In the east of the USA is Baltimore, which is the capital and largest city of the state of Maryland. The city was named after Lord Baltimore, who was a member of the Irish Parliament. Today, this twentieth most populous city in the United States is the strategic and cultural center of Maryland and contains many tourist attractions.
Built on the Patapsco River, Baltimore is a major transportation hub. In addition to the busy port, you will find the Pennsylvania Station train station, which is one of the busiest in the country, and the Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI Airport) is located about 13 km from the city center.
Today, Baltimore is home to approximately 750,000 residents. Approximately 2.2 million people live in the entire urban agglomeration. The city forms a separate district, the so-called Baltimore County, and is approximately 65 km from the capital, Washington DC. Even one of the world’s most famous writers – Edgar Alan Poe – lived in Baltimore in the past. Like his most famous poem, “The Raven,” today the local football team is named after him. The city is also the birthplace of rock guitarist, music composer and singer Frank Zappa.
Old and new Baltimore
According to existingcountries, the center of Baltimore is the so-called Inner Harbor, surrounded by glass skyscrapers, as is common in American cities. The port was established as early as 1706, but it was modernized and today it can receive even the largest ships in the world. In this port, which is today the cultural center of the whole city, modern architecture contrasts with numerous historical corners. Here you can visit not only cozy pubs and many different shops, but also some of the local attractions. If you would like to enjoy a perfect view of the city, head to the upper floors of the Baltimore World Trade Center, which is the tallest equilateral pentagonal building in the world – measuring 123.4 meters. It is possible to escape from the modern city center to the district called Little Italy, where you will find alleys full of pizzerias, where they will make you a great pizza, which will be indistinguishable from the real Italian one. During a tour of the center of Baltimore, the Baltimore Basilica, which is the oldest Roman Catholic basilica in the USA, will certainly catch your eye.
A little different monuments
However, the most attention-grabbing in Baltimore is the historic frigate (sloop) USS Constellation from 1854, which was the successor to the original wooden frigate of the same name from 1797. The keel of the USS Constellation was laid on 6/25/1853 in Norfolk, and on 8/26/1854 it was launched on water and on 7/28/1855 it was put into service. The ship’s hull is 61 meters long and 13 meters wide. It is a three-masted vessel representing the last purely sailing warship of the US Navy. In addition to 20 officers and 220 sailors, the crew consisted of 45 marines. The ship’s first captain was Charles H. Bell. Between 1855–1858, USS Constellation performed mostly tasks within the American Mediterranean Squadron. From 1859–1861 she was the flagship of the American African Squadron and acted against ships violating the ban on importing slaves.
The ship also took part in many important operations. During the American Civil War, for example, she participated in the blockade of the Confederacy and subsequently operated in the Mediterranean Sea. In 1880, she brought aid in the form of 2,500 barrels of potatoes and flour to famine-stricken Ireland. She later served as a training ship for the US Naval Academy and from 1894 was used at the Naval Training Center in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island. On 29/08/1916 the old sloop was renamed Old Constellation, but on 24/07/1925 it was returned to its original name.
The USS Constellation was decommissioned in 1933, but 7 years later President FD Roosevelt symbolically commissioned her again. For a substantial part of World War II, she functioned as the reserve flagship of the Atlantic Fleet. She was finally decommissioned on 4 February 1955, and on 15 August 1955 she was struck off the naval register, i.e. 100 years and 14 days after she entered service. The sloop was moved to Baltimore Harbor in 1963 and declared a National Historic Landmark. At the time, she was the only surviving ship from the American Civil War era. In 1996, she was drydocked at Fort McHenry for a $9 million refit. She even managed to make it seaworthy, and in 2004 she set off on her first voyage around Baltimore Harbor.
More floating treasures
However, the frigate USS Constellation is just one of the many historic ships docked in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Also worth a visit are the US Submarine Torsk, the US Coast Guard Cutter WHEC-37 Taney and the 116 Chesapeake Lightship. All the mentioned ships are part of the small Maritime Museum (Baltimore Maritime Museum), which is located near the mooring of the sloop Constellation. During the tour of the museum, the visitor gets on board the sailing ship and can also walk through its interior. Not only is the gun deck with replicas of the original guns accessible, but also the accommodation deck, where you can see the cabins for the most important crew members, as well as the usual hanging beds for the sailors. Anyone who wants can look into the hold. A lounge is also available to visitors at the stern of the ship, officers’ cabins or captain’s cabin. A tour of this unusual museum is a great experience for many boat lovers. Among the other museums of Baltimore, the Museum of Industry, the Railway Museum (Baltimore & Ohio Railroad) and the Natural History Museum will be of interest. Enthusiastic observers of the night sky will surely be enchanted by the Maryland Science Center, where, in addition to the museum, there is also an observatory.
Up for the animals
Not only children will be delighted to visit the famous National Aquarium (National Aquarium in Baltimore – www.aqua.org ), which is located on the harbor promenade. In it, you can observe dolphins up close, or visit a unique Australian exhibition. For arctic fauna and flora, head to the Maryland Zoo, which is home to arctic foxes and polar bears. You can also visit the historical conservatory and botanic garden (The Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens – www.rawlingsconservatory.org )
Learn about America’s history
Baltimore boasts quite an illustrious history, which can be admired today at Fort McHenry. This historic star-shaped fort was built in 1798 by Jean Foncin and named after James McHenry – a prominent military doctor who immigrated to America from Scotland. The fort played an important role during the American Civil War. Not only did it serve as a prison for Confederate soldiers or its political sympathizers, but in 1812 it also successfully defended Baltimore Harbor from heavy shelling by the British Navy. In 1925, Fort McHenry became a National Historic Landmark and in 1966 it was listed on the Register of Historic Places of America. It is currently open to the public and has become a popular tourist attraction.