Baltimore, Maryland
United States of America

Introduction

Baltimore, city in northern Maryland, adjacent to Baltimore County. Baltimore is located at the head of navigation of the Patapsco River, near its mouth on Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is the largest city in Maryland and is one of the busiest ports in the United States. It is a major industrial, research, and educational center.

Population

Baltimore’s population has steadily declined since World War II (1939-1945), when many people began leaving the city to move to the suburbs. The population of Baltimore decreased from 786,775 in 1980 to 651,154 in 2000. According to the 2000 census, blacks represent 64.3 percent of the population; whites, 31.6 percent; Asians, 1.5 percent; and Native Americans, 0.3 percent. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 222 at the time of the census. People of mixed heritage or not reporting race are 2.1 percent of inhabitants. Hispanics, who may be of any race, make up 1.7 percent of the population.

While the population of Baltimore proper has been steadily decreasing, the population of the metropolitan area has been increasing. The Baltimore area had 2,552,994 inhabitants in 2000, up from 2,382,172 in 1990. The Baltimore area is also part of the larger Washington-Baltimore Consolidated Metropolitan Region, which had a population of 7.6 million in 2000.

Economy

With one of the world’s largest natural harbors, Baltimore has always been a port city. Excellent rail, road, and air connections make it attractive for industry, manufacturing, and trade. Today, however, Baltimore’s economy focuses on research and development, especially in the areas of aquaculture, pharmaceuticals, and medical supplies and services. In addition to private laboratories, the city is home to more than 60 federal research laboratories, and to Columbus Center, a large marine biotechnology center that opened in 1994.

The Urban Landscape

Baltimore covers a land area of 209.3 sq km (80.8 sq mi). The older sections of Baltimore are laid out in a grid pattern superimposed on a radial pattern of principal arteries. The city is characterized by row houses, most of which are brick, and by winding, tree-lined streets with freestanding homes, most of which are in the outlying sections. Baltimore is a city of greenery, with about 2,600 hectares (about 6,400 acres) of land devoted to parks.

Points of Interest

Druid Hill Park is the site of the city zoo and conservatory. Other places of interest include Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine; and the home and grave of the writer Edgar Allan Poe; the row house where journalist and editor H. L. Mencken spent most of his life; the birthplace of baseball player Babe Ruth; and many historic structures, including the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the first Roman Catholic cathedral built in the United States (1806-1821). The city has monuments dedicated to Christopher Columbus (1797) and George Washington (1815-1829). The Lacrosse Hall of Fame Museum at Johns Hopkins University celebrates the game created by Native Americans. The Inner Harbor is the site of the National Aquarium and the Maryland Science Center. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is the home of the Baltimore Orioles professional baseball team. The Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League (NFL) play in Ravens Stadium.

Educational and Cultural Facilities

Among the Baltimore region’s numerous institutions of higher learning are Johns Hopkins University (1876), with its noted medical school and hospital, the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University (1857), Loyola College in Maryland (1852), the College of Notre Dame of Maryland (1873), the University of Maryland at Baltimore (1807), the University of Baltimore (1925), Morgan State University (1867), Baltimore Hebrew University (1919), Maryland Institute, College of Art (1826), Goucher College (1885), Coppin State College (1900), and Sojourner-Douglass College (1980). The Enoch Pratt Free Library is one of the nation’s oldest libraries. The Peale Museum, the Walters Art Gallery, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum (partly housed in the oldest railroad station in the country) display wide-ranging collections. The Lillie Carroll Jackson Museum honors the civil rights leader who was president of Baltimore’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter from 1935 to 1970. Also of note are the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Opera Company.

History

Before European settlement, the site of Baltimore was inhabited by a Native American people known as the Susquehannock. The area was explored by English soldier John Smith in 1608 and was settled in 1661. In 1729 the town was founded and named for the barons Baltimore, the British founders of the Maryland Colony. Established as a tobacco port, the town rapidly developed into a flour-milling and shipbuilding center, with a flourishing trade with Europe and the Caribbean. In 1777, while Philadelphia was occupied by the British during the American Revolution, the Continental Congress met in Baltimore. It was incorporated as a city in 1797. During the War of 1812 the British made an attempt to eliminate privateers operating out of Baltimore. The ensuing battle in 1814, centered around Fort McHenry, inspired American lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

A second phase of growth began in 1828, when America’s first railroad, the Baltimore and Ohio, was built to compete for the western trade created by New York’s Erie Canal. At the start of the American Civil War (1861-1865), though Maryland did not secede from the Union, the city’s Southern sympathies provoked riots and led to its occupation by Union troops.

Heavy industrial development began in 1897 with the opening of the Sparrows Point steel mill. In 1904 a fire destroyed most of the downtown section, which was soon rebuilt. Both World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945) promoted great industrial growth, especially in steel works and oil refining, which led to a diversification of the economy.

Following the war, many middle-class whites left Baltimore for the surrounding suburbs. During the 1950 and 1960s the city was the site of civil rights demonstrations for integration in schools and public places. In 1968, after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Baltimore was the site of race riots. By the mid-1970s the city had a black majority, and Clarence Burns became the city’s first black major in 1987.

In the 1970s and 1980s people continued to move to the suburbs. From 1960 to 1980 the city’s population dropped by 16 percent. In response, the city started redevelopment projects to revitalize areas such as the Inner Harbor. The Inner Harbor became home to Harborplace, an area of shops and restaurants, in 1980 and to the National Aquarium the following year. In 1992 the Oriole Park at Camden Yards, where the Baltimore Orioles professional baseball team plays, opened in downtown Baltimore.