BALTIMORE , city in Maryland, U.S. When Abraham *Rice of Bavaria accepted the rabbinic post at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation in 1840, the congregation became the first in America to employ an ordained rabbi. While Baltimore Jewry remains justly proud of this distinction, for Rabbi Rice, the experience was not a happy one: as he famously wrote his mentor in Germany, "The religious life in this land is on the lowest level, most people eat foul food and desecrate the Sabbath in public…. Under these circumstances my mind is perplexed and I wonder whether it is even permissible for a Jew to live in this land."
In Baltimore's defense, Rice's comment did not apply to Baltimoreans alone; his words pointed to the state of American Jewry in the mid-19th century. As an immigrant port of entry and border town between North and South, as a gateway to the nation's interior and a manufacturing center in its own right, Baltimore has been well-positioned to reflect developments in American Jewish life. Yet the Baltimore Jewish community has maintained its own distinctive character as well, reflective of the personality of Baltimore itself – a city known for its cohesive communities, periodically fractious citizenry, and occasional eccentricities.
Settlement Patterns and Demographics
Founded in 1729 on an inlet of the Chesapeake Bay in the colony of Maryland, Baltimore remained a small waterfront village until emerging as an important trading center in the late 18th century. Few Jews arrived in the early years. In addition to the town's slow start, they may have been deterred by Maryland's discriminatory constitution, which required that public office holders swear an oath of allegiance to Christianity. Not until the Maryland legislature passed the "Jew Bill" in 1826, enabling Jewish public officials to swear a substitute oath, did Jews achieve full civic equality in the state.
Greater religious toleration and a rising economy came at the right time to draw a good number of the Jewish immigrants beginning to stream into America from German lands. Baltimore's Jewish population surged from around 125 in 1825 to approximately 1,000 in 1840 and more than 8,000 in 1860. By 1880, Baltimore had some 10,000 Jews, mostly of Bavarian and Hessian origin. This profile would soon change dramatically, however. The mass migration of East European Jews that gathered force in the 1880s made an immediate impact, with Baltimore attracting many early arrivals, particularly from Lithuania. The city's Jewish population reached 24,000 by 1890, 40,000 by 1907, and 65,000 by 1920. Although Lithuanians continued to have a major presence, Baltimore received Jewish immigrants from across Eastern Europe between the 1880s and 1920s. The city also welcomed subsequent waves of Jewish migration, notably German-Jewish refugees from Nazism in the 1930s, Holocaust survivors in the post-World War ii era, Iranians in the late 20th century, and Soviet and post-Soviet Jews in the late 20th century.
The diversity of Baltimore's Jewish population mirrored that of the city itself. As a busy immigrant port of entry, Baltimore became a multi-ethnic patchwork of neighborhoods. East Baltimore, the original site of German Jewish residence, became the area of settlement for most East European Jewish immigrants. American-born descendants of German Jews began moving to more affluent precincts on the city's northwest side by the late 19th century, where they tended to re-concentrate in predominantly Jewish enclaves. This pattern continued through the 20th century, as Jews moved away from the old East Baltimore neighborhood to a succession of residential areas in northwest Baltimore. As each Jewish sub-group moved up the economic ladder and into wealthier surroundings, its place was often taken by a less well-off sub-group.
At the turn of the 20th century, some 92,000 Jews lived in Baltimore: around one-quarter within the city limits, 70 percent in suburban Baltimore County, and the remainder in Carroll County. Most resided in predominantly Jewish areas in the northwest part of the metro region, in places such as Upper Park Heights, Mount Washington, Pikesville, Reisterstown, and Owings Mills. Jewish households made up 6 percent of households in the Baltimore area.
From the beginning, Baltimore's Jews found opportunity for economic advancement, though never without struggle. Widow Shinah Etting arrived in 1780 with five children and opened a boardinghouse; another widow, Judith Cohen, came with her children in 1803. Their sons rose to become prominent business and civic leaders. The German Jews who settled in Baltimore after the Ettings and Cohens started primarily as poor peddlers and small shopkeepers. In time, most achieved a measure of success. German Jewish entrepreneurs were the pioneering founders of Baltimore's most well-known retail establishments: Gutman's, Hutzler's, Hochschild Kohn's, Hamburger's, and Hecht's. Others established small clothing manufacturing firms that became the basis of Baltimore's nationally significant garment industry.
East European immigrants found a niche in the lowest rungs of that industry. Harsh conditions and low pay led them to forge a dynamic labor movement that met with bitter employer opposition, and for many years Baltimore's garment industry was wracked by strikes and lockouts. In 1914 the Amalgamated Clothing Workers and the Sonneborn firm, one of the nation's largest men's clothing factories, signed a landmark collective bargaining agreement. During the struggle, Orthodox leader Rabbi Avraham Schwartz interceded on behalf of workers about to be fired for refusing to work on the Sabbath, enlisting the support of the Sonneborn family's Reform rabbi, William Rosenau.
Many East European Jews left the sweatshops and factories (or avoided them altogether) to set up small family enterprises that relied on the labor of husbands, wives, and children. Pushcart peddlers and small shopkeepers reigned on Lombard Street, East Baltimore's bustling marketplace. Other entrepreneurs ranged well beyond the Jewish community. Lithuanian immigrant Jacob Epstein built the Baltimore Bargain House into a multimillion dollar wholesale business. The peddlers he sent out on the rail lines emanating from Baltimore became small shopkeepers and founders of Jewish communities from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. Louis *Blaustein and his son Jacob began selling kerosene door-to-door in 1910; their American Oil Company became one of the country's largest, pioneering the drive-in filling station. In less spectacular ways, many of Baltimore's East European Jews established successful businesses by the 1920s and began to exhibit an upward mobility that would extend in the coming decades despite reversals during the Great Depression.
Immigrants from later waves of Jewish migration also started low on the economic ladder, as door-to-door salesmen, cabdrivers, technicians, and the like. Coming from the upper professional levels in Germany, Iran, and the Soviet Union, most suffered a difficult loss of status, but their educated backgrounds helped many to advance. In the post-World War ii era, Baltimore Jews increasingly gravitated to the professions, although business remained an important economic activity.
Abraham Rice would no doubt have been surprised to learn that Baltimore hosted the highest proportion of Orthodox Jews of any large American Jewish community at the end of the 20th century. The internationally known Ner Israel Rabbinical College and other highly regarded Orthodox institutions combined with Baltimore's relative affordability to enable the Orthodox community to attract new members from New York and other cities. But all branches of Judaism have been well represented in Baltimore. Jewish religious life has been marked by innovation as well as devotion to tradition, conflict as well as cohesion, and by leaders whose actions influenced the course of American Jewry.
With nationally prominent rabbis heading its congregations, Baltimore in the mid-19th century became the battleground of conflicting religious ideologies. The Baltimore Hebrew Congregation (incorporated as Nidchei Israel), the city's first, was established in 1830 by around 20 Jews of German and Dutch extraction. For the next 60 years, traditionalists and reformers clashed within the congregation or split off from it. Some German immigrants founded Har Sinai as a Reform counterpoint in 1842 and constructed America's first building specifically created as a Reform temple in 1849. Congregation Oheb Shalom formed in 1853 as a midway alternative to Baltimore Hebrew's Orthodoxy and Har Sinai's radical Reform. Its first rabbi, Benjamin *Szold, found himself in a bitter feud with Har Sinai's fiery Rabbi David *Einhorn shortly after arriving in Baltimore in 1859. Meanwhile, Baltimore Hebrew continued its slow but sure movement away from traditionalism. Rabbi Rice left in 1849 and two years later founded Shearith Israel, which upheld German-Jewish Orthodoxy for decades and remained an Orthodox congregation into the 21st centiry. In 1870, Baltimore Hebrew's remaining traditionalists, led by the Friedenwald family, split off to form the Chizuk Amuno Congregation. By the early 1900s, Baltimore Hebrew and Oheb Shalom had joined the Reform movement, while Chizuk Amuno became a founding member of the Conservative movement's United Synagogue of America.
Amidst all the Sturm und Drang among the Germans, a small congregation named Bikur Cholim opened in 1865, the first congregation in Baltimore to follow the Polish style of worship. As East Europeans began to trickle in, small landsman-based congregations sprang up, mostly in East Baltimore. Dozens of these shuls were established over the next several decades. Two of the most influential, B'nai Israel (founded by Lithuanians in 1873) and Shomrei Mishmeres (founded by Volhynians in 1892), took over the imposing synagogue buildings on Lloyd Street built by Chizuk Amuno and Baltimore Hebrew, respectively, after those congregations relocated to more upscale neighborhoods. A second phase of East European synagogue development began in the early 1920s when the first American-born generation founded several congregations in northwest Baltimore, including Beth Tfiloh, one of the nation's first "synagogue centers." In ensuing years, small immigrant shuls either merged into larger synagogues or disappeared. By 1999 Baltimore hosted more than 50 synagogues, representing every branch of Judaism.
