In the late 1600s, when colonists sailed inland along the Patapsco River, a port sprang up just below a ridge that was inhabited by a number of elk. The area was called the "Ridge of Elk," while the port became known as Elk Ridge Landing.
Today, Elkridge has an identity just as unique. According to Kevin Doyle, former president of the Elkridge Community Association and co-chair of the Route 1 Revitalization Task Force, there is a strong sense of community in the area, despite the fact that the town is bisected by Interstate 95.
"The location is a blessing and a downfall," he says. "It's little more than 20 minutes from Baltimore, Columbia and Ellicott City, but the area is often overlooked, making development a slow process."
Many Elkridge residents have ties to the town that go back several generations. Lawyers Hill is a well-known, historic area of Elkridge. The cluster of larger, estate-size houses got its name when a Baltimore attorney bought land there in the early 1800s. His friends soon followed suit, buying land nearby. People at the Elk Ridge Landing described the newcomers' homesteads as being "lawyers hill." Several lawyers and judges live there today.
Housing stock --"You can find any house that you want in Elkridge," says Steve Beall, a Realtor for Creig Northrop and the Northrop Team in Clarksville.
"Elkridge has condos, townhouses, some older single-family houses and some newer developments," he says, adding that new homes sell for between $600,000 and $800,000.
However, there are plenty of lower-priced options for first-time homebuyers. Townhouses usually sell for less than $300,000, while single-family houses start around $400,000.
"It's like a little blue-collar town and now it's starting to grow up," Beall says. "It's getting more upscale housing in the area. And it's got the golf course [Timbers at Troy]."
Lyndwood is a popular new development with a variety of house styles. Ryan Homes is building townhouses off U.S. 1.
In Lawyers Hill, "you don't see a lot of resales in there, everybody just kind of stays," says Beall.
Rentals --The area has a diverse selection of rentals, including apartments, townhouses and single-family houses. Monthly prices range from $1,000 to $2,300, according to Beall.
Kids and schools --All of the elementary and middle schools that serve Elkridge continually surpass state proficiency levels in reading and mathematics.
The majority of elementary-age students are served by Elkridge Elementary and Rockburn Elementary. However, a small percentage attend Bellows Spring Elementary and Deep Run Elementary. The middle schools that serve the area are Elkridge Landing Middle, Bonnie Branch Middle and Mayfield Woods Middle.
The high schools that serve the area are Howard High and Long Reach High -- both have an attendance rate above 92 percent and a graduation rate above 91 percent.
Crime --On the whole, it's nothing serious. According to Sherry Llewellyn, a Howard County police spokeswoman, there are few violent crimes or home break-ins in the area. "Elkridge is pretty reflective of the county as a whole," says Llewellyn. "Complaints tend to be items stolen from parked cars and property destruction."
Shopping --Elkridge has a shopping center at the corner of U.S. 1 and Montgomery Road, but the area is also close to Arundel Mills Mall.
Dining in --There is a Super Fresh off U.S. 1 and Montgomery Road, a Giant Food on Marshalee Drive and a Herr Food on Hanover Road.
Dining out --Although there are a lot of restaurant options, most are quick and casual. For upscale dining, the Elkridge Furnace Inn offers authentic French cuisine.
Nightlife --There isn't a bustling nightlife scene in Elkridge, but it is close to bars, clubs and restaurants in Historic Ellicott City, Columbia and downtown Baltimore.
Recreation --Elkridge is home to the public, 18-hole Timbers at Troy Golf Club. It is also near Rockburn Branch Park, which has nature trails and areas for picnicking.
Sun reporter Andrea Siegel contributed to this article.
ELKRIDGE BY THE NUMBERS
Homes on the market
Average sales price
Average days on market
[*Information based on sales during the past 12 months, compiled by Steve Beall of Creig Northrop & The Northrop Team and Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.]