The City of College Park is in Prince George's County, Maryland and is about 4 miles (6.4 km) from the northeast border of Washington, D.C. The population was 30,413 at the 2010 United States Census. It is best known as the home of the University of Maryland, College Park, and since 1994 the city has also been home to the National Archives at College Park, a facility of the U.S. National Archives, as well as to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Weather and Climate Prediction (NCWCP).
College Park's United States Postal Service ZIP Codes are 20740, 20741 (Berwyn Heights; North College Park) and 20742 (University of Maryland).
College Park was developed beginning in 1889 near the Maryland Agricultural College (later the University of Maryland) and the College Station stop of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The suburb was incorporated in 1945 and included the subdivisions of College Park, Lakeland, Berwyn, Oak Spring, Branchville, Daniel's Park, and Hollywood.
The original College Park subdivision was first plotted in 1872 by Eugene Campbell. The area remained undeveloped and was re-platted in 1889 by John O. Johnson and Samuel Curriden, Washington real estate developers. The original 125-acre (0.51 km2) tract was divided into a grid-street pattern with long, narrow building lots, with a standard lot size of 50 feet (15 m) by 200 feet (61 m). College Park developed rapidly, catering to those who were seeking to escape the crowded Washington, D.C., as well as to a rapidly expanding staff of college faculty and employees.
College Park originally included single-family residences constructed in the Shingle, Queen Anne, and Stick styles, as well as modest vernacular dwellings. Commercial development increased in the 1920s, aided by the increased automobile traffic and the growing campus along Baltimore Avenue / Route 1.
By the late 1930s, most of the original subdivision had been partially developed. Several fraternities and sororities from the University of Maryland built houses in the neighborhood. After World War II, construction consisted mostly of infill of ranch and split-level houses. After incorporation in 1945, the city continued to grow, and a municipal center was built in 1959.
The Lakeland neighborhood was developed beginning in 1892 around the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, whose Branchville and Calvert Road depots were located approximately one mile to the north and south, respectively. Lakeland was created by Edwin Newman, who improved the original 238 acres (0.96 km2) located to the west of the railroad. He also built a number of the original homes, a small town hall, and a general store. The area was originally envisioned as a resort-type community. However, due to the flood-prone, low-lying topography, the neighborhood attracted a lower-income population and became an area for African-American settlement. Around 1900, the Baltimore Gold Fish Company built five artificial lakes in the area to spawn goldfish and rare species of fish. A one-room school was built in 1903 for the African-American population; a new school was built in 1925.
The Berwyn neighborhood was developed beginning about 1885 adjacent to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. It was created by Francis Shannabrook, a Pennsylvanian who purchased a tract of land between Baltimore Avenue and the railroad tracks. Shannabrook established a small depot, built a general store, and erected approximately 15 homes in the area to attract moderate-income families looking to move out of Washington. The neighborhood began to grow after 1900 when the City and Suburban Electric Railway entered the area. By 1925 approximately 100 single-family homes existed, mostly two-story, wood-frame buildings. The community housing continued to develop in the 1930s and 1940s with one story bungalows, Cape Cods, and Victorians and, later, raised ranches and split level homes.
The Daniels Park neighborhood was developed beginning in 1905 on the east and west sides of the City and Suburban Electric Railway in north College Park. Daniels Park was created by Edward Daniels on 47 acres (19 ha) of land. This small residential subdivision was improved with single-family houses arranged along a grid pattern of streets. The houses—built between 1905 and the 1930s—range in style from American Foursquares to bungalows.
The Hollywood neighborhood was developed in the early 20th century along the City and Suburban Electric Railway. Edward Daniels, the developer of Daniels Park, planned the Hollywood subdivision as a northern extension of that earlier community. Development in Hollywood was slow until after World War II when Albert Turner acquired large tracts of the northern part of the neighborhood in the late 1940s. Turner was able to develop and market brick and frame three-bedroom bungalows beginning in 1950. By 1952, an elementary school had been built. Hollywood Neighborhood Park, a 21-acre (8.5 ha) facility along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad line, is operated by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
In 1943, due to World War II efforts to conserve rail transport, the Washington Senators relocated their spring training camp in College Park. The location of 1943 Major League Baseball spring training camps was limited to an area east of the Mississippi River and north of the Ohio River.
On September 24, 2001, a multiple-vortex F3 tornado hit the area. This storm moved at peak intensity through the University of Maryland College Park campus, and then moved north parallel to I-95 to the Laurel area, where F3 damage was also noted. The damage path from the storm was measured at 17.5 miles (28.2 km) in length. The tornado caused 2 deaths and 55 injuries and $101 million in property damage. The two deaths were sisters who died when their car was picked up and hurled over a building before being slammed to the ground. Both young women were University of Maryland students. This tornado was part of the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., tornado outbreak of 2001, one of the most dramatic recent tornado events to directly affect the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area.
By the turn of the 21st century, College Park began experiencing significant development pressure. Both students and city residents acknowledged the city's lack of amenities and poor sense of place. In 2002, the city and county passed the Route 1 Sector Plan, which allowed and encouraged mixed use development along College Park's main roadway. Recent projects—like the East Campus Redevelopment Initiative, The University View, The Varsity, and Landmark student apartments and the Northgate Condos—give many in the community hope that the city, like other notable American college towns, might one day have a vibrant downtown and a diverse population.
The University of Maryland's Student Government Association sponsored a design charrette in April 2006 to envision the future of College Park. In July 2006, a group of students created Rethink College Park—a community group providing a website to share information about development and to encourage public dialogue.
Since 2009, other notable architectural additions to College Park have been: a parking garage (with The Ledo Restaurant on ground level) in downtown near the intersection of Route 1 and Knox Road; The University View and The Varsity student apartment towers with ground floor retail businesses; graduate school apartment towers adjacent to The View apartments; and The Hotel at the University of Maryland.