Ellicott City is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Howard County, Maryland, United States. It is part of the Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area. It is the county seat of Howard County. Founded in 1772, the town features the B&O Railroad Museum Ellicott City Station, built in 1830, and a downtown historic district which is a very popular destination among antiques shoppers, with restaurants, eclectic boutique shops, coffee shops, a tea room and many historic sites. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, Ellicott City surpassed Towson, Maryland, as the largest unincorporated county seat in the country.
Ellicott City is listed among America’s most affluent communities. Since 2005, Ellicott City has been ranked four times among the top “20 Best Places to Live in the United States” by Money and CNNMoney.com. The downtown area is often called “Historic Ellicott City” or “Old Ellicott City”, to distinguish it from the unincorporated area that extends north to the Baltimore County line, south to Columbia, and west to West Friendship. In 2009, Ellicott City appeared on Newsmax magazine’s list of the “Top 25 Most Uniquely American Cities and Towns,” a piece written by current CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg. In determining his ranking, Greenberg cited the appeal of Main Street, among several other factors. Thomas Isaac Log Cabin is located at west end of Ellicott City’s Main Street. There, authentically costumed historians relate area history.
Ellicott City proper is served by Mount Hebron High School, Centennial High School, and Howard High School in the Howard County Public School System; Marriotts Ridge High School serves most of the rest of the CDP area. Two of the system’s special schools, along with the central offices, also have Ellicott City addresses, though in fact they are on the northern edge of Columbia.