The city of Baltimore, Md., conjures up images of two things—a world-class hospital in Johns Hopkins and crime. After all, Baltimore is ranked one of the top 10 most dangerous cities in the United States and had 358 homicides in 2019, second only to the number in 1993. And Johns Hopkins is one of the top research and teaching hospitals in the world.
However, during a recent trip there with husband, Drew, a few weeks ago, we found Baltimore to be an inviting and warm city, with a beautiful waterfront and interesting history, although my Southern accent seemed to be a novelty.
One of Baltimore’s best features, we thought, was its waterfront, known as the Inner Harbor. The harbor is along the shores of the Patapsco River, which empties into the Chesapeake Bay.
Drew had visited Baltimore’s waterfront several times with his family to see ships docked there. His father served in the Merchant Marines on a Liberty Ship in the North Atlantic, at the end of World War II. The SS John W. Brown, which was built and launched in Baltimore in 1942, is currently moored there, but will soon be moved to a custom dock at Bethlehem Steel.
At the Inner Harbor, Baltimore has wisely “married” its history with modern restaurants and shopping, making it a destination for visitors and residents.
During our trip to Baltimore, we visited different parts of the harbor, although we didn’t get to visit any historic sites. The National Aquarium, with turtles and dolphins, is located at the harbor as well as Fort McHenry.
The Battle of Baltimore was fought at Fort McHenry in 1812, which was a sea/land battle between the British and American defenders. Francis Scott Key, inspired by the resistance at Fort McHenry and the bombardment of the Royal Navy, composed the poem “Defence of Fort McHenry,” which later became the lyrics for “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Today, you can visit Fort McHenry, as well as the Star Spangled Banner house on Pratt Street.
Another interesting historical site along the waterfront is the Seven Foot Knoll screw-top lighthouse from 1855. Re-located from a Patapsco River shoal and preserved as a museum, the lighthouse sits on a point. Visitors can walk all around the circular lighthouse and, at certain times, go inside.
Lighting up the night sky is a bright red “Domino Sugar” sign. Domino Sugar is the last major manufacture still operating in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and has been in operation there for 90 years. The sign is 61 years old.
Walkways have been built all along the waterfront for strolling, cycling and running. We saw many families out with strollers and pets, enjoying an unseasonably warm day.
Water taxis are available, as well as kayak and canoe rentals.
The cobblestone streets along the waterfront have been preserved, as have the historic facades of the neighboring buildings.
Of course, the waterfront isn’t the only thing Baltimore has going for it. Baltimore is one of the cities claiming American writer Edgar Allan Poe. The Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum is located at 203 North Amity Street in Baltimore. Poe lived there with his aunt in the 1830s. The house has been preserved and is open for tours.
Two blocks from the Baltimore Orioles’ stadium, Camden Yards, visitors can learn about baseball great, Babe Ruth, at his birthplace and museum. Ruth was born in Baltimore in 1895, at 216 Emory Street.
We also enjoyed visiting the campus of Johns Hopkins University. It’s a “bit of green” in an otherwise inner city part of Baltimore.
Baltimore is an interesting place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to deal with the traffic every day!