Jessup ( JESS-əp) is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Howard and Anne Arundel counties, Maryland, United States. The population was 7,137 at the 2010 census.
Jessup is located at 39°08′18″N 76°46′30″W (39.138374, −76.774929). According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 5.3 square miles (13.6 km2), all land. As of the 2010 census, the center of population for the state of Maryland is located on the grounds of the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup.
Jessup is located near the site of the historic Spurrier's Tavern, a farm and tavern located on the post road between Baltimore and Washington (Route One) where George Washington traveled regularly.
The location of the town was named Pierceland on early maps, but the post-civil war name more commonly given was Jessup's Cut, or Jessop's Cut, a post village in Howard County on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The name is generally attributed to Jonathan Jessup, a civil engineer who worked on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the hand-dug "cut" though Merrill's Ridge he managed as a project. The crews took over 200,000 tons of clay from the clay hill that blocked the trains in freezing weather. The clay was turned into bricks by some of the prisoners from the Maryland Penitentiary who also worked on the Maryland House of Corrections when it was being built. Some of those inmates were then transferred to the House of Correction and they knew the walls were made from Jessup's Cut, hence "the CUT". The name was shortened to Jessups in 1963. Into the mid 20th century, the town was called "Jessups", then was shortened to "Jessup".
Since the mid-19th century, the area has been home to various penal institutions.