from the Rockville Homepage
Rockville is one of Maryland's oldest towns, with its origins dating back to Colonial America. During Revolutionary times Rockville was known as Hungerford's Tavern the name of its most familiar landmark. One of the first calls to freedom from British rule was heard at the tavern in 1774 when a group of patriots met to consider the latest British outrage - the closing of the port of Boston. They issued a series of resolves condemning the Boston blockade, calling for a boycott of trade with Great Britain until the blockade was lifted, and selecting delegates to attend Maryland's general committee of correspondence in Annapolis - one of the meetings which led to the First Continental Congress.
When Montgomery County was formed by a division of Frederick County in 1776, Rockville served as the county seat and gradually became known as Montgomery Court House. In the 1780s, the community was known as Williamsburg, the last of its names before its designation as Rockville. At that time, Rockville was little more than a cluster of homes, a tavern, a courthouse, and a jail.
In 1801, the Maryland General Assembly changed the name of the town to Rockville because of its location close to Rock Creek. Rockville remained small during the first two-thirds of the 19th century. The population grew from 200 in 1800 to 400 in 1846. Rockville became incorporated in 1860 and was governed by three commissioners until 1888, when the city's 400 residents elected the first Mayor and Council. The first big change in the town's status began in 1873. The metropolitan branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad came to Rockville, and frequent trains started going to and from Washington and the brand new B & O station each day.
By 1900, the population had risen to 1,110, but growth came slowly to Rockville. In the 1930s, this growth was steady but not spectacular. City limits were expanded again, this time to the south, and population rose to 2,047 in 1940. But after that, the population skyrocketed, increasing from 6,934 in 1950 to nearly 45,000 in 1980.
Rockville has grown very rapidly from a leisurely, agriculturally-oriented county seat to a relatively cosmopolitan city of many neighborhoods. It is heavily oriented toward the federal government, which is the largest employer of Rockville residents, yet also contains both research offices of and headquarters for national corporations as well as the county government.
Rockville's historical and architectural value is nationally recognized; its entire West Montgomery Avenue historic district, the B & O Railroad Station, Old St. Mary's Church and cemetery, Wire Hardware Company, and the Dawson Farm are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The West Montgomery district and the city's three other historic districts share a predominance of large trees, brick sidewalks, and frame construction in their older buildings, all contributing to the aura of a Victorian county seat.