How Montgomery County Grew in the 1950s
This online exhibit describes and discusses the various factors unique to the county, the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, and the nation that influenced Montgomery County's rapid growth during the 1950s.
RAPID POPULATION INCREASE
Montgomery County’s post-WWII growth as a suburb of Washington, D.C. was the product of population increases that began in the 1930s, expanded rapidly in the 1940s during and after World War II, and exploded in the 1950s. As seen in the chart below, the county's population increased 70% in the '30s from 49,206 to 83,912, 96% in the '40s from 83,912 to 164,402, and 107% in the '50s from 164,402 to 340,928. (US Census, 1940 & 1950)
Almost all new residents in the county in the '40s and '50s were white and this altered the ratio of Black residents to white residents. In 1940, one in eight Montgomery County residents was Black, in 1950, one in fourteen residents was Black, and by 1960, one in thirty residents was Black.
POST-WAR HOUSING SHORTAGE
Washington, D.C. experienced the same severe housing shortages that impacted US cities during and after World War II. The housing shortage had started in the 1930s when government agencies expanded to staff New Deal programs designed to pull the nation out of the Great Depression. It became a crisis during the 1940s as government agencies and branches of the military rapidly expanded operations during World War II and as wartime restrictions prevented construction of homes and apartments.
When the WWII ended in May 1945, wartime building restrictions were lifted and housing construction resumed on the periphery of major cities. The D.C. housing shortage remained so severe that in the late 1940s, 250,000 residents moved from D.C. to close-in counties in Maryland and Virginia. Of these, 48,007 D.C. residents (12,932 adults & 35,075 children) moved to Montgomery County. Montgomery County’s attraction was its proximity to the D.C. employment market and an abundance of inexpensive farmland for sale near the District line that made it a logical location for post-war home construction. (Kelly, page 41)
War veterans returning home had difficulty finding housing for their families. The county responded by providing unused war worker housing and new temporary housing to veterans with low family incomes of $3,000 - $3,400. Temporary housing for white veterans was placed on the grounds of Columbia Union College in Takoma Park and along Sligo Creek Parkway near Silver Spring. Temporary housing for Black veterans was built near Forest Glen. (MacMaster, p.331-332)
The separation of the temporary housing for returning white veterans from the temporary housing for returning Black veterans reflected the broader reality of race relations in the County at the beginning of the 1950s. The prevailing system was "one of almost complete separatism" in which discrimination "relegated Blacks to the lowest economic, political, and social life." This separatism even extended to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda and Montgomery General Hospital in Olney where white and Black patients were treated in separate wards. (MacMaster, p. 305)
Black patient at Montgomery General Hospital, undated. (Montgomery History, courtesy of Nell Broome)
MODERN WATER & SEWER SYSTEM
Above: Sewer pipes being laid for the first time along Summit Avenue in Gaithersburg, c. 1927. (Montgomery History: photo by Lewis Reed)
Lobbying by Silver Spring political boss E. Brooke Lee persuaded the Maryland General Assembly to pass the bill establishing the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) in 1918. The WSSC's purpose was to reduce the pollution of Rock Creek that contributed to typhoid epidemics, and to provide water and sewage service in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Soon after its formation, the WSSC began acquiring independent water & sewer systems in Takoma Park, Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Edgemoor, Glen Echo, and Kensington and merging them to create the WSSC system. Additional sewer and water capacity was constructed as needed to keep up with growth. The Commission implemented long-range planning and used projected population growth in the two counties to determine where and when to expand water and sewage services. (Brigham, p 5-7)
By 1950, utilizing low interest loans, the WSSC had financed construction of a system of modern sewer and water mains along the Little Falls Creek, Rock Creek, Sligo Creek, and Paint Branch stream valleys. Montgomery County’s water supply was drawn from the Patuxent River at Brighton Dam, purified at a filtration plant in Prince George’s County, stored in elevated water storage tanks located in both counties, and pumped to homes and businesses in the down county area via WSSC water lines. A financial agreement with the D.C. government allowed WSSC sewage from Montgomery and Prince George's Counties to be pumped to the Blue Plains Water Pollution Control Plant located on the Potomac River in southwest Washington, D.C. where it was treated. (Brigham, p 7-9)
Above: Map of WSSC sewer trunk lines located along major stream valleys, c. 1958. (Montgomery County Archives)
Rocky Gorge Reservoir, later named for T. Howard Duckett of WSSC. (Montgomery History)
The new 800-acre Duckett Dam and Reservoir, built to hold 6.4 billion gallons of water, opened in 1952 and supplied the additional water needed for the expanding WSSC water & sewage system that made the County's rapid growth possible. (Brigham, p.7) The new housing subdivisions built in the 1950s in the Bethesda, Rockville and Wheaton districts were connected to the WSSC system, except for the town of Rockville that built and maintained its own municipal water and sewage system.
