this map, there are many smaller neighborhoods that are still helpful to note if you live thereabouts.

by Megan on Aug 29, 2014 9:46 am • linkreport

@Dan, you're a fellow Woodlin Wizard! Well, then, you know exactly what you're talking about. :)

by Megan on Aug 29, 2014 9:48 am • linkreport

I grew up in "little Silver Spring" and have alot of great memories from there starting in the mid '60's. Moved out to "big Silver Spring" near Blake High School about 10 years ago, in Cloverly. I have always thought it can be a little confusing for Silver Spring to be so big - I would be fine with a mailing address of Cloverly for instance.

by Steve on Aug 29, 2014 10:05 am • linkreport

Hi Dan, Great article on Silver Spring.

I just happen to be looking through my information I have been collecting on Montgomery County when I was working on Wheaton History and found info on Francis Preston Blair and who discovered the Silver Spring. It was really his wife, Elizabeth Blair who's fall off a horse founded Silver Spring. This info was provided by Blair Lee III for publishing in the book "Montgomery County, a Pictorial History" by Margaret Marshall Coleman. It is a good resource. Look it up.

I plan to do something on the history of Blacks in the County including neighborhoods still in existence. Let's talk about that sometime when you have time. Marian

by Marian Fryer on Sep 13, 2014 11:01 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

We are switching over to our new website. Commenting on the old site is now disabled. Thank you for your patience and pardon our dust!

Support Us