- About Rockville
Our city has a long, diverse and unique story to tell.
With origins dating back to earlier than 8000 B.C., the land mass that now makes up Rockville is one of Maryland’s oldest settled areas. Indigenous people, made up of at least six tribes as part of the Piscataway confederacy, seasonally navigated the Piedmont region and used local rivers, such as Rock Creek, Cabin John Creek and Watts Branch, for travel, hunting and as refuge. These indigenous tribes eventually switched from a nomadic way of life and settled in the area. Via agrarian culture, these tribes called the area home year-round. During the late 1600s and due to growing European settlement expanding from the Chesapeake Bay and lower Potomac into the Rock Creek Valley, these tribes departed the area.
The first land patents for the area were issued by Maryland's proprietor between 1717 and 1735. The area making up Rockville was originally a part of Prince George’s County. Due to the growth of Frederick Town, the western portion of the county was divided and became Frederick County.
In 1776, the Maryland Constitutional Convention divided Frederick County into three new units. The area making up Rockville was placed in the newly established Montgomery County. Because of its central location, this area served as the county seat and became known as Montgomery Court House. In the 1780s, the community was also known as Williamsburgh, named for the family that subdivided the central part of town, when Rockville was little more than a cluster of homes, a tavern, a courthouse and a jail. In 1801, the Maryland General Assembly officially established the name of the town as “Rockville” because of its proximity to Rock Creek. The population grew from 200, in 1800, to 400 in 1846. Rockville became incorporated in 1860 and was governed by three commissioners until 1888, when the city’s 400 residents elected the first Mayor and Council.
The opening of the Rockville depot on the Metropolitan Branch of the B&O Railroad in 1873 brought Rockville into closer contact to the growing District of Columbia, but overall growth came slowly. In the 1930s, this growth was steady but not spectacular. City limits were expanded again, this time to the south, and the population rose to 2,047 in 1940. Post-World War II, Rockville’s population skyrocketed due to rapid suburban residential development, increasing from 6,934, in 1950, to nearly 45,000 in 1980. As of the 2020 census, the population had increased to 67,000, with future growth anticipated along the city’s commercial and transit corridors.
Rockville has grown rapidly since its founding, from a leisurely, agriculturally oriented county seat to a cosmopolitan city of many neighborhoods. It is home to a well-educated population and serves as an employment center for national biomed corporations, the federal government and county government.
Explore Rockville's History
The following resources are available to learn more about Rockville's history. When visiting downtown Rockville, the walking tour online maps and brochures are a perfect complement to the historic walking tour signs installed at each tour stop.
|Purchase "Rockville: Portrait of a City" a 250-page, full-color history of Rockville with this order form.
|Request a copy of "The Sesquicentennial of Rockville: Local Government at 150 Years" a short, paperback history of Rockville. Contact email@example.com for details.
|View the Rockville Historic Buildings Catalog (PDF) or view the catalog through an interactive online map. Catalog also available at Rockville City Hall (111 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850).
Rockville's History in Video
Watch these short videos featuring some of the City's historic locations and commemorative events.
|Rockville is known for its diverse and unique neighborhoods. Some of the homes that make up those neighborhoods are over 100 years old and ranging in a broad spectrum of architectural styles. These homes help to tell the stories of our community. Through a Preserve America grant, Rockville has released a Historic Buildings Catalog.
|Watch Women Who Dared: A Walking Tour With Peerless Rockville to learn about the famous women in Rockville's history.