Jewish Education and Philanthropy
Innovation has been a hallmark of Jewish education in Baltimore. The first known community Hebrew school opened as early as 1842, and community-operated schools such as East Baltimore's Talmud Torah flourished from the late 1880s to the 1940s. Samson *Benderly, the father of modern Jewish education in America, started his revolutionary experiments in Baltimore in 1900 and the city benefited from his direct influence until he left for New York in 1910. In 1917 Rabbi Avraham Schwartz of Shomrei Mishmeres founded the Talmudical Academy, the first Jewish day school outside of New York. In the late 20th century, a dramatic rise in Jewish day schools (16 by 2004) gave Baltimore one of the largest day school populations in the nation. The two institutions of higher Jewish learning have been *Baltimore Hebrew University, founded in 1919 by Israel *Efros, and the Ner Israel Rabbinical College, founded by Rabbi Jacob I. *Ruderman in 1933.
Baltimore Jewry's long tradition of philanthropy and mutual aid started with the United Hebrew Benevolent Society, founded in 1834. Two key institutions, Sinai Hospital and the Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center, also date back to the 1800s. Some charities established by German and American-born Jews in the late 19th century focused on helping poverty-stricken East European immigrants. East European Jews started their own aid societies shortly after their arrival, and by the first decade of the 20th century, two parallel philanthropic networks had arisen: the German-sponsored Federated Jewish Charities and the East European-sponsored United Hebrew Charities. In 1921 the two combined into the Associated Jewish Charities. Ever since, the Associated has supported a comprehensive network of agencies offering social services, health care, and educational, recreational, and cultural programming. Widely recognized as one of the nation's leading Jewish federations, the Associated is known for its innovative programs, fundraising effectiveness, and leaders who have played important roles at the national Jewish communal level.
Baltimore Jewry created a wide array of cultural, social, and recreational institutions through the years, as each wave of immigrants acted to meet the needs of its members. Several clubs and literary associations were established by the 1850s, including the first ymha in the country (1854). A German-Jewish "high society" emerged by the 1880s, complete with debutante balls and exclusive social clubs. East European Jews developed a thriving Yiddish-based cultural scene in East Baltimore. Yiddish theaters, kosher restaurants, and bathhouses drew scores of neighborhood residents. Zionists and socialists, Orthodox and secularists aimed to enrich the immigrants' lives with classes, concerts, and lectures. Some maskilim collaborated with native Baltimorean Henrietta *Szold (daughter of Rabbi Benjamin Szold) to form the Russian Night School in 1889, a pioneering effort in immigrant education. The Jewish Educational Alliance, established in 1913, offered everything from youth sports leagues to adult English classes, and became a second home for thousands of newcomers.
For many decades the Jewish social scene was divided in two, with seemingly irreconcilable religious and cultural differences (as well as garment industry labor-management conflict) separating the "uptown" German Jews from the "downtown" Russian Jews. The rift began to heal in the post-World War ii era. By century's end, new waves of Jewish immigration, generational change, and the emergence of a significant ultra-Orthodox community became more salient factors in shaping a pluralistic Jewish social and cultural life. A variety of sub-groups supported numerous organizations, activities, and newspapers – but all within relatively close proximity in northwest Baltimore, as the flowering of communal diversity did not alter the desire of most Jews to live in Jewish neighborhoods. Some institutions were shared by all, notably a popular two-campus Jewish Community Center and the well-read weekly Jewish Times (established in 1919). The Jewish Museum of Maryland remained in East Baltimore to preserve the legacy of the immigrant past. The nation's largest regional Jewish museum, its complex includes America's third-oldest surviving synagogue, the Lloyd Street Synagogue (1845).
National and International Jewish Issues
Baltimore Jews have provided leadership on the national Jewish stage since the mid-nineteenth century. David Einhorn launched his influential monthly Sinai in 1856, and America's first Hebrew weekly, Ha-Pisgah, appeared in Baltimore in 1891. Simon *Sobeloff was the inaugural president of the American Jewish Congress. Real estate magnate Joseph *Meyerhoff served as national chair of the United Jewish Appeal and State of Israel Bonds, demonstrating that the two organizations were complementary and not competitive. His son, Harvey Meyerhoff, became chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1987 and, despite doubtful prospects, brought the Museum to its successful opening in 1993. Rabbi Arthur *Hertzberg's Orthodox upbringing in East Baltimore strongly influenced his contributions to national Jewish life.
Baltimore women have a history of "firsts." The first woman to head a major American Jewish congregation was Helen Dalsheimer, installed as president of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation in 1956. Shoshana Cardin became the first woman to lead a major Jewish federation when she assumed the presidency of Baltimore's Associated Jewish Charities in 1983. Cardin went on to be the first woman to preside over the national Council of Jewish Federations.
Baltimore has been an important center of Zionist activity. One of America's first *?ibbat Zion groups organized here in 1884, and the only American delegate to the First Zionist Congress was a Baltimorean, Shearith Israel's Rabbi Shepsel Schaffer. Henrietta Szold, founder of Hadassah, began her Zionist activities in this city. Harry *Friedenwald served as second president of the American Zionist Federation. In 1947, a group of Baltimore Zionists secretly acquired, rebuilt, and launched an old Chesapeake Bay steamer which picked up refugees in France and unfurled its new name, Exodus 1947, upon being attacked by the British on its way to Palestine.
The Baltimore Scene
From the beginning, Baltimore's Jews have actively engaged in their region's political, civic, and cultural life. Ettings and Cohens participated in the pivotal battle of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. During the Civil War, Jews were as divided as the rest of the population in this border city. Rabbi Einhorn led the antislavery faction, Rabbi Bernhard *Illowy of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation defended the status quo, and Rabbi Szold spoke for Jewish neutrality. Einhorn's tenure at Har Sinai was abruptly cut short in 1861 when his newspaper, Sinai, was destroyed by a pro-slavery mob and he fled with his family to Philadelphia. Jews have served throughout state and local government, from Solomon Etting and Jacob Cohen – elected to the City Council immediately after passage of the "Jew Bill" in 1826 – to popular 1970s Maryland governor Marvin *Mandel (whose political career was cut short by corruption charges).
Jews have played a critical role in Baltimore's cultural scene as patrons and participants. Jacob Epstein's personal art collection became a core holding of the Baltimore Museum of Art, while Etta and Claribel Cone gave the bma the unparalleled collection of modern art they acquired in their European travels. Joseph Meyerhoff's philanthropy created Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, home of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, in 1982. Academy Award-winning film director Barry Levinson made significant contributions to American cinema with his three-part chronicle of Baltimore Jewish life, Diner (1982), Avalon (1990), and Liberty Heights (1999).
Relations between Baltimore Jews and non-Jews have been generally amicable, though ethnic and religious prejudice, social snobbery, and discrimination occasionally vexed the Jewish community. In the 19th century, the city's large German population of Jews and non-Jews shared German-speaking clubs and many Jewish children attended Zion Lutheran Church's well-respected school, where instruction was in German. However, the local Catholic press, German and English, specialized in antisemitic articles until the appointment of Archbishop James Gibbons in 1877. Local antisemitism increased with the rise of Nazism in the 1930s, spurring the 1939 formation of the Baltimore Jewish Council, a community relations organization that continues to fight antisemitism, promote dialogue between Jewish and other local communities, and address broader urban issues.
The relationship of Jews to Baltimore's African American community has been complex. Jews participated in the civil rights movement, but the movement also targeted Jewish storeowners who maintained discriminatory policies. In one historian's words, a state of "intimate antagonism" existed between the two groups for much of the 20th century, as economic relations and geographic proximity promoted considerable interaction between Jews and blacks.
The close-knit nature of Baltimore's Jewish community arose from a combination of gentile prejudice and Jewish ties of kinship and culture. Residential discrimination kept Jews out of some areas until the mid-20th century, contributing to the emergence of intensely concentrated Jewish neighborhoods. Upper-class social and educational discrimination encouraged Jews to create separate clubs and "ecumenical" (largely Jewish) private schools. Such discrimination dissipated in the post-World War ii era. By the dawn of the 21st century Baltimore Jewry emerged as a confident and assertive community determined to maintain its own distinct identity, neighborhoods, and institutions, while its members pursued ever-expanding ways to involve themselves in the broader society.
I. Blum, History of the Jews of Baltimore (1910); Cornerstones of Community: The Historic Synagogues of Maryland, 1845–1945 (Jewish Museum of Maryland, 1999); I.M. Fein, Making of an American Jewish Community: The History of Baltimore Jewry from 1773 to 1920 (1971); Jewish Community Study of Greater Baltimore (The Association, 2001); G. Sandler, Jewish Baltimore, A Family Album (2000).