One of several outhouses still in use in the community of Scotland due to lack of sewer service, 1967. (Montgomery History: photo by Alan Siegel)
Access to the modern WSSC water and sewage system was not provided to all County residents in the 1950s. Long-established, independent Black communities in the down county area were not connected to the WSSC system. They continued to rely on wells, nearby streams, and outhouses. The County did not pave the roads or collect garbage in these communities, despite the fact the residents paid their taxes like all the county's citizens. (MacMasters, p.338) It was not until the 1960s when citizens complained and protested about these conditions that WSSC water and sewage services were extended to these Black communities.
In 1928, after more lobbying from E. Brooke Lee, the Maryland General Assembly created the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC). D.C. had established its National Capital Park and Planning Commission one year earlier in 1927 and it was hoped the two organizations would cooperate in developing a coordinated regional plan. (Jaffeson, 2003) One unique aspect of the M-NCPPC was its independence from the Montgomery County and Prince George's County governments and its use of planning boards in each county. (Hanson, p.3)
In order to manage growth, the M-NCPPC established a policy requiring housing subdivision applicants to dedicate land for future utilities, streets, schools, and parks. To help sustain home values, the Commission kept residential development separate from commercial development and both types of development separate from industrial areas. (Hanson, p.16)
Cover of the M-NCPPC Annual Report, 1953. (Montgomery County Archives)
AWARD WINNING PARKS
Map showing established parks in red, c.1958. (Montgomery County Archives)
In addition to zoning and subdivision responsibilities, the M-NCPPC was authorized to purchase land for the design and construction of park systems in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.
The Capper-Cramton Act passed by Congress in 1930 provided the initial funding for M-NCPPC to purchase over 900 acres of parkland in the county. (Hanson, p.16) In Montgomery County, Commission staff prepared an extensive park plan that included acquiring land and building parks along the Little Falls, Rock Creek, Sligo and Northwest Branch stream valleys, building neighborhood parks, and designing an automobile parkway system to give residents access to park and recreation experiences along Sligo Creek. The Commission also worked closely with the Montgomery County school system to coordinate the location of neighborhood park facilities adjacent to schools so playgrounds and ball fields were used by students during the school day and by nearby residents during evenings and on weekends. (1960-61 Montgomery County Handbook, p.100)
A day at a county park, c. 1958. (Promotional photo from the 1960-1961 Montgomery County Handbook, Montgomery County Archives)
By 1959, the implementation of the M-NCPPC’s plan for the location parks and recreation resources had produced an award-winning Montgomery County park system with thirteen miles of parkways and 3,539 acres of public parks containing 29 community recreation centers, 63 playgrounds, 24 teen-age clubs, the 9-hole Sligo Golf Course, athletic fields, drinking fountains, picnic tables, outdoor grills and fireplaces, playgrounds, and summer recreation programs. (1960-61 Montgomery County Handbook, p.100)
Access to the parks was open to all residents of the County but there was a policy of discrimination when it came to the summer swim and baseball programs. White children were bused to the Crystal Pool at segregated Glen Echo Park. Black children were bused to a public swimming pool in the Georgetown section of the District of Columbia. (Brack, 1981)
The Crystal Pool at Glen Echo Amusement Park (undated). The Park did not allow Black patrons until several months of picketing and protests in the summer of 1960 and pressure from the Federal government forced the Park owners to open to all in spring 1961. (Montgomery History: photo from the collection of Richard Cook)
Only white baseball teams could play on the baseball fields in the parks. Black baseball teams had to play on fields they built in the Black communities around the County. The most famous Black baseball field was Emory Grove Park, where teams from around the county and the state would come to compete. Crowds of fans would sit around the field to watch their favorite teams, picnic with friends and neighbors, and after the games enjoy the live musicians and bands that played at the nearby Du-Drop Inn.
