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World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > United States of America > Maryland > Baltimore

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Baltimore History

Baltimore can trace back its origins to the 17th century when the area was first settled by an Englishman called David Jones.

German immigrants then arrived followed by the Dutch. The city however was officially founded in 1729, originally as a port for the growing tobacco and sugar trade, and was named after the second Lord Baltimore, George Calvert. Growth was immediate and swift.

The city became an active player in the American Revolution, supporting opposition against the British, who attacked after burning down Washington DC in 1814.

Baltimore became a major shipping and trade centre, with manufacturing industries growing steadily around the commerce. In the early 19th century, the construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was a huge success.

The civil war saw Baltimore not seceding from the Union, though resistance was quickly quashed and Union troops occupied the city until around 1865. Economic depression caused strikes and riots, requiring federal troops to restore order.

By 1880 Baltimore became a key industrial centre, exporting grain, flour, tobacco, and raw cotton to Europe. New industries also sprang up such as canning, cars and tobacco manufacture.

As the mid 1960s arrived, the city’s black population had risen to almost 50 per cent, and following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr in 1968, there were widespread riots across the city for over a week. Around 11,000 troops were called in to quash the violence.

It took until the late 1970s for any serious redevelopment of the city’s neglected areas to take place – programmes included the regeneration of Inner Harbor and the creation of the Convention Center and Harborplace. The National Aquarium in Baltimore followed soon afterwards and put the city back on the national map.

The city’s profile was further raised by the expansion of the local sports teams, namely the Baltimore Orioles moving into Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the Baltimore Ravens moving into the M&T Bank Stadium close by.

Did you know?
•The city was successfully defended during the American Revolution, providing inspiration for the words to The Star Spangled Banner, which later became the national anthem of the United States.
• The world's first dental school was established in the city in 1840.
• In 1904, a huge fire destroyed around 1,500 buildings across 70 blocks of downtown Baltimore. It took around two years for the city to rebuild and recover.

Featured Hotels

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Kimpton Hotel Monaco Baltimore

There's something of a beaux-arts feel to this hotel, with marble staircases leading up form the grand lobby. The actual building has been around for more than 100 years, but this belies the modernity of the property, which is sleek and chic. Even the entry-level rooms are of a nice size, and the suites are enormous.

Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel

This contemporary hotel features soothing earth-toned décor, good conference facilities, a fitness centre and all the in-room services you would expect from the Marriott chain. Seafood dishes are especially good at Watertable restaurant. The hotel is conveniently attached to the attractive Gallery mall and has lovely harbour views.

The Ivy

The luxurious accommodation in this 19th-century Mount Vernon mansion aims to give you the feel of staying in the home of a wealthy friend. Nine characterful rooms and suites are fitted out with cosy four-poster beds and sleek bathrooms. Curl up with a book in the library, tinkle the piano or dine in the upscale Magdalena bistro.

Wilson House Bed & Breakfast

Housed in a grand 19th-century mansion this elegant 10-room bed and breakfast offers cosy accommodation near Penn Station. It was here that William Jennings Bryant made deals that led to Woodrow Wilson taking the presidency in 1912. The home is within easy reach of Mount Vernon's cultural venues and eateries and around 5km (3 miles) from the Inner Harbor.

Lord Baltimore Hotel

A fixture in the city since 1928, this is a classic hotel in the French Renaissance style, the huge lobby chock full of chandeliers, staircases and everything you really want on old-style hotel to be. You're only a few blocks from Inner Harbor, and its 400-plus rooms are mostly a good size.

Sleep Inn & Suites Downtown Inner Harbor

A short stroll from the Inner Harbor this hotel puts you within walking distance of Baltimore's main attractions. Rooms are smart and modern with a choice of two double beds or a king bed. Many also have a pull-out sofa bed. A hot buffet breakfast is included.