Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine – Birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner (Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historical Shrine

This historical American coastal pentagonal bastion fort is best known for its role in the War of 1812, when it successfully defended Baltimore Harbor from the September 13–14, 1814 attack by the British navy from Chesapeake Bay. The fort, a prominent tourist destination, is visited each year by thousands of visitors who come to see the “Birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner.”

Entrance to Fort McHenry

It’s also a popular spot for Baltimoreans to run, walk their dogs, enjoy a picnic or just sit by the waters of Chesapeake Bay  and enjoy the breeze and views of the city.

View of Baltimore Harbor as seen from the fort

Listed are some interesting trivia regarding the fort:

  • This was named after early American statesman James McHenry (November 16, 1753 – May 3, 1816), a Scots-Irish immigrant and surgeon-soldier who was a delegate to the Continental Congress from Maryland and a signer of the United States Constitution. Afterwards, he was appointed United States Secretary of War (1796–1800), serving under Presidents George Washington and John Adams.
  • Fort McHenry was built on the site of the former Fort Whetstone which stood on Whetstone Point (today’s residential and industrial area of Locust Point) peninsula, which juts into the opening of Baltimore Harbor between the Basin (today’s Inner Harbor) and Northwest branch on the north side and the Middle and Ferry (now Southern) branches of the Patapsco River on the south side. The fort defended Baltimore from 1776 to 1797.
  • The new fort, built to improve the defenses of the increasingly important Port of Baltimore from future enemy attacks, is a bastioned pentagon, surrounded by a dry moat (a deep, broad trench) that served as a shelter from which infantry might defend the fort from a land attack. In case of such an attack on this first line of defense, each point, or bastion could provide a crossfire of cannon and small arms fire.
  • During the War of 1812, the 5.2 m. × 7.6 m. (17 ft. by 25 ft.) storm flag flown over Fort McHenry during the bombardment was replaced early on the morning of September 14, 1814 with a larger 9.1 m. × 12.8 m. (30 ft. by 42 ft.) garrison flag, sewn by Mary Pickersgill for $405.90, which signaled American victory over the British in the Battle of Baltimore. Francis Scott Key, a Washington lawyer who had come to Baltimore to negotiate the release of Dr. William Beanes, a civilian prisoner of war, witnessed the bombardment from a nearby truce ship. The sight of the ensign inspired him  to write the poem “Defense of Fort M’Henry.” The poem was later set to the tune “To Anacreon in Heaven” and become known as the “Star Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the United States.
  • It has become national tradition that when a new flag is designed, it first flies over Fort McHenry. The first official 49- and 50-star American flags were flown over the fort. The flags are still located on the premises.
  • In the event of a national emergency, the United States Codecurrently authorizes Fort McHenry’s closure to the public for use by the military for the duration of such an emergency.
  • Every September, the City of Baltimore commemorates Defenders Day in honor of the Battle of Baltimore. It is the biggest celebration of the year at the fort, it is accompanied by a weekend of programs, events and fireworks.
  • In 2013, under the America the Beautiful Quarters Program, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine was honored with its own quarter.

The barracks

Here is a timeline of the fort’s history:

