I have the good fortune to live in a city called Columbia, Maryland. It is a planned community, developed and built in the 1960s by self-made millionaire James W. Rouse (1914-1996). It has ten “villages,” districts built around “village centers” which usually consist of a small local government office and a modest shopping center. Sometimes within the villages, there are subsections with their own names.
What is remarkable about Columbia is its preserved and undeveloped parks that ramble throughout the entire city and are joined by macadam walkways. The city is dominated by Lake Kittamaqundi, a man-made 27-acre reservoir located adjacent to the Columbia Mall and Merriweather Post Pavilion. The Rouse Company created the lake in 1966 during the development of the city.
Behind my house is another small lake or pond, unnamed as far as I know. It is perhaps a hundred feet in diameter, half filled with water reeds and surrounded by matured trees, so that I feel like I’m living in the midst of a forest. My little pond is only one of many scattered throughout the city.
By design, Columbia is multiracial. Just over half the residents are White, slightly more than a quarter are Black, an eighth are Asian. Its total population in 2019 (the most recent date for which figures are available) was 103,991. Its area is 32.2 square miles. It is the most expensive place I have ever lived with a cost of living 46% higher than the national average.
More next time.