[Deborah Weiner (2nd ed.)]
In 1745 Jones' Town, Baltimore Town, and surrounding settlements merged to form the municipality that would eventually become Maryland's largest and most productive city. Baltimore's geographic location enabled it to grow from an obscure port city to an American urban center of culture and commerce. By 1850 Baltimore was America's fourth most populous city and its sixth largest industrial city. This growth rate is a direct reflection of the emergence of industry in American port cities. Once reliant on a mercantile economic system, large American ports developed industrial districts that changed the face of those cities. Instead of strictly moving goods from one port to another, these transitional cities started producing their own goods for sale. Some of Baltimore's major industries were iron and gas production, ship building, canning, financial banking, and textiles. By 1825 Baltimore was the largest flour market in the United States, and over sixty flour mills were in production in or near Baltimore.
As this transition of economies unfolded, Baltimore was in an ideal spot for industrial growth, forty-eight hours closer to the southern markets by boat than New York. The city became the preferred port for trading with the Caribbean and South America. The location was not only well suited for shipping but also for inland trade. The port of Baltimore is located on the Patapsco River estuary, the farthest inlet port on the Chesapeake Bay, 170 miles from the Virginia Capes. Originally, this location was less than ideal for a city competing with other port cities located on or near the Atlantic Ocean. This disadvantage soon turned into a huge advantage for Baltimore, however, when American port cities began competing for trade with the midwestern states, especially Ohio. By sailing all the way to Baltimore, ships were one hundred miles nearer the interior of the United States.
From Baltimore, a single route over the Appalachian Mountains—following the National Pike, the Fredrick Turnpike, and the Cumberland Road—led to the expanding markets in the Ohio Valley. During the nineteenth century, these new markets in West Virginia and the Ohio Valley produced wheat, corn, and raw materials needed for the growing industrial economies in the East, and the major ports like New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore all vied for their trade. Ohio flour and West Virginia coal and iron helped propel Baltimore into a role as the major exporter of flour to South America. By 1820, the leaders of Baltimore understood their unique situation and were willing to place the city in debt in order to take advantage of their proximity to the West. During the rest of the nineteenth century, city officials financed railroads, canals, and roads to ensure trade and commerce with the midwestern United States moved through Baltimore. One article in the Baltimore American stated, "Baltimore should imitate the spider and spread her lines towards every point of the compass, and lodge in the center of them. . . . The present generation are able to pay interest; let the next generation pay the principle" (Olson, p. 560). The Cumberland route was solidified as the preferred route of commerce to the Midwest by the construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O), which was chartered for carrying freight and passengers in 1827. In 1852 the B&O tracks were the first to reach Wheeling, West Virginia, at the edge of the Ohio River, and in 1857, they were the first tracks from an East Coast city to reach the western gateway of St. Louis, Missouri. The B&O Railroad gave Baltimore an unprecedented advantage for economic and industrial growth in the later half of the nineteenth century.
Besides its vital role in the American economy, Baltimore was also politically important. Before the War of 1812, the British had determined that Baltimore was home to many privateers who were raiding British ships for profit, and the city became a target for attack after the United States and England went to war. The Battle of Baltimore culminated with the British military's unsuccessful attack on Fort McHenry on 13 and 14 September 1814, an event witnessed by Francis Scott Key and celebrated by his poem "The Star-Spangled Banner." This event propelled Baltimore into the national spotlight and endeared the city to citizens of America. For a brief period in the 1830s, Baltimore became the nation's second-largest city.
Baltimore was the northernmost slave state and developed its own brand of the evil institution. As seen by many historians, slavery in Baltimore was characterized by relatively lax master-slave relationships in which slaves could walk about the town unencumbered. Benjamin Quarles explains, "Slavery in Maryland was more 'enlightened' than in the lower South; town slaves were better fed and less likely to feel the whip than their plantation brothers" (p. 7). Baltimore was also home to one of the largest free black communities in the South. In 1850 there were over twenty-five thousand free blacks in the city, making up 15 percent of the city population. This large population of freed slaves developed churches, unions, and community groups for support.
The abolitionist writer and orator Fredrick Douglass (1818–1895) was a slave in Baltimore during his young life and again later; while in Baltimore, he was a member of the East Baltimore Improvement Society, where he met his future wife, Anna Murray. For Douglass, Baltimore offered an environment that ultimately led to his freedom. As Douglass explains in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845), his white slave mistress initially began to teach him to read while he was a young slave in the Auld house, and his education stimulated Douglass to pursue freedom at all costs. After being moved from Baltimore and set to work in several harsh situations, including a year with Edward Covey, a slaveholder with "a very high reputation for breaking young slaves" (Douglass, p. 60), Douglass was sent back to Baltimore and (still a slave) was hired out as an apprentice to earn a wage caulking in the shipyards. Although his wages went to his master, he ultimately was able to hire out his own free time, and he used the money that he earned to finance his eventual escape from slavery, which he managed in 1838 by boarding a Baltimore train bound for Philadelphia. (The former slave and writer-activist Harriet Jacobs [1813–1897] had an uncle, Benjamin, who also escaped slavery, in 1827, using the trains of Baltimore as the means of his flight. Jacobs herself had hoped to take the same route in her flight; however, by the time of her escape in 1842 southern law enforcement had locked down Baltimore's railway stations. Instead of following her uncle's footsteps, she was forced to escape by sailing vessel.)
Historical records show that Douglass was not the only African American to pick up a skilled trade in Baltimore's shipyards. These shipyards provided African Americans jobs as carpenters, caulkers, stevedores, and draymen. The numbers of African American caulkers was so large that in 1838 they organized a union called the Caulker's Association, one of the first black labor unions. The organization dictated high wages and better working conditions. In fact, the historian Bettye C. Thomas claims that African American caulkers in the city's shipyards garnered wages fifty cents higher than their white counterparts.
After the Civil War, African American businessmen established the nation's first black-owned shipyard. The Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Company of Baltimore City opened its doors in 1866 and operated with great success for almost twenty years. The company's charter included wording demonstrating that the venture was intended to last for forty years; however, there was a misunderstanding over whether the African American company had purchased the land outright or was leasing the site. The issue went to the courts in 1879. Judges ruled against the claims of the black-owned shipyard and the land was returned to the original white owners in 1884.
In 1820 the American Colonization Society sponsored the first of many ships carrying freed African Americans to new settlements in West Africa. Baltimore took a leading role in this endeavor and tried to create exclusive trading rights with these settlements between 1822 and 1827. Baltimore's monopolistic scheme failed, and the effort illustrates the city's precarious relationship with race in the nineteenth century. On the one hand, many citizens urged the amicable release of slaves, and on the other hand, they were economically tied to the institution. After the failure of the American Colonization Society, the state government established the Maryland Colonization Society, which was separate from the national organization. This society eased fears that Maryland would be limited by the national society's quota on the number of emigrants each state could send to Liberia. William Watkins, the uncle of the black writer and activist Francis E. W. Harper and one of the founders of the Mental and Moral Improvement Society in Baltimore, was one vocal critic of the new state society. Watkins claimed that the colonization of Liberia by freed African Americans had nothing to do with the best interests of African Americans. Instead, it was a scheme to rid America of free blacks. He argues in Freedom's Journal (6 July 1827):
We are appraised that some of the most distinguished of that society (The Maryland Colonization Society), are themselves, Slaveholders! Now, how those men can desire so ardently, and labor so abundantly, for the exaltation of the free people, thousands of whom they have never seen, and feel so little concern for those who are held in bondage by themselves; whose degraded condition is directly under their observation, and immediately within the sphere of their benevolence to ameliorate, is a philanthropy, I confess, unaccountable to me. (Gardner, p. 156)
Under the pseudonym "The Colored Baltimorean," Watkins attacked the colonization plan in abolitionist journals such as the Genius of Universal Emancipation, The Liberator, and Freeman's Journal. His protests ultimately convinced abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison to resist the plan as well.
BALTIMORE AS A CULTURAL CENTER
As Baltimore's population and prosperity grew, the urban core evolved into one of America's premiere cultural centers. Its theater community was one of the largest in the nation, and keeping with the times, Baltimore supported the nineteenth-century interest in lecture series known as the lyceum movement. William Ellery Channing presented his famous sermon on the five tenets of Unitarian Christianity in Baltimore in 1819. In 1857 George Peabody created the Peabody Institute with the goal of developing "a structure that would expose the citizens of Baltimore to the finest in literature, music, the fine arts, and contribute to the formation of literary and scientific taste in the city" (Peabody Institute). Beginning in 1866, the Peabody Institute's new lecture series brought speakers in science, literature, and art to deliver more than thirty lectures a year. The institute also founded the country's first free public noncirculating library in 1866, and in 1868 the Peabody Conservatory of Music opened its inaugural season.