  • Designed by Frenchman Jean Foncin in 1798, the fort was built between 1798 and 1800.
  • During World War I, in order to convert the entire facility into an enormous U.S. Army hospital for the treatment of troops returning from the European conflict, an additional one hundred odd buildings (only a few of them remain) were built on the land surrounding the fort.
  • On September 13, 1814, beginning at 6 AM, British warships, under the command of Vice-Admiral Alexander Cochrane, continuously bombarded Fort McHenry, under the command of Major George Armistead (April 10, 1780 – April 25, 1818) of the 3rd Regiment of U. S. Artillery, for 25 hours. The British ships were unable to pass Fort McHenry and penetrate Baltimore Harbor because of its defenses which included a chain of 22 sunken ships and the American’s 8, 11 and 16 kg. (18, 24 and 32-pounder) cannons.  The British guns had a range of 3 kms. (2 miles) and their rockets had a 2.8 km. (1.75-mile) range, neither of which, fired at maximum range, were accurate. At one point during the bombardment, a bomb crashed through the fort’s powder magazine but,  fortunately for the Americans, either the rain extinguished the fuse or the bomb was a dud.
  • On the morning of September 14, the British, having depleted their ammunition, ceased their attack. Only one British warship, a bomb vessel, received a direct hit from the fort’s return fire, which wounded one crewman. The Americans lost four killed (including Private William Williamsan African-American soldier, and a woman who was cut in half by a bomb as she carried supplies to the troops) and 24 wounded.
  • During the American Civil War, Fort McHenry served as a military prison, confining  Confederate soldiers as well as a large number of Maryland political figures (including newly elected Baltimore Mayor George William Brown, the city council, the new police commissioner, George P. Kane; members of the Maryland General Assembly; several newspaper editors and owners; John Eager Howard,(local hero of the Revolutionary War; and Francis Scott Key‘s grandson, Francis Key Howard) who were suspected of being Confederate At this time, Fort McHenry also served to train artillery (hence the Rodman guns presently located and displayed at the fort).
  • During World War II, Fort McHenry was leased to the Coast Guard for port security work and as a fire training station aboard ships for nearly 28,000 U.S. Coast Guardsmen.
  • In 1925, the fort was made a national park
  • In 1931, the fort was finally deactivated and transferred to the National Park Service .
  • On August 11, 1939, it was redesignated a “National Monument and Historic Shrine, the only such doubly designated place in the United States.
  • On October 15, 1966, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • On September 10–16, 2014, the Star Spangled Spectacular was held at Fort McHenry to celebrate the bicentennial of the writing of the Star Spangled Banner. The event included a parade of tall ships, a large fireworks show and the US Navy’s Blue Angels.

The Visitor Center

The kid-friendly Visitor Center has a Park Ranger-staffed information desk, book and souvenir store, a large museum, restrooms and a meeting place for Ranger programs.

The Park Ranger-staffed information desk

The kid-friendly Visitor Center has a Park Ranger-staffed information desk, book and souvenir store, a large museum, restrooms and a meeting place for Ranger programs.

Francis Scott Key and the Birth of the Star Spangled Banner. At right is the original draft of the song

The museum is divided into three main areas of interest. The first section, “Francis Scott Key and the Birth of the Star Spangled Banner,” is devoted to Francis Scott Key, the Star Spangled Banner, and the flag. An interactive touch-screen presentation details Key’s schedule leading up to his writing of the poem.

The Star Spangled Banner and the War of 1812.  At the right is a uniform, 2 muskets (one with bayonet), powder horn and personal items of a soldier

The second area of the museum, where I spent about an hour, focused on the War of 1812. Its interactive touch-screen presentation, a key exhibit, allowed me to read about every battle in the war. Also on exhibit are military memorabilia such as uniforms and a cannon as well as personal items used by soldiers.

A cannon

A second section of the museum covers the Battle of Baltimore, with its centerpiece being a 10-minute film about the Battle of Baltimore, a combination of live action and CGI animated battle maps, and ends with an inspirational rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner,” with the audience standing and singing along, as the curtain rises to reveal the flag at Fort McHenry outside.

L-R: Kyle, Cheska and Grace.  Behind is a copy of the original storm flag of the garrison

Film showings occur at the top of every hour and every half hour and its movie screen is part of the overall museum.  During the showing,  the lights were turned down, rendering the rest of the museum essentially shut down during this time. Only the exhibits that are backlit, such as the interactive touch-screens, can be seen.

Jandy at the entrance of the fort

The actual wheelchair accessible and stroller friendly fort is just a short walk from the Visitor Center.  Outside the fort were re-enacters such as women hand washing the service men’s clothes, sewing a flag and learning how to write on slate boards. Inside were probably a dozen servicemen in full dress and carrying muskets.

