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18 Facts about Famous Places in Baltimore

Updated on April 9, 2014
Fort McHenry
Fort McHenry | Source

Baltimore is the largest city in Maryland. At the time of the 2000 census, Baltimore is the 17th most populous city in the United States. It is located on Patapsco River estuary, 40 miles (65 km) northeast of Washington, D.C.; its metropolitan area has merged with that of Washington to form the fourth largest in the country. Despite its size, however, Baltimore at times seems less a city than a unification of neighborhoods, each with its own identity and charms -indeed, its local nickname is "Charm City."

1. Fort McHenry, besieged by the British in 1814, stands at the entrance to the Inner Harbor. While watching the siege from a ship in the harbor, Francis Scott Key wrote The Star-Spangled Banner. The original manuscript of the poem may be seen in the Maryland Historical Society.

2. Many historical ships are docked for display to tourists in the Inner Harbor. Among them are the U.S.S. Constellation, an 1854 naval vessel and the last all-sail warship built by the U.S. Navy.

3. The Baltimore Maritime Museum maintains a restored lighthouse (Seven Foot Knoll, built in 1856 and moved to Baltimore in 1988) and three vessels: the Coast Guard cutter Taney, the last warship afloat that survived the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor; the World War II submarine Torsk, built in 1944; and the lightship Chesapeake.

Star-Spangled Banner Flag House
Star-Spangled Banner Flag House | Source

4. Other places of patriotic interest in Baltimore are the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House and 1812 Museum, including the former home of Mary Pickersgill, where the battle flag that flew over Fort McHenry was made; and the Battle Monument, which honors the repulse of the British attack on the city in the War of 1812.

5. Among the notable churches in Baltimore is the first Roman Catholic cathedral built in the United States, the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, designed by Benjamin H. Latrobe and dedicated in 1821 after 15 years under construction.

6. The new Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore was completed in 1959. Architecturally, it is described as a "modern expression" of "Gothic principles."

Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Synagogue
Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Synagogue | Source

7. Other places of worship include the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Synagogue, a striking example of modern design, built in 1951; the Lloyd Street Synagogue, the oldest (1845) synagogue in Maryland and the third oldest in the United States; the First Unitarian Church, "the birthplace of Unitarianism in America," a Greco-Roman edifice designed by Maximilian Godefroy; the Otterbein Church, the oldest (1785) in Baltimore and a stark survivor in a modern downtown district; and Lovely Lane Church, the "Mother Church of American Methodism"; it has a museum of early Methodism.

8. The Jewish Historical Society of Maryland preserves the heritage of the Jewish residents of Baltimore. The society operates the Jewish Museum of Maryland and preserves the Lloyd Street Synagogue (1845) and the B'nai Israel Synagogue (1876).

9. Baltimore’s cornerstone having been laid in 1815, the Washington Monument is the earliest in the country built in honor of George Washington. The monument is the centerpiece of Mount Vernon Place, whose four expanses of greenery and statuary form a striking formal square. Around Mount Vernon Place stand the Peabody Institute, the Mount Vernon Place Methodist Church, a number of magnificent old town houses, and the Walters Art Museum.

10. The B & O Railroad Museum, located southwest of the downtown district at the site of the first railroad station in the United States, houses one of the world's most significant and historical collections of full-size steam locomotives and cars and other railroad relics pertaining to the first major U.S. railroad company. It also holds ownership of the right-of-way of the first mile (1.6 km) of intercity railroad trackage in America, first laid in 1827.

11. Naturalists will no doubt gravitate to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, with thousands of specimens of fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and other creatures; the Baltimore Zoo; and the Maryland Science Center and Davis Planetarium, the oldest scientific institution in the state.

12. Other sights of note for tourists include one of the homes and the grave of the famous writer Edgar Allan Poe; the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Baseball Center, which features both the house where the baseball star was born and exhibits on the history of baseball in the area; and the Shot Tower, down whose 234-foot (71-meter) interior molten lead was dropped into a tank of water to form more than 12 million pounds (5.4 million kg) of shot a year.

13. The Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore is considered one of the nation's most dynamic public libraries and is studied by librarians throughout the nation and from many foreign countries. With a strong in-service training program, its staff has furnished the directors of public library systems such as those in Philadelphia, Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Richmond (Va). The main library building includes Edgar Allan Poe and H. L. Mencken rooms, dedicated to the writers who called Baltimore home, and satellite branches are scattered throughout the city's neighborhoods. The Peabody Library, which has merged with the Enoch Pratt Free Library, has a world famous genealogy department.

14. Baltimore has a long and wonderful history of museums, starting with the Peale Museum. Founded in 1814 as an art gallery, which later evolved into a municipal history museum, the building itself, although currently vacant, is still the oldest museum building in the Western Hemisphere.

15. The extraordinarily rich and varied collection of the Walters Art Museum, housed in a Renaissance-style building, extends from Egyptian times to the 20th century and includes important groups of Roman sculpture; Etruscan, Byzantine, and medieval art; manuscripts; Sèvres porcelains; Italian primitive paintings; and French painting of the 19th century.

16. Other art museums include the Baltimore Museum of Art, which holds, among a broad range of old masters and modern artists, the Cone collection of 19th- and 20th-century French art, with special emphasis on Matisse and Picasso; the American Visionary Art Museum, which displays only the works of self-taught artists, some of whom were prisoners and mental-health hospital patients.

17. The Maryland Historical Society has evolved into the premier historical institution and archive of not only Baltimore but also the state. Over the years it has incorporated and consolidated collections of several city museums, including the Peale Museum and the Baltimore City Life Museum.

18. Other museums in Baltimore include the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, housing a collection of Baltimore trolley rail transit vehicles; the Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry; and the Great Blacks in Wax Museum.

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