Baltimore was also home to the largest publishing industry in the South. During the early to mid-1800s, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore dominated the American publishing industry. Eventually, Philadelphia eclipsed Baltimore as the cities competed for the same markets, and Baltimore receded from its prominence on the national stage. However, it did remain a significant player in the publishing industry of the South. By 1857 half the publishing houses in the South were located in Baltimore. Although the southern publishing industry lagged far behind its northern counterpart, Baltimore (along with Charleston, and New Orleans) was a major distribution hub for the publishing houses in the North, such as Ticknor and Fields. Baltimore's publishing industry was hard hit during the Civil War, however; the historian Warren Tryon has documented that book sales remained fairly normal in the period leading up to the war, "even until April 1861," but "then, suddenly and unexpectedly, they vanished altogether" (p. 329).
BALTIMORE LITERARY FIGURES
Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849) started his literary career in Baltimore after a brief stint at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and stayed in the city from 1831 until 1835, where he obtained a license to marry his thirteen-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm. During this time, Poe also wrote many articles in the Baltimore papers. Some of his work includes publications during this time in the Southern Literary Messenger (a new journal out of Richmond, Virginia), including the 1835 gothic tales "Berenice" and "Morella," as well as critical reviews in the Baltimore Republican and in the Baltimore American. His critiques of the Southern Literary Messenger in these Baltimore newspapers reflect Poe's ability to discern quality in the editing profession, and he corresponded with the founding owner of the Southern Literary Messenger, Thomas W. White, advising him on his journal and suggesting changes. In one letter, Poe advised White to advertise in the American instead of the Republican because the Republican "is a paper by no means in the hands of the first people here [Baltimore]" (Jackson, p. 252). The correspondence with White led to Poe's appointment as the full-time editor of the Southern Literary Messenger in 1835. Although he was discharged from that post early in 1837 and moved to New York and then Philadelphia, he was back in Baltimore at the time of his mysterious death in 1849, and he is buried at Westminster Presbyterian Church near Camden Yards.
During his time in Baltimore, in 1833, Poe entered a literary contest offered by the Baltimore Saturday Visitor. His submission, a group of short stories collectively titled Tales of the Folio Club, brought him a fifty-dollar prize, but more importantly, it led to his meeting with the influential Baltimorean literary and publishing figure John P. Kennedy, who became Poe's patron. Kennedy, a former secretary of the navy, wrote two southern novels, Swallow Barn (1832), a romance set in rural Virginia in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, and Horseshoe Robinson (1835), a Revolutionary War Romeo-and-Juliet romance set in Virginia and the Carolinas. But more significantly, Kennedy was enmeshed in the publishing industry—he was on close terms with White, Henry C. Carey (who published many of James Fennimore Cooper's works), and Washington Irving, and his presence made Baltimore a literary center.
Unlike the black literary figures Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs who had lived in Baltimore as slaves, the writer Frances E. W. Harper (1825–1911) was born in Baltimore into a family of free African Americans. Orphaned three years after her birth, she was raised and educated in Baltimore by her uncle, the abolitionist William Watkins, who enrolled her in the Academy for Negro Youth, a school for free African Americans that he had founded and ran. She published her first book of poetry, Autumn Leaves, often called Forest Leaves (1845), while living in Baltimore, but she moved to Philadelphia when southern white resentment of the large free African American population in Baltimore reached a fevered pitch.
As American economic power increased during the nineteenth century, Baltimore grew from an obscure port town to a bustling urban center. Baltimore's unique position as the largest city in the northernmost slave state on the East Coast helped increase its industrial trade between the North and the South, but this position also placed it in a precarious position at the outset of the Civil War. Leading up to the war, Baltimore's aggressive plans to create efficient trading routes into the American Midwest placed the city on the cusp of becoming America's second city, and its relatively lenient brand of slavery (resulting in, and coexisting with, the largest population of free African Americans in the South), also created an environment that allowed many slaves to escape to the North. During the war, Baltimore's economy ground to a halt and inhibited its future growth. After the Civil War, Baltimore never regained its prominence as America's next great city; however, the cultural foundation that developed through the growth in the nineteenth century makes Baltimore one of the important cultural cities in this era. After the war, the city was home to the Douglass Institute, where Frederick Douglass delivered a speech on 19 May 1870 to celebrate the Fifteenth Amendment; however, the city did not entirely embrace equality. Maryland, like other southern states, passed Jim Crow segregation laws and prevented total equality of the races until the twentieth century.
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Gregory Scott George
With its extensively developed waterfront, overhead sky-walks, and numerous plazas and promenades, downtown Baltimore is ideally geared to the pedestrian tourist. Many visitors begin their tour of the city at Baltimore's Inner Harbor, easily the city's most picturesque area. A one-half-mile brick promenade along the water enables visitors to walk to the many attractions at water's edge.
The Maryland Science Center, set directly on the water, is especially popular with children. Three block-length floors of science exhibits, hands-on displays, and live science demonstrations are featured. The Davis Planetarium boasts 350 projectors and presents multimedia and topical shows. Nearby is the world's tallest five-sided building, the thirty-story World Trade Center, designed by I. M. Pei. The "Top of the World" observation deck on the building's 27th floor offers a panoramic view of the harbor.
One of the most spectacular sights at the Inner Harbor is the seven-level National Aquarium, whose unique glass pyramid roofs create dramatic reflections in the water. It is the city's top attraction and was rated one of the country's best family attractions in 2004, according to USA Today. More than 10,500 aquatic specimens and 560 species of animals are housed in the exhibits and the Aquarium is crowned by a 64-foot-high model of an Amazon rain forest that looks out over the harbor.
Port Discovery is Baltimore's children's museum and offers interactive exhibits and features a three-story urban tree house. Child magazine ranked it among the country's five top children's museums in 2002.
Visitors to Baltimore's Inner Harbor may take advantage of the Water Taxi, which from mid-April to mid-October shuttles between major points of interest around the harbor. For longer excursions, public and charter cruises, as well as brunch and dinner cruises, are available through Harbor Cruises.
Among Baltimore's many historical landmarks is the National Park at Fort McHenry, the unusual star-shaped fort that was the site of Baltimore's victory over the British bombardment during the War of 1812, and the inspiration for the U.S. national anthem. The fort's battlements have been carefully preserved. The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, built in 1793, preserves the site where Mary Pickersgill sewed the 30-inch by 42-inch flag that flew at Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. A collection of early American art, Federal period furniture, and a unique map of the United States composed of stones from each state are presented.
Homes of several famous Baltimore residents are open to the public. The Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum offers exhibits commemorating baseball legend Babe Ruth and Maryland baseball history, with numerous photos and memorabilia of Baltimore's major-league teams, the Orioles. The childhood home of Babe Ruth is preserved as it was at the time of his birth in 1895. Continuing the baseball theme, the Baseball Center located in the Camden Station Passenger Terminal building at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. About four times the size of Babe Ruth's birthplace, the facility houses archives, classrooms, a baseball theater, a baseball-themed restaurant, and a main corridor that resembles a 1920s railroad car. The Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum on Banneker's 142-acre homesite commemorates this son of a freed slave and grandson of an African prince.
Edgar Allan Poe lived and wrote in Baltimore from 1832 to 1835. His home on North Amity Street is open to the public. Writer and journalist H. L. Mencken, locally known as the "Sage of Baltimore," lived in Baltimore for more than 68 years until his death in 1956. His nineteenth-century row-house overlooking scenic Union Square has been carefully restored with its original furniture and much of Mencken's personal memorabilia. The H. L. Mencken House is part of a seven-museum and park complex collectively known as Baltimore City Life Museums. Other historical buildings around Baltimore include the Baltimore City Hall, Shot Tower, The Washington Monument, and the George Peabody Library of Johns Hopkins University.
Baltimore has many public gardens and parks. The largest is Druid Hill Park, at 674 acres one of the country's largest natural city parks. One hundred fifty acres are devoted to the popular Baltimore Zoo, which features the largest captive colony of African black-footed penguins. Also in Druid Hill Park is the Conservatory, a remarkable glass pavilion similar in construction to the Victorian-era "Crystal Palace" built in 1888. Known as "The Palm House," the building contains an extensive collection of tropical and desert plants. Other gardens include Cylbyrn Arboretum, on the grounds of Cylbyrn Mansion, and Sherwood Gardens, located in the beautifully-landscaped neighborhood of Guildford.
