Any time you see/hear the terms “North Bethesda” or “North Potomac” you know a “You mean Rockville/Gaithersburg?” comment is not too far behind.
So do these places actually exist or were the terms recently coined for real estate purposes?
A friend signed a lease for a condo across from Mid-Pike Plaza (now Pike & Rose) back in 2006, for a significantly higher amount than most condos on Rockville Pike. He told me that he could have gotten a condo two miles down the Pike for almost half of the price, but was sold on “North Bethesda.”
Most of us thought he was crazy for spending that kind of money, but he assured us that the leasing office could confirm that it’s a “real place” and that it had actually been around for quite a while.
Here was his proof:
County planners used the term North Bethesda since 1970 when making plans for the area (http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/community/plan_areas/bethesda_chevy_chase/master_plans/north_bethesda/bg_nbeth-gar.pdf).
North Bethesda was also given clearly defined boundaries at that time. It became a census designated place in 1980 (areas like Germantown and Silver Spring are also census designated places as Gaithersburg, Rockville, and Takoma Park are the only incorporated areas that are considered cities, though plenty other incorporated areas exist in MoCo).
Is real estate a big part of why the name has gained far more traction in the last decade than in the first 40 years of its existence? Absolutely, but the name itself is nothing new and the area has had clearly defined boundaries for almost half a century.
Below is a map of North Bethesda from Google
We spoke with a resident living in the Lakelands neighborhood, which is within Gaithersburg city limits. He said, “My house is listed as Gaithersburg, but my friend that is across Darnestown road has Darnestown, Gaithersburg, AND North Potomac listed on the deed of his home.”
While the boundaries of North Potomac weren’t as clearly defined for as long a period of time as North Bethesda, they’re still there.
Below is a map of North Potomac by Google
North Bethesda is not in Rockville city limits. North Potomac is not in Gaithersburg city limits. Neither area receives services from the cities most people associate them with.
The North Bethesda name has been around for over 50 years and North Potomac for over 30. For years, residents of both areas have argued that they just want an identity and that it wouldn’t make sense to consider themselves part of a city they’re not technically in.
“I’m going to be honest. Bethesda and Potomac are generally more expensive than Rockville and Gaithersburg, and that’s probably a big part of why the North Bethesda and North Potomac names were embraced instead of going with South Rockville and South Gaithersburg, but Rockville and Gaithersburg are incorporated cities that we aren’t a part of, so it wouldn’t make much sense to do that.” said North Bethesda resident Jennifer Miller.
When asked about a possible new name, she said “It wouldn’t matter. People would still push the Rockville and Gaithersburg angle, even though neither area is within city limits.”
We spoke with current North Potomac resident Rogi G. who is on the other side of this discussion. “I know this is Gaithersburg. Real estate agents created this to make a nice neighborhood and raise prices but I have lived in this area for many years and it is always Gaithersburg.”
“When I sell my home I will call it North Potomac.” he said while laughing.
Whether you’re for or against the names of the areas, there’s no question that they both actually exist. The issue for many seems to be why they have taken on the names their current names.
As places like White Flint Mall start to disappear and metro stations start getting renamed (White Flint station may soon be called North Bethesda station), future generations may begin to disassociate the areas with the cities many consider them to be a part of.