Since You Asked: Where Exactly Is North Bethesda?

Despite some debate, the area’s boundaries have long been defined


Published:

An aerial view of Rockville Pike in North Bethesda taken before the White Flint Mall was demolished

Montgomery County

What are the boundaries of North Bethesda?

—A reader in Bethesda

Many Montgomery County residents dispute whether North Bethesda is a defined place.

One of the latest examples of this ongoing discussion took place in the comments section of a Bethesda Beat article about North Bethesda being ranked as one of the best places to live by the data website Niche. Commenters debated whether the area known as North Bethesda is really just a southern portion of Rockville.

It is not, county officials say. In fact, North Bethesda’s boundaries have been defined since at least the 1970s, when the county first drafted the North Bethesda/ Garrett Park Master Plan, according to Glenn Orlin, deputy council administrator for the Montgomery County Council. It’s an unincorporated area similar to Bethesda, Potomac or Silver Spring.

“There have been county master plans referring to the name North Bethesda going back 50 years,” Orlin said.

North Bethesda is also a census-designated place with defined boundaries. It is bound to the south by the southern portion of I-495, to the west by I-270, to the north by Rockville’s city limits and to the east by Rock Creek Park.

The U.S. Census map of North Bethesda (outlined in gold in center) via the Census website

Neighborhoods inside the census-designated boundaries of North Bethesda include Luxmanor, Wickford, Parkside and Lone Oak, as well as new developments such as Pike & Rose and North Bethesda Market. The property that formerly housed the now-demolished White Flint Mall is also inside the census boundaries, although Garrett Park is not—the neighborhood has its own census-designated boundaries.

As of the 2010 census, North Bethesda had about 44,000 residents, a mostly white (70 percent) population and a median household income of $105,968. The median home price in the area was $524,100 from 2010 to 2014, according to census figures.

Ken Hartman, director of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, says he understands some of the confusion that may exist about the area. He said longtime residents may look at a place that’s in North Bethesda, such as Hank Dietle’s Tavern on Rockville Pike, and say it’s in Rockville or bring up the fact that a part of the 20852 ZIP code that encompasses most of North Bethesda also has portions in Rockville.

“The area we call North Bethesda, historically, didn’t have an identity,” Hartman said. “It was the area south of Rockville down to the Beltway, and before the Beltway was built there was even less of a dividing line.”

He said North Bethesda is not Rockville because the city is incorporated and has defined boundaries. He also noted that the U.S. Postal Service accepts mail addressed to North Bethesda.

Grand Park Avenue at Federal Realty's Pike & Rose development on Old Georgetown Road in North Bethesda. Credit: Andrew Metcalf

Recently, residents may have become confused about North Bethesda’s boundaries as developers seek to identify the area around the White Flint Metro station as The Pike District. That name was created about two years ago as developers such as The JBG Cos. and Federal Realty that were constructing major projects in the area sought to disassociate the area from the name White Flint, which they believed local residents associated with the now-demolished mall. Another confusing location is North Bethesda Middle School, which is actually in Bethesda at 8935 Bradmoor Drive, just south of the Beltway and North Bethesda’s southern boundary.

Have a question you’d like answered about someone or something in the Bethesda area? Email editorial@bethesdamagazine.com. Please include your name and the community in which you live.

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