Arts and Culture
Those seeking fine music, theater, and dance performances will not be disappointed in Baltimore, which has seen a recent renewal of interest in the arts, including new construction or major renovation of existing performing centers. The acoustically impressive Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall is home to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. In addition to its classical programs, which include a number of celebrity performers each year, the orchestra presents a Pops series. The Baltimore Opera Company performs full-scale grand opera at the restored Lyric Opera House, a replica of Germany's Leipzig Music Hall. Summer concert series are held at the Pier Six Concert Pavilion, a unique fabric-covered structure where jazz, country, and classical music, and musical comedy programs are presented by top-name performers. The Eubie Blake National Museum and Cultural Center, dedicated to the famous Baltimore-born pianist, fosters the development and sponsors performances of community artists. Classes are held at the center in music, dance, and drama. The Creative Alliance at the Patterson showcases a variety of entertainment in a 1930s movie theatre.
Baltimore theater-goers will find dramatic productions to suit every taste. The Morris A. Mechanic Theatre offers a wide range of pre- and post-Broadway productions. Center Stage is among the nation's top ten regional theaters and produces six classic and modern plays each year. Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre offers musicals, comedies, dramas and a children's each summer on the CCBC Essex campus. The Arena Players is one of the foremost black theater companies on the East Coast and the Theatre Project is known internationally for its experimental music, drama, and dance.
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 twentieth century Art Nouveau. Particularly resplendent collections are held in ivories, jewelry, 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 eighteenth- and nineteenth-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 U.S. Congress as "the national museum, education and repository center, the best in self-taught, outsider or visionary artistry." The Contemporary Museum is part of an emerging "arts row" on Centre Street.
In the historical former residence of nineteenth-century Baltimore philanthropist Enoch Pratt is the Maryland Historical Society. The Society's Museum and Library of Maryland History are of particular interest to researchers; of general interest are collections of portraits by famous American artists, valuable nineteenth-century silver, furniture from 1720 to 1950, and Francis Scott Key's original manuscript of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Near the heart of industrial South Baltimore, the Baltimore Museum of Industry, housed in the former Platt Oyster Cannery, features recreations of turn-of-the-century machinery, printing, and metalworking workshops, as well as a garment loft.
The B & O Railroad Museum is designed around Mount Clare Station, which was built in 1830 for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad as the nation's first passenger and freight station. The original 1884 roundhouse, tracks, and turntable have been preserved. Among the more than 130 railroad cars on display here, both originals and replicas, is "Tom Thumb," the first steam locomotive. The Museum has renovated the roundhouse, added exhibits, train rides, visitor facilities and a museum store and had scheduled a grand reopening for spring 2005. The Baltimore Public Works Museum preserves the history of the city's public works with a collection of more than 2,000 items including early wooden water pipes, water meters, numerous photographs, and an early twentieth-century water-pumping truck. The museum itself was once a sewage pumping station, built in 1912. Much of the art collection of Baltimore's artistic Peale family can be seen at the Peale Museum, which has three floors of exhibits, including a floor dedicated to a history of the Baltimore rowhouse.
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. The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, located at Inner Harbor, was scheduled to open June 2005. Its focus is on the lives, history and culture of African Americans in Maryland. It has partnered with the State Board of Education which has adopted a curriculum linked to the museum's programs. The Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park on the Fells Point Riverfront is also scheduled to open in the summer 2005. The $12 million park is sponsored by the Living Classrooms Foundation and features exhibits and monuments dedicated to the two entrepreneurs, a shipbuilding workshop, a working marine railway, outdoor amphitheater, dockage for historic ships, and other multicultural displays.
Festivals and Holidays
Most of Baltimore's festivals begin in late spring and continue on weekends throughout the fall. The colorful Maryland Kite Festival, held on the last Saturday in April, is a competition with homemade kites, judged for their beauty, flight performance, and design. Also in April is the highly acclaimed Baltimore International Film Festival, held for one month and presenting numerous entries in such categories as documentaries, movies by women or children, and animation. The Blues Fest is usually held in June. The African American Heritage Festival is held for three days in June at Oriole Park in Camden Yards.
Artscape is a lively outdoor festival held in July showcasing local artistic and musical talent. Baltimore's famous and very popular Showcase of Nations—a series of weekly ethnic festivals held from June through September—celebrates the heritage of many cultures through music, dance, crafts, and international cuisine.
September is the month of the Maryland State Fair, held at the Fairgrounds in nearby Timonium. The week-long state fair features livestock, produce, and equestrian competition from Maryland 4-H groups, as well as an amusement midway and horse racing. September also brings the Baltimore Book Festival, a celebration of the literary arts.
In October the Fells Point Fun Festival celebrates the historical waterfront neighborhood with two days of arts and crafts, entertainment, maritime exhibits, neighborhood tours, and music ranging from jazz and blues to Polish polkas. December's parade of lighted boats adds to the festive season and New Year's Eve Extravaganza offerings include parties at the convention center, ice skating demonstrations, live music and fireworks at the harbor (on January 1st).
Sports for the Spectator
Baltimore's American Conference East Division indoor soccer team, the Baltimore Blast, plays at Baltimore Arena; the team's season runs from October to March, with post-season play in April.
Professional football returned to the city with great fanfare after a 12-year absence when the newly christened Baltimore Ravens (formerly the Cleveland Browns and renamed in honor of the Edgar Allan Poe poem) played their first official National Football League game in 1996. The team now plays in the state-of-the-art M & T Bank Stadium. College football and basketball are represented by the University of Maryland Terrapins, Towson State Tigers, Johns Hopkins Blue Jays, and the Naval Academy Midshipmen at nearby stadiums.
Baseball fans come out to watch the American League Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Architects have praised its distinctive turn-of-the-century style, which is in keeping with its old urban neighborhood. The 48,000-seat stadium incorporates a landmark B & O Railroad warehouse that has been converted to office space for the ball club and the Maryland Stadium Authority. Another popular warm-weather sport is lacrosse, played by the champion Johns Hopkins University Blue Jays at Homewood Field; the Lacrosse Museum and National Hall of Fame is located adjacent to Homewood Field.
Thoroughbred racing, always popular with Maryland horse breeders and followers, can be seen at Pimlico Racecourse, Maryland's oldest racetrack. The famous Preakness Stakes, second jewel in the Triple Crown, is run here in May. In October on Maryland Million Day, thoroughbreds race at Pimlico Racecourse and purses total more than $1 million. Maryland's most famous steeplechase is the annual Maryland Hunt Cup, held in Baltimore County.
Sports for the Participant
Baltimore's proximity to the Chesapeake Bay makes all sorts of water-related activities are favorite pastimes of many area residents. Sail- and powerboat regattas are held at the Inner Harbor, nearby Annapolis, and Havre de Grace throughout the summer months. Numerous marinas and yacht clubs dot the bay and river inlets near Baltimore, and local pleasure boats can be seen all along the Chesapeake on a clear day. Fishing, crabbing, and clamdigging are also very popular, even within city limits.
Numerous public and private golf clubs dot the Baltimore area. Art Links Baltimore is a miniature course designed by regional artists and architects. Art Links' 18 holes celebrate the culture of the Baltimore region, incorporating tracks of the B & O Railroad or depicting a crab feast, for example. Tennis courts are available in many of the city's parks, as are bike paths and swimming pools.
Shopping and Dining
Most of the malls in the Baltimore area are located in Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, close to the city, but many specialized shopping centers can be found within city limits, at Lexington Mall and along Antique Row, for instance. The twin pavilions of Harborplace and The Gallery offer shops and restaurants at the water's edge. Lexington Market, which underwent a revitalization in 2002, features more than 140 merchants selling fresh seafood, produce, and international delights. Lexington Market is part of Market Center, a bustling and colorful collection of more than 400 diverse shops. One of the oldest and most luxurious shopping districts in Baltimore is the Charles Street Corridor, where shoppers can find numerous art galleries, jewelers, stationers, furriers, and specialty boutiques; new stores are interspersed with enduring older ones.
As with many other aspects of Baltimore living, restaurant dining is greatly influenced by the city's proximity to the Chesapeake Bay. A wide range of Baltimore restaurants specialize in preparation of crabs, oysters, clams, mussels, and fish from the Bay. Many Baltimore restaurants also reflect the port city's rich ethnic heritage, and diverse international cuisines can be enjoyed throughout the downtown area.
Visitor Information: Baltimore Area Visitors Center, Constellation Pier, 301 East Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD; telephone (410)837-4636 or (800)282-6632. For information on group visits, Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, 100 Light Street, 12th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21202; telephone (410)659-7300 or (800)343-3468; fax (410)727-2308
Major Industries and Commercial Activity
Baltimore's heritage as a strategically-located East Coast port is drawn upon by its developers today. The city's revived downtown and central location among major East Coast cities has made it increasingly attractive to new or expanding businesses. The blue-collar tradition exemplified by Bethlehem Steel's ranking as top employer in the 1980s is being replaced by jobs in the service sector in fields such as law, finance, medicine, hospitality, entertainment, maritime commerce and health. Growth in the high-technology market in areas such as electronics, information technology, telecommunications and aerospace research has also created new jobs.
