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Harford County, Maryland facts for kids

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Harford County
Harford County Courthouse
Harford County Courthouse
Flag of Harford County
Official seal of Harford County
Map of Maryland highlighting Harford County
Location within the U.S. state of Maryland
Map of the United States highlighting Maryland
Maryland's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Maryland
Founded December 17, 1773
Named for Henry Harford
Seat Bel Air
Largest city Aberdeen
 • Total 527 sq mi (1,360 km2)
 • Land 437 sq mi (1,130 km2)
 • Water 90 sq mi (200 km2)  17%
 • Total 260,924
 • Density 597.08/sq mi (230.53/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts 1st, 2nd

Harford County is located in the U.S. state of Maryland. As of the 2020 census, the population was 260,924. Its county seat is Bel Air. Harford County is included in the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA Combined Statistical Area.


Harford County was formed in 1773 from the eastern part of Baltimore County. It contains Tudor Hall, birthplace of Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Harford County also hosted the signers of the Bush Declaration, a precursor document to the American Revolution.

The county was named for Henry Harford (ca. 1759–1834), the illegitimate son of Frederick Calvert, 6th Baron Baltimore. Henry Harford was born to Calvert's mistress, Hester Whelan, whose residence still stands as part of a private residence on Jarretsville Pike, in Phoenix, Maryland. Harford served as the last Proprietary Governor of Maryland but, because of his illegitimacy, did not inherit his father's title.

Havre de Grace, an incorporated city in Harford County, was once under consideration to be the capital of the United States rather than Washington, D.C.. It was favored for its strategic location at the top of the Chesapeake Bay; this location would facilitate trade while being secure in time of war. Today, the waterways around Havre de Grace have become adversely affected by silt runoff, which is one of the primary environmental issues of Harford County.

The county has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places.

Environmental history

Harford County has environmental issues in three major areas: land use, water pollution/urban runoff, and soil contamination/groundwater contamination.

The county's past, present, and future population booms and land development activities have created conflicts between farmers and developers/homeowners wishing to create subdivisions. The county was one of the first in the country to implement a development envelope plan, in which new development is channeled into specific areas of the county.

Because the county sits at the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay along the Susquehanna River, it plays a key role in controlling sediment and fertilizer runoff into the bay as well as fostering submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) regrowth. The county has had to balance the needs of land owners to practice agriculture and/or pave land (creating impervious surfaces) with effects of runoff into the bay.

Harford County has been burdened by soil contamination and groundwater contamination since the creation of the Aberdeen Proving Ground. The military installation performs research for the U.S. Army and has released various chemical agents into soil and groundwater, including mustard gas and perchlorate. The bordering towns of Aberdeen, Edgewood and Joppatowne have been affected by this contamination. Aberdeen Proving Ground contains three Superfund priority sites as of 2006. Groundwater contamination by MTBE, a mandatory gasoline additive, has also affected Fallston.

Harford County also faces controversy from residents living near Scarboro Landfill and Harford Waste Disposal Center, the only municipal landfill. The landfill, approved to triple in size in 2007, is the subject of complaints by neighbors of operating violations, such as large areas of open trash and blown litter, leachate breaks which contaminate area residential wells and flow into Deer Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River, and increased health problems.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 527 square miles (1,360 km2), of which 437 square miles (1,130 km2) is land and 90 square miles (230 km2) (17%) is water.

Harford County straddles the border between the rolling hills of the Piedmont Plateau and the flatlands of the Atlantic Coastal Plain along the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The county's development is a mix of rural and suburban, with denser development in the larger towns of Aberdeen and Bel Air and along Route 40 and other major arteries leading out of Baltimore. The highest elevations are in the north and northwest of the county, reaching 805 ft. near the Pennsylvania border in the county's northwestern corner. The lowest elevation is sea level along the Chesapeake Bay.

