Quality of life is important to Gaithersburg residents. Children enjoy camps, after-school programs and activities for all age levels. Teens can visit the Teen Center, attend dances and special field trips. Adults participate in classes, meetings, use the Fitness Center, attend arts events and become involved in many other activities. Families gather at special events, picnic in the city's many parks and enjoy activities that are held each month. Senior citizens have access to the Senior Center and a wide variety of activities.
The Arts and Special Events Team for the city includes the Gaithersburg Council for the Arts, Art in Public Places, the City Hall Concert Pavilion series, festivals, special activities and annual events. City festivals include Winter Lights, a spectacular 3.5-mile drive-through light display held at Seneca Creek State Park. The Fourth of July Celebration is held at the Montgomery County Agricultural Center with a concert and fireworks. Olde Towne Gaithersburg Day is held the third or fourth Sunday in September, the Labor Day Parade is an annual event in Olde Towne, and the Oktoberfest at Kentlands is held in early October each year.
One of the most popular events is the "Western Hoe Down." The event has mirrored the growth of Olde Towne, receiving many enhancements over the last 20 years but retaining its "community feel." The "Hoe Down" has evolved into a street festival of epic proportion, turning the streets into a colorful marketplace, featuring high-energy entertainment on six separate stages, select offerings from high-quality artists, craftspeople and local merchants, amusements for children of all ages and a savory selection of culinary delights.
Recreation is part of the quality of life that makes Gaithersburg an attractive place to live, work, learn and play. Since 1970, Gaithersburg has grown from a city with three parks consisting of nine acres to a city with 23 parks and more than 522 acres of parkland.
Health care is available at numerous facilities including Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Montgomery General Hospital, Suburban Hospital and Holy Cross Hospital. The city's community policing program has won awards and drawn praise from agencies across the nation.
Gaithersburg has a very diversified economy including high technology research and development communities ranked with California and Massachusetts. Gaithersburg also is ranked the Fourth Best Area in the Country for Business by Fortune Magazine. The city is home to more than 2,000 businesses. Corporate growth in the last 20 years has been concentrated in technology industries. Some major employers include Genetic Therapy, Hughes Network Systems, IBM, Lockheed Martin Federal Systems, MedImmune, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gene Logic, Sodexho/Marriott, Digene and GE Information Services.
Gaithersburg is extremely accessible. It is within an hour's drive from the Baltimore-Washington International, Dulles International and Reagan National airports. Private and business aircraft are served by the Montgomery County Airpark, less than 15 minutes away. Gaithersburg is on the Metrorail Red Line. In addition, MARC passenger trains arrive at the downtown Gaithersburg Train Station, the Metropolitan Grove stop in Gaithersburg and the nearby Washington Grove stop. Metrobus and county buses serve Gaithersburg and connect with Metrorail at Shady Grove Station.
Residents have access to a vibrant and growing retail community. There are more than a dozen shopping centers of more than 25,000 square feet. The largest of these is Lakeforest, a "super regional" shopping center of more than one million square feet. Additionally, national "big box" stores including Sam's Club, the Sports Authority, CompUSA, Kohl's and Price Costco have located in Gaithersburg.
The city is also working in conjunction with numerous private organizations to assist in the redevelopment of the Olde Towne district that will include a balanced mix of commercial, office and residential uses.
The history of Gaithersburg dates back to 1765 when it was a tiny agricultural settlement called "Log Town." The town is named after Benjamin Gaither who built a house in 1802 on the property where the town's famous Forest Oak tree used to grow. The tree was over 275 years old in 1975, when a boring was taken to determine its age. In the summer of 1997, this city landmark was knocked down in a storm. In 1850, the post office in the area was named "Forest Oak." The town officially became Gaithersburg when it was incorporated on April 5, 1878.
Gaithersburg has undergone significant changes in recent years. The city is now an urban area and suburb of Washington, D.C. The rolling fields of wheat are now roads, housing developments and commercial enterprises, but at the same time a number of historic communities and traditions have been preserved including the creation of the Brookes, Russell and Walker Historic Districts. As the City enters the next millennium and continues to grow, it will retain many of the qualities of a small town with a rich diverse heritage.
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