Retro Roadtrip: Maryland


Founded in 1729, Baltimore already had 20,000 residents when it was incorporated in 1797. Transportation proved lucrative in the development of this waterfront city. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, shipbuilders produced Baltimore Clippers, which were sailboats designed for speed on long voyages. Private toll roads offered a westward route from the late 1700s to the early 1900s. Two engineering feats, the Chesapeake Canal and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, helped the city continue to prosper. In the mid-1940s, suburban expansion led to a loss of population in the city, however a major downtown renovation in the 1970s helped revitalize it. Inner Harbor, the city’s redeveloped waterfront, is a now vibrant source of activity and a tourist magnet.

Built in 1857, Evergreen House was purchased in 1878 by the president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, John Garrett. Two generations of his family lived there until 1942. Today, visitors who tour this Italianate mansion see 48 rooms filled with family collections, including the world’s largest private collections of Tiffany glass and Japanese minor arts. There are also outstanding collections of Japanese lacquerware and Chinese blue-and-white porcelain.

The 37-acre indoor/outdoor Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum showcases the oldest, most historic and most comprehensive American railroad collections in the world. Dating from the beginning of American railroading, the collection contains locomotives and rolling stock, historic buildings and small objects that document the impact of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) on the growth and development of early railroading. The rolling-stock collection includes 19th century steam locomotives, while the small-objects collection displays include clocks, watches, textiles, silver, china, fine art, lanterns and tools.

Located along Inner Harbor, the Baltimore Museum of Art houses 100,000 objects that comprise a panorama of furniture and decorative art from the 19th century through the present. Holdings include major art collections by Matisse, Picasso, Cezanne and Warhol.

The Walters Art Museum was formed to display the collections of railroad tycoons William Walters and his son, Henry. The elder Walters collected then-contemporary art and Chinese porcelain. His son enjoyed small decorative objects ranging from Limoges enamels to Aztec art, and even acquired a historic building to use as a gallery. Upon his death in 1931, Henry Walters willed the entire collection and museum to the City of Baltimore. About 90 percent of the museum’s 30,000 items actually belonged to one of the Walters.
Noteworthy specialty attractions include the Babe Ruth Birthplace & Museum, Baltimore Civil War Museum, Jewish Museum of Maryland, National Museum of Dentistry, Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, Baltimore Streetcar Museum and USS Constellation Museum.

Fort McHenry National Monument and Shrine was completed in 1803 to guard Baltimore’s harbor, this fort housed about 1,000 soldiers who successfully fought off British invasion in 1814. A young lawyer, Francis Scott Key, was arriving in Baltimore to pick up a friend who had been captured by the British when the 25-hour bombardment began. Anxiously witnessing the firing from his ship, Key was so impressed with the sight of the 15-star American flag still flying when the bullets stopped that he penned The Star Spangled Banner. His words were set to music a month later, and the song became America’s official national anthem in 1931. Today, visitors to the fort can see military and historical displays, as well as a movie about Key.

Puritan families from Virginia founded Annapolis in 1649. Its 1708 charter makes it one of America’s oldest cities. In addition to being known as a naval center with a nautical flair, Maryland’s capital city is also renowned for its architecture. It has the highest concentration of Georgian-style homes in the nation, with 1,300 buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Opened in April, History Quest serves as an orientation for historical attractions in the city that touts itself a “Museum Without Walls.” A short-film and exhibits explore the city’s history from the 1700s to the present.
The U.S. Naval Academy has been the undergraduate college for the Navy since 1845. The visitor center features the Freedom 7 space capsule, which sent Alan Shepard into space in 1961. It’s also the starting point for guided campus tours. Located in Preble Hall, the museum displays ship models, art, weapons, nautical instruments and naval memorabilia. The Naval Academy Chapel has the crypt of John Paul Jones, naval leader during the American Revolution, and Tiffany stained-glass windows immortalizing naval heroes.

Many experts regard the Hammond-Harwood House as the most outstanding example of five-part Georgian architecture in Colonial America. Designed by architect William Buckland, it was built from 1774 to 1776 for wealthy plantation owner Mathias Hammond. Buckland never lived to see the completed house, and Hammond never lived there because his bride-to-be left him. However, many notable Annapolis families did reside there for generations before it became a museum in 1930. Tours show outstanding collections of mid-18th to early-19th century furnishings and decorative arts
Built for a wealthy plantation owner who would later sign the Declaration of Independence, the William Pica House and Garden was completed in 1765. This five-part Georgian mansion is filled with ornate period furnishings and fine arts. The home is surrounded by a manicured two-acre garden that has five terraces.

Reopened in February following a multimillion-dollar renovation, the Banneker-Douglass Museum preserves African-American heritage. A new permanent exhibit, “Deep Roots, Rising Waters,” explores the history of African Americans in Maryland from the 1630s to the 1980s.

Antietam National Battlefield
One of the worst battles in American history took place in Maryland. On Sept. 17, 1862, about 23,000 Union and Confederate troops lost their lives at the site now called Antietam Battlefield. While there was no clear winner to this significant Civil War battle, it did inspire President Abraham Lincoln to issue his Emancipation Proclamation. Begin your visit by watching a stirring movie at the visitor’s center. Climb an observation tower to view this historic battlefield. Take an 8 1/2-mile car ride to see historic highlights of the 3,000-acre battlefield. Markers indicate where three Union and three Confederate generals died.