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Harford County is a county in the U.S. state of Marylandmarker. In 2004, its population was estimated to be 233,340. Its county seat is Bel Airmarker. Harford County forms part of the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area.


Harford County was formed in 1773 from the eastern part of Baltimore County. It contains Tudor Hall, birthplace of Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Harford County also hosted the signers of the Bush Declaration, a precursor document to the American Revolution.

The county was named for Henry Harford (ca. 1759-1834), illegitimate son of Frederick Calvert, 6th Baron Baltimore. Harford was the last Proprietary Governor of Marylandmarker, but did not inherit his father's title because of his illegitimacy.

Havre de Gracemarker, an incorporated city in Harford County, was once under consideration to be the capital of the United Statesmarker rather than Washington, D.C.marker. It was favored for its strategic location at the top of the Chesapeake Bay; this location would facilitate trade while being secure in time of war. Today, the waterways around Havre de Grace have been silted, one of the primary environmental issues of Harford County.

The county has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places.

Environmental History

Harford County has been a hotbed of environmental issues in three major areas: land use, water pollution/urban runoff, and soil contamination/groundwater contamination.

The county's past, present, and future population booms and land development activities have created conflicts between farmers and developers/homeowners wishing to create subdivisions. The county was one of the first in the country to implement a development envelope plan, in which new development is channeled into specific areas of the county.

Because the county sits at the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay along the Susquehanna River, it plays a key rôle in controlling sediment and fertilizer runoff into the bay as well as fostering submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) regrowth. The county has had to balance the needs of land owners to practice agriculture and/or pave land (creating impervious surfaces) with effects of runoff into the bay.

Harford County has been burdened by soil contamination and groundwater contamination since the creation of Aberdeen Proving Groundmarker. The military installation performs research for the U.S. Army and has released various chemical agents into soil and groundwater, including mustard gas and perchlorate. The bordering towns of Aberdeenmarker, Edgewoodmarker and Joppatownemarker have been affected by this contamination. Aberdeen Proving Ground contains three superfund priority sites as of 2006. Groundwater contamination by MTBE, a mandatory gasoline additive, has also affected Fallstonmarker.

Harford County also faces conflict with residents living near its only municipal landfill in an area called Dublin. The landfill, approved for a triple size expansion in 2007, is the subject of complaints by neighbors of operating violations such as large areas of open trash and blown litter, leachate breaks which contaminate area residential wells and flow into Deer Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River, and increased health problems.

Law and government

Harford County was granted a charter form of government in 1772.The Harford County Government includes the Harford County Public Library service and the Harford County Sheriff's Office, which now has precincts in Bel Air, Edgewood and Jarrettsville.

The Harford County Executive is David R. Craig (Republican). The County Council comprises a President (elected at-large) and 6 council members (elected from single-member districts). The current President is William "Billy" Boniface.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 527 square miles (1,364 km²), of which, 440 square miles (1,140 km²) of it is land and 86 square miles (224 km²) of it (16.40%) is water.

The terrain rises in elevation and relief from south to north, with flat areas south of U.S. Route 40.The highest elevation, at 805 ft., is located near the Pennsylvania border in the county's northwestern corner. The lowest elevation is sea level along the Chesapeake Bay.

Adjacent counties

National protected area


Median income (2000 census)
As of the census of 2000, there were 218,590 people, 79,667 households, and 60,387 families residing in the county. The population density was 496 people per square mile (192/km²). There were 83,146 housing units at an average density of 189 per square mile (73/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 86.77% White, 9.27% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 1.52% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.69% from other races, and 1.47% from two or more races. 1.91% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 22.5% were of German, 13.1% Irish, 9.8% Italian, 9.2% English, 8.1% "Americanmarker" and 6.0% Polish ancestry according to Census 2000.

By 2006 the population of Harford County had risen 10.4% to 241,402.

The 2005 report on race and ethnicity indicated the county's population was 82.8% non-Hispanic whites. The proportion of African-Americans in the county had risen to 11.5%. Hispanics were now 2.4% of the total population.

In 2000 there were 79,667 households out of which 38.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.90% were married couples living together, 10.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.20% were non-families. 19.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.72 and the average family size was 3.14.

In the county the population was spread out with 27.90% under the age of 18, 6.80% from 18 to 24, 31.60% from 25 to 44, 23.70% from 45 to 64, and 10.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 96.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $57,234, and the median income for a family was $63,868. Males had a median income of $43,612 versus $30,741 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,232. About 3.60% of families and 4.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.80% of those under age 18 and 6.70% of those age 65 or over.