Baltimore is an established center of medicine and biosciences. It is a national headquarters for advanced medical treatment and research with two pioneering teaching hospitals, Johns Hopkins Hospital and University Hospital at the University of Maryland. The Baltimore area is the research center for the mapping of the human genome and its resulting commercial applications.
Year after year, Greater Baltimore ranks among the nation's top twenty markets in key retail categories. Tourism, spurred on by the opening or expansion of downtown attractions, has boosted construction and the success of the Inner Harbor renovation has lured city residents back downtown. Tourism in Baltimore brought increased revenues from 2003 to 2004, with increased hotel occupancy rates, convention–related spending, overall air travel to the city, increased tax revenues and growth in the number of leisure and hospitality jobs.
Among the city's major exports are coal, grain, iron, steel, and copper products. Baltimore also remains a center for shipbuilding.
The Baltimore metropolitan area is home to three companies on the Fortune 500 list of the largest companies in the country: food distributor U.S. Foodservice Inc., power tool giant Black & Decker Corp., and Constellation Energy, the utility holding company that owns Baltimore Gas & Electric Co.
Items and goods produced: steel pipe; plate, sheet, and tin mill products; ships and ship-related products; aerospace equipment; sugar and processed foods; copper and oil refining; chemicals; clothing
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies
The Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore helps businesses to access the broad range of competitive incentives offered by the State of Maryland and local jurisdictions, as well as Baltimore Gas and Electric. Municipalities and the State of Maryland offer attractive financing programs including industrial revenue bonds, small business and high technology loans, and community development block grants. Many of these loans offer interest rates that are below market. Payment-in-lieu-of Taxes (PILOT) agreements with the City of Baltimore exempt businesses from property taxes on certain real estate within the city for a specified length of time and substitute a negotiated payment.
The One Maryland Tax Credit Program for development in a "qualified distressed county" allows up to $5 million in project tax credits and an additional $500,000 in start-up tax credits. In addition to the One Maryland program, four other business finance programs are offered through the state, consisting of loans and grants. Enterprise zone property and income tax credits are available. Foreign Trade Zone #74 houses port-related activities and includes facilities for assembly, distribution, packaging, manufacturing and warehousing.The zone, which saw a reorganization and major expansion of more than 1,000 acres in 2001, now encompasses 1,464 acres.
Job training and recruitment programs
The Economic Alliance also partners with area colleges and universities to provide customized training to ensure a quality workforce. The Maryland Industrial Training Program (MITP), as well as some local programs, provides reimbursement grants for the development and training of new employees in firms that are locating or expanding their workforce in Maryland. The level of funding provided is negotiated between the company and the State of Maryland, with specific cost sharing items spelled out in a training grant agreement. The Partnership for Work-force Quality (PWQ) provides matching skill training grants. The Business Training Network (BTN) is a network of regional community colleges providing training and recruitment programs. Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Program (MATP) offers free technical assistance to companies who want to set up apprenticeship programs. Additional workforce resources include the Greater Baltimore Regional Transitional Assistance Program (TAP) Initiative, providing employers the opportunity for recruitment directly from the regional and national military population. Career Net is a workforce database linking employers and job seekers.
Baltimore is continuing its redevelopment program for its Inner Harbor and downtown areas. The $71 million Calvert Mercier Lombard Grant Street redevelopment project is designed to include 300 apartments, retail space and a 542-car parking garage in the heart of the central business district. Improved water taxi/commuter service at Inner Harbor provides tourists and commuters with easy access to the city's cultural, business, entertainment, historic and recreational venues. The city also plans to redevelop Oldtown Mall, a once thriving pedestrian mall in East Baltimore. The west side of the city is also seeing revitalization in the Westside Initiative which incorporates the redevelopment of 100 square blocks and links the finance district to the University of Maryland's graduate and medical schools.
Ten of Baltimore's neighborhood commercial districts received a financial boost over three years under a national Main Street program. The revitalization initiative followed the National Trust for Historic Preservation model, using more than $1.5 million in city, state, and private funds. The program has been successful in creating 210 new businesses, more than 700 new full–and part–time jobs, and 291 facáde improvement projects.
Economic Development Information: Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, 111 South Calvert Street, Suite 2220, Baltimore, MD 21202-6180; telephone (888)298-4322. Baltimore Development Corporation, 36 South Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-3015; telephone (410) 837-9305; fax 410-837-6363
Baltimore-Washington International Airport is a major cargo carrier for the mid-Atlantic region. CSX and Norfolk Southern railroad systems service industry throughout the Baltimore area. Several major interstate highways run through Baltimore; I-95 links Baltimore with major cities from New England to Florida, and I-70 connects it with the Midwest. More than 100 trucking lines also accommodate the Baltimore area.
The most significant mover of goods in the area is the port of Baltimore, the fifth largest and one of the busiest deep-water ports in the nation. One hundred fifty miles closer to key midwestern markets than any other Atlantic Coast port, the port of Baltimore has lower transportation costs between its marine terminals and inland points of cargo origin or destination. Baltimore also benefits by having two access routes to its port: from the north through the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, and from the south up the Chesapeake Bay. Since 1980, more than one-half billion dollars has been invested in maritime-related improvements to the Port.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
Sixty-eight percent of population over 25 in the City of Baltimore has a high school diploma and 19.1 percent has a bachelor's degree or more. Baltimore's job growth rate was up in 2004 and ranked in the top quarter of the nation's metro areas. Education and health services, financial activities, and leisure and hospitality were the major industries facing job gains. The largest job losses were in the information and manufacturing sectors.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Baltimore Metropolitan area (PMSA) labor force, 2003 annual averages.
Size of civilian labor force: 1,344,649
Number of workers employed in . . .
construction and mining: 73,700
trade, transportation and utilities: 237,000
financial activities: 81,800
professional and business services: 172,000
educational and health services: 199,500
leisure and hospitality: 107,100
other services: 55,700
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $15.36 (MSA)
Unemployment rate: 4.2% (December 2004)
|Largest Baltimore employers||Number of employees|
|Northrop Grumman Corp. (Electronic Sensors & Systems incl. Oceanic Sys. Div.)||9,500|
|Johns Hopkins Medicine||7,000|
|University of Maryland Cancer Center||5,000|
|University of Maryland Medical System||5,000|
|U.S. Department of Health and Human Services||4,282|
Cost of Living
When it comes to buying groceries, paying a mortgage or hopping on a subway, Baltimore is one of the most affordable of all East Coast cities. The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Baltimore area.
2004 (3rd Quarter) Average House Price: $301,143
2004 (3rd Quarter) Cost of Living Index: 108.7 (U.S. average = 100.0)
State income tax rate: Ranges from 2.0% to 4.75%
State sales tax rate: 5.0% (food and prescription drugs are exempt)
Local income tax rate: 3.05% (City of Baltimore)
Local sales tax rate: None
Property tax rate: $2.328 per $100.00 assessed value (2005 Fiscal year)
Economic Information: Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, 111 South Calvert Street, Suite 2220, Baltimore, MD 21202-6180; toll-free (888)298-4322; telephone (410) 468-0100
Baltimore became the third-largest city in the United States during the era of the early Republic. Founded in 1729 as a port for Baltimore County's growing iron and tobacco trade, Baltimore Town began to flourish during the 1740s, when farmers and millers from western Maryland and southern Pennsylvania began sending grain and flour there for shipment. Baltimore Town prospered during the 1760s when the demand for food in the Atlantic world rose dramatically. By the time of the Revolution, Baltimore was a bustling grain and flour port of nearly six thousand people.
The Scots-Irish merchants of Baltimore played a vital role during the struggle for independence, first as leaders of the resistance to British authority and later as suppliers of food for the French and American armies. These merchants profited handsomely from Baltimore's good fortune during the war. By war's end, Baltimore was the leading port town of the Chesapeake.
Baltimore's fortunes continued to rise during the early years of the Republic as merchants and mechanics flocked to town to take advantage of opportunities offered by its booming commercial economy. Baltimore merchants shipped grain, flour, corn, iron, and lumber to other American seaports, Mediterranean Europe, and the West Indies. They also sent Maryland and Virginia tobacco to continental Europe, chiefly France and the Netherlands. In return, Baltimore's merchants handled the extensive trade in European imports for the entire Chesapeake region. A growing community of commerce-related craftsmen operated shipyards, ropewalks, sailmaking lofts, flour mills, breweries, and bakeries to meet the needs of the booming shipping trade. Luxury craftsmen—clockmakers and watchmakers, silversmiths and jewelers, and cabinetmakers and chair-makers—began arriving in Baltimore during this period, testifying by their presence to the town's new wealth and sophistication.
