Cliff Balkam in Parkwood, Md.
The North Bethesda community of Parkwood was first constructed in the 1950s and consisted mostly of modest brick homes, but like much of Bethesda, it has grown over the years.
“A lot of the houses that were built in Parkwood were small, brick houses probably not much bigger than the apartments out of which people were moving to occupy them," says Parkwood resident Cliff Balkam.
“It was built up some more in the later ‘50s and was pretty stable for the next 30 or 40 years or so. Then starting in the 90s a lot of these houses began to be upgraded in a big way or even torn down to the ground and much larger houses built in their place.”
As its name suggests, Parkwood sits just above Rock Creek Park and Beach Drive, which make up its southern boundary. Parkwood is bounded on the east by Summit Avenue and Cedar Lane. Balkam believes that Rock Creek Park makes Parkwood special in the D.C. area.
“The first thing that makes Parkwood unique is its proximity to Rock Creek Park, the wonderful park and creek itself and the jogging or bicycling path that is there, which many residents use to walk, cycle or jog, as I do.”
Rock Creek may be a constant in history of Parkwood, but ensuring its future has taken some work.
“The neighborhood association is manned entirely by volunteers… and they try and look out for the interests of the community as development happens around us at the National Institute of Health or the Walter Reed National Medical Center,” says Balkam.
“They also try and make the place a pretty and desirable place to live by beautifying the public spaces and the entry points to the Parkwood Community.” Thanks to an active neighborhood association and its location next to Rock Creeek Park, Balkam believes Parkwood will remain a leafy, woodsy park-like neighborhood for many years to come.
Northwest of Washington, between Herndon and Leesburg, Va. and just off the Dulles Greenway is a place called Ashburn, which was little more than a wide spot in the road twenty years ago. Ashburn’s subdivisions may be newly built, but according to resident Cynthia Smith, it still feels like a village.
“It’s a small town feel. You don’t feel like you are constantly in a mad rush to go everywhere. You do have the trails and the community feeling of people knowing who you are, but then the easy access into into D.C. or if you want to go up to Baltimore or wherever you want to go, it’s not far away," she says.
And there are places to ride horses.
“My daughter loves to horseback ride. So we have access close by to horseback riding, whether it be here in Ashburn — believe it or not — we do have access to that. Or you can go out toward Leesburg and Purcellville,” she says.
While the horses near Ashburn may harken back to the area’s past, government contractors, technology workers and data centers may point to Ashburn’s future.
“In Ashburn, there is a huge technology sector,” says Smith. “You have a lot of data centers—more data centers being built—but it seems like a lot of people still are government contractors, and that most of the time requires being on site.” And that makes Ashburn’s location ideal.
“To drive to D.C. — no traffic — would be 35 to 40 minutes. And to get to Dulles Airport is about 15 minutes.”
For Smith and many others, the horses, the small town feel, the trails and the location make Ashburn a great place to call home.
[Music: "No, Girl" by John Davis from Title Tracks / "Salva Me" by Classical Cafe Chill Lounge Music Bar from Aria del Mar Vol. 2: Benedictine & Gregorian Chant Chillout Lounge]