The Du-Drop Inn, Emory Grove. Owned by William Duvall, this popular spot was host to performances by top-billed entertainers in the 1950s and 1960s, including Fats Domino, Tina Turner and Little Richard, among many others. (Montgomery History Special Collections)
GOOD ROADS & BUS SERVICE
Major down-county roads in the 1950s; dark lines indicate roads being expanded. (Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce)
DC Transit bus routes in Montgomery County in the 1950s. (Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce)
County residents had good access in and out of Washington, D.C. via major roads including Piney Branch Road, 16th Street, River Road, and New Hampshire, Georgia, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts Avenues. By the 1950s, these roadways were being improved, widened, and extended into the County, creating natural corridors for urban expansion out of the District. In addition, cross-county roads like East-West Highway, University Boulevard, and Viers Mill Road were being built or expanded. Taken together, suburban areas in the down-county along the District line had excellent north-south and adequate east-west access. (An Inventory of Community Resources, M-NCPPC, 1955)
The County also had excellent bus service to and from the D.C. as shown in the bus route map at left. D.C. Transit established new bus routes to serve the suburban communities of Alta Vista, Colesville, White Oak, Four Corners, Silver Spring, Forest Glen, Glenmont, Wheaton, Rockville, Kensington, Garrett Park, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Glen Echo, Cabin John, and Potomac.
National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda (Montgomery History)
Atomic Energy Commission, Germantown. (Montgomery History)
Residents had many job opportunities in the County in the 1950s. The seven federal agencies (Army Map Service, David Taylor Model Basin, Naval Ordinance Laboratory, National Institutes of Health, National Naval Medical Center, Naval Ordinance Laboratory, and Walter Reed Rehabilitation Hospital) that had located in the County before 1950 were hiring (Inventory of Land Use, 1955) and the Atomic Energy Commission in Gaithersburg began hiring new employees when some existing employees decided not to relocate to the new AEC headquarters built in Germantown in 1957. (Kelly, p. 104). These federal government agencies, plus those in D.C. and Prince George's County, attracted young, well-educated workers from across the nation to work and live in the County.
Private sector companies in the fields of science and research began locating their offices in Montgomery County in the 1950s. These companies, including Capital Research Associates, Dynacor, Inc., Hydronautics, Emerson Research Laboratory, General Electric, IBM, Johns Hopkins Operations Research Center, Microbiological Associates, Optical Cell Co., Rixon Electronics, USI Robodyne,, and Vitro Laboratories were hiring people to work on government agency contracts. (Richardson, page 201-208) Soon, the county was advertising itself as "Science Center, USA" and encouraging prominent science and research companies to come to Montgomery County. (Richardson, page 9.)
Although Montgomery County was frequently described as a “bedroom community" of Washington, D.C. in the '50s, almost half of its workforce was employed in the county by 1959. The county workforce totaled 134,580 people, two-thirds men and one-third women. Half were salary or hourly workers in the private sector, while one-third worked for the federal government. Ten percent were self-employed. The remaining 8,980 workers were employed in agricultural and domestic jobs (Maryland Bureau of Census, 1961).
Vitro Laboratories, Aspen Hill (Montgomery History)
IBM Federal Systems, Gaithersburg (Montgomery History)
Black workers comprised 4% of the county's workforce in 1959. One-third of 3,010 male Black workers were employed as farm and non-farm laborers and two-thirds of 2,631 female Black workers were employed as domestic workers in private households. (Maryland Bureau of Census, 1961).
HIGH FAMILY INCOMES
White families had higher median incomes than Black families in the county in 1950s and this continued through the decade. The 1950 census reported a median income of $4,532 for white families and $1,629 for Black families. The median income of the county's white families was further reported in three categories: Urban, Urban/Rural Non-Farm, and Rural Farm. Median income was $5,005 for Urban white families was, $4,680 for Urban/Rural Non-farm families, and $3,326 for Rural Farm families.