The last decade of the eighteenth century was pivotal for Baltimore. The town population nearly doubled during this period from 13,503 residents in 1790 to 26,514 by 1800, making Baltimore the third-largest urban center in the United States. Economic growth and international turmoil fed this expansion. Baltimore's lucrative trade with the West Indies thrived as town merchants took advantage of commercial opportunities created by the wars of the French Revolution. Revolutions in France and the French island colony of Saint Domingue sent hundreds of French refugees to Baltimore, where both Catholics and slave owners could feel welcome. Hundreds of free people of color fled to Baltimore from Saint Domingue, joining the town's rapidly growing free black community. Slaves and free blacks lived and worked together in Baltimore, but freedom, not enslavement, was on the rise as the young port town entered the nineteenth century. By 1820 the free black population of 10,326 outnumbered the slave population of 4,357.
Town merchants and mechanics played influential roles in early national politics. In 1788 they strongly supported ratification of the Constitution. In 1797 they gained substantial control of town governance when they won approval from the Maryland General Assembly for a charter of incorporation for the city of Baltimore. With the emergence of the first party system in national politics, Baltimore's leadership embraced the anti-British politics of the Democratic-Republican Party. They helped elect Thomas Jefferson to the presidency in 1800 in the hope that a Democratic-Republican administration would more forcefully address the problem of British interference with American shipping.
Baltimore remained a Democratic-Republican stronghold throughout the years of the Jefferson and Madison administrations (1801–1817). At the start of the War of 1812 (1812–1815), Republican partisanship reached a fevered pitch. In July 1812 a Republican mob brutally attacked Federalist editor Alexander Contee Hanson and his Federalist supporters for Hanson's denunciation in his newspaper, the Federal Republican, of Congress's declaration of war. This mob assault, which resulted in the death of a Revolutionary War veteran and the maiming of several others, shocked the nation and led to universal condemnation of the city. The people of Baltimore, however, soon redeemed themselves. Between 12 and 14 September 1814, they successfully withstood the bombardment of Fort McHenry and repelled British troops attempting to invade the city. The successful defense of Baltimore halted the northward advance of British troops following the burning of the nation's capital and won the gratitude of the American people.
After the War of 1812, Baltimore's fortunes shifted. With the arrival of peace in the United States and Europe, city merchants lost important markets and opportunities. And as the center of American trade moved from the West Indies to the industrializing economy of England, Baltimore merchants lost their competitive advantage to the better-situated ports of New York and Philadelphia. Adding further to the city's woes, the Panic of 1819 led to the bankruptcy of many leading city merchants.
During the 1820s city merchants began to look westward to establish connections with the trade of the newly settled western states and territories. Baltimore's leaders had always believed that the city's geographic position as the westernmost port among the major eastern cities had given it a unique advantage for capturing western commerce. The success of the Erie Canal, which opened in 1825, quickly dispelled that illusion and sent Baltimore merchants searching for an alternative means of transportation. They found one in the primitive railroad technology developed in England to haul coal out of mines. In a bold and visionary step, they committed their funds and the city's future to the development of a new form of freight and passenger transportation. In April 1827 city merchants organized the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. In so doing, they gave birth to a new form of transportation and, ultimately, a second American Revolution.
Browne, Gary Lawson. Baltimore in the Nation, 1789–1861. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980.
Cassell, Frank A. Merchant Congressman in the Young Republic: Samuel Smith of Maryland, 1752–1839. Milwaukee: University of Wisconsin Press, 1971.
Phillips, Christopher. Freedom's Port: The African American Community of Baltimore, 1790–1860. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997.
Tina H. Sheller
City Founded on Tobacco-Centered Economy
The geology at the mouth of the Patapsco River determined the location of Baltimore. The area lies on a fall line where hard rocks of the piedmont meet the coastal plains of the tidewater region. A large, natural harbor had formed, and streams coursing from the north and west toward the Patapsco fall line had tremendous velocity. This made them ideal sites for water-driven mills. Additionally attractive to early settlers were the plentiful forests, fertile countryside, and moderate climate that was ideal for agriculture.
In 1632, England's King Charles I gave George Calvert (Lord Baltimore) a vast area in colonial America that became Baltimore County in 1659. During the 1660s the Maryland General Assembly appointed commissioners who granted land patents and development privileges to enterprising colonists. Although the Piscataway and Susquehannock tribes originally lived in neighboring regions, tribal competition and the onslaught of colonial diseases dissipated all but a few hundred of the Native Americans in Maryland by 1700.
The sandy plains bordering the Chesapeake Bay were ideal for growing tobacco, and a tobacco-based economy quickly developed in pre-Revolutionary Maryland. An area of 550 acres, formerly known as "Cole's Harbor," was sold to Baltimore landowners Daniel and Charles Carroll in 1696; they sold a parcel of this land in one-acre lots for development. These lots became Baltimore Town, which grew quickly in both size and trade. By 1742 regular tobacco shipments were leaving Baltimore harbor for Europe.
Radical Politics Gain Popularity
Productive mills had also sprung up along the northwestern tributaries of the Patapsco; the market for locally-milled flour and grain was primarily directed toward the British slave and sugar colonies in the West Indies. This trade was cut off at the outset of the American Revolution, a loss that cost Baltimore. The loss was partly mitigated when Congress authorized private citizens to arm and equip their own vessels for war in 1776; privateering became a growth industry in Baltimore, since the city had become an important center for shipbuilding. Anti-British activities in the city during this era earned Baltimore a reputation for radical politicking that lasted through the nineteenth century. Baltimore was the meeting place of the Continental Congress after the British occupied Philadelphia in 1777.
City Prospers During Reconstruction
After the Revolutionary War, Baltimore, incorporated in 1797, resumed its commercial success by exporting grain, particularly to South America. A slump in maritime trade prompted the building of America's first public railroad in Baltimore in 1828, thus linking the city to other parts of the country and expanding commercial possibilities. During the Civil War, Maryland remained Unionist but Baltimore was split. Trade was cut off with the South and badly hurt with the North, but Baltimore managed to profit as a military depot. The city recovered rapidly from the physical and economic damages of the war, embarking during the reconstruction era on the period of its greatest prosperity.
Renewal Follows Destruction
In 1904 Baltimore was struck by a fire that had started in a cotton warehouse and soon spread to destroy more than 2,000 buildings. This calamity initiated improvements in the streets and the harbor and the construction of a sewer system that was considered one of the most modern of its time. The city again prospered during World War I, its economy remained relatively untouched by the 1930s Depression, and Baltimore continued to flourish as a military supply center during World War II.
Baltimore's urban renewal began in 1947, when inner city decay was so extensive that more than 45,000 homes were considered substandard. A rigorous construction and rehabilitation program reduced this number to 25,000 by 1954. In 1955 public and private cooperation resulted in the formation of the Greater Baltimore Committee, a group of influential businessmen who worked with municipal agencies to develop civic programs. Extensive neighborhood revitalization and development were undertaken in the 1970s and 1980s. Projects included the construction of shops and restaurants in Harbor Place, the Maryland Science Center, the National Aquarium, the American Visionary Art Museum and the construction of a rapid transit line to the suburbs. Waterfront development carried in the 1990s and into the new millennium, with many old neighborhoods experiencing a growth in popularity. Development continues along with historical preservation and the careful blending of the past and the present. More than $1 billion in new development is in the works, including hotels, retail space, increased arts offerings and technology improvements to Baltimore's harbor.
The 1990s were also a time of sharp population declines. Like many of the older, urban areas of the northeast, Baltimore faced an exodus to the suburbs and lost 11.5 percent of its population. Today, Baltimore is beginning to buck the trend. From 2000 to 2003, it lost only 3.2 percent.
In 1999, white city councilman Martin O'Malley won the Baltimore Democratic mayoral primary, defeating 16 candidates, 8 of whom were African American, in this predominantly African American city. Mr. O'Malley went on to win the mayoral election after a campaign in which he promised to clean the streets of open-air drug markets and have zero tolerance for crime. By 2004, Baltimore led the nation's 25 largest cities in a five-year reduction in violent crime, with the city experiencing a drop of 40 percent in violent crimes from 1999 to 2004.
Historical Information: City Life Museums, 33 South Front Street, Baltimore, MD 21202; telephone (410)545-3000 or (410)396-3279; (open to the public with permission and payment of a fee). Maryland Historical Society, 201 W. Monument Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-4674; telephone (410)685-3750. Jewish Historical Society of Maryland, 15 Lloyd Street, telephone (410)732-6400
Baltimore: Education and Research
Baltimore: Education and Research
Elementary and Secondary Schools
The Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS) serves the largest number of low income and special needs students in the state of Maryland. It is struggling to create an effective educational environment for its children despite disastrous financial problems. The system's Master Plan is part of a city-state partnership aimed at reforming the troubled system by focusing on student assessment, program evaluation, institutional research, and shared planning and accountability. Master Plan II directs reform efforts through the 2007-2008 school year. These efforts are paying off with improvements in math and reading scores and reductions in class size.