Women re-enacters

Servicemen in uniform

Within the fort are exhibits on a variety of topics relating to the fort and its history such as the restored Commander’s Quarters, Junior Officers’ Quarters, Guard House and the Enlisted Men’s Quarters, all mainly devoted to garrison life during its most famous period of the War of 1812; the Gunpowder Magazine  as well as the restored flag pole.  The flag flown here is not the size of the fabled Star-Spangled Banner, but is a garrison flag that is four sizes smaller. 

George Armistead

Junior Officers’ Quarters

Outside the fort proper is a reconstruction of the Upper Battery which, during the 1814 attack, was largely manned by volunteer militia artillerymen and merchant seamen (from ships within blockaded Baltimore Harbor) and armed with large-caliber smooth bore guns mounted on naval trucks or garrison carriages. They had wooden trucks with iron wheels and, to prevent their excessive recoil when fired, were attached to the wall by rope cables. 

Upper Battery

The fort also boasts a fine collection of mid-nineteenth century artillery pieces. The Lower Battery, with brick-reinforced earthen rampart (replacing the earth-and-wooden one of the War of 1812), have circa 1875 15-inch Rodman smoothbore guns of Civil War vintage that were sleeved with rifled inserts.

The author with the Rodman cannons in the background

Adjacent to Fort McHenry lies a monument of Orpheus that is dedicated to the soldiers of the fort and Francis Scott Key.

Monument of Orpheus by Charles Niehaus

Statue of Col. George Armistead

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine: 2400 East Fort Ave, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, USA. Tel: +1-410-962-4290. Open daily, 9 AM – 6 PM (5 PM in the winter), closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission: adults (US$10), children 15 years old and younger (free).

How to Get There: The fort is easily accessible by water taxi from the popular Baltimore Inner Harbor. However, to prevent abuse of the parking lots at the Fort, the National Park Service does not permit passengers to take the water taxi back to the Inner Harbor unless they have previously used it to arrive at the monument.

National World War II Memorial (Washington, D.C., U.S.A.)

National World War II Memorial

The National World War II Memorial, an American memorial of national significance, sits on a 30,000 m2  (7.4-acre) piece of land (two-thirds of which is landscaping and water) on the former site of the Rainbow Pool at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

The granite pillars

The memorial is dedicated to those who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II. It consists of 56 5.2 m. (17 ft.) tall granite pillars,  arranged in a semicircle, and a pair of small 13 m. (43-ft.) high memorial triumphal arches (crafted by Rock of Ages Corporation, the northern arch is inscribed with “Atlantic,” the southern one, “Pacific“), on opposite sides, surrounding a plaza and fountain.

The author with the Atlantic Arch in the background

Its design was based on Friedrich St. Florian‘s initial design, selected in 1997 during a nationwide design competition that drew 400 submissions from architects from around the country but altered during the review and approval process. On September 2001, ground was broken and the construction was managed by the General Services Administration.

The Pacific Arch

Opened on April 29, 2004, it was dedicated by President George W. Bush on May 29, 2004. On November 1, 2004, the memorial became a national park  when authority over it was transferred to the National Park Service (under its National Mall and Memorial Parks group). As of 2009, more than 4.4 million people visit the memorial each year. In 2012, the memorial’s fountain was renovated.

The memorial’s fountain

Each of the 56 pillars, all consisting of oak (symbolizing military and industrial strength) laurel wreaths and wheat (symbolizing agricultural and breadbasket during the U.S. part in the war) laurel wreath. is inscribed with the name of one of the 48 U.S. states (as of 1945), as well as the District of Columbia, the Alaska TerritoryTerritory of Hawaii, the Commonwealth of the PhilippinesPuerto RicoGuamAmerican Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The pillar of the Commonwealth of the Philippines

The plaza is 102.97 m. (337 ft., 10 in.) long and 73.2 m. (240 ft., 2 in.) wide and is sunk 1.8 m. (6 ft.) below grade.  It contains a pool that is 75.2 × 45 m. (246 ft., 9 in. by 147 ft., 8 in.). The memorial also includes two, inconspicuously located “Kilroy was here” engravings which acknowledges the significance of the symbol to American soldiers during World War II and how it represented their presence and protection wherever it was inscribed.

