The History of Baltimore, Maryland

From bustling city streets to quiet neighborhoods, Baltimore, Maryland has a little bit of something for everyone. Discover the rich history of Baltimore and take a sneak peek at the activities available in this city!

Published on
October 18, 2023
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The History of Baltimore, Maryland


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Moving can be difficult regardless of the distance and location, but the prospect of moving to an entirely different state or city can be particularly daunting. Acquiring knowledge about the area's history and local happenings can serve as a valuable means to grow acquainted with your new home and ease the transition of moving. Luckily, there is no shortage of places to explore and history to learn about in Baltimore, Maryland.

From bustling city streets to quiet neighborhoods, Baltimore has a little bit of something for everyone. Here is a little background on the founding and development of Baltimore over the years, as well as some attractions to discover in the city!

History of Baltimore

With some of the richest history in the country, Baltimore, Maryland played an integral role in the development of the United States. Located in north-central Maryland, northeast of Washington, D.C., Baltimore County was established in 1659 (Britannica, n.d.; Lambert, 2021). The Port of Baltimore was established in 1706, but it wasn’t until 1729 that Baltimore was officially founded (Lambert, 2021). Today, Baltimore is the “largest city and economic center” within Maryland (Britannica, n.d.). 

Baltimore's name derives from “the Irish barony of Baltimore, the seat of the Calvert family,” and “proprietors of the colony of Maryland,” (Britannica, n.d.). The city was created and established as a shipping port for grain, tobacco, and flour milling (Britannica, n.d.). Baltimore is also the only city in Maryland not located within a county as it separated from Baltimore County as an independent city in 1851 (Maryland Manual Online, n.d.).

During the American Revolution, the city of Baltimore served as a center for shipbuilding and quickly became an important seaport for the colonies. In 1787, the U.S. Navy’s first ship, the Constellation, was launched in Baltimore, Maryland. The last all-sail warship built for the Navy in 1854 resides in Baltimore’s harbor since 1955 and “underwent extensive restoration” efforts to preserve a part of the country's history (Britannica, n.d.). 

Additionally, in 1774 Baltimore was “the inaugural location of the first United States Post Service office,” (Britannica, n.d.). In 1789, the first Roman Catholic diocese in the United States was established in Baltimore, Maryland, as well as the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was also the first Roman Catholic cathedral in the country (Britannica, n.d.).

Baltimore’s population grew rapidly during this period, jumping from 13,500 people in 1790 to over 46,000 people in the early 19th century. Baltimore was formally established as a city in 1796 (Lambert, 2021). 

Baltimore even inspired the famous poem “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812. In September of 1814, the U.S. forces successfully defended the city of Baltimore after the British forces attempted to capture control of the city. Thus, our patriotic poem and song were born (Britannica, n.d.). By 1850, Baltimore’s population had significantly grown to 169,000 people (Lambert, 2021).

During the initial stages of World War I, industrialization began to flourish in Baltimore as it expanded across various states. This surge in industrialization brought essential wartime industries such as oil refineries and steelworks to Baltimore, contributing significantly to the war efforts (Britannica, n.d.). Baltimore continued to thrive into the 20th century as the population had risen to around 508,000 people by 1900, and 950,000 people by 1950 (Lambert, 2021).

Today, Baltimore continues to hold its status as a prominent seaport in the country, boasting a vibrant and diverse economy alongside state-of-the-art facilities for ship repairs. Accessible to the sea through the “Chesapeake Bay and the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal,” Baltimore’s seaport is a significant hub for automobile shipping (Britannica, n.d.). The city’s economy encompasses various industries including education, finance, health care, and insurance. Baltimore is also an important destination for military and federal government services, including the Federal Social Security Administration, which has its headquarters in the city (Britannica, n.d.).

Baltimore and the surrounding state of Maryland also boast as a center for higher education with a wide variety of top, prestigious schools to attend. These schools include the University of Maryland, Baltimore established in 1807; the Maryland Institute College of Art established in 1826; Loyola University Maryland established in 1852; the Notre Dame of Maryland University established in 1873; Johns Hopkins University established in 1876; the University of Baltimore, established in 1925, and dozens more (Britannica, n.d.). Maryland currently has 55 colleges across the state, nine of which are in the city of Baltimore (Cappex, n.d.)

Things to do in Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore offers a plethora of activities for history enthusiasts, alongside a wide range of other attractions. Here are some of the top things to do in Baltimore, Maryland that will keep you coming back for more!

Abundant in history, Baltimore is full of museums to peruse and take a step back in time. Visit the museum and public park, Fort McHenry, the site where a battle in the War of 1812 inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner,” or climb the 227 marble steps of Baltimore’s Washington Monument, which was previously built before the famous Washington Monument in Washington D.C. (Visit Baltimore, n.d.).

In the 20th century, the city of Baltimore “was also an important location for the Civil Rights Movement,” (NomadsUnveiled, n.d.). Discover the rich and extensive history of African Americans in both Maryland and the United States by visiting the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture (Visit Baltimore, n.d.).

Another insightful stop is the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum, where you can explore and pay tribute to the significant contributions of African Americans at the first African-American-owned shipyard (Visit Baltimore, n.d.). Immerse yourself in the captivating life stories of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and numerous other African Americans who not only left an indelible mark on the course of U.S. history but also called Baltimore their home (NomadsUnveiled, n.d.).

For art enthusiasts and those in search of creative inspiration, Baltimore offers a trio of exceptional museums: The Baltimore Museum of Art, the American Visionary Art Museum, and the Walters Art Museum. Families with children can have a fantastic time at the Port Discovery Children's Museum, where the SkyClimber is sure to be a highlight of the visit (Visit Baltimore, n.d.). 

Baltimore is also home to many famous figures throughout history, including baseball player Babe Ruth and writer Edgar Allan Poe. Devotees of Edgar Allan Poe can embark on a journey through the author's footsteps by exploring his Baltimore home and museum, paying respects at his gravesite, visiting his favorite pub, and admiring his statue in the city (Visit Baltimore, n.d.).

Apart from its rich history, Maryland is renowned for its delectable culinary offerings, with famous oysters, blue crabs, generous crab cakes, and an array of other mouthwatering seafood dishes taking center stage in the state's culinary identity. If you're looking to indulge in Maryland’s seafood, Baltimore is the perfect destination. Make a visit to the historic Lexington Market in Baltimore to indulge in some fresh seafood, or dine at one of the many waterfront restaurants scattered throughout the city for an unforgettable culinary experience. (Visit Baltimore, n.d.; NomadsUnveiled, n.d.).

While in Baltimore, don't forget that you're just a stone's throw away from the water. Enjoy the scenic beauty by taking a ride on the Baltimore Water Taxi, hop on the Chessie Dragon paddle boat, or embark on an adventure aboard an electric Pirate Ship, all conveniently located within Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Whether you're seeking stunning views or a touch of childhood nostalgia, these options have something to offer for everyone. 

If being on the water isn’t your thing, stop by the National Aquarium and The Maryland Zoo instead. Take a peak at “massive dinosaur replicas on display at the Maryland Science Center in the Inner Harbor,” or watch a game at the Oriole Park stadium at Camden Yards (Visit Baltimore, n.d.).

Established over three centuries ago, this summary offers just a glimpse of the rich history and diverse attractions awaiting you in Baltimore. A city that played a pivotal role in the development of the United States, Baltimore offers a plethora of activities to enjoy and places to explore. It's truly a fantastic place to call home. Contact Bridge Homes and browse our listings to start your move today!

Are you looking for more information on where to move or need some tips for moving? Visit our blog for more!



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