The following is a summary of data regarding Baltimore's public schools as of fall 2003.
Total enrollment: 91,738
Number of facilities
elementary schools: 80
middle/combined schools: 57
high schools: 16
other: 6 alternative schools; 8 special centers; 3 pre-K schools; 2 non-technical schools
Student/teacher ratio: 14.6:1 (all grades, 2003)
Funding per pupil: $8,315
About 124 private and parochial schools operate in the Baltimore area.
Public Schools Information: Baltimore City Public School System, 200 East North Avenue, Room 319, Baltimore, MD 21202; telephone (410)396-8577
Colleges and Universities
Of the approximately 30 colleges and universities located in the Baltimore metropolitan area, nearly half lie within the city limits. Towson State University, the oldest four-year college in Maryland and the largest in the Baltimore area, offers bachelor's degrees in 57 fields and master's degrees in 29. Considered one of Baltimore's outstanding assets, Johns Hopkins University boasts a world-renowned medical school and an affiliation with a prestigious music conservatory, the Peabody Institute. Loyola College offers a joint program in medical technology with Baltimore's Mercy Medical Center. The University of Baltimore, a state-supported institution, awards upper-division, graduate, and law degrees. One of five campus units of the University of Maryland, the University of Maryland at Baltimore offers professional programs in health and medical fields, social work, and law, as well as undergraduate degrees in a variety of fields. At Morgan State University students can earn advanced degrees in architecture, city and regional planning, and urban education. Coppin State University benefits from a cooperative program with local industries and offers both bachelor's and master's degree programs.
The Baltimore area's other large academic institutions include University of Maryland, Baltimore County, the U.S. Naval Academy, the Maryland Center for Career and Technology Education Studies, the Ner Israel Rabbinical College, College of Notre Dame of Maryland, the Maryland Institute College of Art, Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Harford Community College in Bel Air, Western Maryland College in Westminster, Howard Community College, and Carroll Community College.
Libraries and Research Centers
Baltimore's public library system, The Enoch Pratt Free Library, has 24 branches, a bookmobile, and a Central Library that also serves as the state Library Resource Center. Holdings consist of more than two million books, 4,000 current magazines, thousands of films and federal government documents, and more than 600,000 magazines, newspapers, and monographs on microform, videotapes, filmstrips, and other media. Special collections include African-American materials, the works of Baltimore authors H. L. Mencken and Edgar Allan Poe, the Howard Beck Memorial Philatelic Collection, and the Maryland Department, which holds extensive books, periodicals, and other documents on all aspects of life in the state of Maryland and its cities.
Research activities at centers affiliated with Johns Hopkins University focus on such subject areas as biophysics, Alzheimer's Disease, STDs, inherited diseases and other maladies, alternatives to animal testing, communications, and mass spectrometry. The University of Maryland at Baltimore also supports medical research work through its Center of Marine Biology. The Space Telescope Science Institute, the principal scientific element of the NASA Hubble Space Telescope Project, is based in Baltimore.
Public information: Enoch Pratt Free Library, 400 Cathedral St., Baltimore, MD 21201-4484; telephone (410)396-5430; fax (410)396-1441; email [email protected]
BALTIMORE, the largest city in Maryland, was founded as a port city in 1729 and then incorporated as a city in 1796. Baltimore takes its name from Charles Calvert, Lord Baltimore. Due to its vast natural harbor, the city served as a shipbuilding and transportation hub for the Middle Atlantic states throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. During the growth of railroads in the 1830s, Baltimore served as a headquarters for the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and the Baldwin Locomotive Works, the largest in North America. The city continued to compete vigorously with Philadelphia and New York into the twentieth century, gaining Bethlehem Steel's main shipyards and maintaining large port facilities. Heavy industry's movement away from major cities in the 1950s and 1960s contributed to Baltimore's sharp economic decline. Beginning in the 1950s, city leaders attempted to reverse its fortunes.
The city's renewal efforts rank among the most ambitious in the United States. William Schaefer, the city's outspoken mayor from 1971 to 1986, managed construction of the Inner Harbor Project, the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center, as well as a convention center and two waterfront malls. Neighborhoods, however, lagged, and lost business to the harbor area, but Schaefer obtained federal money for housing improvement loans and neighborhood pride projects. Despite these efforts neighborhoods continued to decline and the drug trade flourished in the 1970s and 1980s, blighting neighborhoods even further.
Baltimore's African American population increased from 24 percent in 1950 to more than 60 percent in 1994, and in 1987 the city elected Kurt Schmoke its first black mayor. After his reelection in 1991, the stimulus of urban reconstruction was almost over, federal and state funds had dried up, and the tourist boom had leveled off. Schmoke and Schaefer, the latter was elected governor in 1987, persuaded the Maryland legislature to expand the city's transportation system; to assume certain expenses from its community college, libraries, zoo, and jail; and to build a stadium, Camden Yards, beside the Inner Harbor for the Baltimore Orioles baseball team. Even as the city declined in population and wealth, it was merging with its suburbs and surrounding area. In 1993, the U.S. Census Bureau recognized a combined Washington-Washington-Baltimore Consolidated Statistical Area. The city's population dropped from 950,000 in 1950 to 736,000 in 1990 and then to 651,154 in 2000. Despite a booming economy, the population drop in Baltimore was among the largest in U.S. cities during the 1990s. The 2000 mayoral election emphasized the crisis of Baltimore's neighborhoods as the city's social network continues to struggle.
Callcott, George H. Maryland and America, 1940 to 1980. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985.
Fee, Elizabeth. et al., eds. The Baltimore Book: New Views of Local History. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991.
Olson, Sherry H. Baltimore: The Building of an American City. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.
Orser, W. Edward. Blockbusting in Baltimore: The Edmondson Village Story. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1994.
Newspapers and Magazines
Baltimore is served by one major daily newspaper, The Baltimore Sun. The Daily Record provides daily business and legal news, and The Baltimore Business Journal and The Jeffersonian (Baltimore County) are business weeklies. Weekly newspapers published in Baltimore include The Baltimore Times, (part of the BlackPressUSA Network) Baltimore City Paper; Baltimore Guide; and Baltimore Messenger. The Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel is published monthly.
More than 200 newspapers, periodicals, and directories are published in Baltimore, including numerous medical journals such as The Lancet (North American Edition). Quarterly publications include Maryland Historical Magazine.
Television and Radio
Seven television stations broadcast from Baltimore: affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, public television, and the Home Shopping Network. Stations originating in nearby communities are also accessible to Baltimore-area residents, as is cable service.
The 17 Baltimore and nine area AM and FM radio stations broadcast programming that ranges from news, religious material, and public broadcasting to music that includes classical, jazz, country, gospel, easy listening, top-40, and contemporary styles.
Media Information: The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278; telephone (410) 332-6300
Baltimore Area Convention & Visitor's Bureau. Available www.baltimore.org
Baltimore City Public School System. Available www.bcps.k12.md.us
Baltimore County Public Library. Available www.bcplonline.org/libpg/aboutyourlibrary.html
Baltimore Development Corporation. Available www.baltimoredevelopment.com
Baltimore Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce. Available www.baltwashchamber.org/home.cfm
Baltimore Sun. Available www.sunspot.net
City of Baltimore home page. Available www.ci.baltimore.md.us
Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore. Available www.greaterbaltimore.org
Enoch Pratt Free Library. Available www.pratt.lib.md.us
Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development. Available www.mdbusiness.state.md.us
Bready, James, H., Baseball in Baltimore: The First 100 Years (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998)
Fein, Isaac M. The Making of an American Jewish Community: The History of Baltimore Jewry from 1773 to 1920 (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1971)
Stockett, Letitia, Baltimore: A Not Too Serious History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997)
Baltimore: Geography and Climate
Baltimore: Population Profile
Baltimore: Municipal Government
Baltimore: Education and Research
Baltimore: Health Care
Baltimore: Convention Facilities
The City in Brief
Founded: 1696 (incorporated 1797)
Head Official: Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) (since 1999)
2003 estimate: 628,670
Percent change, 1990–2000: −11.5%
U.S. rank in 1980: 10th (MSA)
U.S. rank in 1990: 12th (MSA)
U.S. rank in 2000: 23rd (State rank: 1st)
Metropolitan Area Population (CMSA)
Percent change, 1990–2000: 13.1%
U.S. rank in 1980: 15th
U.S. rank in 1990: 18th
U.S. rank in 2000: 4th
Area: 80.8 square miles (2000)
Elevation: 148 feet above sea level
Average Annual Temperature: 55.1° F
Average Annual Precipitation: 41.94 inches (22.7 inches of snow)
Major Economic Sectors: services, government, wholesale and retail trade
Unemployment rate: 4.2% (December 2004)
Per Capita Income: $16,978 (1999)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 55,820
Daily Newspaper: The Baltimore Sun