Although the original lots of Westminster were laid out by William Winchester in 1764, it was not until shortly after the creation of Carroll County that the City of Westminster was incorporated in 1838. From its original corporate area of approximately .745 square miles, the City of Westminster grew to its current size of 6.3829 square miles through a series of 47 approved annexations. All but two of those annexations occurred since January 1, 1970. As the city grew in size, its population also has continuously grown over the past four decades from 7,207 in 1970 to 18,590 in 2010.
The City contains approximately 7,700 households, divided among a number of established neighborhoods and new residential developments. While the City's housing stock is primarily single family, there is a large percentage of multi-family dwelling units comprised of several apartment complexes in the outlying areas of the city and numerous single-family conversions in the residential areas around the downtown business district. Westminster has a preservation ethic and is home to two National Register Districts. The City of Westminster National Register District, established in 1980, encompasses much of the older residential areas of the city and its downtown. The second district is located on the campus of McDaniel College and incorporates several of the oldest buildings in the southeast portion of the campus.
While many big box stores and restaurant chains are located along Westminster's MD140 shopping corridor, Downtown Westminster continues to provide a unique, quality shopping, dining and cultural experience within a small town atmosphere. Designated as a nationally accredited Main Street Program, Downtown Westminster has a broad mix of local retail and service establishments, making it a shopper’s delight. Additionally, much to the delight of the local dining community, its locally-owned restaurants and eateries not only feature fine regional cuisine but also great ethnic food such as traditional Irish fare at O'Lordan's Irish Pub, Italian at Café Tuscany, Giulianova's and Paradiso Ristorante, Mexican at Papa Joe's, and Thai at Thai Classic III. There are even some locations, such as O'Lordan's, that through extensive renovation and restoration efforts even have the look and feel of the old country.
Downtown Westminster is also home to our largest community events – FallFest, Flower & Jazz Festival and Art in the Park, and our parades: Memorial Day, Antique Fire Equipment, FallFest, McDaniel Homecoming, Halloween and Holiday. Culturally, Downtown Westminster is bookended by the Carroll Arts Center on West Main Street and the Historical Society of Carroll County with its cultural heritage exhibits of Carroll County and the Piedmont area of Maryland on East Main Street. The Carroll Arts Center, with its 263-seat theatre and two art galleries, hosts numerous concerts, films, lectures, plays, recitals and showings throughout the year. Between these two facilities lay several new art galleries; Locust Lane Park; MaryLou Dewey Park where the Lunch at the Library and the Songs at 6:30 Concert Series are held; City Park where the Month of Sundays Concert Series is held; the public library, and several restaurants that present live entertainment.
Westminster is home to McDaniel College, a private four-year college of the liberal arts and sciences founded in 1867 as Western Maryland College. Located on the west end of Main Street, 1,600 undergraduates and 1,300 graduate students from 34 states and 11 countries attend McDaniel College. McDaniel College and Westminster also serve as the summer home of the Baltimore Ravens Football Team where the team holds its summer training camp on campus in July and August.
The City of Westminster operates under a Mayor-Council form of government. The Mayor is elected to a four-year term. The Common Council is composed of five members who also are elected to serve four-year terms. The qualified voters of Westminster have voted for three members of the Common Council on the second Monday of May since 1967 while the mayor and the remaining two council members have been voted upon the second Monday of May since 1969, and every four years thereafter. In 2006, The Mayor and Common Council established the position of City Administrator who serves as the Chief Administrative Officer of the City.
Carroll County Government provides primary and secondary education, building permits and inspections, libraries and social services and the Westminster Volunteer Fire Company provides fire protection and emergency medical services for the citizens of Westminster.
The City of Westminster provides a full range of services. The services provided by the City include: planning, zoning and development; police protection; water, sewer and refuse; street maintenance, snow removal and other functions; public housing assistance; and recreation and parks services.