Bowie is a city in Prince George’s County, Maryland, United States with a population of 54,727 at the 2010 U.S. Census, Bowie has grown from a small railroad stop to the fifth most populous city and third largest city by area in Maryland. In 2014, CNN Money ranked Bowie 28th in its Best Places to Live in the United States.
The city of Bowies existence is solely due to the influence railway, in 1853 Colonel William Duckett Bowie obtained a charter from the Maryland legislature to construct a rail line into Southern Maryland. In 1869, the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad Company began the construction of a railroad from Baltimore to Southern Maryland stopping at Pope’s Creek.
In 1870, Ben Plumb, a land speculator and developer, sold building lots around the railroad junction and named the settlement Huntington City. By 1872, the line was completed, the entire line through Southern Maryland was completed in 1873. In 1880, Huntington City was renamed Bowie after Colonel Bowie’s son and business partner Oden Bowie who was the former Governor of Maryland and then-president of the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad.
In 1914, a teacher-training college was built for African-Americans, just outside the town which is now known as Bowie State University. The town of Bowie was incorporated in 1916. In 1957, the firm of Levitt and Sons acquired the nearby Belair Estate, the original colonial plantation of the Provincial Governor of Maryland, Samuel Ogle, and developed the residential community of Belair at Bowie. Two years later the town annexed the Levitt properties, and then re-incorporated the now-larger area as a city in 1963. The overwhelming majority of Bowie residents today live in this 1960s Levitt planned community, Levitt & Sons had a long history of prohibiting the sale of houses (including resale by owners) to African Americans which led to protests during the Civil Rights Movement in Bowie in 1963.
Bowie has an area of 16 square miles with about 50,000 residents and nearly 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) set aside as parks or open space. It has 72 ball fields, three community centers, an ice arena at Allen Pond Park, the Bowie Town Center, the 800-seat Center for the Performing Arts, a 150-seat theatrical playhouse, a golf course, and three museums.
Bowie’s rail town history is on display via the Huntington Railroad Museum, within the local rail station’s restored railroad buildings. In 2006, the city reopened the Bowie Building Association building, a small brick and block structure constructed circa 1930, as a Welcome Center; it originally housed the Bowie Building Association, which helped finance much of the community’s early development.