Adjacent counties

National protected area

  • Susquehanna River National Wildlife Refuge


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 14,976
1800 17,626 17.7%
1810 21,258 20.6%
1820 15,924 −25.1%
1830 16,319 2.5%
1840 17,120 4.9%
1850 19,356 13.1%
1860 23,415 21.0%
1870 22,605 −3.5%
1880 28,042 24.1%
1890 28,993 3.4%
1900 28,269 −2.5%
1910 27,965 −1.1%
1920 29,291 4.7%
1930 31,603 7.9%
1940 35,060 10.9%
1950 51,782 47.7%
1960 76,722 48.2%
1970 115,378 50.4%
1980 145,930 26.5%
1990 182,132 24.8%
2000 218,590 20.0%
2010 244,826 12.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2020

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 244,826 people, 90,218 households, and 66,335 families residing in the county. The population density was 560.1 inhabitants per square mile (216.3/km2). There were 95,554 housing units at an average density of 218.6 per square mile (84.4/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 81.2% white, 12.7% black or African American, 2.4% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 0.9% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 3.5% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 28.1% were German, 19.8% were Irish, 12.2% were English, 9.9% were Italian, 6.8% were Polish, and 6.2% were American.

Of the 90,218 households, 36.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.9% were married couples living together, 11.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 26.5% were non-families, and 21.5% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.68 and the average family size was 3.13. The median age was 39.4 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $77,010 and the median income for a family was $88,370. Males had a median income of $59,734 versus $44,706 for females. The per capita income for the county was $33,559. About 4.0% of families and 5.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.3% of those under age 18 and 5.9% of those age 65 or over.

Art and culture

The Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra, formerly the Harford Community Orchestra, is an orchestra that is based in Harford County. The group is made up of about 80 musicians from many professions.

The Havre De Grace Decoy Museum is a museum dedicated to working and decorative decoys used on the Chesapeake Bay.

Harford Community College hosts many cultural spots. The Student Center hosts the Chesapeake Gallery, a collection of artwork from established artists, as well as students and faculty, and the Chesapeake Theater, a theater venue used by the Phoenix Festival Theater Company, a student run theater group.

Harford Community College also has the Joppa Hall, which houses the Blackbox Theatre, an additional theater venue used by the Harford Dance Theater Company and the HCC Actors Guild. The Joppa Hall also houses the Joppa Recital Halls, a venue for musical performances.

Also at HCC is the Hays-Heighe House, a museum dedicated to the history of Harford County.

The Historical Society of Harford County, one of the oldest county historical societies in Maryland, was established in 1885 to preserve, promote, and interpret the history of the county and its people. Today, it is headquartered on Main Street in downtown Bel Air in the historic 1937 Old Bel Air Post Office Building, where it maintains an archive, exhibit space, and research library.


The Conowingo Dam is on the eastern border of Harford County.


Major highways

2019-07-16 10 13 45 View south along Interstate 95 (John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway) from the overpass for Maryland State Route 24 (Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway) on the edge of Edgewood and Bel Air South in Harford County, Maryland
I-95 at MD 24 in Harford County
  • I-95
  • US 1
  • US 1 Bus.
  • US 40
  • MD 7
  • MD 22
  • MD 23
  • MD 24
  • MD 132
  • MD 136
  • MD 138
  • MD 146
  • MD 147
  • MD 152
  • MD 155
  • MD 156
  • MD 159
  • MD 161
  • MD 165
  • MD 439
  • MD 440
  • MD 462
  • MD 490
  • MD 543
  • MD 623
  • MD 624
  • MD 646
  • MD 715
  • MD 755
  • MD 763
  • MD 924

Mass transportation

Buses are run by the county-owned Harford Transit. The state-operated MARC Penn Line serves Edgewood and Aberdeen.


The Harford County Airport is a small airport in Churchville. Its available for recreational pilots & flight training, as well as sight seeing, balloon rides, hang gliding and sky diving.




Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities


The Conowingo Dam is on the eastern border of Harford County; the dam operations and offices are on the Harford County side of the river.

