Historical Aspects of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor
The Inner Harbor is Baltimore’s premier waterfront neighborhood for entertainment, shopping, and tourist attractions. But did you know that the Inner Harbor hides a rich and deep history that goes all the way back to Baltimore’s beginnings as a major US seaport?
Beneath all the glitz and glamour, Inner Harbor is a destination that’s simply steeped in history. With a visit to any or all of these amazing historic landmarks and attractions, you’ll soon see why it deserves a spot on any history tour.
Immerse yourself in Baltimore’s unique history with this selection of historical sites and landmarks in and around Baltimore’s own Inner Harbor. Guaranteed fun for history buffs and day tourists alike!
Historic Aspects In and Around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor
Historic Ships in Baltimore
Kick off your historic tour of the Inner Harbor with Historic Ships in Baltimore, a one-of-a-kind tour that allows you to walk the decks of some of the most famous ships in America’s naval history, including the only known surviving ship from the American Civil War. Get a chance to explore these floating museums and experience what life was like on the water from the 19th to the 20th centuries.
Featured ships in their collection include the Civil War sloop-of-war, the U.S.S. Constellation, the treasury-class cutter USCG Cutter 37, the 1930 Lightship LV116 Chesapeake, and the World War II-era submarine, the USS Torsk. All ships are docked at Piers 1, 3, and 5 of the Inner Harbor within walking distance of each other and offer guided tours and overnight stays on select ships for groups of 20 people and more.
Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse
Located on Pier 5 right near the USCG Cutter 37, the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse stands as a historic landmark to the Chesapeake’s Bay maritime history. Originally built in 1856, the lighthouse once stood on a rocky shoal called Seven Foot Knoll at the mouth of the Patapsco River leading into the Chesapeake Bay, guiding ships toward Baltimore Harbor, before modern advancements in navigation rendered its services obsolete in 1948.
Since then, the lighthouse has been permanently installed in Pier 5 of the Inner Harbor and now houses priceless artifacts and exhibits detailing its maritime history and the maritime history of Baltimore itself. It still stands as the oldest screw-pile lighthouse in Maryland and as an important landmark in the state’s rich history.
Pratt Street Power Plant
The Pratt Street Power Plant is a complex of three buildings, was first completed in 1909, and served as the main power source for the United Railways and Electric Company until 1973. Today, it houses restaurants and shopping centers, including the Hard Rock Cafe, and Power Plant Live, Inner Harbor’s premier nightlife and entertainment district.
The structure is built in a neo-classical style and was one of only a few buildings to survive the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904. Since it ended its service as an electrical power plant, the building has undergone significant renovation and repurposing before being turned into what it is today.
Lloyd Street Synagogue
The Lloyd Street Synagogue is the third-oldest Jewish synagogue in the United States and the oldest one in Maryland. First built in 1841, the structure was designed by native Baltimorean architects in the distinct Greek Revival style and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. When it faced demolition in 1963, the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland was created to preserve the building and its historical significance.
Today, the Lloyd Street Synagogue is part of the Jewish Museum of Maryland, along with the neighboring Moorish Revival-style B’nai Israel Synagogue. Located in the heart of a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, the Jewish Museum tells the story of the first Jewish communities in the city through extensive exhibits, artifacts, documents, photographs, ceremonial clothing and art, memorabilia, and more.
President Street Station
President Street Station, located on the southeast corner of its namesake President Street, is a former train station and railroad terminal that has seen its fair share of history. Built in 1849 and opened to the public in 1850, it is the oldest surviving big-city railroad terminal in the States.
It was the site of the Baltimore Riot of 1861, one of the earliest conflicts in the American Civil War, and was an important railroad hub for the rest of the war. Following a renovation and restoration effort completed in 1997, the old station was converted into the Baltimore Civil War Museum, which preserves the station’s architecture and its storied past.
Babe Ruth Birthplace & Museum
If you’re a sports fan, you probably know Baltimore as the home of the Baltimore Orioles and their star player, George Herman “Babe” Ruth. Just two blocks away from Camden Yards stands Babe Ruth’s Birthplace and Museum, featuring trophies, artifacts, and memorabilia detailing the legendary baseball player’s life, from his childhood to his stunning career.
Fredrick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum
The Fredrick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum honors the legacy of the first African-American-owned shipyard in the country and two important figures in Maryland’s African-American history.
Frederick Douglass was born in Baltimore and later became a national leader of the abolitionist movement, known for his extensive and eloquent antislavery writings. Isaac Myers, meanwhile, founded the first Black-owned cooperative shipyard, the Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Company, in order to provide employment to Black workers who lost their jobs during the Civil War. Both were presidents of the Colored National Labor Union, with Douglass succeeding Myers in 1872.
Today, the museum is an African-American heritage site and learning center where visitors can explore the city’s African-American and maritime history in one of the city’s oldest industrial waterfront buildings.
Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American
History & Culture
For a more in-depth look into the history of the African-American community in Baltimore and in Maryland, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture is a must-see for anyone who wants an authentic glimpse into the past and present of Baltimore’s Black community. Featuring extensive permanent and temporary exhibits, programs, events, and collections, the museum offers both a learning experience and an opportunity for visitors to examine their unique place in modern society.
Baltimore Museum of Industry
Housed in an old waterfront oyster cannery, the Baltimore Museum of Industry details the city’s industrial past and present, from its humble beginnings all the way to the 21st century. The museum features immersive exhibits, interactive activities, programs, tours, and demonstrations that tell the story of the city’s own industrial revolution, from local businesses that helped to put Maryland on the map, like the invention of state favorite Old Bay, to the hard-working people and laborers who helped to make the city what it is today.
The museum is also home to the Baltimore, the oldest surviving steam tugboat in the United States, and various other artifacts, including preserved machines, manuscripts, and shop fronts.
Located just across the water from the Inner Harbor, Fort McHenry is a must-see anytime you’re in Baltimore. This historic site is said to be the birthplace of the United States national anthem when the fort thwarted the British forces’ attempts to conquer Baltimore in the War of 1812. Inspired by the event, Francis Scott Key wrote a poem entitled “The Defense of Fort McHenry” which would later be set to music and become our national anthem.
Today, Fort McHenry is considered a National Park and is a great place to enjoy outdoor activities, such as walking, biking, and picnicking while you take in its beauty and history. The fort regularly holds many fun activities, such as living history demonstrations and re-enactments, as well as an opportunity to raise a replica of the Star-Spangled Banner itself over the ramparts.
Whether you’re a history buff or just a regular visitor looking to pass the time, Baltimore has some of the best places to get some sightseeing in while you’re learning about the city’s rich and diverse history. When you’re staying with us here at Inner Harbor Marina, make sure to check out any or all of the above historical aspects in and around the Inner Harbor!