Hagerstown lies at the gateway to the Western Maryland region and the Shenandoah Valley to the south. Historically, it was an important transportation center because of its location along major east-west and north-south routes and near a passage west through the Cumberland Gap. Today, Hagerstown is a pleasant mix of old and new with a notable downtown historic area and an unusually large concentration of pre–Civil War row homes not unlike nearby Baltimore’s famous row houses. There are some attractive new suburbs mostly northeast and some gritty working class areas close to the main city.
Entertainment includes minor-league baseball, the Hagerstown Speedway, and the nation’s oldest farmers market. The area is a bit isolated from other East Coast cities, and educational attainment is low, but cost of living is very attractive for the region. Martinsburg is another historic transportation hub just across the border in the West Virginia panhandle towards Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Because of its strategic location, good labor force and tax incentives, the area has developed a good base of light and medium industry. The Maryland Transit Authority runs “MARC” commuter train service all the way to Martinsburg; commutes to Washington DC are 2 hours but many DC northern suburbs can be reached in a little over an hour.
The area is located in a broad, flat agricultural extension of Virginia’s famed Shenandoah Valley. The surroundings, particularly to the northwest and southeast, are hilly and wooded with deciduous trees. Hagerstown has a continental climate influenced by the nearby Atlantic and milder climates to the south and mountains to the west.
Summers are warm, calm, and humid, with occasional thunderstorms. Winters are cold but severe effects are moderated by the mountains, which block many heavy storms and cold-air blasts. Occasional heavy snow occurs when storms originating on the Atlantic or from the southwest hit the area. Spring and fall are pleasant. First freeze is late October, last is mid-April.