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Culture
 
 
 

Architecture

Baltimore exhibits examples from each period of architecture over more than two centuries, and work from many famous architects such as Benjamin Latrobe, John Russell Pope, Mies Van Der Rohe and I.M. Pei.

The city has architecturally important buildings in a variety of styles. The Baltimore Basilica (1806-1821) is a neoclassical design by Benjamin Latrobe, and also the oldest Catholic Cathedral in the United States. In 1813 Robert Cary Long, Sr. built for Rembrandt Peale the first substantial structure in the US designed expressly as a museum. Restored, it is now the Municipal Museum of Baltimore, or popularly the “Peale Museum”. The McKim Free School founded and endowed by John McKim, although the building was erected by his son Isaac in 1822 after a design by William Howard and William Small. It reflects the popular interest in Greece when the nation was securing its independence, as well as a scholarly interest in recently published drawings of Athenian antiquities. The Phoenix Shot Tower (1828), at 234.25 feet (71.40 m) tall, was the tallest building in the US until the time of the Civil war. It was constructed without the use of exterior scaffolding. The Sun Iron Building designed by R.C. Hatfield in 1851, was city’s first iron-front building and it was a model for a whole generation of downtown buildings. Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, built in 1870 in memory of financier George Brown, is noted for its stained glass windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany and has been called "one of the most significant buildings in this city, a treasure of art and architecture" by Baltimore Magazine. The Johns Hopkins Hospital, designed by Lt. Col. John S. Billings in 1876 was a considerable achievement for its day in functional arrangement and fire proofing.

I.M. Pei's World Trade Center (1977) is the tallest equilateral pentagonal building in the world at 405 feet (123.4 m) tall.

Future contributions to Baltimore's skyline include plans for a 717 foot (218.5 m) tall structure known as "10 Inner Harbor". The building was recently approved by Baltimore's design panel and will be completed around the year 2010. It will include luxury condominiums, a hotel, restaurants and shopping centres. The Naing Corporation has approved a tower of 50-60 floors for the lot at 300 Pratt Street, with the design currently being finalised. The Inner Harbor East area will see the addition of two new towers which have started construction: a 24-floor tower that will be the new world headquarters of Legg Mason, and a 21-floor Four Seasons Hotel complex.

The streets of Baltimore are organised in a grid pattern. The streets are lined with tens of thousands of brick and Formstone faced rowhouses. Many consider the rowhouse the architectural form most closely associated to the city. Some rowhouses are dated as far back as the 1790s.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards is considered by many to be the most beautiful baseball park in Major League Baseball, and has inspired many other cities to build their own versions of this Retro-Style Ballpark.

Camden Yards along with the National Aquarium have helped revive the Inner Harbor from what once was an industrial district full of dilapidated warehouses, into a bustling commercial district full of bars, restaurants and retail establishments.

Visual Arts

Baltimore's museums and galleries offer a variety of art and artifacts for viewing. The lifetime collections of Baltimore residents William and Henry Walters are gathered at the Walters Art Museum. Its treasures include more than 30,000 objects from 5,500 years of history – from pre-Dynastic Egypt to 20th century Art Nouveau. Particularly resplendent collections are held in ivories, jewellery, enamels, bronzes, illuminated manuscripts and rare books. Baltimore's other major art museum is the Baltimore Museum of Art, designed by John Russell Pope, architect of Washing-ton's National Gallery. The museum's prize holding is the "Cone Collection", a large and valuable collection of paintings and sculpture by such European Post-Impressionist masters as Matisse, Cezanne, Picasso and Van Gogh. The museum also has important collections of 18th- and 19th-century American paintings, sculpture and furniture, art from Africa and Oceania, and the works of Andy Warhol. One of Baltimore's newest museums, the American Visionary Art Museum, combines two historic buildings with modern museum architecture. Said to be the only such institution in the country, the museum was officially designated by the US Congress as "the national museum, education and repository centre, the best in self-taught, outsider or visionary artistry". The Contemporary Museum is part of an emerging "arts row" on Centre Street.

The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum is the first of its kind and represents black history and heritage through more than 100 historical wax figures as well as paintings, sculpture and carvings.


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