Waldorf, Maryland

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Waldorf is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Charles County, Maryland. It is 23 miles (37 km) south-southeast of Washington, D.C. The population of the census-designated area only (excluding St. Charles) was 22,311 at the 2000 census. Waldorf was settled before 1900 as a rural crossroads with a train station and was called "Beantown" after a local family. Waldorf is now largely subsumed by the large planned community of St. Charles.

Waldorf's original name was Beantown. In 1880 the General Assembly of Maryland by an act changed the name in "Waldorf" in honor of William Waldorf Astor (1848–1919), the great-grandson of John Jacob Astor (1763–1848), who was born in Walldorf, Palatinate, Germany.[1] On July 29, 1908 the city "Plumb Valley" in Waseca County, Southern Minnesota changed its name into "Waldorf" after Waldorf/MD.[2] Once a tobacco market village, it came to prominence in the 1950s as a gambling destination after slot machines were legalized in Charles County in 1949. The boom lasted until 1968 when gambling was once again outlawed.[3] Its subsequent substantial growth as a residential community began with a 1970 loan package from the Department of Housing and Urban Development which fueled the giant planned community of St. Charles, south of Waldorf.

Waldorf is predominantly a bedroom community for many residents who commute to work at other points in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, especially personnel at Andrews Air Force Base. Waldorf's local jobs are primarily in the service and sales industry. Nearby St. Charles Towne Center, a 2-story shopping mall, opened in 1988[4] and was remodeled in 2007. St. Charles Towne Center draws shoppers and diners from several Maryland counties, parts of Washington, D.C., and Virginia, causing Charles County to be promoted as the "shopping capital of Southern Maryland."[citation needed] U.S. Route 301, the main highway through the town, boasts the "Waldorf Motor Mile,"[citation needed] with car dealerships located primarily along the northbound side. In 2005, Waldorf opened its third public high school (North Point High School), which has advanced science/technology programs; the Capital Clubhouse 24-hour indoor sports complex and ice rink also opened that year.[citation needed] Waldorf has a branch of the College of Southern Maryland. In 2006, plans were announced to build two more shopping centers, including one with high-end stores and an attractive "lifestyle" town center design layout.[citation needed] Ground was also broken to build an office park with mid-rise office buildings near Western Parkway and Route 228 (Berry Road); a hotel there opened in 2010, and another new hotel has opened across the road.[citation needed]

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