As shown in the graph, by 1960, median income for white families in the county had risen to $9,317 and risen to $4,473 for Black families. More specifically, the median income was $6,816 for white males, $2,763 for Black males, $2,119 for white females, and $1,144 for Black females. (County Manager's Annual Reports, 1949/1959)
Over the 174-year period from 1776 when the County was founded to 1949, 46,093 homes were built within the county. In the 10-year period from 1950 to 1959, 38,866 homes were built, a near doubling that increased the total number of homes to 84,979. (Hoyt, 1958)
36,523 or 94% of the new homes were built in the areas of Wheaton, Bethesda, Rockville and Colesville. By the end of the decade, these four districts had the highest population density in the county, ranging from 517 residents per square mile in Colesville to 4,344 residents per square mile in Wheaton. (Maryland Bureau of Census, 1961).
Veirs Mill Village housing development (Montgomery History)
Some builders, especially in the early years of the decade, favored clear-cutting the land before building homes as shown in the aerial photograph of the 1,000 home Veirs Mill Village subdivision in Rockville. This resulted in new housing developments with no mature trees, outside those in park land or vacant lots (MNCPPC Annual Report, 1953). By 1958, this practice was ending as builders realized keeping as much of the natural landscape as possible was important to potential buyers (Looking Ahead, 1958).
New homes were small by today's standards. Most were built to meet the Federal Housing Administration's (FHA) "minimum house design" that required homes have a minimum of 624 square feet of living space as shown in the diagram on the right. (Jackson, p. 204)
A typical subdivision in the county ranged from 50 to 1,000 houses and builders incorporated some of the mass production techniques perfected during the war to build homes faster and in greater numbers than in previous decades.
FHA Minimum House Design floor plan
The new homes being constructed for young families in the Glenmont Village subdivision illustrates the impact of the FHA "minimum house design" in housing construction in the late 1940s and the 1950s. As the advertisement below states, homes had 625-800 square feet of living space with a living room, eat-in kitchen, two bedrooms, one full bathroom, and either an unfinished basement or unfinished second floor to accommodate future expansion. New homes for higher income families in the county had up to 1,200 square feet of living space with a living room, separate dining room, eat-in kitchen, three bedrooms, one or two full bathrooms, a half-bath, and a recreation room and laundry room in the basement.
Above: Artist’s rendering and floor plan of a typical Cape Cod style house available in that subdivision.
Homes were built in one of the four popular housing styles illustrated below: Cape Cod, Rambler/Ranch, Split-Level, and Contemporary/Modern. 1950s homes did not have front porches. Instead, the backyard was advertised as the "outdoor living room” with an emphasis on privacy and outdoor entertaining.
Top Left: Cape Cod; Top Right: Rambler/Ranch; Bottom Left: Split-Level; Bottom Right: Contemporary/Modern.
(Photographs by Bob Bachman)
In the 1950s, racial discrimination was embedded in every aspect of housing at the Federal, state, and local level. Segregated Montgomery County was no exception. Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veterans Administration (VA) policies prohibited local builders from using government-guaranteed loans to build homes in areas with Blacks residents and often prohibited banks from approving home improvement loans to Black homeowners. Banks and savings & loan companies inserted restrictive language known as covenants, as shown below, into the property deeds of homes sold in the county that prohibited the owner from selling, leasing, conveying, renting, or transferring the property to Blacks. Realtors would show Black home buyers homes for sale or rent in Black neighborhoods, but would not show them homes in white neighborhoods. (Jackson, 1985)
A racially restrictive covenant attached to a home in the Glenmont Hills subdivision from 1959 (Montgomery History Special Collections)
As a result, there were few, if any, opportunities for Black families living in Montgomery County, D.C., to purchase or rent houses or to rent apartments unless it was a house or an apartment in Black neighborhoods in Takoma Park, Kensington, Garrett Park, Rockville, and Gaithersburg such as Ritchie Avenue, Ken-Gar, Lincoln Park, Haiti, and Emory Grove or a house in one of the isolated Black communities like Scotland, Tobytown, Unity, Sunshine, or Brighton. Black teachers hired by Montgomery County Public Schools and Black professionals hired by local Federal agencies could not find suitable houses to buy or apartments to rent. Most commuted to their jobs in Montgomery County from homes or apartments in D.C.