Excerpt from a speech by Pres. Harry S. Truman

Excerpt from Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech

The lettering for the memorial was designed by the John Stevens Shop and most of the inscriptions were hand-carved in situ. Laran Bronze, in Chester, Pennsylvania, cast all the bronzes over the course of two and a half years.

Some of the inscriptions

The Battle of Midway

The baldacchinos of the Pacific and Atlantic Arches each have laurel wreaths suspended in the air, with 4 bronze eagles carrying it, all created by sculptor Raymond Kaskey. The stainless-steel armature that holds up the eagles and wreaths was designed at Laran, in part by sculptor James Peniston, and fabricated by Apex Piping of Newport, Delaware. The chandelier sculpture symbolizes the victory of the War with the Nation’s bird carrying a Grecian symbol of victory but with an American adaptation of oak laurel wreaths to symbolize strength.

Seal using the World War II Victory Medal design

On approaching the semicircle from the east, I walked along one of two walls (right side wall and left side wall) with 24 bronze bas-relief panels (also created by sculptor Raymond Kaskey) that depict wartime scenes of combat and the home front. The scenes, as I approached on the left (toward the Pacific Arch), begin with soon-to-be servicemen getting their physical exams, taking the oath, being issued military gear, and progresses through several iconic scenes, including combat and burying the dead, ending in a homecoming scene.

The memorial flagpole

There is a similar progression on the right-side wall (toward the Atlantic arch) but the scenes are generally more typical of the European theatre with some scenes taking place in England, depicting the preparations for air and sea assaults. The last scene is of a handshake between the American and Russian armies when the western and eastern fronts met in Germany.

The Price of Freedom

The Freedom Wall, on the west side of the memorial, has a view of the Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial behind it. The wall has 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war. In front of the wall lies the message “Here we mark the price of freedom”

Jandy at the fountain area

National World War II Memorial: National MallWashington, D.C.

District of Columbia War Memorial (Washington, D.C., U.S.A.)

The District of Columbia War Memorial, a memorial within the National Mall (the only local District memorial there)commemorating the citizens of the District of Columbia who served, fought and gave their lives in World War I, stands in in a grove of trees at West Potomac Park (the first war memorial to be erected in the park), near the Lincoln Memorial and slightly off of Independence Avenue.

District of Columbia War Memorial

Authorized by a June 7, 1924 act of Congress, funds for the memorial’s construction were provided by the contributions of both organizations and individual citizens of the District. In the spring of 1931, construction of the memorial, designed by Washington architect Frederick H. Brooke, with Horace W. Peaslee and Nathan C. Wyeth as associate architects, began and the memorial was dedicated on November 11, 1931, Armistice Day, by Pres. Herbert Hoover.

Dedication inscription

This 14.3 m. (47-ft.) tall circular, domed, peristyle Doric temple rests on concrete foundations. Its 1.2 m. (4 ft.) high marble base defines a 13.2 m. (43 ft., 5 in.) diameter platform, intended for use as a bandstand. Preserved in the cornerstone is a list of 26,000 Washingtonians who served in the World War I while inscribed on the base are the names of the 499 citizens who lost their lives in the war, together with medallions representing the branches of the armed forces. Twelve 6.7 m. (22-ft.) high, fluted Doric marble columns support the entablature and dome.

List of those who died

Restoration work, funded with US$7.3 million provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, began in October 2010. The lighting systems were improved, water drainage systems were corrected and the landscape was revived to allow the memorial to be used as a bandstand. On November 10, 2011, the memorial reopened. In 2014, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The memorial is administered by the National Park Service under its National Mall and Memorial Parks unit.

How to Get There: The DC War Memorial is located just west of 17th St. and Independence Ave. SW, next to the World War II Memorial. The closest Metro station is Smithsonian.

