History of Baltimore
The history of Baltimore begins in 1632 when King Charles I gave a land area to George Calvert, Lord Baltimore. Land patents were granted in the 1660s and settlers soon arrived. The area was organized as Baltimore County and it was known for good sandy soil ideal for tobacco growing. The Town of Baltimore was founded in 1729 and it grew quickly in size, population and trade. In addition to tobacco, the economy was also based on flour mills and the trade was directed toward British sugar and slave colonies. This, however, was cut off with the onset of the Revolutionary War. Baltimoreans then started their own trading businesses, which was not hard as the town already had a sizeable shipbuilding industry. At the time, and all throughout the 19th century, Baltimore was a center of strong anti-British sentiment and of radical politics. It was also the meeting place of the Continental Congress, following the British seizure of Philadelphia in 1777.
Baltimore was incorporated after the war, in 1797. It was a large exporting center for grain and its economy grew even stronger with the arrival of railroads. During the Civil War, the city was split between Unionists and Confederates. When the Civil War ended, Baltimore managed to recover and entered a period of its greatest prosperity.
The city continued to prosper even during the World War I, the Great Depression of the 1930s and the World War II. However, the urban decay in the city was visible by the end of the 1940s, especially in the inner city, which is why Baltimore had to undergo extensive urban renewal projects. The 1980s saw projects related to neighborhood revitalization and in the 1990s the focus was on the waterfront. However, the 1990s were also a period of severe population decline, marked by high crime rates and white flight.
Geography and Climate
Baltimore is located in north-central Maryland on the Patapsco River, near its mouth at the Chesapeake Bay. The city lies on the fall line between the Atlantic Coastal Plain and the Piedmont Plateau and the line essentially divides it into “lower city” and “upper city.” The lowest elevation is at the sea level in the harbor and the highest one is near Pimlico, at 480 feet.
The climate in Baltimore is humid subtropical, with four distinct seasons. Autumn and spring are usually warm and spring is the season with most precipitation. Winter is cool with occasional snow and summer is hot and humid, with frequent thunderstorms.
The city has a number of architecturally important buildings, such as the Baltimore Basilica (the oldest Catholic cathedral in America), the Peale Museum, the Phoenix Shot Tower, World Trade Center and many others. The tallest structure in Baltimore is the Transamerica Tower, with 40 floors. The city is divided into nine official regions but the locals usually divide it into West and East Baltimore (with Charles Street as the dividing line) and North and South Baltimore (the dividing line being Baltimore Street).
The Central District includes Downtown Baltimore, home to Harborplace, the Camden Yards Sports Complex, the Convention Center and the National Aquarium in Baltimore.
In 2010, Baltimore had a population of 620,961. The racial makeup in the city was 63.7% Black or African American, 29.6% White, 4.2% Hispanic or Latino, 2.6% Asian, 0.4% Native American, 2.1% two or more races and 0.2% some other race.
In 2008, 19.3% of the population lived below the poverty line. Homelessness was a major problem and the homelessness population is still increasing. Another significant problem in the city is crime. Although the violent crime rates have declined over the past years, they are still above the national average. Crime in Baltimore has been portrayed in several TV shows and films, most notably “The Wire” and “Homicide: Life on the Street.”
Economy and Industry
Baltimore used to be a highly industrialized town with an economy based on steel, shipping, auto-industry and manufacturing. However, the economy then shifted to other sectors and tens of thousands of residents have lost low-skill, high-wage jobs. Today, Baltimore still relies greatly on industry but it also has new thriving sectors, especially finance, business and health service.
Some of the major companies based in Greater Baltimore area include Grace Chemicals, McCormick & Company, Legg Mason, T. Rowe Price, AAI Corporation, Prometric, Sylvan Learning, Under Armour, Sinclair Broadcast Group, DeBaufre Bakeries, Adams Express Company and others. The famous Johns Hopkins Hospital is also located in Baltimore.
Baltimore is home of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Center Stage, The Baltimore Consort, Hippodrome Theatre, Everyman Theatre, Pride of Baltimore Chorus and the famous Baltimore School for the Arts.
Some of the popular neighborhoods in Baltimore are Inner Harbor with its restaurants, shops and museums, Fells Point, Little Italy and Mt. Vernon, the cultural and artistic center of the city and home of the distinctive Washington Monument.
Public institutions of higher education in the city include Baltimore City Community College, University of Baltimore, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Morgan State University and Coppin State University. Notable private institutions include The Johns Hopkins University (and its Peabody Institute), Maryland Institute College of Art, College of Notre-Dame of Maryland, Baltimore International College and Loyola University Maryland.
In sports, Baltimore is home to the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens and the MLB’s Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore is also the birthplace of the legendary baseball player Babe Ruth.