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Overview of Baltimore,  Maryland

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Baltimore Maryland Overview

Baltimore, Maryland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Baltimore is an independent city located in the U.S. state of Maryland on the eastern coast of the United States of America. As of 2005, the population was 641,943, down slightly from 643,304 in 2004, but higher than the century-long low of 636,251 in 2000. The Baltimore-Towson metropolitan area, as of 2004, was estimated to have a population of 2.6 million. Baltimore is the largest city in Maryland and serves as the state's major cultural and industrial center. The city is named after the founding proprietor of the Maryland Colony, Lord Baltimore in the Irish House of Lords. Baltimore became the second leading port of entry for immigrants to the United States during the 1800s. The city is a major U.S. seaport, situated closer to major midwestern markets than any other major seaport on the East Coast. Baltimore Harbor is one of the best protected deepwater seaports in the world, with the Delmarva Peninsula shielding the area from most hurricanes and tropical storms, and the Appalachian Mountains protecting the city from much of the winter cold that would freeze the harbor.

After New York City, Baltimore was the second city in the United States to reach a population of 100,000, (followed by New Orleans, Philadelphia, Boston). Until 1870 Baltimore was the second largest city in the nation, being surpassed by Philadelphia. Baltimore remained one of the 10 largest cities in the United States from 1790 until about 1970. The city and metropolitan area currently rank in the top 20 in terms of population. Because there is also a Baltimore County surrounding (but not including) the city, it is sometimes referred to as Baltimore City when a clear distinction is desired.


During the 17th century, various towns called "Baltimore" were founded as commercial ports at various locations on the upper Chesapeake Bay. The present city dates from July 30, 1729, and is named after Lord Baltimore, who was the first Proprietary Governor of the Province of Maryland. Baltimore grew swiftly in the mid- to late 18th century as the granary for sugar-producing colonies in the Caribbean. The profit from sugar encouraged the maximum possible cultivation of cane and the importation of food. The relatively shorter distance between Baltimore and the Caribbean colonies allowed swift transport and minimized the spoilage of flour. .

One of Baltimore's greatest moments occurred during the War of 1812 with the British, who had declared Baltimore "A nest of Pirates." Baltimore's Fort McHenry came under attack by British forces near the harbor after the British had burned Washington, D.C. Known today as the Battle of Baltimore, American forces won the decisive battles by repulsing a joint land and naval attack by the British forces. They fought to a stalemate at the Battle of North Point after killing the British commander General Ross. British reinforcements were not possible after the British Navy was repulsed by the defenders of the fort, and all forces then withdrew. It was the naval engagement that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem "The Star-Spangled Banner," the lyrics to the United States' national anthem. The battle was memorialized in the Battle Monument which is on the city seal. .

On an 1827 visit to the city John Quincy Adams nicknamed it "Monument City." .

Baltimore is also the site of the first architectural monument honoring George Washington, a 178-foot Doric column erected in 1829 and designed by Robert Mills, who later designed the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. Baltimore became an independent city in 1851, being detached from Baltimore County at that time. .

Prior to the Civil War, Maryland was a slave-holding state. During the Civil War, Maryland was officially part of the Union but kept slavery legal. Most people in Baltimore at the time were sympathetic to the Confederacy. Pro-Southern sentiment led to the Baltimore riot of 1861, when Union soldiers marched through the city. After the riot, Union troops occupied Baltimore, and Maryland came under direct federal administration - in part, to prevent the state from seceding - until the end of the war in April 1865. This was considered a necessary move by the Union to prevent Washington, D.C., from being completely surrounded by seceded Confederate territory. The case Ex parte Merryman, written by Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney (himself a Marylander), dealt with the habeas corpus rights of Marylanders jailed by the Abraham Lincoln Administration and strongly rebuked Lincoln for his actions. .

The Great Baltimore Fire on February 7, 1904, destroyed over 1,500 buildings in 30 hours and forced most of the city to rebuild. Immediately afterward, Mayor Robert McLane was quoted in the Baltimore News as saying, "To suppose that the spirit of our people will not rise to the occasion is to suppose that our people are not genuine Americans. We shall make the fire of 1904 a landmark not of decline but of progress." He then refused assistance, stating "As head of this municipality, I cannot help but feel gratified by the sympathy and the offers of practical assistance which have been tendered to us. To them I have in general terms replied, 'Baltimore will take care of its own, thank you.'" (McLane committed suicide on May 30.) Two years later, on September 10, 1906, the Baltimore-American reported that the city had risen from the ashes and "one of the great disasters of modern time had been converted into a blessing." .

