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Columbia celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The milestone comes at a pivotal time for the planned community, which is old enough that some of its earliest neighborhoods are fraying and need uplift, but young enough that it is only now undertaking the task of creating a true downtown.

Follow along as we take a look at Columbia in its golden year.

The closing event of the six-months-long Columbia 50th celebration included a dedication of Gail Holliday's poster tree sculpture in Kennedy Gardens on the east side of Lake Kittamaqundi and was followed by a Columbia Orchestra concert and entertainment at lakefront.

Gail Holliday's posters capture founder Jim Rouse's vision and organizers say they remain as relevant today as they did 50 years ago

The importance that Columbia founder James Rouse placed on the arts is reflected in an exhibit at the Howard County Arts Council that is part of the ongoing celebration of Columbia's 50th birthday.

Fifty-nine artists from all over Maryland, as well as New York and Pennsylvania, set up shop around the two lakes and common areas to create their masterpieces for the event, which was held as part of Columbia’s 50th anniversary celebration.

As part of its 50th birthday celebration, Columbia hosted its first plein air art event where artists and their easels were set up around both Lake Kittamaqundi and Wilde Lake.

Columbia International Folk Dancers help celebrate Columbia's 50th birthday with a special session

Barbara Nicklas, senior general manager of The Mall in Columbia, writes on the future of Columbia as the city celebrates its 50th birthday.

In 1988, dancer Carolyn Kelemen founded a cabaret benefit called "A Labor of Love," to raise money for people with AIDS during a period when the disease was devastating the arts community.

Columbia has long been a pioneer in building health into the community's core. For the next 50 years, we must continue leading changes that will help everyone in Howard County live a longer, better life.

J.K.'s Pub, a Columbia staple in Wilde Lake Village Center for more than 20 years, was not only a neighborhood gathering place but the product of a "community effort," said Claire Lea, who owned the pub with her husband, the bar's namesake, John K. Lea.

More than 70 young people waited up to 40 hours to purchase townhouses scheduled to be built by developer Howard Homes in August 1973. The overnight campouts became an enduring trend in Columbia's early years.

True to Columbia found Jim Rouse's vision, The Mall in Columbia through the years became a community gathering place, hosting traditions including the annual Christmas poinsettia tree and a periodic Ball in the Mall to celebrate Columbia milestones. One year, Rouse arrived at a Halloween masquerade ball at the mall dressed as a clown.

2017 marked Columbia's golden anniversary. In observance of the community's 50th year and beyond, here's a visual look back at Columbia since its beginning.

Columbia's future is bright, but those of us who live here now and plan to be part of this city's future must fight to ensure Jim Rouse's vision lives on for the next 50 years and beyond. Fortunately, I believe Columbians are up to the task.

The Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission recognizes the important role it plays in promoting arts and helping nurture the bonds of our community, long described as a "garden for growing people." By putting the arts at the center of Columbia's original plan and the new plan for Downtown Columbia, we have shown where our values lie. Now we must ensure we carry these values forward throughout the years and decades ahead.

In 50 years, Columbia has produced its share of notable sons and daughters. From an Olympic athlete to an Oscar-nominated actor (who happens to be the grandson of founder James W. Rouse), the New City natives and one-time residents say the community’s unique dynamics have influenced their worldviews. Here, they reflect on what Columbia has taught them and share their hopes for its future.

Since 1971, the Mall in Columbia has served as the center of Columbia's business and social communities. Change is a continuing theme with the Mall, with retailers coming and going, expansions and new construction seemingly happening on a regular basis. The Mall remains one of the most popular destinations not only in Howard County but the state as well, hosting all manner of gatherings and events for residents of all ages. See some of the sights and sounds of the Mall over the last 40-plus years.

In July 1990, Columbia Association announced that they were selling personalized bricks, to be laid below the People Tree at the Kittamaqundi lakefront.

Longtime residents thinking back on the 50-year history of Columbia have a lot to contemplate. If they really want to get the memories flowing, they should visit the exhibit "The HeART of Columbia: Creating community with art" at the Rouse Co. Foundation Gallery at Howard Community College.

Since 1971, the Longfellow neighborhood of Harpers Choice has been celebrating Independence Day with a July 4 parade anyone can join, a long-running softball game and a generous helping of humor.

"Columbia, Maryland: A Fifty-year Retrospective of a Model City," features a collection of essays from 63 contributing writers who've watched their city transform since its foundation in 1967.

Segregationist presidential candidate and Alabama governor George Wallace held a rally at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia on June 27, 1968. His visit rattled residents and sparked a debate over free speech and inclusivity in the year-old, racially integrated town of Columbia.

Columbia's 50th Birthday Celebration at the Lakefront in Columbia on Saturday, June 17, 2017.

For its 50th birthday, Columbia's birthday planners are still finding new and bigger ways to celebrate. The Columbia's 50th Birthday Celebration, a nonprofit organizing months of events, ordered an elaborate cake from Charm City Cakes, the Baltimore shop made famous as the subject of the Food Network reality show, "Ace of Cakes." The five-tiered vanilla cake will be adorned with frosted ribbons and stars representing each of Columbia's villages.

We celebrate the culture of partnerships, which Columbia's pioneers cultivated and passed along to subsequent generations. At HCLS, we firmly believe that working together strengthens our society. Whether partnering with HCPSS and HCC to increase students' academic achievement; STEM industry leaders for our HiTech initiative; business, nonprofit, government, faith-based and more than 100 organizations for Choose Civility; or the numerous other groups with which we work on various events and

In early June of 1969, General Electric announced the start of construction on a manufacturing and distribution plant in Columbia. Appliance Park-East, as the new plant was known, was open for nearly 20 years, and was the largest private employer in Howard County.

