Ellicott City, MD
The county seat of Howard County, the Maryland town of Ellicott City has gone from a historic American railroad center to a hotbed of wealth. The Ellicotts, three Quaker brothers from Pennsylvania, founded Ellicott City as a mill town in 1772. Today, the unincorporated community has a population of more than 56,000. It is located 14 miles from Baltimore and 39 miles from Washington, D.C.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
The leading industries in Ellicott City are educational, health, social services, waste management services and retail. Around 71 percent of the city's population is employed by companies, 21 percent by the government, and 5 percent are self-employed. Ellicott City has an unemployment rate of 2.2 percent, which is significantly lower than the national average.
Ellicott City's top employers include:
- Maryland Health Enterprises (Lorien Health Systems), a private health care management company
- Sheppard Pratt, a mental health and addictions treatment facility
- Turf Valley Resort & Conference Center
- C.R. Daniels, Inc. fabrics, plastics, and metal manufacturer
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
The city accommodates about 20,770 houses. Out of these, about 20,230 are occupied, with renters occupying about 26 percent.
Historic Main Street, often referred to as Historic Ellicott City or Old Ellicott City, this downtown area is situated along the banks of the Patapsco River, was founded in 1771 by the Ellicott brothers, Joseph, Andrew and John. The town thrived as a milling and flour producer and was a significant Union outpost during the Civil War. Today, this district is a popular tourist destination because of its historical buildings, antique dealers, museums, restaurants, cafes, and tea room.
- Clark's Elioak Farm: The more than 500-acre farm has become the major amusement attraction in Ellicott City, operating as part petting farm, part zoo and part amusement park. The petting farm allows visitors an up-close experience with sheep, donkeys, chickens, turtles, horses, ducks, rabbits, pigs, cows, turkeys and goats. Pony rides are offered every day that the farm is open. Clark's Elioak Farm has utilized Ellicott City's former national attraction of the Enchanted Forest, which closed in 1991. The farm has successfully moved and restored a number of the Enchanted Forest's attractions, creating a fairy-tale forest of its own.
- AAA Antique Mall: Voted the best antique mall in the state, the AAA Antique Mall in Ellicott City attracts antique hunters from all over the country and even from abroad. The mall features a wide selection of high-end wood furniture along with its many antique dealers. AAA Antique Mall has also been a significant movie prop provider, with pieces featured in major motion pictures, such as Gettysburg, Ladder 49 and Runaway Bride.
- The Shrine of St. Anthony: Home to Franciscan Friars for more than 70 years, the shrine has also served as a center of philosophy, student housing and public prayer. The chapel is considered "the jewel of the shrine," where visitors observe the important room in strict silence. The chapel holds a relic piece of petrified flesh of St. Anthony, removed from his sarcophagus in Italy and sent to the shrine.
- Patapsco Female Institute: The building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was a thriving center of learning for women in the early 20th century. Opened in 1890, the school provided excellent education to women at a time when it was sometimes hard to come by for the female gender. The institute served as a hotel, home and theater throughout the years, but now is a popular outdoor venue for weddings, concerts and summer theatrical performances.
- Ellicott City Ghost Tour: Ellicott City has long been known as one of the most haunted cities in America. The town attracts many paranormal enthusiasts that partake in the city's own ghost tour. The tour explores the ghostly history of some of the town's homes, mansions and buildings.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
- The B&O Railroad Museum: The oldest surviving railroad station in American, The B&O Railroad Museum is an important center of American and Ellicott City history. Built in 1830, the station was the end of the first 13 miles of railroad track constructed in the country. In 1999, the museum underwent a renovation that restored the building to what the station is likely to have looked like in 1857. The museum features exhibits about the early history of the railroad industry in America, a large model train and living history presentations. The museum is also home to special events such as book signings, discussions and presentations.
- Howard County Center for the Arts: The center serves Ellicott City and its surrounding areas with artistic and cultural enrichment. The center fosters local artists, the general public's appreciation for the arts and entertainment that is affordable. The nearly 100-seat black box theater stages theatrical productions, dance performances, music concerts and spoken word events. The center also has a number of art galleries that feature different exhibits seasonally. The center has an artist-in-residence fellowship where a few artists are provided with studio space to produce their work. Studio rooms are available for rent for dance classes and art instruction. Businesses sometimes use the center's conference room for meetings and seminars.
- The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company: The traveling theater company puts on productions of William Shakespeare's plays at indoor and outdoor venues in Ellicott City and its surrounding area. The company troupe performs regularly at the Howard Center for the Arts, the Patapsco Female Institute and even in Ellicott City residents' homes. The company also has youth summer camps and adult acting classes available to the public.
- Ellicott City Colored School: The historic school house was built in 1880 as the first school in Howard County designed for African-Americans' education and was used until 1950. The building is now a museum chronicling the history of African-Americans in Howard County. The exhibits trace the history of historic Ellicott City African-American families and their involvement in the Civil War, the black baseball leagues and the formation of early education for African-Americans.