Korean War Veterans Memorial (Washington, D.C., U.S.A.)

Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial, located southeast of the Lincoln Memorial and just south of the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall, commemorates those who served in the Korean War. Our afternoon visit here coincided with the state visit of South Korean Pres. Moon Jae-In and we saw the wreaths he and US Vice-Pres Mike Pence laid at the memorial just this morning.

Wreath laid by South Korean Pres. Moon Jae-In

Wreath laid by US Vice-Pres. Mike Pence

Designed by Cooper-Lecky Architects, who oversaw collaboration between several designers, the Korean War Veterans Memorial’s design and construction was managed by the Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Board and the American Battle Monuments Commission.

Jandy at Korean War Veterans Memorial

On June 14, 1993, Flag Day, the groundbreaking for the Memorial was conducted by President George H. W. Bush. Faith Construction Company, the Richard Sherman Company, the Cold Spring Granite Company, the Tallix Art Foundry and the Baltimore District of the US Army Corps of Engineers, the companies and organizations involved in the construction, are listed on the memorial.

Statues designed by sculptor Frank Gaylord

On July 27, 1995, the 42nd anniversary of the armistice that ended the war, the memorial was dedicated by President Bill Clinton and Republic of Korea President Kim Young Sam, to the men and women who served during the conflict.  On the day of its dedication, the memorial was administratively listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the management of the memorial was then turned over to the National Park Service, under its National Mall and Memorial Parks group.

The main memorial, in the form of a triangle intersecting a circle, has 50 m. (164 ft.) long, 200 mm (8 in.) thick walls; more than 100 tons of highly polished “Academy Black” granite from California; and more than 2,500 photographic, archival images (representing the land, sea, and air troops who supported those who fought in the war) sandblasted onto the wall. The Mural, created by Louis Nelson, has photographic images sandblasted into it depicting soldiers, equipment and people involved in the war. When reflected on the wall, there appear to be 38 soldiers, 38 months, and it is also representing the 38 parallel that separated the North and South Korea.

The Mural of Louis Nelson

Within the walled triangle are 19 stainless steel larger than life-size statues designed by Frank Gaylord, each between 2.21 m. (7 ft., 3 in.) and 2.29 m. (7 ft., 6 in) tall; and each weighs nearly 500 kgs. (1,000 lbs.). The figures, representing a platoon on patrol, were drawn from each branch of the armed forces – 14 from the U.S. Army, 3 from the Marine Corps, one is a Navy Corpsman, and one is an Air Force Forward Air Observer.  All are dressed in full combat gear and dispersed among strips of granite and juniper bushes which represent the rugged terrain of Korea.

Pool of Remembrance

The United Nations Wall, a low wall to the north of the statues and path, lists the 22 members of the United Nations that contributed troops or medical support to the Korean War effort.  The Pool of Remembrance, a shallow, 9 m. (30 ft.) diameter pool lined with black granite, is surrounded by a grove of linden trees (shaped to create a barrel effect, which allows the sun to reflect on the pool) with benches.

The numbers of dead

The numbers of wounded

Inscriptions list the numbers killed, wounded, missing in action and held as prisoners of war.  A nearby plaque is inscribed: “Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.” Additionally, right next to the numbers of American soldiers, are those of the United Nations troops in the same categories. Three bushes of the Rose of Sharon hibiscus plant, South Korea’s national flower, are at the south side of the memorial. A further granite wall bears the simple message, inlaid in silver: “Freedom Is Not Free.”

Freedom is not Free

Korean War Veterans Memorial: 900 Ohio Dr SW, Washington, DC 20024

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor (Maryland, USA)

Inner Harbor

The Inner Harbor District, a historic seaporttourist attraction and landmark of the city, is located within walking distance of Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, at the mouth of Jones Falls, creating the wide and short northwest branch of the Patapsco River.

