When the National Bureau of Standards moved into Gaithersburg in 1961, this community of 50,000 became known as the “Science Capital of the United States.” Gaithersburg, with its 23 parks and 522 acres of parkland, has managed to retain many of its small-town qualities despite the influx of science-related industries since the agency now known as the National Institute of Standards and Technology came to town.
Gaithersburg is located in the heart of Montgomery County, with its southeastern border just 13 miles away from the northwestern border of the nation’s capital. Named after Benjamin Gaither who built a house there in 1802, its humble beginnings can be traced back to 1765 when it was a tiny agricultural settlement called Log Town.
Gaithersburg’s famous Forest Oak tree grew on the site of Gaither’s house, and was found to be 275 years old in 1975 when a boring was taken to determine its age. Sadly, this city landmark was blown over during a severe storm in 1997.
In 1899 the Gaithersburg Latitude Observatory was built as part of an international project to measure the earth’s wobble on its polar axis. It closed in 1982, with computerization rendering manual observations obsolete.
Gaithersburg is now a hub for high-technology industries, with commercial agriculture almost non-existent.