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Bel Air, Maryland


Bel Air, Maryland

"Bel Air, Maryland" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Bel Air, Allegany County, Maryland.
Bel Air, Maryland

South Main Street

Location of Bel Air, Maryland

Coordinates: 39°32′12″N 76°20′54″W / 39.53667°N 76.34833°W / 39.53667; -76.34833Coordinates: 39°32′12″N 76°20′54″W / 39.53667°N 76.34833°W / 39.53667; -76.34833

Country United States
State Maryland
County Harford
Founded 1856
Incorporated 1945
 • Chairman of Board of Commissioners Edward Hopkins[1]
 • Total 2.94 sq mi (7.61 km2)
 • Land 2.93 sq mi (7.59 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.03 km2)
Population (2010)[3]
 • Total 10,120
 • Estimate (2012[4]) 10,274
 • Density 3,453.9/sq mi (1,333.6/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
FIPS code 24-05825

The town of Bel Air is the county seat of Harford County, Maryland, United States.[5] According to the 2010 census the population of the town was 10,120.[6] Bel Air is one of the three main towns of the Bel Air-Aberdeen-Havre de Grace, Maryland Urban Area.


Bel Air is located at 39°32′12″N 76°20′54″W / 39.53667°N 76.34833°W / 39.53667; -76.34833 (39.536707, -76.348280)[7].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.94 square miles (7.61 km2), of which, 2.93 square miles (7.59 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2) is water.[2]


Bel Air is a transition between the humid continental and humid subtropical climates. Bel Air features hot, often humid summers, mild, wet springs, pleasant falls and cool to cold winters. The average precipitation for Bel Air is around 40-43 inches while snowfall averages 19–24 inches.


Bel Air is located on U.S. Route 1, and several miles north of Interstate 95. Route 1 has both a bypass around Bel Air and Hickory, and a business route snaking through downtown. Both are connected to I-95 by Maryland Route 24 (at Edgewood) and Maryland Route 543 (at Riverside).

In the mid 20th century the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad ("Ma and Pa") ran through town, but the tracks were dismantled in 1958. The station was located (at milepost 26.5) on Rockspring Ave. between Broadway and Ellendale St. Much of the railroad's former route in and around Bel Air is now the Ma and Pa walking trail, which cuts through various wooded sections of town in and around Heavenly Waters Park.

A six-level parking garage is located on Hickory Avenue downtown, and there are plans to build a second parking garage elsewhere in town.

Bel Air Police Department

Bel Air's primary law enforcement agency is the Bel Air Police Department which was established in 1874. Its headquarters is located at 39 N. Hickory Avenue.


2010 census

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 10,120 people, 4,491 households, and 2,568 families residing in the town. The population density was 3,453.9 inhabitants per square mile (1,333.6 /km2). There were 4,744 housing units at an average density of 1,619.1 per square mile (625.1 /km2). The racial makeup of the town was 89.8% White, 4.4% African American, 0.2% Native American, 1.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.7% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.3% of the population.

There were 4,491 households of which 26.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.0% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 42.8% were non-families. 36.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.89.

The median age in the town was 40.3 years. 20.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.1% were from 25 to 44; 26.1% were from 45 to 64; and 18.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 47.8% male and 52.2% female.

2000 census

The census of 2000 reports that there were 10,080 people, 4,235 households, and 2,511 families residing in the town. The population density was 3,583.7 people per square mile (1,385.0/km²). There were 4,444 housing units at an average density of 1,580.0 per square mile (610.6/km²).

There were 4,235 households out of which 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.2% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.7% were non-families. 35.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.94.

White 92.8%
African American 4.4%
Asian 1.4%
Native American 0.2%
Pacific Islander < 0.1%
Other 0.3%
Two or more races 0.9%
TOTAL 100.0%
(Hispanic or Latino, any race 1.2%)
Under 18 years 22.1%
18-24 8.2%
25-44 30.5%
45-64 21.8%
65 or over 17.4%

The median age was 39 years.

Age Group Females Males
All ages 51.5% 48.5%
18 years or over 52.3% 47.7%
Per capita $23,737
Median household $44,135
Median family $58,299
Median male $42,412
Median female $29,207

6.4% of the population and 4.0% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the individuals living in poverty, 7.6% were under the age of 18 and 6.5% were 65 or older.


Bel Air's identity has gone through several incarnations since 1780. Aquilla Scott, who had inherited land known as "Scott's Improvement Enlarged," planned the town on a portion that he called "Scott's Old Fields." Four years later, the town had expanded as local politicians, merchants, and innkeepers purchased lots from Scott, and the county commissioners decided to change its name to the more appealing "Belle Aire." In his deeds, Scott dropped one letter, renaming the town, "Bell Aire." Around 1798, court records dropped two more letters, and "Bel Air" was born.

During this period, Bel Air began to rise in prominence. In 1782, just two years after its founding, it became Harford's county seat, and Daniel Scott (Aquilla's son) started building a courthouse on Main Street. Although the town limits in the late 18th century encompassed nothing more than the two sides of Main Street, the days following the Civil War saw a building and land-development boom that remains in full swing to this day.

In the early 20th century, several fires swept through the downtown area, notably in 1900 and 1942. In 1972, another fire struck, decimating the east side of Main Street and causing $2 million in damage.

In 1970, the notorious H. Rap Brown, a member of the Black Panthers, was charged with instigating a riot after a rally in Cambridge; a change in venue brought his trial to Bel Air. In an attempt to assassinate Brown, radicals drove to Bel Air in a car laden with plastic explosives, intending to take down the courthouse. The car exploded prematurely, about a mile from the courthouse, and left a crater in the road. The trial was eventually moved again.

Into the 1950s, the town hosted horse racing at Bel Air Racetrack, which stood where the Harford Mall is today.

The land where Chilis and Taco Bell now stand, used to be a cattle farm which housed the famous "Bessie the cow". When the farmer died, he put in his will that his property could not be constructed on until his cow died.

Notable natives and residents


Colleges and universities

Primary and secondary schools

Public Schools

The Harford County Public Schools serve Bel Air, in addition to the rest of the county.

Elementary schools

Bel Air Elementary School, Fountain Green Elementary School, Hickory Elementary School, Homestead/Wakefield Elementary School, John Archer School, Prospect Mill Elementary School, Ring Factory Elementary School, Forest Lakes Elementary School, William S James Elementary School, Emmorton Elementary, Red Pump Elementary

Middle schools

Bel Air Middle School, Southampton Middle School, Patterson Mill Middle School

High schools

Bel Air High School, C. Milton Wright High School, Harford Technical High School, Patterson Mill High School

Private schools

Small airports

The two small plane airports in the metropolitan area are:

  • Forest Hill
  • Fallston Airport


External links

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