Cities and towns

Harford County contains the following incorporated municipalities:

Unincorporated areas are also considered as towns by many people and listed in many collections of towns, but they lack local government. Various organizations, such as the United States Census Bureau, the United States Postal Service, and local chambers of commerce, define the communities they wish to recognize differently, and since they are not incorporated, their boundaries have no official status outside the organizations in question. The Census Bureau recognizes the following census-designated places in the county:

  1. Aberdeen Proving Groundmarker
  2. Bel Air Northmarker
  3. Bel Air Southmarker
  4. Edgewoodmarker
  5. Fallstonmarker
  6. Jarrettsvillemarker
  7. Joppatownemarker
  8. Perrymanmarker
  9. Pleasant Hillsmarker
  10. Riversidemarker

Other unincorporated communities include:

  1. Abingdonmarker
  2. Belcampmarker
  3. Cardiffmarker
  4. Churchvillemarker
  5. Darlington
  6. Gunpowdermarker
  7. Castletonmarker
  8. Dublinmarker
  9. Forest Hillmarker
  10. Level
  11. Norrisvillemarker
  12. Pylesville
  13. Streetmarker
  14. Whitefordmarker
  15. White Hall


Though there are not any major league teams in the county, Harford County is home to a minor league baseball team, the Aberdeen IronBirds. The team was founded by former Baltimore Orioles player and hall of famer Cal Ripken, who was raised in Aberdeenmarker. Harford County is also home to Kimmie Meissner, who lives in Bel Air. Meissner competed in figure skating in the 2006 Winter Olympics and won a gold medal in the 2006 World Figure Skating Championships in Calgarymarker, Albertamarker.

Major sports facilities include:

  • Ripken Stadiummarker minor league baseball facility in Aberdeen, capacity of 6,200


For an entire list of schools, see Harford County Public Schools.

Elementary Schools

There are thirty-two elementary schools in Harford County. Homestead-Wakefield, William Paca/Old Post Road and Youth's Benefit Elementary schools are two-building campuses housing primary students (Kindergarten-2nd Grade) in one building and intermediate students (3rd Grade-5th Grade) in the other building.

Middle Schools

There are currently 8 middle schools in Harford County, which all run from 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., except North Harford Middle School which runs from 7:25 to 2:00.

High Schools

There are currently ten high schools in Harford County, including one technical high school. One high school (Aberdeen) contains a science/math magnet program, while another (Edgewood) contains the Academy of Finance magnet program, and a third (Joppatowne) hosts the Homeland Security magnet program. There is also a charter school located next to Aberdeen High School.

The John Archer School is an alternative "pre-K to 12th-grade" school in Harford Countymarker, run under the auspices of the Harford County Public Schools. The John Carroll Schoolmarker is a private Catholic school in the county.

The school mascots are the Aberdeen Eagles, Bel Air Bobcats, C. Milton Wright Mustangs, Edgewood Rams, Fallston Cougars, Havre de Grace Warriors, Joppatowne Mariners, North Harford Hawks, Patterson Mill Huskies, Restoration Academy Lions and Harford Technical Cobras.

Three of the HCPS high schools also have or are preparing for magnet programs. Although the Science and Mathematics Academy is a separate institution, it is hosted by and shares some facilities with Aberdeen High School, and Harford Technical High Schoolmarker is in itself a magnet school for academic and technical programs. Edgewood High School is in the beginning stages of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, in which the school will offer college-preparatory courses for its students, who will graduate with an internationally recognized high school diploma. Edgewood also offers the Academy of Finance program.


There are no 4-year universities in Harford County. Harford Community College, located in Churchville, offers 2-year Associates degrees and vocational programs.


The single largest employer in Harford County is Aberdeen Proving Groundmarker, with over 11,000 civilian employees. Following the recommendations of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission of 2005, approximately 5,300 jobs will be moved to Aberdeen Proving Ground within the following decade.

Family Support Services

General counseling and trauma-based therapy, in-home assistance for the elderly and adult disabled, and other support programs for families and individuals are offered by Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland (FCS), a private nonprofit organization with offices in Bel Air, Maryland. FCS also operates an adult day care center on the grounds of Harford County Community College. Some services are offered without charge; others are offered on a sliding-fee scale based on income.


The newspaper of record is The Aegis.

The Conowingo Dammarker is on the eastern border of Harford County; the dam operations and offices are on the Harford County side of the river.

Many scenes from the films Tuck Everlasting and From Within were filmed in various places around Harford County.

Public transit is operated by county-owned Harford Transit.


  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Philadelphia, PA. "Aberdeen Proving Ground (Edgewood Area Site) - Current Site Information." EPA Superfund Site ID No. MD2210020036. May 2008.
  2. EPA. "Aberdeen Proving Ground (Michaelsville Landfill) - Current Site Information." EPA Superfund Site ID No. MD3210021355. May 2008.
  3. Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). Baltimore, MD. "Fact Sheet - Drinking Water Well Impact: Fallston Presbyterian Church/Fallston Pre-Kindergarten, 600 Fallston Road, Fallston, Maryland." 2004-08-27.
  4. MDE. "Fact Sheet - Drinking Water Well Impact: Fallston Service Center, 602 Fallston Road, Fallston, Harford County, Maryland 21047." MDE Case No. 9-0816HA. 2004-12-01.
  5. Harford County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau

External links

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