The Silver Hill-Morningside Neighborhood borders the southern side of the Suitland Parkway, between Branch Avenue and the Capital Beltway. These two routes form the neighborhood's western and southern borders.
Residential development in the Silver Hill- Morningside neighborhood has been concentrated in two sections -- in the Silver Hill section to the northwest and in the Morningside section to the southeast. A large and fairly open area lies between, traversed by Henson Creek and containing sites used for mineral extraction. Changes over time have resulted in proliferation of apartment units, mainly in the northwestern section, increases in strip commercial land use, and new uses for land bordering the former extraction sites.
SILVER HILL - MORNINGSIDE POPULATION CHARACTERISTICS Population 13,406 Under 18 Years of Age 35.6% Over 64 Years of Age 3.3% Nonwhite Residents 4.8% Households 4,222 Headed by Husband-Wife Teams 76.4% Female Family Head w/o Spouse 8.5% Senior Citizen Households 215 Percent of Total Households 5.1%
The old road leading out of the District of Columbia into the Silver Hill-Morningside Neighborhood led to the tiny village of Silver Hill, located a mile or so from the County's border with the nation's capital. Travelers during the Civil War period who used this road (first known as Naylor Road or Walker Road because it led to the Naylor and Walker farms) would have found a tavern at Silver Hill where the road branched. One segment trended northeast to Suitland and was known for a long time as the Silver Hill-Suitland Road (now Silver Hill Road). Another segment continued southward and branched again, toward Oxon Hill and toward Camp Springs. Sometimes this segment was called Oxon Hill Road, and later part of old Branch Avenue, but today it is part of St. Barnabas Road (Rt. 414).
The name of Silver Hill was probably first applied in connection with the delivery of mail and may have reflected deposits of silvery mica in the ground of this elevated section of the County. Land at Silver Hill slopes downward to Oxon Run on the north and again downward to Henson Creek on the south.
Construction of new highways like Suitland Parkway (1940's) and new Branch Avenue or Rt. 5 (1950's) have rendered some of the old road patterns indistinct, have changed the character of land use, and have precipitated the entry of a new population, but in the latter half of the 19th Century farmers and County residents of long standing were the principal residents. Their homes were generally located on farm parcels or along the roadsides at Silver Hill. A few residents, including a schoolteacher, lived to the south of Silver Hill, along St. Barnabas Road and its intersection with the road to Camp Springs. Here was located the area's small schoolhouse. Further south, along Henson Creek, was the Soper farm and grist mill.
Maps of the early 1900's indicate few changes in the type of settlement until transfers of land took place in the 1930's for the sale of building lots. One parcel on which lots were offered for sale was within the old village site of Silver Hill. This small subdivision was given the name of Silver Hill Park. Another small subdivision, fronting on St. Barnabas Road, was called Swanland Heights; the plat for this small cluster of 20 lots was filed in 1938 by a member of the Swann family, prominent landowners in this section of the County. Still another was Fleischman's Village; it occupied part of a large tract fronting on Old Branch Avenue (just south of Suitland Parkway) which had been purchased by the Fleischman family in the 1930's, and in the following decade approximately 70 lots were available in this subdivision. Later, in the 1960's, some of the remaining ground was utilized for apartment construction.
Residential development along Old Branch Avenue in this northern section of the neighborhood was facilitated by the establishment of sewer lines along the avenue in the mid-1940's and proximity of the subdivisions to employment centers in the District of Columbia. However, in the case of a more ambitious undertaking in residential construction in the early 1940's, culminating in the Morningside subdivisions, sewer connections were not available and homes were origi- nally supplied with septic systems. The Morningside and Upper Morningside subdivisions are located at the eastern edge of the neighborhood, now lying in a wedge formed by Suitland Parkway and the Capital Beltway. Their origin dates from the purchase of farm parcels along Suitland Road, another old road which led out of the District of Columbia into the County, passing through the Suitland section (Study Area V) and then trending southward through the Silver Hill- Morningside Neighborhood.
Suitland Road now stops at Andrews Air Force Base, one of several complexes either enlarged or first established in the County during World War II, and the growth of the military base during the war and the establishment of the Bureau of the Census in the same time period enhanced the potential of this route for housing construction. Completion of Suitland Parkway further added to the locational advantages of Suitland Road. Over 300 homes were built in the two subdivisions (Morningside and Upper Morningside) in the 1940's, and in 1949 the residents combined to form the municipality of Morningside with a population count of around 1,500.
The decade of the 1950's brought further single-family home construction. The Skyline subdivision was established near the Town of Morningside (with frontage on Suitland Road), and construction took place in Woodlane and Auth Village, located on Auth Road which now lies just to the north of the Capital Beltway.
The past ten years have been marked by fewer increases in single-family home construction and by the introduction of apartment development, with the latter rendered feasible by the installation of sewer lines along Henson Branch, the construction of new Branch Avenue (Rt. 5), and the opening of the Capital Beltway in 1964. Multi-family development includes the large Carriage Hill apartment complex near the intersection of new Branch Avenue and Suitland Parkway, three garden apartment complexes on Silver Hill Road (east of new Branch Avenue), two apartment complexes near the Suitland Parkway interchange with the Capital Beltway, and a grouping of townhouses near the Auth Road crossing of the Beltway. Multi-family units now considerably outnumber the single-family type, accounting for 60 percent of the total number of dwelling units.
Population in the neighborhood as of 1970 was given as 13,406 in the last Census, with approximately one-half of the residents living in the old Silver Hill locality which contains the majority of the apartment units. The presence of these units helps to account for the moderate proportion of children in the neighborhood (under 36 percent of total residents). Also, the proportion of senior citizens is relatively low (3.3 percent), so that most of the residents may be characterized as "labor force age" or in the 18-64 year age bracket. Correspondingly, the ratio of households headed by husband-wife teams is moderate (76 percent of total households), although in the single-family residential sections of the neighborhood (such as Morningside), this ratio increased to 86 percent.
Nonwhite residents comprised about five percent of total population.