Columbia is known for its whimsical street names: There’s Liquid Laughter Lane, Crazy Quilt Court and Painted Yellow Gate. They sound like roads you might

When developer James W. Rouse laid out his grand design for Columbia, planned cities were all the rage.

Compared with its centuries-old neighbors, Columbia is an infant of a city. But it’s also old enough to have seen several institutions come and go. In this trip down memory lane, we revisit some of the most memorable.

In the future, the Howard County General Hospital campus — strategically located and well-connected to other anchor institutions such as Howard Community College, Symphony Woods, Merriweather and the lakefront — will be greener. We will tear up our sea of asphalt, and turn it into a haven of health.

In May 1982 a six-passenger airplane scheduled to land at BWI veered off course and crashed into an Owen Brown house in Columbia.

For over a year, a group of children from Columbia's Interfaith Housing Project met once a week in Slayton House where I taught for a free dance lessons. But our family was moving back to California, and I feared the lessons would end unless some provisions for them were made quickly.

Jim Rouse appeared in a film a few years before he died, talking about the impact of love and the importance of keeping it front and center in all that we do. In higher education, we rarely talk about love, but I see each day the commitment and passion that our faculty and staff have as they teach and serve students at Howard Community College. I believe that 50 years from now, we will continue to celebrate Jim Rouse's message and use it to shape what we value most in Columbia.

On May 10, 1972, a Howard County judge ruled that Mary Stuart, a 22-year-old who had kept her last name after marriage, would have to register to vote under

This week in Columbia's history, Mrs. Z's — a popular community meeting spot — was destroyed by a fire after five years in Columbia.

With six months' worth of 50th birthday festivities already underway in Columbia, one coming event stands out for its goal of zeroing in on what the future may

Part of our series of essays from leaders imagining the future of Columbia.

Gail Holliday has traveled across the country to Columbia to help preserve an aspect of her work that once greeted visitors to Columbia's exhibition center — five metal pole "trees" that featured Holliday's images of Columbia on 25 metal "leaves."

Soviet urban planners visited Columbia in April 1973 as part of a series of professional exchanges to ease Cold War tensions during the detente period.

Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Father John Misty and Grace Potter will perform at the 50th anniversary concert of Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md.

On April 12, 1996, Columbia hosted a public memorial to celebrate the life of its founder and visionary, James Rouse. The service drew about 2,500 people to Merriweather Post Pavilion.

In 1996, Wilde Lake turned from focusing on new development to revitalization initiatives as it neared its 30th birthday.

To remember a man who supported the dreams of future artists, over 700 students representing Howard County's 12 high schools will share Rouse's influence on their passions during a Columbia 50th birthday tribute on Sunday, April 23 at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

As Columbia, and for that matter, Howard County moves forward, it will be through the ideas and dreams of our residents and our children, much like how the ideas and dreams of James Rouse shaped Columbia today. Government should create the environment where ideas are heard, make sure that the public can weigh in and then give those ideas a chance to grow.

It’s been more than 20 years since Columbia founder and visionary builder James W. Rouse died, but people seem to be increasingly curious about his former home

In April 1977, the Columbia Council held its first public hearing on a committee report that recommended abandoning the developer-controlled Columbia Association, replacing it with a special tax district.

The Columbia Association plans a walking tour called 50,000 Daffodils for March 26 in honor of Columbia's 50th anniversary.

Columbia pioneer Fred Weaver was appointed to the Howard County personnel board in March 1969. Weaver said he used the position to advance affirmative action policies and break up what he called "the good old boy network."

Columbia 50th Anniversary celebration Kicked-off at the Columbia Mall Sunday that included elected officials, birthday organizers, and representatives from each of the 10 villages at the Outdoor Plaza in front of Maggiano’s and Seasons 52 restaurants. entertainment and performances throughout the mall. Local entertainers included Lake Elkhorn Middle School and the Howard County Chinese School.

The 50th milestone comes at a pivotal time for Columbia, which is old enough that some of its earliest neighborhoods are fraying and need uplift, and young enough that it is only now undertaking the task of creating a true downtown.

Key events in the history of James Rouse's planned community of Columbia, Maryland, which turns 50 years old in 2017.

In March 1963, newspapers began to report that a mysterious buyer was snapping up land in Howard County. By May, the unknown buyer had purchased more than 14,000 acres of what would become Columbia.

When making plans for Columbia's 50th birthday party celebration, organizers wanted to focus on the communities and how to celebrate them, according to Marlys East, managing director of the nonprofit, the Columbia 50th Birthday Celebration. Throughout the 27-week celebration, a variety of events, including art shows, musical performances, lectures, 5k runs and more, will highlight the many faces of Columbia.

The celebrations planned for Columbia's 50th birthday will offer opportunities for reflection, a living history lesson on how Columbia has evolved since Rouse founded the community in 1967. Many of these events are planned to bring people together, and highlight some of Columbia's bragging points: education, the arts, the economic climate and recreation.

Though Columbia won't officially celebrate its 50th birthday until June 21, the party's about to get started. Event planners opted for a 27-week schedule crammed with nearly 100 events that will kick off with an opening ceremony and all-day festivities March 19 at the Mall in Columbia and culminate in a week-long finale in September.

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