Saturday, December 20, 2014

1957 aerial images of Four Corners

I purchased these 1957 aerial images of the Four Corners area a while ago.  I paired them up with current-day images from Google Earth to show what has changed since then.  The contrast between 'then' and 'now' is very stark in some places, especially in areas disrupted by the Beltway.  Viewers will also notice much wider roads like University Boulevard and Colesville Road are today than they were now.  In 1957, only four travel lanes passed through the intersection.  Today, the intersection hosts nineteen lanes and approximately 100,000 vehicles per day.  

For those wondering where I got these, they are from a website called  While I had to pay for these images (which I only paid for because it wasn't expensive), there are several good free sources to obtain historic aerial and satellite photos.  One of the best ones is the United States Geological Survey EarthExplorer, an online interface that allows users to select from dozens or even hundreds of images of any given place (I obtained the 1963 images featured in a blog post earlier this year from EarthExplorer).  When looking for aerial images of a given year, always make sure no free option is availible before you buy some.  Many websites charge for the exact same images that can be found for free on the USGS site.

Enjoy the photos!   

The intersection in 1957, a year or two before University Boulevard was split into a one-way pair and Colesville Road was widened to six lanes.  Note the country club property at bottom and Saint Bernadette's School (no permanent church yet) at right.

The intersection in 2010.

Argyle Country Club.  Forest Glen Road is seen running from left to right (east-west) near the top of the image, diving the golf course and the subdivisions to the north.

The Argyle Country Club site today.  After the Beltway dissected the site, the land to the north became a concession park *a park created to appease those living in the neighborhood which was negatively impacted by the highway).  The parkland now comprises South Four Corners Park, Argyle Park, and a former Boys and Girls Club (recently converted to a school).  The remaining golf course land was reconfigured and turned into Sligo Creek Golf Course after Argyle Country Club moved out and transferred ownership of the course to the county.

Intersection of Forest Glen Road and Colesville Road.  This intersection no longer exists.  The clubhouse of the Indian Spring Country Club can be seen at right.  Part of the building and an outbuilding still stand today as part of the YMCA.  Also note the shopping center on Forest Glen Road at left.  This shopping center was destroyed  to make way for the Beltway interchange, but it was replaced in 1964 by the smaller one which still stands today.  

The area today, now dominated by the Beltway interchange.  

This final image offers the starkest contrast.  It depicts South Four Corners and North Hills of Sligo as they appeared a few years before the Beltway divided the two neighborhoods.  Dozens of homes and several business were destroyed in this part of Four Corners to make way for the Beltway (in a process that took less than four years from planning stage to opening stage, a timeline which is unheard of these days).   

South Four Corners and North Hills of Sligo today.


  1. Thanks for the aerials. As a child growing up in "Fairway" development of the '50s, I witnessed the planning/building of the Beltway. Our house was initially in the Beltway's path, but was spared in the final draft. I saw entire homes lifted onto flat bed trailers and relocated onto new foundations in Burnt Mills. Us kids rode our bikes along the poured concrete surface of the Beltway before it was opened to traffic. Good times!

  2. These aerials are fascinating to me. While I've lived in the County since late 1993, I've only lived in South Four Corners since March 2010. To actually "see" the area's history like this is very instructive.

  3. Very interesting contrast. Thank you for providing the pictures. I remember back in high school (I went to Robert E. Peary HS in Rockville) driving around the partially finished Beltway on Friday nights. You would see only one or two cars. Really hard to imagine that this could have been!

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting and sharing!!

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