Today, White Flint is a regional employment and shopping destination. Tomorrow, it could be a new downtown for Montgomery County. But just a few decades ago, White Flint was just a rural crossroads. Using aerial photos from Google Earth and the county’s Geographic Information Services, or GIS software, we can track the development of White Flint over time. (You can click any of the images to make them bigger.)
In 1951, White Flint was mostly forests and farms between the bustling towns of Bethesda and Rockville. Suburban development was just beginning to reach the area; in this photo, Garrett Park Estates was still being built, while Luxmanor had already been established for over a decade. And, of course, Dietle’s Tavern had just opened.
By the 1970’s, White Flint had become a bedroom community, with several subdivisions under construction and new schools, including Tilden Middle School and Woodward High. Strip malls began opening along Rockville Pike, including Mid-Pike Plaza and Loehmann’s Plaza, as new roads like Executive Boulevard, Nebel Street and Parklawn Drive opened to serve them. The Forum opened, making it the first of many high-rise residential buildings to be built in White Flint.
By 1979, White Flint had become a regional shopping and employment destination. White Flint Mall had opened two years earlier, while organizations like the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) set up offices on Rockville Pike. Residential development in the area was now predominantly townhouses and garden-style condominiums, as you can see south of Nicholson Lane.
By 1988, the White Flint Metro station was 4 years old, carrying commuters to Bethesda and into the District. Woodward High School closed the year earlier and Tilden Middle School took over its building, leaving its original site as a holding center for other schools. Most of White Flint’s main streets had been completed, and the road network looks more or less like it does today.
During the 1990’s, White Flint continued to grow. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission opened their offices on Rockville Pike, and the Forum was joined by additional luxury high-rises, like the Grand and the Wisconsin.
A lot changed between 2002 and 2007. After years of debate, the Montrose Parkway was finally under construction; the Bethesda North Conference Center opened, and the first phase of North Bethesda Center was under construction.
In this image taken last year, we can see the White Flint envisioned in the Sector Plan taking shape. Montrose Parkway opened in 2009. Wentworth House, the first building at North Bethesda Center, was completed and a second building is under construction. The first phase of North Bethesda Market is open, replacing the humble Park Inn and giving White Flint the county’s tallest building. Mid-Pike Plaza has given way to Pike + Rose, the first phase of which should open in 2014. And further south, the ASHA headquarters has been replaced by Symphony Park, a high-end townhouse development.
Yet even as some things change, some stay the same. Georgetown Prep is there as it’s been for almost a century, and Hank Dietle’s Tavern is still serving beer up the street.
Are there any changes we’ve missed? What things are you glad have stuck around in White Flint? And what are you looking forward to in the future?