Baltimore, known also as the "Monumental City," is the metropolis of Maryland and the largest town on the Atlantic seaboard south of Philadelphia. The city is at the head of navigation on the Patapsco River, fourteen miles from the Chesapeake Bay. It is on the highway of travel between the cities of the east and those of the south and west, being 38 miles from Washington and 97 miles from Philadelphia. Baltimore is an important shipping port, a large railroad center and a rapidly growing manufacturing town. The Patapsco expands just below the city, affording an extensive and safe harbor, with an outer bay which is able to accommodate the largest ocean steamships and an inner harbor or basin for small coastwise and bay crafts. Thirty-two steamboat and steamship lines connect the city directly with Liverpool, Bremen, Rotterdam and other foreign ports, and with nearly all the bay and river towns of Maryland and Virginia as well as the larger American seaports of the Atlantic. The city is on the main line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad between New York, Washingon and the west; it is on the Philadelphia-Washington division of the Pennsylvania Railroad; and is the terminus of the Northern Central Railway, a branch of the same system. The city is the terminus of the Western Maryland Railroad—the outlet of the Shenandoah and Cumberland valleys—which recently became a part of the Wabash system; and it is also the terminus of both the Maryland & Pennsylvania and the Baltimore & Annapolis Railways. The city has direct connections, too, with the Southern Railway, the Atlantic Coast Line and the Seaboard Air Line.
Baltimore is the youngest of the great American cities on the Atlantic coastline. The city, consisting then of sixty acres, was first laid out in 1730, and was created upon the petition made a year earlier by certain residents upon the Patapsco to the Maryland legislature. In 1732 another town was started across a small stream from Baltimore-Town, and this settlement took the name of Jones' Town, from the stream— Jones' Falls. The two towns were consolidated in 1745; and Baltimore was enlarged from time to time thereafter until with the large addition gained by the taking in of the Annex in 1888 it now covers 31½ square miles. The city was called after Cecilius Calvert, Lord Baltimore and one of the proprietaries of the province of Maryland. It was originally included in Baltimore County, and became the county seat in 1767. Subsequently, however, the city and county were divorced, and Baltimore today has an independent government from the county by which it is surrounded. During the Revolutionary War Baltimore became an important center, and for a while housed the Continental Congress, after that body was forced to retire from Philadelphia. In 1780 Baltimore became a port of entry, and in 1796 was incorporated into a city. During the second war with England the city was subjected to two attacks by the British—one by land and the other by sea; but both were unsuccessful. The land attack resulted in the Battle of North Point, (Sept. 12, 1814,) when the British lost their commander, Gen. Ross, and retired without accomplishing their purpose. The following day, September 13, the fleet opened fire upon Fort McHenry—the city's chief defense. The bombardment lasted all day and night, and had the fort been taken Baltimore would have fallen prey to the enemy. But on the morning of the 14th the American flag was seen still flying over the ramparts of the unconquered stronghold, and the enemy abandoned all hope of taking Baltimore. It was the sight of this American flag waving over Fort McHenry that inspired Francis Scott Key, who had been detained by the British during the bombardment, to write America's national anthem—The Star-spangled Banner. Shortly after the War of 1812–15 the residents of Baltimore raised two monuments—one to Washington and the other to the defenders of North Point; and these memorials won for the town the name of the Monumental City. The first blood of the Civil War was shed in Baltimore, (April 19, 1861), when a mob sought to prevent the passage through the city of the Sixth Massachusetts and the Seventh Pennsylvania regiments, then on their way to Washington in response to Lincoln's call for volunteers. Historically, there are other important events connected with the city of Baltimore: It was the first American city lighted by gas; the first steam passenger train in America ran from Baltimore to Ellicott City; the first steamship to cross the Atlantic sailed from Baltimore; the first electric telegraph line was strung from Baltimore to Washington; the first paid fire department in America was that of Baltimore; the first school of dentistry in the world was established in the Monumental City; the first iron building was the former home of the Baltimore Sun; and the first American Methodist Episcopal church was organized in Baltimore.
On February 7–8, 1904, the entire business section of the city was wiped out by a fire which destroyed $70,000,000 worth of property. The conflagration proved the beginning of a new era in the life of the city. Not only were the destroyed buildings replaced, in most instances by better structures, but the municipality seized the opportunity for extensive improvements. Many important business streets, which had been too narrow to accommodate the heavy traffic imposed upon them, were widened. The two thoroughfares skirting upon the wharf property of the basin—Light and Pratt Streets—were changed from narrow and unattractive streets to avenues of great width. At the same time a new system of modern concrete piers was begun along Pratt Street, ranging in length from 550 to 1,450 feet and having docks 150 feet wide, giving a total surface area of 23½ acres. At the same time a complete sewerage system was undertaken, at a cost of $10,000,000. Enormous sums of money were appropriated for improving the streets and roads of the Annex, while considerable additions were made to the city parks, which already include one of the finest natural pleasure grounds of the world in Druid Hill Park.
Baltimore has made great advance as a manufacturing town in the past two decades, and ranks seventh among the manufacturing cities of America. It is the largest city for the slaughtering and packing of meat upon the Atlantic seaboard. The city ranks first in the canning and preserving of fruits and vegetables and also in the canning and preserving of oysters. It ranks third in the manufacture of all kinds of factory-made clothing for men, women and children, and sixth in the hand-trades manufactures. The city is also an important center for the manufacture of tobacco goods, foundry and machine shop products, factory-made furniture. Baltimore is a great export center for both coal and grain.
Baltimore ranks as a foremost educational center. The Johns Hopkins University, opened in 1876, is primarily an institution for graduate and research work, but has also an efficient undergraduate department. The Peabody Institute contains a world-famed historical library and has connected with it a conservatory of music. The Woman's College, the Maryland Institute—School of Art and Design; and colleges of medicine, law, dentistry and pharmacy are located in the city. The public schools are equal to those of any other American city. The Enoch Pratt Free Library—with more than 200,000 volumes and numerous branches—is one of the greatest free libraries in America. The public buildings include the magnificent new Custom-House, the marble Court-House, Walter's Art Gallery—containing one of the finest private collections of paintings in the United States, the Johns Hopkins Hospital—covering several city blocks—and numerous other notable structures. Baltimore is the seat of a Roman Catholic archbishopric and of a Protestant Episcopal bishopric. Population, (1910), 558,485.