Here's a look at an interesting town or suburban area, depending on how you look at it. Columbia is regarded by some as the best planned community in the United States (other highly successful planned communities include Reston, VA, and Radburn, NJ). It is located about halfway between Baltimore and Washington DC. The idea behind Columbia was to create a planned city/suburb, that would not only provide jobs to keep people within the community, but would also mix people of different religions, races, and incomes. It was also designed to prevent cul-de-sacs and end roads, and have each part of the community connected to other parts of the community via roads or paths through parklands.
Columbia has ten Villages: Oakland Mills, Long Reach, Owen Brown, Kings Contrivance, Hickory Ridge, Town Center, Dorsey's Search, Wilde Lake, Harper's Choice, and River Hill. These villages are further divided into three or four neighborhoods each. The result are individual communities, which are closely tied together by the village they are in, and then the villages are tied together by the Town Center to form the Town of Columbia.
Developers began buying land for Columbia (more than 14,000 acres overall) in the early 1960's. The developers formed several different companies to buy the land, in order to prevent farmers from holding out on their property and forcing one big conglomerate to build around a single farm. Once the acquisitions were complete, the companies merged and revealed their plans for the area. Residents first started moving into Columbia in 1967.
Part of Columbia's skyline. Columbia calls their central business district the Town Center, like I believe many other suburban areas do.
A shopping plaza in the village of Oakland Mills modelled to look like a farm.
Some small offices off of Kilimanjaro Road in Oakland Mills. These offices are used by doctors, dentists, etc.
Looking down Stevens Forest Road. The neighborhood of Stevens Forest is centered around this road.
The Oakland Mills Interfaith Center. One way that planners wanted to get people to mix together was to put all of the churches into one building. This Interfaith Center has a Catholic Church, Methodist Church, and Synogoge among other things.
Some apartment buildings in Oakland Mills.
Another way to get people to mix together and move around in the town was to put unique town anemities in certain neighborhoods. The town ice skating rink is in Oakland Mills.
Some houses on Thunder Hill Road. The neighborhood of Thunder Hill is centered around this road.
Some modern apartment buildings near the Town Center. The downtown condo wave seems to have made it to Columbia.
The Columbia Mall in the middle of the Town Center, with a midrise in the background.
More new condos in the Town Center.
Symphony Woods, near the Meriweather Post Pavilion, where concerts are held.
Banneker Place, a townhouse complex in the village of Town Center.
Apartments in the village of Harper's Choice.
Houses on Hesperus Drive in the Harper's Choice neighborhood of Longfellow.
Townhouses on Morning Glory Court in Harper's Choice.
Apartments in the neighborhood of Bryant Woods in the village of Wilde Lake.
The Village Center for Wilde Lake includes the Swim Center, a large pool complex and tennis complex, complete with a big slide. Like the ice rink in Oakland Mills, the Swim Center was placed in the middle of the Village of Wilde Lake to get people to travel to different villages and mingle with other residents.
The Interfaith Center in the Village of Wilde Lake.
The intersection of Twin Rivers Road and Great Mountain Circle are the entrance to Bryant Woods, one of the neighborhoods in Wilde Lake. The neighborhoods of Faulkner Ridge and Running Brook are nearby.
Wilde Lake, located near the Town Center. This is the view from The Birches, a sub-neighborhood in the neighborhood of Running Brook. Across the lake is the neighborhood of Bryant Woods.
Looking at the Town Center from The Birches area of the Running Brook neighborhood.
There are plenty of walking paths between neighborhoods and villages to make it easier to walk or bike to certain places, rather than drive. This walkway is along Wilde Lake, and it goes from The Birches in the neighborhood of Running Brook directly to the neighborhood of Bryant Woods. Driving to Bryant Woods would be longer and farther, as it would require getting onto the main thorofare, driving through the Town Center, and then coming all the way back around to the other side of Wilde Lake.
A big house facing Wilde Lake in the neighborhood of Running Brook.
Looking past the bike path towards Wilde Lake and the neighborhood of Bryant Woods beyond that.
A rustic little cottage on Hyla Brook Road in The Birches area of Running Brook.
A house on Thunder Hill Road in the neighborhood of Thunder Hill.
Houses on Mellenbrook Road.
Houses on Thunder Hill Road.
More houses along Thunder Hill Road.
Columbia is one of the premier suburbs in the United States. I don't think Columbia is perfect; a couple problems I have with it are 1) the maze of roads that make driving through a section of Columbia very confusing, and 2) putting all of the churches into one nondescript building (churches look nice; why not let each religion build their own?). But Columbia has shown that there are many good qualities about it that draw people to it and make it one of the most desirable suburbs in the United States.