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Baltimore

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The beautiful city of Baltimore, Maryland, nicknamed “Charm City” is full of historical cites and landmarks. It was founded July 30, 1729, and it was named after Lord Baltimore, the first proprietary governor of the Province of Maryland1. It was founded to serve the economic needs of 18th century farmers2. The waterways in Baltimore have been a passage for ships carrying commercial cargo and new citizens since the 1600s. Baltimore became the second leading port of entry for immigrants to the United States during the 1800s. Shipbuilding was one of the earliest industries in Baltimore, and it increased during the Revolution and the War of 1812. When the British controlled Philadelphia in 1777, Baltimore became the meeting place of the Continental Congress, which was the federal legislature of the thirteen colonies and later of the United States in the American Revolution. The city of Baltimore played a crucial role in the War of 1812, when the soldiers who were stationed in Fort McHenry successfully held off British attack on Baltimore. The victory for Baltimore was remembered in the poem by Francis Scott Key, “the Star-Spangled Banner,” which has now become the national anthem of the United States. When the war ended in 1815, the people of Baltimore resumed their vital foreign trade efforts and the city grew into the second largest city in the United States3. In 1851, Baltimore became an independent city, being detached from Baltimore County at that time.

Baltimore has a home-rule charter which states that it has the freedom do basically call all of the shots. They have the right to all properties and franchises in the city and can dispose of any of them at any given time. The city also ha control of all trust funds, wills, deeds, or any other form of gift or conveyance for any corporate purpose. The City may also accept grants for its corporate purposes from any government, governmental agency or person4.

Just prior to the Civil War, Maryland was a southern slave state, and during the war, they became part of the union but still kept slavery legal. The Pro-southern sentiment led to the Baltimore riot of 1861, when Union soldiers marched through the city. After the riot Union troops occupied Baltimore, and the whole state of Maryland came under direct federal administration until the end of the war in 1865. This was a very vital move by the union because they did not want Washington, D.C. to become completely surrounded by seceded Confederate territory. The case Ex parte Merryman, written by the Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, dealt with the habeas corpus rights of Marylanders jailed by the Abraham Lincoln Administration and strongly reprimanded Lincoln for his actions. Baltimore's overseas trade was principally with the Caribbean Islands and South America, regions undergoing economic and social changes. At the same time, the American frontier was pushing even farther west, threatening to leave Baltimore behind in its economic wake. The State of Maryland concentrated its efforts on completing the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, designed to link the Potomac and Ohio River valleys, but the city of Baltimore supported an overland link in the form of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Although the two competed for routes and freight, to the eventual ruin of the canal and the financial embarrassment of the state, Baltimore's railroad reached Cumberland in 1842 and, by 1874, stretched to Chicago.

The canning industry was also an important economic engine for Baltimore's future. Canning became key as the riches of the Chesapeake Bay began (for the first time) to be preserved and shipped to other parts of the country. Older industries, such as shipbuilding and transportation, remained industrially strong, and the city continued as an active port of entry for European immigrants and rural residents from the upper South.

On February 7, 1904 the Great Baltimore Fire occurred. It destroyed over 1,500 buildings in 30 hours and forced a majority of the city to rebuild. The mayor of Baltimore at the time, refused assistance5, and just two years later, on September 10, 1906, the whole city had risen from ashes and began to operate like the fire never occurred6. Baltimore is now the location of the Baltimore World Trade Center, the world’s tallest equilateral five-sided building7. Baltimore prospered through the First World War and into the 1920s. The Depression, however, was too great an obstacle for local initiative to overcome, and physical developments in the city were retarded, first by economic distress and then by controls imposed by World War II.

In World Wars I and II, Baltimore was an important shipbuilding and supply-shipping center. During the 1960s and 70s, however, Baltimore decayed rapidly, losing population and commerce, largely to neighboring suburbs. Urban redevelopment in the late 1970s and 1980s included the construction of Harbor place in the Inner Harbor area, the National Aquarium, shopping pavilions, hotels, a convention center, the Maryland Science Center, and the American Visionary Art Museum. Waterside renewal continued through the 1990s, and old neighborhoods like Fells Point became newly popular. In 1983 a rapid-transit line to the suburbs was opened. In 1992, Baltimore's professional baseball team, the Orioles, moved to the new Oriole Park at Camden Yards; the National Football League's Ravens began play nearby in 1998.

After the war, Baltimore's economy continued to thrive as people spent heavily on consumer goods. As their standard of living increased, city residents were attracted to new housing developments beyond Baltimore's borders, and many people left. The city, which had grown in popularity every year since the mid-century, actually began to shrink as adjacent counties experienced tremendous growth. The city began to come back strong in the 1970s, and encouraged a redoubling of efforts from the municipal, business and volunteer partnerships, and tapped into ambitious federal programs for urban renewal. The municipality managed to revitalize the downtown area, where dilapidated wharves and warehouses were torn down and replaced by restaurants, attractions such as the Maryland Science Center, and retail in the form of Harbor place, which opened in 1980 to tremendous fanfare. The National Aquarium in Baltimore and hotels soon followed.

The culture in Baltimore can be equally interesting and baffling. The city's geography and history as a working class port town has given it a very distinctive social flavor. Probably most prominent example is the city's association with blue crabs. The Chesapeake Bay for years was the east coast's main source of blue crabs, and Baltimore became the central hub of the crab industry. In the tourist district (between Harbor place and Fell's

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