Baltimore’s harbor has been one of the major seaports in the United States since the 1700s and one of the country’s biggest urban tourist attractions since a cultural renaissance in the 1970s.
Voters approved the first bond issue ($52 million) for Inner Harbor redevelopment in 1964. In addition, more than $14 million in city bond issues and $47 million in federal grants will eventually be approved for acquiring and clearing land surrounding the harbor basin. The clearing of 110 acres of land around the harbor began in 1967.
This walking tour of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor will start at Harborplace, on the corner between the two indoor shopping malls that started it all...
WALK WEST ON PRATT STREET, AWAY FROM THE WATER.
USF&G Building/Legg Mason Building/Transamerica Tower
the block surrounded by Lombard Street, Charles Street, Pratt Street, and Light Street
Through three naming tenants this 40-story skyscraper from 1973 has reigned as the tallest building in Maryland and the tallest building between Philadelphia and North Carolina. The rooftop is 528 feet above the surrounding plaza.
1 Wast Pratt Street
The $50 million Baltimore Convention Center, with 115,000 square feet of exhibition space and 40,000 square feet of meeting room space, opened two blocks from the Inner Harbor in 1979.
SOM Office Center
250 Wast Pratt Street
These steps of Vermont gray granite and glass joined the Baltimore skyline in 1986.
300 Block of West Pratt
Cast iron enjoyed a brief flurry of popularity as a building material in post-Civil War America since it was easy to mold into ornate forms, quick to assemble and inexpensive. Industrial Baltimore boasted one of the largest foundries in America producing architectural ironwork but most of the town’s cast iron-front buildings were destroyed in Baltimore’s Great Fire of 1904 and most of the rest were razed as the facades fell out of fashion. Number 300, 305, 312 and 319 on this block are souvenirs from the cast iron craze of the 1870s.
TURN LEFT ON EUTAW STREET.
301-331 Camden Street
The town’s signature company and one of the country’s great railroads, the Baltimore & Ohio, gobbled up five blocks of downtown here in 1852 to construct its main passenger and freight stations. Architects John Rudolph Niernsee and James C. Neilson, lead designers for the Baltimore & Ohio, sketched out plans for a nine-part Italianate headhouse but it was left to protégé Joseph F. Kemp who shepherded the project to completion - or almost. The 185-foot central tower proved too heavy for its foundations and had to be radically shortened. It was not until the 1990s that a lighter replica was installed. With the decline of rail transportation after World War II train sheds were demolished and the B & O departed altogether in 1971. The headhouse was sold to the Maryland Stadium Authority who integrated the historic structure into the groundbreaking Camden Yards baseball stadium at a cost of $2.2 million, bringing the facade back to its 1867 appearance. In 2005, Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards opened in the space.
B & O Railroad Warehouse
South Eutaw Street
At more than 1,000 feet long this was the largest freight warehouse in Baltimore and one of the biggest anywhere when it was built in six eight-story sections between 1898 and 1905. For a dash of style the tiers are set into recessed brick arches. Last employed as a warehouse in 1974, the building’s430,000 square feet of space has been re-born into offices, shops, and food facilities.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Camden and Eutaw streets
In 1992 Baltimore sounded the death knell for the big city, multi-use sports stadium with the opening of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Slabs of concrete were replaced with piles of bricks; enclosed rings of seats were sacrificed in favor of open spaces and views beyond the outfield fences; artificial grass was banished and lawn mowers brought back. Nearly two decades later, the first of America’s throw-back retro-parks remains among the best.
RETURN TO PRATT STREET AND TURN LEFT. TURN LEFT ON EMORY STREET.
Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum
216 Emory Street
George Herman Ruth, better known to the world as Babe Ruth, baseball’s immortal “Sultan of Swat,” was born here in the leased home of his maternal grandparents, the Schambergers, on February 6, 1895. Ruth never actually lived here but grew up in his father’s apartment above a nearby tavern before being shuffled off to a reform school. Ruth left Baltimore forever a few days after his 19th birthday when he signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox, soon to be the game’s biggest pitching and hitting star.
