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History of Baltimore
 
 
 

Early History

The Maryland colonial General Assembly created the Port of Baltimore at Locust Point in 1706 for the tobacco trade. The Town of Baltimore was founded on July 30, 1729, and is named after Lord Baltimore (Cecilius Calvert), who was the first Proprietary Governor of the Province of Maryland. Cecilius Calvert was a son of George Calvert, who became the First Lord Baltimore of County Cork, Ireland in 1625. Baltimore grew swiftly in the 18th century as a granary for sugar-producing colonies in the Caribbean. The profit from sugar encouraged the cultivation of cane and the importation of food. Baltimore's shorter distance from the Caribbean, compared to other large port cities such as New York City and Boston, reduced transportation time and minimised the spoilage of flour.

Baltimore played a key part in events leading to and including the American Revolution. City leaders such as Jonathan Plowman Jr. moved the city to join the resistance to British taxes and merchants signed agreements to not trade with Britain. After the war, the Town of Baltimore, nearby Jonestown, and an area known as Fells Point were incorporated as the City of Baltimore in 1797. The city remained a part of Baltimore County until 1851 when it was made an independent city.

19th Century

The city was the site of the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812. After burning Washington DC, the British attacked Baltimore on the night of September 13, 1814. United States forces from Fort McHenry successfully defended the city's harbour from the British. Francis Scott Key, a Maryland lawyer, was aboard a British ship where he had been negotiating for the release of an American prisoner, Dr. William Beanes. Key witnessed the bombardment from this ship and later wrote The Star-Spangled Banner, a poem recounting the attack. Key's poem was set to a 1780 tune by British composer John Stafford Smith, and the Star-Spangled Banner became the official National Anthem of the United States in 1931.

Following the Battle of Baltimore, the city's population grew rapidly. The construction of the Federally-funded National Road (presently US Route 40) and the private Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) made Baltimore a major shipping and manufacturing centre by linking the city with major markets in the Midwest. A distinctive local culture started to take shape, and unique skyline developed peppered with churches and monuments. Baltimore acquired its moniker , "Monument City" after an 1827 visit to Baltimore by President John Quincy Adams. Baltimore suffered one of the worst riots of the antebellum south in 1835, when bad investments led to Baltimore Anti-bank riot.

Maryland did not secede during the American Civil War, but remained a part of the United States. However, when Union soldiers marched through the city at the start of the war, Confederate sympathisers attacked the troops, which led to the Baltimore riot of 1861. Four soldiers and 12 civilians were killed during the riot, which caused Union troops to occupy Baltimore. Maryland came under direct federal administration – in part, to prevent the state from seceding – until the end of the war in April 1865.

Following an economic depression known as the Panic of 1873, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad company attempted to reduce its workers wages, leading to the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. On July 20, Maryland Governor John Lee Carroll called up the 5th and 6th Regiments of the National Guard to end the strikes, which had disrupted train service at Cumberland in western Maryland. Citizens sympathetic to the railroad workers attacked the national guard troops as they marched from their armouries in Baltimore to Camden Station. Soldiers from the 6th Regiment fired on the crowd, killing 10 and wounding 25. Rioters then damaged B&O trains and burned portions of the rail station. Order was restored in the city on July 21-22 when federal troops arrived to protect railroad property and end the strike.

20th Century

On February 7, 1904 the Great Baltimore Fire destroyed over 1,500 buildings in 30 hours and forced most of the city to rebuild. Two years later, on September 10, 1906, the Baltimore American newspaper reported that the city had risen from the ashes and "one of the great disasters of modern time had been converted into a blessing." The city grew in area by annexing new suburbs from the surrounding counties, the last being in 1918. A state constitutional amendment approved in 1948, requires a special vote of the citizens in any proposed annexation area, which effectively prevents any future expansion of the city's boundaries.

The Baltimore riot of 1968 occurred following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Coinciding with riots in other cities, public order was not restored until April 12, 1968. The Baltimore riot cost the city of Baltimore an estimated $10 million (about $63 million in 2008). Maryland National Guard troops and 1,900 federal troops were ordered into the city. Lasting effects of the riot can be seen on the streets of North Avenue, Howard Street and Pennsylvania Avenue where long stretches of the streets remain barren.

During the 1970s, Baltimore's downtown area known as the Inner Harbor, had been neglected and was only occupied by a collection of abandoned warehouses. Efforts to redevelop the downtown area started with the construction of the Baltimore Convention Center, which opened 1979. Harborplace, an urban retail and restaurant complex opened on the waterfront in 1980, followed by the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland's largest tourist destination, and the Baltimore Museum of Industry in 1981. In 1992, the Baltimore Orioles baseball team moved from Memorial Stadium to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, located downtown near the harbor. Six years later the Baltimore Ravens football team moved into M&T Bank Stadium next to Camden Yards.

21st Century

On January 17, 2007, Sheila Dixon became the first female Mayor of Baltimore. The city has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

 
 

 



 


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