Baltimore is the location of the Baltimore World Trade Center, the world's tallest equilateral five-sided building (the five-sided JPMorganChase Tower in Houston, Texas is taller but has unequal sides). Baltimore is also the location of Pimlico Race Course, the home of the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. The Preakness has been run since 1873. .

Baltimore's population peaked at 949,708 in the 1950 Census, which ranked it as the sixth-largest city in the country, behind Detroit, and ahead of Cleveland. For the next five decades, the city's population declined while its suburbs grew dramatically, bottoming out in 2000 at 636,251. In the 21st century, the city's population has stabilized and is once again rising, mostly due to revitalization efforts in many city neighborhoods. .

In 1955 Flag House Courts, a public housing project made up of 3 12-story buildings, was built. The buildings were eventually demolished in 2001. .

Baltimore has become a prime city for filming movies and television. Many movies, such as Hairspray, Ladder 49, Serial Mom, Eraser, Enemy of the State, Cry-baby, The Replacements, scenes from 12 Monkeys, True Lies, and the film Hardball, were filmed in Baltimore; in fact, many scenes from the 1972 cult classic film Pink Flamingos were shot in the city's Waverly and Hampden neighborhoods (the film was made by John Waters, a Baltimore native). Additionally, television shows such as NBC's Homicide: Life on the Street and HBO's The Wire have also been filmed in the city. Television series Roc and Hot L Baltimore were set in the city. See Filmed in Baltimore for additional movies and shows filmed or set in Baltimore. .

In recent years, efforts to redevelop the downtown area have led to a revitalization of the Inner Harbor. In 1979 the Baltimore Convention Center was opened and was subsequently renovated and expanded in 1996. Harborplace, a modern urban retail and restaurant complex, was opened on the waterfront in 1980, followed by the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland's largest tourist destination, and another cultural venue, the Baltimore Museum of Industry in 1981. In 1992, the Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball moved from Memorial Stadium to Oriole Park at Camden Yards downtown, and six years later the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League moved next door into PSINet Stadium (later renamed M&T Bank Stadium following PSINet's bankruptcy).


Baltimore culture can be equally interesting and baffling. The city's geography and history as a working class port town has given it a very distinctive social flavor. The most prominent example is the city's association with blue crabs. The Chesapeake Bay for years was the East Coast's main source of blue crabs, and Baltimore became the central hub of the crab industry. In the tourist district (between Harborplace and Fells Point), it is almost impossible to find a shop or restaurant that does not serve crabs or crabcakes, or sell some sort of crab related merchandise. Maryland's distinctive way of eating crabs is often not understood by outsiders. Traditionally, crabs are steamed in rock salt and Old Bay Seasoning, a favored local all-spice manufactured in Baltimore for decades. They are eaten on tables spread with newspaper with the use of only a wooden mallet, a knife, and one's hands. Cold beer is also said to be a must. .

Another popular Baltimore food item is the "chicken box". A chicken box is an inexpensive meal consisting of 4 or 5 fried chicken wings served in a fast food carry out box with some kind of starch as a side (e.g. mashed potatoes, fries, rice). The item is chiefly sold at independent fried chicken shops and delis in the city. Chicken boxes are usually enjoyed with "Half and Half", a drink combining iced tea and lemonade - referred to elsewhere in the U.S. as an "Arnold Palmer".

The Block

Residents are often proud of Baltimore's old-fashioned and often seedy characteristics. One of the more famous seedy spots in the city is The Block, a stretch of district along Baltimore Street between South and Gay Streets. Since the late 19th century, the location has variously been home to burlesque shows, nightclubs, strip clubs, pornography shops, and prostitution. Though the presence of BPD Headquarters at one end of the district has cut down on many illegal activities, the adult entertainment has continued and the area is still popular for city night life. Even in 2006, many of the strip clubs on The Block are little more than fronts for prostitution.


Baltimore is noted for its near-omnipresent rowhouses. Rowhouses have been a feature of Baltimore architecture since the 1790s, with early examples of the style still standing in the Federal Hill and Fells Point neighborhoods. Older houses may retain some of their original features, such as marble doorsteps, widely considered to be Baltimore icons in themselves. Later rowhouses dating from the 1800s-1900s can be found in Union Square and throughout the city in various states of repair. They are a popular renovation property in neighborhoods that are undergoing urban renewal, although the practice is viewed warily by some as a harbinger of "yuppification." Elsewhere in the city, rowhouses can be found abandoned, boarded-up, and reflective of Baltimore's inner-city blight.
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