Sometime between 1815
, the Bethesda Presbyterian
living in Maryland
northwest of the new United States
, moved their church from the Potomac River
to the recently constructed
, at the point where the old tobacco rolling road
(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.
Presumably after Confederate general Jubal Early
with help from