I live there, and have for all of my life (if you would call it that).

It's a Washington DC suburb, just northwest of the Maryland-DC border in Montgomery County, Maryland. It's also the home of NIH. For those two reasons it has been featured on The X-Files a few times. Juan Miguel Gonzalez stayed there breifly.

It was named after a Biblical town in Israel also called "Bethesda" (spelled a little differently I think) where a few of Christ's apostles were from.

It is a pretty wealthy area, lately with a lot of development. Ever since they built that Barnes & Noble I've been finding I'm liking it less.
Sometime between 1815 and 1820, the Bethesda Presbyterian congregation living in Maryland northwest of the new United States capital, Washington, DC, moved their church from the Potomac River to the recently constructed Rockville Pike, at the point where the old tobacco rolling road to Georgetown (which the pike replaced) branched off.  Traffic through this crossroads was brisk, and the church soon had several stores, a blacksmith shop, and a Baptist church as neighbors.

During the Civil War1, a Post Office was placed inside Will Darcy's store nearby.   However, before long, Mr. Darcy lost his job as postmaster and the new Post Office was renamed "Bethesda" after the original church.

Bethesda was a sleepy little farm center until the 1890's, when streetcar lines were extended out from Washington, DC.  The rich and powerful began building their homes here and in nearby Chevy Chase.  In 1910, Bethesda got a railroad station.

Starting in 1938, various research institutes of the U. S. Public Health Service began moving their facilities to an extensive campus north of Bethesda proper.  This agency was renamed the National Institutes of Health in 1949.

Sometime in the 1960's, around when the Capital Beltway was built, Bethesda's main road was renamed "Wisconsin Avenue", an extension of the road's name inside the District of Columbia.

The 1984 opening of a Washington Metro station ensured that Bethesda would become part of the "High-tech corridor" that developed on the Red Line out to Rockville.

Today, Bethesda is a center of corporate headquarters, a beehive of activity as busy as Downtown Baltimore, except everything is much newer and much, much cleaner.  Instead of panhandlers on the streetcorners, there are people talking into cell phones. Everywhere you go, you are liable to bump into someone talking into a cell phone.

But Bethesda still retains vestiges of its suburban past:  In between 14-story buildings there are the small buildings one would expect in a suburban commercial center: Delicatessens, barber shops, savings banks, Three blocks away, detached suburban houses from the 1930's and 1940's (but in *much* better shape) appear.  They confirm for me that Bethesda was much as I imagined it as a child, from watching the commercials in between cartoons on WDCA.

1Presumably after Confederate general Jubal Early's occupation.

with help from

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