An Overview of Charm City

Welcome to Baltimore! Baltimore is the principal city and port of entry of Maryland and is the 18th largest city in the US, with a metropolitan area population in excess of 1.5 million. More than 100,000 students live in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

Baltimore was named for the first Lord Baltimore, George Calvert, who was granted a charter key by King Charles in 1632 to establish an English colony in the New World. The first settlement on the site was made in 1662, and the town of Baltimore was laid out in 1730.

The city owes its existence to the natural, deep-water harbor formed where the Patapsco River empties into the mammoth Chesapeake Bay. From its 1730 founding to the present, Baltimore has been a vital shipbuilding center and one of the nation’s largest commercial ports.

Baltimore is centrally located and is only 40 miles away from Washington D.C., 70 miles away from Philadelphia, and is about 180 miles away from the New York City. By Maryland’s MARC train it costs about $5 and takes less than an hour to reach Washington, D.C. and by Amtrak train it costs about $70 and takes about 2.5 hours to teach New York City. You can also reach New York by Greyhound bus for $30-40 (about 4 hour-trip). Baltimore–Washington International Airport is one of the biggest and busiest airports in the nation and is a hub for US Airways, Southwest and United Airlines. One can catch a direct flight from Baltimore to almost any major city in America. Three major interstate highways run through the Baltimore City: I-95 runs from north to south along the Atlantic coast, I-70 runs from east to west and I83 runs from Baltimore north to Pennsylvania.

Baltimore’s Downtown is a unique architectural blend, where modern skyscrapers abut architectural masterpieces of the 19th and 20th century. Baltimore city is a patchwork of almost 200 neighborhoods, and many of them–such as Little Italy and Greektown—still bear the ethnic stamp of immigrants who began their steady stream into Baltimore when the city became one of the nation’s official points of entry.

"Charm City" earns its nickname from renowned museums, top-notch performing arts, restaurants galore and historical sites that run the gamut from kitschy to courtly. Baltimore greater area is home to 23 colleges and universities, 15 art galleries, 21 museums, 10 theatres, the Baltimore Zoo, the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center, the Columbus Marine Science Center, the world-renowned Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Opera Company, the Peabody Conservatory of Music, the Pimlico Race Course, the Baltimore Orioles and the 2001 Super Bowl winners, the Baltimore Ravens. According to the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitor’s Association, the city was visited by 13 million people last year. They spent a total of 2.95 billion dollars.

Baltimore is also well-known for the abundance of seafood and variety of ethnic restaurants as well as its rich nightlife. In fact some parts of the city like Fells Point, Inner Harbor, Canton and Federal Hill specialize in satisfying one’s craving for food, music and dancing. The 14 blocks of Fells Point alone hold over 50 restaurants, clubs, bars, pubs and taverns. Most bars in the city feature special Happy Hour prices on selected days. On Wednesday, our students often enjoy free drinks (ladies’ night) at the Gin Mills and on Thursdays, others unwind to $2 Otter Creek Copper Ale drafts on the deck of Little Havana Bar and Restaurant. Those in the mood take in the clubbing scene, dancing to the latest hits at Bar Baltimore or grinding the night away at the always trendy Have a Nice Day Café, both located in the heart of the Powerplant Live!, Baltimore’s nightclub district. For more information on nightlife in the Charm City please visit http://marylandnightlife.com and http://www.powerplantlive.com.

Baltimore boasts a very good public transportation system, which includes a MARC train, a Metro, two light rail lines and over 70 local, express, and commuter bus lines. (For more information visit http://www.mtamaryland.com) If a student chooses to use public transportation, Johns Hopkins University partially subsidizes the cost.

The 15.5 mile, 14 station Metro Subway system is one of the most modern in the world. It operates every 8 minutes during rush hour, every 10 minutes during the day and every 15-20 minutes during evenings and on weekends. The Light Rail operates at 9 to 17-minute intervals. The MARC train is the most convenient way to travel between Baltimore and Washington DC.

Today, Baltimore has a new image with state-of-the-art baseball and football stadiums at Camden Yards, office and apartment towers, a multimillion dollar, 1,200,000-square-feet convention center, numerous new hotels, cultural attractions, restaurants, concert pavilions, ships and marinas. As the industrial base has shifted out of the city, the city’s new attractions and facilities are bringing in ever increasing number of tourists and convention goers. Baltimore is currently enjoying an extensive growth, a second renaissance, with more than $1 billion in new development planned.

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Things to See and Do in Charm City

Whether you're seeking to give visitors a taste of the "real Baltimore," spending a year or two in the city or settling in for the long haul, Baltimore offers a wealth of cultural possibilities. Much of Baltimore's charm comes from its variety of neighborhoods, each of them offering something different for the entertainment seeker. Fell's Point features venues for theatre and poetry readings. Downtown and the Harbor are dotted with museums and galleries. Canton offers lots of night spots. And Charles Village boasts two fabulous places to get your movie-fix-the Charles Theatre and Video Americain. You won't find everything in one place, but you should soon discover that one of the perverse delights of Baltimore living is the challenge of uncovering the cultural gems hidden throughout the city. