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Silver Spring is an unincorporated area and census-designated place (CDP) in Montgomery County, Maryland, United States.It had a population of 71,452 at the 2010 census, making it the fourth most populous place in Maryland, after Baltimore, Columbia, and Germantown.
The urbanized, oldest, and southernmost part of Silver Spring is a major business hub that lies at the north apex of Washington, D.C. As of 2004, the Central Business District (CBD) held 7,254,729 square feet (673,986 m2) of office space, 5216 dwelling units and 17.6 acres (71,000 m2) of parkland. The population density of this CBD area of Silver Spring was 15,600 per square mile all within 360 acres (1.5 km2) and approximately 2.5 square miles (6 km2) in the CBD/downtown area. The community has recently undergone a significant renaissance, with the addition of major retail, residential, and office developments.
Silver Spring takes its name from a mica-flecked spring discovered there in 1840 by Francis Preston Blair, who subsequently bought much of the surrounding land. Acorn Park, tucked away in an area of south Silver Spring away from the main downtown area, is believed to be the site of the original spring.
As an unincorporated area, Silver Spring’s boundaries are not officially defined. As of the 2010 Census the United States Census Bureau defines Silver Spring as a census-designated place with a total area of 7.92 square miles (20.5 km2), all land; however, it does contain numerous creeks and small lakes. This definition is a 15% reduction from the 9.4 sq. mi. used in previous years.
The United States Geological Survey locates the center of Silver Spring at 38°59′26″N 77°1′35″W, notably some distance from the Census Bureau’s datum. By another definition, Silver Spring is located at 39°0′15″N 77°1′8″W (39.004242, -77.019004). The definitions used by the Silver Spring Urban Planning District, the United States Postal Service, the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce, etc., are all different, each defining it for its own purposes.
Residents of a large swath of south-eastern Montgomery County have Silver Spring mailing addresses. This area extends roughly from the Washington, D.C., Prince George’s County, Maryland and Howard County, Maryland lines to the south, east and north, and Rock Creek Park and Plyers Mill Road to the west and north-west. These boundaries make Silver Spring larger in area than any city in Maryland except for Baltimore. Some notable landmarks are the world headquarters of Discovery Communications, the AFI Silver Theatre, the NOAA headquarters, and the headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Rock Creek Park passes along the west side of Silver Spring, and offers hiking trails, picnic grounds, and bicycling on weekends, when its main road, Beach Drive, is mostly closed to motor vehicles.
Sligo Creek Park follows Sligo Creek through Silver Spring; it offers hiking trails, tennis courts, playgrounds and bicycling. The latter is facilitated on weekends, when parts of Sligo Creek Parkway are closed to autos. The bike trails are winding and slower than most in the region.
Recently, rocks have been spread along either side of the road, providing a hazardous bike ride, or skating leisure.
Acorn Park in the downtown area of Silver Spring is believed to be the site of the eponymous “silver spring”.
As of the 2010 census, there were 71,452 people, 28,603 households, and 15,684 families residing in the Silver Spring CDP. The population density was 9,021.7 people per square mile (3,485.5/km²). There were 30,522 housing units at an average density of 3,853.8 per square mile (1,488.9/km²). The racial makeup of the community was 45.7% White, 27.8% African American, 0.6% Native American, 7.9% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 13.2% from other races, and 4.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race consist of 26.3% of the population. Like much of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Silver Spring’s Hispanic population is mostly made up of Salvadorans and other immigrants from Central America.
There were 28,603 households out of which 27.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.6% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.2% were non-families. Thirty-three point six percent (33.6%) of all households are made up of individuals living alone and 16.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.21.
In the census area, the population was spread out with 21.4% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 37.1% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 8.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.8 years. For every 100 females there were 94.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.2 males.
The median income for a household in the census area was $71,986, and the median income for a family was $84,136. Males had a median income of $46,407 versus $49,979 for females. The per capita income for the area was $32,181. 15.0% (+/- 4.9%) of the population and 13.3% (+/-4.3%) of families were below the poverty line. 21% (+/- 9.1%) of those under the age of 18 and 23.6% (+/-10.6%)of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
Downtown Silver Spring hosts several entertainment, musical, and ethnic festivals, the most notable of which are the Silverdocs documentary film festival held each June and hosted by Discovery Communications and the American Film Institute, as well as the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade (Saturday before Thanksgiving) for Montgomery County. The Silver Spring Jazz Festival has become the biggest event of the year drawing 20,000 people to the free festival held on the second Saturday in September. Featuring local jazz artists and a battle of high school bands, the Silver Spring Jazz Festival has featured such jazz greats as Wynton Marsalis, Arturo Sandoval, Sérgio Mendes, Aaron Neville and such bands as the Mingus Big Band and the Fred Wesley Group.
Dining in Silver Spring is also extremely varied, including American, African, Burmese, Ethiopian, Moroccan, Italian, Mexican, Salvadoran, Jamaican, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Thai, Chinese, Indian, and fusion restaurants, as well as many national and regional chains.
The Fillmore is a live entertainment and music venue with a capacity of 2,000 people. It opened in 2011 in the former JC Penney building on Colesville Road. The venue joins the American Film Institute and Discovery Communications as cornerstones of the downtown Silver Spring’s arts and entertainment district. It has featured performances by artists Prince Royce, Minus the Bear, Tyga and many other hip hop acts. In August 2012 R&B singer Reesa Renee launched her album Reelease at the Fillmore.
The major roads in Silver Spring are mostly 3-5 lane highways. The Capital Beltway can be accessed from Georgia Avenue (MD 97), Colesville Road (US 29), and New Hampshire Avenue (MD 650).
The long-planned Intercounty Connector (ICC) (designated Maryland Route 200) toll road was completed in early 2012. It has interchanges at Georgia Avenue, Layhill Road (MD 182), New Hampshire Avenue, Columbia Pike (as US 29 is known north of Lockwood Drive) and a half-interchange at Briggs Chaney Road.
Silver Spring is served by a county-wide public school system, Montgomery County Public Schools. Public high schools that serve the region include Montgomery Blair High School, Albert Einstein High School, Wheaton High School, James Hubert Blake High School, Northwood High School, Paint Branch High School, John F. Kennedy High School, Springbrook High School, and Bethesda Chevy Chase High School. Of the public high schools in the region, Montgomery Blair High School is the only one within the Census Designation Place of Silver Spring. It is nationally recognized for its Communication Arts Program and its Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science Magnet Program, the latter of which perennially produces a large number of finalists and semi-finalists in such academic competitions as the Intel Science Talent Search. Notable private schools in the region include The Siena School, Yeshiva of Greater Washington, Torah School of Greater Washington, Nora School, and The Barrie School.
Silver Spring is served by at least five public libraries of which one – the Silver Spring branch of Montgomery County Public Libraries – is located in downtown Silver Spring. Four other libraries are Wheaton, Marilyn J. Praisner (formerly Fairland), White Oak and Long Branch. The Silver Spring library, one of the most heavily used in the Montgomery County system, is being renovated, enlarged, and relocated to Wayne Ave. and Fenton St. as part of the Silver Spring redevelopment plan.