The Magnetic Appeal of the East Coast Cities
One of the reasons Baltimore is a popular tourist destination with visitors to the United States, is because of its easy accessibility, situated as it is, on the famous East Coast tourist route stretching from New York through Philadelphia and down to Washington DC. Tourists planning a first visit to this country, invariably choose to visit the Big Apple and DC, and Baltimore is right there too, waiting to be discovered.
Open up a guide book to the city, and you will likely find pride of place allocated to the wonderful amenities around the Inner Harbor area of downtown Baltimore. The National Aquarium with over one and a half million annual visitors, is probably the most visited site in Baltimore, and close by are the historic ships moored in the inner harbor. What isn’t immediately obvious, though is the wealth of fine museums and other places of interest that abound within relatively easy walking distance. Let’s have a look at a random selection of some of the more historic ones, and we’ll see why Baltimore leaves such a lasting impression on young and old alike making their first acquaintance with the exciting city.
The Star Spangled Banner and Fort McHenry
The iconic Stars and Stripes, streaming in the wind, is undoubtedly the most widely recognized symbol of Americana, but rare indeed is the visitor who has any knowledge of it’s intimate connection to Baltimore!
O! Say Can You See…
This was the sight that filled men’s hearts with courage and hope in the dawn’s early light of September 14, 1814. After the terrible 24-hour bombardment by British Men-o-War during the Battle of Baltimore, Fort McHenry survived, and the flag raised high above the ramparts, signaled, that occupation by the forces of the old country had been thwarted.
The fort is today a National Monument and Historic Shrine, and affords the visitor an insight into the conflict that raged at period in the formative years of American history. Although the original flag itself, which inspired the National Anthem, is now housed in the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington DC, its connection with the Fort will always remain entrenched in American history.
While the strains of the Star Spangled Banner are recognized wherever they are heard, the actual lyrics penned by Francis Scott Key, and their connection to the Fort, are probably not! All the more reason for a visit!
The Old Baltimore Shot Tower
Originally known as the Phoenix Shot Tower, this Historic Landmark was the tallest structure in the United States when it was built back in 1828.
The massive circular structure, built entirely of red bricks, is amazingly constructed. From a massive 4.5 feet thickness at the base, the walls gradually taper down in stages, until they are only 21 inches thick at the top.
The tower was designed and built to produce the type of lead shot used in those days for firearms, specifically for pistols and rifles. The manufacturing process was achieved by hauling metallic lead up to the top of the tower, melting it, and dropping it from the top, through a specially designed sieve, and then allowing it to fall all the way down into a cold water container right at the bottom. This produced the round shot, which was then allowed to cool and harden. It was subsequently polished, sorted, sized and packed into bags. An enormous amount of shot was produced annually until 1892, when more updated methods were developed to produce it, making the production in the tower obsolete. A fascinating peek back into the history of this area!
The Baltimore Museum of Industry (BMI)
From the frenetic, hi-tech world we live in today, it is almost refreshing to be able to step back into the relatively sedate manufacturing environs of the technology of yesteryear! The Baltimore Museum of Industry (the BMI) situated on the site of an old cannery, affords us just such an opportunity, housing a fascinating range of items from the world of late 19th and early 20th century industry and manufacturing.
Tours, which include hands-on activities for children, transport one back a hundred years or more, for a glimpse into the industrial life of those times. A cannery with working machinery, a garment loft with its equipment, a contemporary machine and print shop, and a historic pharmacy, showcase a fascinating picture of historic industrial Baltimore. The BMI is also home to “Baltimore”, the oldest surviving steam tugboat in the United States. A large library of thousands of rare books and old photographic prints is also available in the museum. All well worth a visit!
The National Museum of Dentistry
For something really different, one can visit the Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry, situated on the campus of the nation’s first Dental School. The exhibits include a variety of exotic items, tracing the history of dentistry through the ages.
Among the most fascinating highlights are George Washington’s dentures, made from the ivory of hippo tusks! The dental instruments of Queen Victoria are on display too, as well as the world’s only Tooth Jukebox!
The Residence of Choice
It’s no wonder that the growing number of luxury apartments in this area have become such a popular choice with city dwellers. Those seeking to live in this exciting area are heading for developments like 1201 South Charles Street Apartments, where they can combine modern city living with a sense of community, and be close to all the historic amenities and attractions of this fascinating city.