This morning I read news stories about the Nor’easter snow storm blasting the eastern seaboard of the United States. This storm is said to drop as much snow in some areas than snowed all of last winter. Some places have up to 40 inches of snow! Last week, we had 7 or 8 inches of heavy, wet snow, just enough for a white Christmas but not too much for the snowblower to handle.
Over the years, we’ve traveled to lot a places here in the U. S. and the world but never to the Northeast. The furtherest east I’ve been is Washington, DC, Albany, New York, Lancaster, PA and Baltimore, MD. We had plans, tickets and reservations to make our very first trip to New York City the last week of March 2020. We were going to drive to Pennsylvania to meet up with The Eldest and The Son-in-Law then take the Megabus into Manhattan. We were excited about this trip but you know what happened, pretty much all travel was cancelled.
The closest I’ve traveled to the Northeast is to Baltimore, Maryland. In early June 2010, I was contracted to give two presentations to a group of emerging leaders working for the Veterans Benefits Administration. After staying the night with The Eldest in Pennsylvania, I drove the three hours into the center of Baltimore where the training was held. Baltimore was established in the early 1700’s, first as a port for the trading of tobacco and a few years after it became a town. Later, it came to be an important port of entry for immigrants to the U. S. At one time Baltimore was the center of manufacturing on the East Coast. Industry prompted the building of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (yes, the same B&O Railroad in the game of Monopoly) in 1830, the oldest railroad in the country. These days, Baltimore is home to large financial service organizations and educational institutions, including the world renown Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins University. Since Baltimore is only forty miles from Washington, DC, the headquarters of several government agencies are located there. The current population is about 600,000 people in the city proper and over 9 million in the greater metropolitan area that includes Washington, DC. Nearly two-thirds of the city’s population is of African-American descent.
After checking into the hotel, I had a few hours of daylight to explore the city. I walked to the nearby Inner Harbor that has become a tourist attraction in addition to being a city landmark and seaport. There are many restaurants, parks, and walking paths along the harbor as well as water tours of the harbor. The National Aquarium is located on Pier 3 close to the Baltimore World Trade Center. I didn’t have time to take in the Aquarium, maybe next time, but did take the elevator in the Trade Center to the Top of the World observation level on the 27th floor. The view of the city is quite spectacular even on the drizzly, gray day.
The top two photos are of the harbor area. After World War II, the Baltimore Harbor fell into disuse due to the fact that ships were bigger and the harbor too shallow. This started a long term project to rehabilitate the Inner Harbor area. The harbor was dredged and old warehouses torn down. Soon business headquarters and condominium projects were built that attracted restaurants, shopping, and further development.
The photo below looks to the west from the Top of the World. In the foreground is the Harbor Festival Marketplace. In the middle background is Camden Yards, the home of baseball’s Baltimore Orioles since the early 1990’s.
After admiring the city from this high point, I made my way to the waterfront where I boarded the Water Taxi for Fort Henry National Historic Site. Light rain continued so it was nice to have a cover over our heads. On the way, we saw some container ships, a marina, as well as a schooner heading out to sea.
There’s been a fortification on the Ft. McHenry location since before the Revolutionary War. It guarded the Baltimore Harbor from an attack by the British Navy but saw no action during that war. Military experts recognized the importance of this point and expanded the small fort into a much larger, stronger structure and named it Ft. McHenry for George Washington’s Secretary of War, James McHenry.
This fort saw action In 1812 after the United States declared war against Great Britain following several disputes over trade. Ft. McHenry became important when the British Navy entered Chesapeake Bay, captured and burned Washington, DC then headed north to Baltimore. The fort with it’s earthen ramparts withstood twenty-five hours of bombardment by the British fleet who were forced to withdraw their ground troops, failing to capture the city of Baltimore. It was during this shelling that lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, wrote the words to a poem (click here to read the full text of his poem) that would become the words to the Star-Spangled Banner, the national anthem of United States. Below are some photos from Ft. McHenry. It was late in the afternoon and the weather dreadful so I didn’t get to spend much time at this Historic Site.
Another site in the Inner Harbor is the USS Constellation, the only surviving ship used during the War Between the States. Built in 1853, the Constellation remained in service until the early 1900’s. I didn’t have the time for a tour, only a photo.
When I inquired at the hotel for an interesting place to eat, the first words out of her mouth was: “the Lexington Market.” This is the oldest public market in the United States. It was founded in 1782 and named after the Revolutionary War Battle of Lexington. It’s early success made it the largest and most famous market in the world, as least according to Baltimoreans! In 1949, the original market was consumed by a fire and rebuilt. Earlier this year, the city held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Lexington Market to replace the outdated current building.
It was fun to walk around the market and be tempted by the sights and smells of cooking food of all types. I don’t recall what I had to eat but do remember eating at a table on the balcony that over looked the vendors below.
I don’t know why I took this photo but it serves as a reminder of the old and new of the grand city of Baltimore.
Hope you enjoyed my short tour of the city. And for those who celebrate Christmas, have a great and safe holiday.
Until next week, happy virtual travels!