Housing discrimination also impacted Black families who owned homes. The value of homes owned by Blacks did not increase the same as the value of homes owned by whites. In 1959, the median value of a Black-owned home in the county was $4,183 and the median value of a white-owned home was $16,136. (1960 Census; General Social & Economic Characteristics, 1961)
Until the 1950s, Montgomery County residents depended on department and specialty stores in downtown D.C. for major purchases of appliances, furniture, clothes, etc. Stores in the District of Columbia captured 89% of the $182 million in department store and specialty store sales in the Washington metropolitan area in 1948 and Montgomery County just 5% (Hoyt, 1958).
Beginning in the late 1940s, with the rapid construction of thousands of new homes, it became clear these new residents needed nearby places to shop for everyday necessities, as well as for the large purchases such as furniture and appliances, that came with home ownership.
Local D.C. and national department stores and retail chain stores had foreseen post-war suburban residential growth would occur over the District line in Maryland and they began building department stores in downtown Silver Spring, Bethesda, and Chevy Chase as well as constructing neighborhood shopping centers close to new suburban subdivisions.
The Silver Spring shopping district, shown above, had The Hecht Company and J.C. Penney, other retail businesses, restaurants, banks, a movie theater, major companies, and abundant parking in off-street parking lots. By 1959, shopping in the County was transformed. There were six national and local department stores, more than 30 neighborhood shopping centers, and two major shopping districts in Bethesda/Chevy Chase and Silver Spring.
Despite the creation of these shopping districts, the template for shopping in Montgomery County and and Virginia suburban Maryland would be forever changed when Wheaton Plaza, shown below, officially opened in January 1960. Gone was the search for parking space on the street or in parking lots, being exposed to the weather, and having to cross busy streets to reach stores in the older-model shopping districts.
Wheaton Plaza, February 1960. (Montgomery History)
Wheaton Plaza Interior Shopping Courtyard
When it opened, Wheaton Plaza was metropolitan Washington's first suburban shopping mall and the only shopping mall between Baltimore, MD and Atlanta, GA. (An Inventory of Community Resources, 1959). The Plaza had unlimited parking, a Woodward & Lothrop department store at one end, a Montgomery Ward department store at the other end, and 50 retail stores lined up along a weather protected, outdoor shopping courtyard with seats and fountains for relaxing with the family or friends while shopping. It also had a Super Giant grocery store, a Montgomery Ward automobile service center, and two Hot Shoppes restaurants.
Full access to new and existing shopping and entertainment opportunities did not extend to Black residents or visitors. Blacks were welcome to buy store merchandise, but drug store lunch counters, cafeterias, and restaurants would not serve them, except for a few businesses that offered carry out service. (MacMaster, p. 305) Blacks were denied service by barbershops, beauty parlors, bowling alleys, roller skating rinks, hotels, motels, swim clubs, health clubs, tv dance programs, and cab companies. Toward the end of the decade, the Montgomery County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) conducted a survey that identified county food service establishments that refused to serve Blacks. This survey information, combined with targeted picketing of places that continued to discriminate, was used effectively by the NAACP in the early 1960s to persuade most food service establishments to revise their policies to serve all customers. (Montgomery County Archives) This activity was also instrumental in passing a county-wide public accommodations ordinance in 1961 that prohibited discrimination in public facilities on the basis of race.