Many scenes from the films Tuck Everlasting and From Within, and the U.S. TV series House of Cards were filmed in various places around Harford County.

In 2011 the Office of National Drug Control Policy deemed Harford County a designated High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.


According to the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, the following were the top employers in Harford County:

Employer # of Employees
Nov. 2014
# of Employees
Dec. 2011
Aberdeen Proving Ground 16,797 15,582
Upper Chesapeake Health 3,129 2,900
Rite Aid
(Mid-Atlantic Customer Support Center)
1,300 1,500
Kohl's 1,255 NA
Harford Community College 1,029 982
Klein's ShopRite of Maryland 1,000 800
Wal-Mart 900 497
Jacobs Technology 865 787
Home Depot 500 NA
Target Corporation 500 495
Wegmans Food Markets 499 525
BSC America 475 250
American Infrastructure 445 352
Macy's 431 NA
Booz Allen Hamilton 430 NA
McDonald's 420 NA
Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) 410 415
Frito-Lay 379 435
Sephora USA 378 454
(formerly SAIC)
370 607
Independent Can 350 NA
Saks Fifth Avenue 320 525
CACI 313 292
APG Federal Credit Union 305 NA
SafeNet 300 NA
Areas USA 251 NA
Citizens Care & Rehabilitation Center 250 250
Dixie Construction 250 NA
Jones Junction Auto Group 250 NA
Northrop Grumman 250 250
Redner's Markets 250 250
Wawa 250 252
Giant Food 249 378
Mars Super Markets 249 NA
L-3 Communications NA 400
Alcore NA 350
Blue Dot of Maryland NA 330
Custom Direct NA 295
Weis Markets NA 290
Constar NA 251
Arc of Harford County NA 250


No major league sports teams are based in Harford County. The list of sports teams and organizations are shown below:

Program Colors Conference League Facilities Level
Aberdeen IronBirds                     McNamara New York–Penn League Ripken Stadium Short-Season A
Minor League Baseball
Harford Community
College Fighting Owls
          MD JUCO NJCAA Harford Sports Complex College
Aberdeen Eagles           Upper Chesapeake Bay
Athletic Conference
MPSSAA Various High School
Bel Air Bobcats          
C. Milton Wright Mustangs          
Edgewood Rams          
Fallston Cougars               
Harford Technical Cobras          
Havre De Grace Warriors          
Joppatowne Mariners          
North Harford Hawks          
Patterson Mill Huskies          
Harford Christian Eagles           N/A MACSAC
John Carroll Patriots           MIAA -B (Boys)
IAAM (Girls)
Baltimore Catholic League (Basketball)

Harford County is the hometown of many sports icons, including Kimmie Meissner, a 2006 Olympic figure skating competitor, Cal Ripken, a former Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer and former Minnesota Vikings linebacker EJ Henderson.


Primary and secondary education

Harford County Public Schools

The Harford County Public Schools system is the public school system serving the residents of Harford County. It includes thirty-two elementary schools, nine middle schools, ten high schools and one charter school.

Private schools

  • Harford Christian School, a Christian school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • The John Carroll School, a Catholic school for 9th through 12th grade.
  • Trinity Lutheran School, a Lutheran school for pre-kindergarten through 8th grade.
  • Harford Day School, a private school for Kindergarten through 8th grades.
  • Harford Friends School, a Quaker school for Kindergarten through 8th grades.
  • Saint Margaret School, a Catholic school for pre-kindergarten through 8th grade.
  • Grace Classical Academy, formerly Oak Grove Classical Christian School, is a Classical Christian school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • The Highlands School is a private, independent, AIMS accredited, K-12 program designed for students with dyslexia, ADHD, and language-based learning differences.


There are no 4-year universities in Harford County. Harford Community College, located in Churchville, offers 2-year associate degrees and vocational programs. Recently, Harford County Community College has entered into several partnerships with local four-year colleges for enhanced offerings, for credit at those institutions, to be taught on campus and at the surrounding buildings.

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