- Written by: Eric Gundberg
- Produced by: Mike Armstrong
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
As one of the original 13 colonies making up the United States, Maryland’s towns and cities have a long and varied history. Baltimore, Maryland’s largest city, gets the lion’s share of the state’s attention, but Frederick, its second largest city, is gaining recognition as a historic hi-tech city anchoring the north end of the famous I270 biotech corridor. The city is headed by Mayor Randy McClement, who is overseeing the completion of several high-profile projects designed to enhance the daily lives of Frederick’s residents and generate economic impact.
Settlers began arriving in the region in 1725, but the city was formerly planned and laid out by Daniel Dunlany in the early 1740s. But it was when John Thomas Schely arrived in 1745 with a group of settlers from England that the new town’s future was assured as it quickly grew and prospered. The town was spared during the Revolutionary War, but did provide the nascent national army with vital troops and supplies, and became the final resting home of the United States’ most famous song-writer, Francis Scott Key.
After the war, Frederick again continued to thrive and the city’s famous spires were built during the period of growth prior to the civil war. It was in Frederick that Maryland’s legislature decided to remain within in the Union, and the city’s location on the Mason-Dixon Line put it in the cross-hairs of both Union and Confederate troops; the city was alternately occupied from troops in both armies. Frederick’s churches were converted to hospitals to care for the war wounded and today, the city is the home of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.
Home of the Nation’s Leading Bio-Defense and Cancer Research Center
By the end of the 19th Century, the city had finally recovered from the Civil War and several of the city’s longest-running businesses were founded at that time. The Maryland School for the Deaf and Hood College were both founded in the post-Civil War era. World War II led to the establishment of the city’s largest employer Fort Detrick, which has become the nation’s leading bio-defense research center. In 1971, President Nixon established the National Cancer Institute at Fort Detrick and today, more than 40 agencies occupy the campus, which employs nearly 10,000 personnel.
In the 20th Century, Frederick’s fortunes have mirrored those of the country. Loss of manufacturing deeply affected the city’s populace, but revitalization has restored the city’s appeal. Frederick’s 40-block historic downtown is now home to over 600 businesses, including 200 restaurants and retailers that provide regional access to a wide variety of cuisines reflecting the diversity of the 65,000 people who have been attracted to the city and now call it home.
The city was recognized by American Style Magazine as one of the top small arts cities. Forbes Magazine also recognized Frederick as one of America’s smartest cities because over half of its workforce is college-educated. The city’s educated workforce has attracted a large number of technically driven employers including: Fort Detrick, MedImmune, Life Technologies, Fairchild Controls, SAIC-Frederick, Bechtel and the National Cancer Institute.
Historic Floodplain Project Breathes New Life into Downtown
In the 1970s, following a devastating flood, the Frederick’s Board of Alderman approved an ambitious $60 million flood control project to remove the downtown area from the Carroll Creek 100-year flood plain. In 2006, the city began work on the national award-winning Carroll Creek Park, and McClement is proud to announce that the city will commence work on phase two of the project in 2012. It is estimated that the project will induce more than $150 million in private investment in the form of new infill mixed-use buildings and historic renovation by the time the project is complete. Project details include a 1.3 mile long pedestrian and bike path, lighting, landscaping and decorative fountains augmented by the planting of new shade trees, pedestrian bridges and a 350-seat amphitheater for outdoor concerts and events. When finally complete, the project will bring more than 400,000 square feet of office space, 150,000 square feet of retail and over 300 residential units to the area. A 200-room, full-service, flagship downtown hotel and conference center with up to 20,000 square feet of meeting space is also planned to be constructed in 2014, along with new structured parking.
Fort Detrick is underway with a series of renovations and construction projects at the National Interagency BioDefense Campus, totaling $2 billion. This includes three new laboratories and a new 800,000-square foot, state-of-the-art BSL-4 facility for the Army on its campus. Nearby, NCI-Frederick is constructing a 330,000-square foot Advanced Technology Research Facility at Riverside Research Park, which can accommodate over one million square feet of synergistic life science partners.
The six states and the District of Columbia that make up the Chesapeake Bay watershed are subject to a federal mandate to the reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay by 2025. The city of Frederick announced that it would spend $63 million in renovations to its wastewater treatment plant. Both the city and county plan to hook up septic systems to treatment plants and renovate older developments in order to reduce storm water runoff, in addition to planning a general upgrade at the plant to help reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus that eventually makes its way to the Chesapeake.
The city’s history dating back to the colonial era gives the community unique character, but it has fully embraced hi-tech R&D and manufacturing to ensure that Frederick prospers while looking forward. Under Mayor Randy McClement and Frederick’s Board of Aldermen’s leadership, historic Frederick City is poised to flourish in the 21st century as a technological and arts leader.
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