RETURN TO PRATT STREET AND TURN RIGHT TO RETURN TO HARBORPLACE.
southeast corner of Light Street and Pratt Street
James W. Rouse pioneered the concept of a festival marketplace stuffed with shops and trendy eateries in 1980 with the opening of Harborplace. The two-glass-enclosed pavilions became the foundation for the renaissance of Baltimore’s waterfront.
anchored at 301 East Pratt
The USS Constellation moved to Pier 1 becoming the Inner Harbor’s first tourist attraction in 1969. A triple-masted sloop-of-war launched in 1854, it is the last Civil War-era vessel afloat.
World Trade Center
401 East Pratt Street
This is the world’s tallest equilateral five-sided building (the five-sided JPMorgan Chase Tower in Houston, Texas is taller, but has unequal sides). It was designed by the firm of the modernist architect I.M. Pei and completed in 1977 at a cost of $22 million. The building was oriented so that a corner project towards the waters of the Inner Harbor, suggesting the prow of a ship.
501 East Pratt Street, Pier 3
The National Aquarium was established on Caped Cod in Massachusetts in 1873. For much of its life the National Aquarium was a series of dark tanks deep in the bowels of the Herbert Hoover Building in Washington, D.C., although the federal government had nothing to do with the fish. Not many visionaries could imagine a giant fish bowl kickstarting an entire city’s renaissance but that is what happened with the National Aquarium in Baltimore opened in 1981. Regarded as one of the world’s best fish museums, today more than 1.5 million visitors each year can see more than 5,000 creatures in re-creations of their natural habitats, including a 64-foot-high tropical rain forest and the ever-popular sharks swimming in 222,000 gallons of water.
Pratt Street Power Plant
Pratt Street and Pier 4
This massive Neoclassical composition of brick and terra-cotta was constructed between 1900 and 1909 to be the main source of power for the United Railways and Electric Company. In later days the complex of three buildings did duty as a steam-generating plant for the Consolidated Gas, Electric Light and Power Company. A century later the generating plant emerged from years of vacancy as clubs and bars.
East Pratt Street and Harbor Magic Drive
The USCGC TANEY is the last surviving warship afloat from the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It was birthed in the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1936 as a United States Coast Guard cutter and was attached to Destroyer Division 80 when it was thrown into action against Japanese planes. At sea for 80 of the first 90 days of war, TANEY carried out anti-submarine patrols off Hawaii, and later served as a convoy escort in the Pacific through 1943. In the course of the campaign, the ship was credited with downing four Japanese Kamikazes and one “Betty” bomber. Known as “The Queen of the Pacific,” TANEY was home ported in Alameda, CA, from 1946 to 1972 carrying out ocean weather patrol, law enforcement and search and rescue duties. After being decommissioned in 1986, she is displayed along with USS TORSK and Lightship 116.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS TO HARBORPLACE AND TURN LEFT, GOING SOUTH AROUND THE HARBOR.
Maryland Science Museum
601 Light Street
Founded in 1797 as a place where members could meet to discuss astronomy, botany, zoology, and more, the Maryland Academy of Sciences is the oldest scientific institution in Maryland and one of the oldest such institutions in the entire nation. Rembrandt and Raphael Peale, sons of painter and scientist Charles Wilson Peale, were among the distinguished early members. It morphed into this museum of interactive exhibits, combined with the state-of-the-art Davis Planetarium, in 1976.
Joseph H. Rash Memorial Sports Park
The $2.2 million Joseph H. Rash Memorial Sports Park opened on the south shoreline in 1976.
Federal Hill Park
110 North Calvert, west side of square
A well-known lookout during the Civil War and the War of 1812 lies on the south side of the Inner Harbor - Federal Hill. The area was named after the city-wide celebration that followed the ratification of the United States Constitution and has been a public park since 1879. Scrambling to the top reveals sweeping views of Baltimore’s streetscape.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS TO HARBORPLACE AND TURN LEFT TO RETURN TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT.