Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lyttonsville: Living History Hidden in Plain Sight


Too many of us travel the same routes from home to work, school, the grocery store, or our kids’ soccer games day after day without ever exploring the neighborhoods we travel past. The result is that we know little or nothing about many of the places and people in our own backyards.

The Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board is trying to change that by hosting a series of walking and biking tours of the neighborhoods in our community. The next tour is on Sunday April 3 at noon, when I will be leading a tour of Lyttonsville, a neighborhood of 68 acres on the western edge of Silver Spring, with local activists.

Lyttonsville is a prime example of a part of Montgomery County – and its history – that has been overlooked for too long. Founded in 1853 by Samuel Lytton, a freed slave, the neighborhood was for many decades predominantly African-American. For reasons of race and class, the area was neglected by the county government. The streets were not paved and many residents lacked running water or plumbing until the 1960s, despite its proximity to downtown Silver Spring.

Residents consider their community part of Silver Spring, but school boundaries originally drawn to ensure diversity send many children from Chevy Chase to the neighborhood’s Rosemary Hills Elementary School, while students who live just a few blocks away are sent to Woodlin or Rock Creek Forest Elementary Schools. Consequently, in some ways the neighborhood has connections to the more affluent areas to the west, and its kids go on to attend Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

To some degree, the school boundaries, together with the CSX tracks that form the neighborhood’s northern and eastern border, weaken ties to Silver Spring neighborhoods to the east. A narrow bridge over the tracks has been a source of contention, but the bridge is a key access route to the Capital Crescent Trail. When the Purple Line is built, the trail will be finished through the neighborhood and extend into downtown Silver Spring along with a high quality transit option for getting to Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Prince George’s County.

Today Lyttonsville is racially and economically diverse, with many young families joining longtime residents, including about a dozen families descended from the original settlers. The neighborhood has come a long way from its beginnings with little more than a church, a one-room schoolhouse, and a group of houses built by the original residents.

If you would like to learn more about Lyttonsville and get to know some of the people who have worked to make it a vibrant place to live, join us for the tour on April 3. We will begin with lunch (at noon) at the Parkway Deli at 8317 Grubb Road, followed by a walk and community discussion at the Gwendolyn E. Coffield Community Center, located at 2450 Lyttonsville Road. Please RSVP to caseybanderson (at) so we will have space for you at lunch.

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1 comment:

Raimo said...

A school building was fenced off with barbed wire in Espoo, Finland in 1908 (see the picture in the link). Swedes fenced off school buildings with barbed wire, in order to ban children the access to a school.

The Swedish government was responsible for the most iron ore the Nazis received. Kiruna-Gällivare ore fields in Northern Sweden were all important to Nazi Germany.

These massive deliveries of iron ore and military facilities from Sweden to Nazi Germany lengthened World War II. Casualties of the war have been estimated at 20 million killed in Europe. How many of them died due to Sweden's material support to Nazi Germany, is not known.

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