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Bowie, MD

Bowie, MD

Bowie is a city in Prince George's County, Maryland, United States. The population was 54,727 at the 2010 census. Bowie has grown from a small railroad stop to the largest municipality in Prince George's County, and the fifth most populous city and third largest city by area in the state of Maryland.

The city of Bowie owes its existence to the railway. In 1853, Col. William Duckett Bowie obtained a charter from the Maryland legislature to construct a rail line into Southern Maryland. In 1869, the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad Company began the construction of a railroad from Baltimore to Southern Maryland, terminating in Pope's Creek. The area had already been dotted with small farms and large tobacco plantations in an economy based on agriculture and slavery. In 1870, Ben Plumb, a land speculator and developer, sold building lots around the railroad junction and named the settlement Huntington City. By 1872, the line was completed, together with a "spur" to Washington DC and the entire line through Southern Maryland was completed in 1873.

Huntington City was renamed in honor of the son of William Duckett Bowie and his business partner, Oden Bowie, who was President of the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad at the time, and previously Governor of Maryland. The town was subsequently rechartered as Bowie in 1880. In the early days the land was subdivided by developers into more than 500 residential building lots, to create a large town site at a junction of the Baltimore and Potomac's main line to southern Maryland, and the branch line to Washington, DC.

By 1902, the Baltimore & Potomac was purchased by the powerful Pennsylvania Railroad. A second railroad entered the community when the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Electric Railway electric trolley line commenced service in 1908. The large interurban cars brought rapid transit to the area, with trains running hourly. Bowie area stations included High Bridge, Hillmeade, and the Race Track.

The convergence of the two rail systems induced the Southern Maryland Agricultural Society to build the Bowie Race Track in 1914. The track enabled the Belair Stud to become one of Maryland's premier areas for thoroughbreds. Also in 1914, a teacher-training college, or normal school as it was referred to then, was built for African-Americans, just outside the town. This now has become Bowie State University. In 1916,the town of Bowie was incorporated.

Pond in Bowie, MD In 1957, the firm of Levitt and Sons acquired the nearby Belair Estate, the original colonial plantation of the Provincial Governor of Maryland, Samuel Ogle, and developed the residential community of Belair at Bowie. Two years later the town of Bowie annexed the Levitt properties, and then re-incorporated the now-larger area as a city in 1963. The overwhelming majority of Bowie residents today live in this 1960s Levitt planned community, whose street names are arranged in alphabetical sections. Levitt & Sons had a long history of prohibiting the sale of houses (including resale by owners) to African Americans which led to civil rights protests in Bowie in 1963.

Bowie enjoys a rich and diverse historic and cultural heritage. The original Belair Estate contains the Belair Mansion (circa 1745), the beautiful five-part Georgian plantation house of Governor Samuel Ogle and his son Governor Benjamin Ogle. It was purchased in 1898 by the wealthy banker James T. Woodward who, on his passing in 1910, left it to his nephew, William Woodward, Sr., who became a famous horseman. Restored to reflect its 250-year-old legacy, the Mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Belair Stable, on the Estate, was part of the famous Belair Stud, one of the premier racing stables in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. Owned and operated by William Woodward, Sr. (1876–1953), it closed in 1957 following the death of his son, Billy Woodward. Belair had been the oldest continually operating thoroughbred horse farm in the country. It is said that the blood of Belair horses flows through the veins of every American race horse of distinction.
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As of the 2010 Census Bowie had a population of 54,727. 99.5% of the population lived in households with a total of 19,950 households. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 38.9% non-Hispanic white, 47.9% non-Hispanic black, 0.3% Native American, 4.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.9% from some other race and 3.6% from two or more races. 5.6% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the census of 2000, there were 50,269 people, 18,188 households, and 13,568 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,121.9 people per square mile (1,205.5/km²). There were 18,718 housing units at an average density of 1,162.5 per square mile (448.9/km²).

The racial makeup of the city was:
  • 62.65% White
  • 30.83% Black or African American
  • 2.95% Asian
  • 2.92% Hispanic or Latino (of any race)
  • 2.30% from two or more races
  • 0.93% Other races
  • 0.30% Native American
  • 0.03% Pacific Islander
There were 18,188 households out of which 37.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.0% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.4% were non-families. 19.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.74 and the average family size was 3.16.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.9% under the age of 18, 5.7% from 18 to 24, 34.9% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, and 9.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.3 males.

According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $99,105, and the median income for a family was $109,157. Males had a median income of $52,284 versus $40,471 for females. The per capita income for the city was $30,703. About 0.7% of families and 1.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.0% of those under age 18 and 1.8% of those age 65 or over.

Rank by Per Capita Income in Prince George's County: 7

Rank by Per Capita Income in Maryland: 65

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The Outdoors

Bowie, MD Honoring the tradition of a rail town, the City of Bowie has preserved this piece of its history in the Huntington Railroad Museum, which includes historic materials displayed in the station's restored railroad buildings. In 2006, the City reopened the Bowie Building Association building as a Welcome Center for all to enjoy and learn about the history of Bowie. This building is a small brick and block structure constructed circa 1930. It originally housed the Bowie Building Association, which helped finance much of the development in the early days of the community.

Bowie has grown from a small agricultural and railroad town to one of the largest and fastest growing cities in Maryland. It is a city of 16 square miles (41 km2) and approximately 50,000 residents. It has nearly 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) set aside as parks or open space. It has 72 ball fields, three community centers, an ice arena at Allen Pond Park, the Bowie Town Center, the 800-seat Bowie Center for the Performing Arts, a 150-seat theatrical playhouse, a golf course, and three museums. Bowie is home to the Bowie Baysox, a Class AA Eastern League professional baseball team affiliated with the Baltimore Orioles. The Baysox currently play their home games at Prince George's Stadium. The city has recently added a state-of-the-art senior citizens center and a gymnasium for community programs. The city is a family-oriented community whose motto is "Growth, unity and progress".

Despite its low crime rate, Bowie has seen high profile criminal activity. Michael Bray was co-pastor at the Reformation Lutheran Church in Bowie when he conspired to bomb 10 clinics and offices of abortion supporters in three states and the District of Columbia from January 1984 through January 1985. He eventually served almost 4 years in prison for these crimes. On October 7, 2002, a 13-year old boy was critically wounded by a sniper soon after he was dropped off at Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie. This shooting was one in a series of murders and attempted murders referred to collectively as the Beltway sniper attacks.

Elaine W. Sawyer, GRI, Broker/ Owner

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