The name “Inner Harbor” includes any water west of a line drawn between the foot of President Street and the American Visionary Art Museum plus the surrounding area within the approximate street boundaries of President Street to the east, Lombard Street to the north, Greene Street to the west, and Key Highway on the south.

The author (lower right corner) walking along the waterfront

The Inner Harbor, with its historically shallow water (prior to manipulation through dredging), was not conducive to large ships or heavy industry and, in the 1950s, suffered from the economic decline with the arrival of container ships after World War II as well as restructuring common to many industrial cities in the United States, ending both its freight and passenger use.

Jandy crossing a pedestrian bridge

To reverse the city’s decline and reconnect Baltimore with its waterfront, the Inner Harbor was gradually transformed with award-winning parks and plazas surrounded by office buildings, hotels and leisure attractions, starting with the adoption of the 13 hectare (33-acre) Charles Center project.

Children frolicking at a fountain

Between 1958 and 1965, Baltimore renewed this center of its business district with office buildings, hotels and retail shops. In 1963, the redevelopment program was expanded to include 97 hectares (240 acres) surrounding the Inner Harbor with corporate headquarters and hotels being built around the shoreline, with a public park and promenade added for leisure activity and community gatherings.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Following the U.S. Bicentennial, other tourist attractions were developed such as the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center and the Harbor Place Festival Marketplace (opened on July 4, 1980 and operated by The Rouse Company). The nearby Baltimore Convention Center and Hyatt Regency Baltimore Hotel added to the services, resulting in increased population density and attracting a huge number of tourists.

In recent years, Inner Harbor East, the area along the waterfront to the east of the Inner Harbor (in the direction of Fells Point and Little Italy), has been developed with mixed-use developments incorporating office space, condominiums, street-level retail space, restaurants and hotels.

In the 1970s and 1980s, with the success of the renewal of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the city became a worldwide tourist destination and a model of urban renaissance, planning and development in cities around the world, influencing more than 100 other cities and winning more than 40 national or international awards.  In 1984, the American Institute of Architects cited it as “one of the supreme achievements of large-scale urban design and development in U.S. history. In 2009, the Urban Land Institute described it as “the model for post-industrial waterfront redevelopment around the world.”

Federal Hill Park

Federal Hill Park (300 Warren Ave.), a former lookout during the War of 1812 and the Civil War located on the south side of the Inner Harbor, allows visitors to take in ​a dramatic view of Baltimore’s cityscape from the top of the hill.

National Aquarium in Baltimore

The National Aquarium in Baltimore (501 E. Pratt St., Pier 3 and Pier 4, Inner Harbor) has a collection of more than 16,500 specimens representing 660 species, with exhibits including a multi-storey Atlantic coral reef, an open ocean shark tank, a 4-D immersion theater, a tropical rain forest, a glass pavilion with Australian wildlife, and a mammal pavilion that holds Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.

Check out “National Aquarium in Baltimore

Sloop-of-War USS Constellation

The Historic Ships in Baltimore (Piers 1, 3, and 5) features four historic ships permanently docked in the harbor that visitors can climb aboard and experience – the USS Constellation (first launched in 1854, it is the only Civil War-era ship still afloat), USCGC Taney (last fighting ship still afloat that survived the attack on Pearl Harbor), the USS Torsk (a Tench-class submarine, it is the last ship to sink an enemy vessel in World War II) and the Lightship Chesapeake (a U.S. Coast Guard lightship from the 1930s) plus the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse.

Check out “The Historic Ships of Baltimore,” “USS Constellation Museum”  and “USCGC Taney

Harborplace and the Gallery

Harborplace and the Gallery (Light and Pratt Sts.) are two pavilions with a mix of local and national restaurants and stores, plus Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium (has 500 of Ripley’s trademark “oddities” in seven different galleries, plus a mirror maze and a 4-D movie theater)

Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Odditorium

Maryland Science Center (601 Light St.) has 3 levels of exhibits, a planetarium, and an IMAX theater plus a special exhibit on blue crabs.

