Introduction to Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore, situated in northern Maryland on the Patapsco River estuary above Chesapeake Bay, is the largest city in the state. Settled in the early 1600s and founded as a town in 1729, it was named after Lord Baltimore, the founder of Maryland. Baltimore's excellent harbor has made it one of the country's most important ports since colonial times. During the War of 1812, the flag at nearby Fort McHenry served as inspiration for Francis Scott Key's Star-Spangled Banner. More recently, Baltimore was an important shipbuilding and supply center during World Wars I and II. Although the city suffered a loss of prosperity and population in the 1960s and 1970s, urban redevelopment projects of the 1980s and 1990s (Harborplace shops and restaurants, the National Aquarium, a convention center, Oriole Park at Camden Yards) have revitalized the city. Today, Baltimore is a commercial and industrial hub. Its leading exports include coal, grain, iron, steel, an d copper. Shipbuilding remains a top industry, as are sugar and food processing, oil refining, biotechnology and chemicals. Baltimore is a center for scientific research, with facilities at Johns Hopkins Hospital and University of Maryland Hospital. Tourism is a rising industry. Directors John Waters and Barry Levinson have given a new glamour to the city in their films.
Edgar Allan Poe's grave is located in the city, where the tortured poet spent his last 18 years. Northwest of downtown is Mount Vernon, home of Baltimore's Washington Monument and the Walters Art Gallery. Nearby Annapolis, seat of the US Naval Academy, has an old-town feel, with many historic homes and buildings. Other historic sites and museums include the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore Civil War Museum, Baltimore Public Works Museum, USS Constellation, Baltimore Maritime Museum, Baltimore Museum of Industry, Port Discovery, Contemporary Museum and Mount Clare. The Babe Ruth Museum reminds thousands of visitors annually that baseball's greatest player was born in Baltimore.
Baltimore Sports and Leisure
Baseball's Baltimore Orioles play at 48,000-seat Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Located just west of downtown, Camden Yards is one of baseball's most popular ballparks the first of the retro parks that are in vogue throughout the sport. Located south and sharing the same parking lot is the 69,000-seat M&T Bank Stadium, home of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens. Within the city is the 12,000-seat First Mariner Arena, where the Blast play NPSL soccer.
Just 44 miles away in Washington, state-of-the-art MCI Arena hosts the NBA's Washington Wizards and the NHL's Washington Capitals. The Preakness Stakes, part of horseracing's triple crown, is held at Pimlico Race Course, in northwest Baltimore's Park Heights neighborhood.
For recreation, the water is just a stone's throw away. Druid Hill Park within the city has not only the Baltimore Zoo, but also 17 tennis courts, 4 softball diamonds, 2 sand volleyball courts, a basketball court, a baseball diamond, a swimming pool and a frisbee field. Annapolis, known as the "Sailing Capital" of the country, has literally thousands of cruising and racing sailboats. Within 3 hours of the city is the Wisp Ski Area in Maryland; dozens more ski slopes are within a similar drive to the mountains in Pennsylvania.
Baltimore at Night
Baltimore has an energetic nightlife, the "SoWeBo" area, much like New York City's SoHo, is a funky, bohemian district popular with artists and free thinkers. Fells Point, one of the city's oldest and ethnically-varied neighborhoods, is now a revitalized hotspot loaded with shops, restaurants, bars and clubs. And, of course, Baltimore has some of the best seafood (especially crabs and crab cakes) in the country. Nearby Annapolis and Washington offer even more options.