Baltimore, Maryland, the largest city in the state. It is on the Patapsco River, about 10 miles (16 km) from Chesapeake Bay, and 35 miles (56 km) northeast of Washington, D.C. Elevations range from sea level along the Patapsco River to almost 500 feet (150 m) in the northwest.
Most of the area that adjoins the river is used for industrial purposes. Downtown Baltimore, which lies on the Patapsco's Northwest Harbor, is centrally located. Residential areas fan out to the north, east, and west. Streets in the central area form a rectangular grid; elsewhere they follow no consistent pattern. Many of the older streets are flanked by nearly uniform row houses.
Baltimore is primarily an industrial and commercial center closely linked to its great seaport, one of the largest in the nation. Extensive docks, storage facilities, and manufacturing conperns border the Patapsco as far as Chesapeake Bay.
Among the leading manufacturing activities in the area are the making and fabricating of steel, shipbuilding, sugar refining and other food processing, copper and petroleum refining, and the making of chemicals, clothing, aerospace equipment, fertilizers, and electronic equipment. Bethlehem Steel's huge Sparrows Point works, on the Patapsco near the bay, is one of the largest iron and steel complexes in the world.
Baltimore is also an important financial, wholesale, and retail center. Military installations and numerous government facilities provide much employment. The headquarters of the Social Security Administration is in suburban Woodlawn.
Baltimore-Washington International Airport, several railways, a subway, three Interstate highways, and a number of expressways serve Baltimore. The Francis Scott Key Bridge and the Harbor and Fort McHenry tunnels are part of the expressway system.
The city has numerous parks, largest of which are Druid Hill, Herring Run, Clifton, Gwynns Falls, and Leakin parks. In Druid Hill Park, in the northwest, are a zoo and a conservatory. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is the home of the Orioles, an American League baseball team. The Ravens (professional football) play at PSINet Stadium. Pimlico Race Course is the scene of the annual Preakness Stakes.
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is in Baltimore. (For picture, see MARYLAND.) The fort's resistance in the face of British bombardment in 1814 is commemorated by the lyrics to "The Star Spangled Banner." Edgar Allan Poe's home and grave are in Baltimore. Mount Vernon Place, a square near the central business district, contains a noted monument to George Washington. (See picture, next page.)
The Basilica of the Assumption, begun in 1806, is the oldest Roman Catholic cathedral in the United States. Other historic churches include the Old Otterbein United Methodist Church (1786), the First Unitarian Church (1817), and the Lloyd Street Synagogue (1845).
The Inner Harbor area, along the waterfront is the site of many of the city's attractions. At Harborplace, a complex of shops and restaurants, is moored the sloop-of-war Constellation. Nearby are the Baltimore Maritime Museum, the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center, and the World Trade Center, which was designed by I. M. Pei. Not far from the Inner Harbor area is Shot Tower (1828), which rises to 215 feet (65.5 m). In or near Baltimore are several restored homes with period furnishings, including Mount Clare (1760) and Carroll (1812) mansions.
Art galleries include the Peale Museum, Baltimore Museum of Art, and Walters Art Museum. The Maryland Historical Society, near Mount Vernon Place, has the original manuscript of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Also displaying War of 1812 material is the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House and 1812 Museum. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum has railway equipment dating to about 1830. Included in the museum is Mount Clare Station (1830), the first railway station in the nation.
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall is home to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The Baltimore Opera performs at the Lyric Opera House.
Numerous institutions of higher learning are in the Baltimore area. Among the private schools are Johns Hopkins University; Goucher, Loyola, and Notre Dame colleges; and the Maryland Institute College of Art. State-supported schools include the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; the University of Maryland at Baltimore (professional schools); the University of Baltimore; Morgan and Towson state universities; and Coppin State College.