Back to Resources



Click for larger image

Baltimore in 1752 From A Sketch Then Made By John Moale, Esq
.    

— 
Cator Prints, Enoc Pratt Public Library


1729
Baltimore-Town receives charter and is laid out.

1730
 Estimated population of Maryland is 90,000.

1732
Jonestown (now Old Town) is laid out.

1756
Mount Clare Plantation is established.

1763

Fells Point is laid out.

1763

The first public produce market opens.

1776
1777

The Continental Congress meets in Baltimore, after having fled the British in Philadelphia.

1797
Baltimore leaders obtain city incorporation.

 

 


The opening gate, 1729-1800

Abroad during this time, Jonathan Swift publishes Gulliver's Travels. Handel conducts his Messiah, and the British Museum opens.

Go to Mount Clare (now in Carroll Park) to learn what the terrain looked like before the town grew. At Mount Clare, one of the prominent Carrolls-Charles Carroll, Barrister-with others established an iron foundry and built the mansion that you can visit. Downriver from Mount Clare three settlements were founded and slowly prospered: Fells Point became the deep-water port and ship building center, Jones Town (now part of Old Town) developed as a kind of suburb of Fells Point, and Baltimore-Town soon attracted businessmen and fashion. By the end of the eighteenth century, the three had merged.

The first big promoter of the city, Dr. John Stevenson, instituted shipping wheat and flour abroad. That proved a smart move because abundant grain grew nearby, waterpower form piedmont streams turned mill wheels, and shipbuilding became a major industry. In addition, a site on the Great Eastern Road between Philadelphia and the South complemented its water road. Voyaging up the Chesapeake brought ships 100 miles nearer the interior of the continent than other cities.

The Baltimore of 1780 seen through the eyes of a visitor, was "so conceited, so bustling and debonair, growing up like a chubby boy, with his dumpling cheeks and short, grinning face, fat and mischievous, and bursting incontinently out of his clothes."

The rising town attracted immigrants by the boatload. Leadership arrived with merchants from Northern Ireland. They were said to be of the Venetian stamp because of their wealth and civic pride. These men sometimes married into families of the landed gentry. Whether they did or not, they together formed what to some observers was an aristocracy of talent. Together they built the village into a city.

A delegate to the Continental Congress, Samuel Adams, reported that "we have done more important business here in six weeks than we have done, or I believe should have been done, in Philadelphia in six months." Another delegate, however, wrote home, "If you desire to deep out of the damndest hole on earth, come not here."

Associated with the merchants was John Eager Howard, who served as an officer with the Maryland Line throughout the Revolution. As inheritor from his mother of most of Baltimore, he oversaw development. As promoter he gave land for public use, urged the commission to lay out streets, and generally pushed the city ahead.

Born on Baltimore Street, John Pendleton Kennedy remembered 1800 Baltimore as having "passed out of the village phase, but it had not got out of the village peculiarities….Society had a more aristocratic air than now-not because the educated and wealthy assumed more, but because the community itself had a better appreciation of personal worth, and voluntarily gave it the healthful privilege of taking the lead in the direction of manners and in the conducting of public affairs." And, he added, "How sadly we have retrograded in these perfections ever since!"

 

 


Shivers, Frank R., Jr. Walking in Baltimore: An Intimate Guide to the Old City. pp. 1-17. © 1995 The Johns Hopkins University Press. Reproduced with permission of The Johns Hopkins University Press


© 2012. Baltimore City Historical Society.