Aspen Hill is a community in Montgomery County, Maryland, roughly ten miles north of Washington, D.C. The area is composed mostly of apartment and single-family homes, shopping and commercial centers, and parklands. Aspen Hill is unincorporated, but census figures show that it is home to about 50,000 residents as of 2000.
The set of neighborhoods commonly called Aspen Hill is bounded, roughly, by Bel Pre Road and Norbeck Road (MD 28) to the north, the Turkey Branch of Rock Creek and Veirs Mill Road (MD 586) to the west and southwest, and the Northgate Branch of Rock Creek and Connecticut Avenue (MD 185) to the southeast. To the east, Aspen Hill extends past Georgia Avenue (MD 97), not quite as far as Layhill Road (MD 182).
The intersection of Georgia and Connecticut is the commercial center of Aspen Hill, including no fewer than four strip mall-type shopping centers and several free-standing superstores, such as K-Mart and Home Depot. Developments of apartments and townhouses sit mostly east of Georgia, where they are served by the Metrobus and Ride-On bus routes carrying residents to the Metro stations at Glenmont and Shady Grove. Northwest of the commercial district is a wooded subdivision of small houses, mostly built during the 1950s and 1960s, where middle-income families settled down during the baby boom years and helped mark the beginning of Aspen Hill as a community.
The residential areas are broken up by several expanses of greenspace, most notably Rock Creek Stream Valley Park on the Turkey Branch, Matthew Henson State Park on the Northgate Branch, and the huge Gate Of Heaven Cemetery, east of Georgia Avenue and Aspen Hill Road. Smaller parks and recreation areas are scattered around the landscape as well. These spaces provide welcome relief from sprawl, but as residents have observed, they can be a mixed blessing, because they impose physical barriers (streams, fences, etc.) which help to isolate groups of people who would otherwise be considered neighbors.
As of this writing in October 2002, Aspen Hill finds itself thrust awkwardly into the limelight during a series of shootings, committed over about three weeks by a person or persons sometimes called the DC Sniper (I will leave further elaboration on those events to the authors in that node). The string of violence began and ended here, and a total of three shooting incidents took place in Aspen Hill proper, with more in adjacent neighborhoods. The stress on the residents during the crime wave was more than obvious, but time will tell what the long-term effects on the community will be.
Sources: www.aspenhillnet.net, www.mc-mncppc.com (the Montgomery County Planning Board), mapquest.com.
— blandoon lives down in Glenmont, but he used to have a good friend in Aspen Hill.