Columbia's first 25 years: a chronology



The first land package for Columbia is purchased: 768 acres.


Connecticut General Life Insurance Co. uses $18 million to purchase Howard County farmland through several holding companies.

Approximately 14,000 acres -- 10 percent of Howard County -- are accumulated for Columbia by October.


November: Plans for Columbia are presented to the county commissioners at Ellicott City Junior High School.


June: Howard County approves New Town district zoning for Columbia.

Columbia Park and Recreation -- later renamed Columbia Association -- is incorporated.

National Symphony announces that Merriweather Post Pavilion will be its summer venue.


Construction on Columbia commences.

May: Columbia site selected for Howard Community College.

July: Wilde Lake's 23 acres are dug and filled.

Lake Kittamaqundi is dug with an island designed to protect pin oaks.

Jack Slayton becomes CA's first paid employee as manager.


June 21: Columbia officially opens. James W. Rouse and Frazar B. Wilde, chairman of Connecticut General Life Insurance, dedicate the first village -- Wilde Lake. The People Tree, by Pierre du Fayet, is dedicated.

July 14: Merriweather Post Pavilion opens. Pianist Van Cliburn performs. The first residents of Columbia move into Bryant Woods.

September 13: Charles Russell, Columbia's first child, is born.

First letter from a Columbia post office is mailed -- to President Lyndon Johnson.


About 1,200 families are living in Columbia. 18 industries are operating in Columbia.

March: Construction starts in Harper's Choice.

August: George Wallace leads a rally at Merriweather Post Pavilion, and a counter-rally takes place at Slayton House.

September: Bryant Woods Elementary School opens with John Vermette as principal.

November: Clearing for Oakland Mills begins.


Population is approximately 3,000; People begin to settle Thunder Hill.

September: Antioch College opens. Wilde Lake Middle School opens.

June: Garland Dinner Theater -- now Toby's -- opens with its first performance.

November: Oakland Mills Village Center opens.

December: The Rouse Co. moves its headquarters from Cross Keys in Baltimore to Columbia.


Population passes the 6,000 mark.

May: A 4 1/2 -mile spur is completed to the industrial park.

September: Howard Community College and the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center open. Elementary schools in Running Brook, Longfellow and Thunder Hill open.


February: Columbia Ice Rink opens.

April: General Electric begins warehouse operations at Appliance Park East.

August 2: The Mall in Columbia, with two department stores and 100 specialty shops, opens to 7,500 customers.

September: Wilde Lake High School, Columbia's first, opens to 889 students.

Construction begins on Columbia Medical Center.


Package Plan begins service.

Padraic Kennedy is the first full-time president of CA.

Soccer Association of Columbia (SAC) is formed.

First bank robbery: First National Bank in Oakland Mills.


Population reaches 30,000

September: Columbia Medical Center -- later renamed Howard County General Hospital -- is dedicated.

Columbia Cinema opens with "Hitler: The Last Ten Days."

Doug DuVall starts coaching Wilde Lake High School football.


About 90 industries and 400 businesses operate in Columbia.

Rouse Co. building opens and Lake Elkhorn is completed.

Oakland Mills High School ends its football season with an 0-10 record.

Long Reach village center opens and Dag Hammarskjold College closes.


First Vietnamese refugees settle in Columbia.

August: General Electric announces plans to lay off 500 workers.

November: Clyde's Restaurant opens.

Hochschild Kohn & Co. announces that it will leave The Mall. Hecht's will use the space.


April: The King of Sweden visits Columbia.

Wilde Lake High School's soccer team takes the Class B state title.

First Memorial Day Soccer Tournament takes place.

Route 175 opens between Route 29 and Tamar Drive.


About 45,000 residents occupy 14,000 houses and apartments.

Construction begins on Kings Contrivance.

The Magic Pan opens.


Cable television comes to Columbia.

Darryl Gee of the New York Cosmos becomes the first Columbia resident to play for a professional sports team.

President Jimmy Carter visits Merriweather Post Pavilion to take in a Willie Nelson concert.1979

James Rouse steps down as president of the Rouse Co.

February 17: 20 inches of snow blankets Columbia.

Toby Orenstein takes over Garland Dinner Theater, renames it Toby's.

WLMD begins operations.

Groundbreaking ceremonies take place for the Central Branch of the Howard County Library.


Sound restrictions are instituted at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

The island in Lake Kittamaqundi is named "Nomanizan."


James Rouse is featured on the cover of Time magazine.

The Central Branch of the Howard County Library opens with 1.26 million volumes.

Cedar Lane School opens.

Dobbin Center construction begins.


Columbia Bank and Trust merges with its parent company, Equitable Trust; all branches are renamed Equitable.

Model home parks open in Kings Contrivance.


April: Merriweather Post Pavilion is damaged by fire.

The pedestrian bridge over U.S. 29 is completed.


Columbia Council opposed councilmanic districting for Howard County.

Towson State University begins classes in Columbia.

Columbia Archives open.


CA can claim a balanced budget for the first time.

Paine Webber building opens.

The Flume is proposed for the Swim Center.


Kings Contrivance Village Center opens.

Mike Spear is named Columbian of the year

CA purchases the Supreme Court.

The Grateful Dead play their last concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion.


CA and the Rouse Co. begin joint planning for downtown Columbia.

River Park Fire Station on Old Columbia Road is dedicated.


"International Peace Week," consisting of 200 citizens of the Soviet Union and 200 of the United States, takes an overnight stay in Columbia.

CA moves to new offices in the Lakeview Building on Broken Land Parkway.


First Columbia Festival of the Arts takes place.

Oakland, purchased by CA, is refurbished and open for weddings and parties.

"Columbia Voyage" is launched.

GE announces plans to close its Columbia plant.


Rouse Co. President Michael D. Spear, his wife, Judith, and 20-year-old daughter, Jodi, are killed when their private plane he was piloting crashes in Boston.

Maryland Bays, a professional soccer team, receives a permit to play at Cedar Lane Park.


The People Tree is re-gilded.

Mall officials and sponsors of the Columbia Festival of the Arts ban nude figures from an art show, prompting one judge to quit and leaving many artists angry.


Annual property charge, or "lien," is reduced for the first time.

Residents move into River Hill, Columbia's final village.

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