Maryland Science Center

Top of the World (401 E. Pratt St.) an observation deck on the 27th floor of the Baltimore World Trade Center, offers sweeping a 360-degree birds-eye views of the city. On the pedestrian promenade outside the building is a memorial to the victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Baltimore World Trade Center

Port Discovery Children’s Museum (35 Market Place), on the site of the historic Baltimore Fish Market, is a children’s museum with a three-story jungle gym specifically designed for kids ages 2-10.

Holocaust Memorial

American Visionary Art Museum (800 Key Highway), a mosaic-clad museum, has a  collection of offbeat, innovative art produced by self-taught individuals, plus free outdoor movies and the Kinetic Sculpture Race.

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African-American History and Culture (830 E. Pratt St.), the largest of its kind on the East Coast, is dedicated to preserving the stories of the Maryland African American community, past and present.

Baltimore Civil War Museum

Baltimore Museum of Industry (1415 Key Highway), located in an old cannery, holds exhibits on various types of manufacturing and industry from the early 20th century. one of its star attractions is the Baltimore, the oldest surviving steam tugboat and a National Historic Landmark.

Baltimore Visitors Center

The Baltimore Visitor Center (401 Light St.), just north of the Maryland Science Center, has touch-screen kiosks that tell visitors where to go, and staff can help clue you into events happening in the city. It also has public restrooms inside.

Philips Seafood

Power Plant Live! (601 E Pratt St.), the former Pratt Street Power Plant  located 2 blocks north of the Inner Harbor, is an entertainment complex that comes alive at night with bars,  clubs, restaurants and music venues that includes Phillips Seafood, Rams Head Live!,  Hard Rock Cafe (opened July 4, 1997) plus Barnes & Noble and Maryland Art Place (a contemporary art gallery for Maryland artists).

Hard Rock Cafe

Other places to visit here include the Lloyd Street Synagogue (the third-oldest synagogue in the United States, now the Jewish Museum of Maryland), Civil War Museum (President Street Station), Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards, Dr. Samuel D. Harris Museum of Dentistry (University of Maryland), Babe Ruth birthplace and museum, Oriole Park at Camden Yards (home of the Baltimore Orioles), Camden Yards Sports Complex, Columbus Center (home of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute), Bnai Israel (a Moorish Revival synagogue now open as a museum), Holocaust Memorial  (E Lombard and S Gay St.), Lockwood Place, Geppi’s Entertainment Museum (a privately owned pop culture museum at Camden Station opened last September 2006), M&T Bank Stadium (home of the Baltimore Ravens), Royal Farms Arena and the Pier Six Pavilion (a music venue at 731 Eastern Ave.)

Pier Six Pavilion

Blue and white water taxis (US&6-12), from 17 locations, connect passengers from the Inner Harbor to Fells PointCanton, and Fort McHenry.

Check out “Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine – Birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner

Water Taxi

You can explore the Inner Harbor on a traditional paddle boat (US$12 per half-hour rental) or the colorful Chesapeake Bay ‘Chessie’ Monster (US version of Scotland’s ‘Nessie,’ US$20 per half-hour rental),  both classic childhood favorites. Both boats hold up to four occupants. If you don’t feel like paddling, there’s the electric boat (half-hour rental – US$10 for one person or US$15 for two).

Cheska, Jandy, Grace and Kyle in a Chessie

Visitors can also explore the harbor via the red and purple-bottomed Cruises on the Bay by Watermark (US$6-17) and the larger yacht Spirit of Baltimore (US$42 and up); the bright yellow speedboats of Seadog Cruises (US$20 range) and the wood-paneled pirate ship The Fearless by Urban Pirates (US$20-25).

Spirit of Baltimore

Cruise ships also offer narrated, 45-min. tours of the Inner Harbor where you’ll learn about the city’s maritime and industrial history as well as the resurgence of the waterfront, Federal Hill, and Fells Point.  You can also avail of 60-min. tours focusing on Fort McHenry, 90-min. cocktail cruises and spectacular 60-min. “city lights” tours.