Starting in 1945, the U.S. experienced a surge in marriages, babies, and home purchases that continued unabated through the 1960s. 20,366 babies were born in Montgomery County in the 1940s and another 38,886 babies came along in the 1950s. In response to this post-war "Baby Boom", Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) undertook a major school construction program to meet the surge in school enrollment, especially at the elementary level. Despite implementing this accelerated construction program, the school system barely kept up with the increasing enrollment of elementary school students. In fact, some down-county elementary schools adopted half-day sessions in the morning and half-day sessions in the afternoon to able to accommodate all the eligible students as they waited for new elementary schools to be opened. (Jewel, 1976)
Examples of elementary, junior high, and high school for white students in the 1950s (left to right)
Montgomery County Public Schools operated as a segregated system in the 1950s. There were 30 elementary schools, 4 junior high schools, and 7 high schools for 26,253 white students (examples of typical buildings shown above). These schools were well maintained, modern school buildings with central heat, indoor bathrooms, modern desks & chairs, updated textbooks, unlimited classroom supplies, expansive outdoor recess areas with modern equipment, indoor gyms, bus service, and competitive teacher salaries. (Montgomery County Public Schools, Department of Facilities Management, Division of Long Range Planning, 2017)
Examples of elementary, junior high, and high schools for Black students in the 1950s (left to right)
There were 16 elementary schools, 1 junior high school, and 1 high school for 2,272 Black students (examples of the buildings shown above). Most Black elementary schools were very old, of substandard design, poorly lit, with outdoor privies, wood burning stoves, no cafeterias or gymnasiums, no or very limited outdoor space for recess and sports, and used textbooks handed down from the white schools. Many were still one or two-room schoolhouses constructed in the 1930s or earlier. The one Black junior high school, located in Rockville, was a repurposed brick-veneered wood structure with inadequate bathroom, cafeteria, and gym facilities, and no recreation infrastructure. Carver High School, also located in Rockville, and three new consolidated Black elementary schools were built in the early 1950s as part of the segregated system. (Montgomery County Public Schools, Department of Facilities Management, Division of Long Range Planning, 2017)
Over the years, Black county residents and the Black Parent-Teacher Association repeatedly petitioned the Montgomery County School Board for adequate facilities, textbooks, classroom supplies, indoor plumbing, recess equipment, and teacher salaries commensurate with those of the white teachers. These requests were frequently denied. Even if approved, there were often significant delays in fulfilling the requests. (Hill, p. 50)
William B. Gibbs, a teacher and principal in the segregated school system in Montgomery County, brought a case to court in 1938 for the equalization of Black and white teachers' salaries. He was represented by Thurgood Marshall.
The inequity of the county's segregated school system was apparent in the median school years completed by white and Black students. In 1950, the median school years completed in the US by white males and females 25 years old and over was 9.6 years. It was 6.8 years for black males and female students 25 years old and over. By 1960, the median school years completed in the U.S. by white males and females 25 years old and over was 10.8 years and 8.2 years for Black males and female students 25 years old and over.
In Montgomery County in 1950, the median school years completed in Montgomery County by white males and females 25 years old and over was 12.7 years and 6.9 years by Black males and females 25 years old and over. By 1960 in Montgomery County, the median school years completed was 13 years for white males and females 25 years old and 8.6 years for Black males and females 25 years old and over. Clearly, the benefits of an education in the highly ranked Montgomery County school system were only benefiting white students. (General Characteristics, 1950 & 1960 Census)
Montgomery County's separate and unequal education system began to change following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. This legal decision outlawed segregated school systems. By 1961, all black public schools in the county were closed and Black students attended school with white students. (Clarke & Brown, 1978)
For a more in-depth look at the desegregation of the public schools starting in 1954, please click on the link below to see Montgomery History’s online exhibition featuring oral histories of six women who experienced that process.
By 1959, after ten years of school construction and five years implementing the integration of public schools, the MCPS system had grown to 87 elementary schools (most integrated, but many remaining all-white relative to the local population), eight integrated junior high schools, ten integrated high schools, and one segregated high school (Carver High School, which closed in 1960). Not only did the number of school buildings grow from 1949-1959, so did the number of teachers: from 930 to 3,080, the number of students: from 28,525 to 78,488 and the school budget: from $9.5 million to $63.4 million (Jewell, page 320). Even then, the boom was not over. An additional 42,843 babies were born in the 1960s, creating the need to build even more schools throughout the 1960s (Montgomery County State and Regional Trends, 1991).
The 1950s were a decade of major growth and change in Montgomery County. The post-war population boom and the county's proximity to Washington, D.C. ignited rapid construction of suburban homes, shopping centers, schools, roads, community centers, playgrounds, and office buildings.
The challenges of managing this growth were, for the most part, effectively met due to a responsive county government, input from business leaders, a well-managed school system, the cooperation of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and the Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission, the participation of Federal agencies, and the efforts of concerned citizens. Working together, they laid a broad foundation for Montgomery County’s gradual emergence as a leader in suburban land use planning.
Black residents did not experience the economic, social, and life-style benefits created by the county's growth and prosperity in the '50s. Except for the integration of the public school system in the latter half of the decade, the county remained largely segregated. The existing system of racial discrimination would not be challenged on a broad scale until the 1960s when the county NAACP chapter, Black church leaders, Black residents, and other interested groups effectively used the strategies of the national civil rights movement to demand the equal treatment of Black residents in all aspects of county life.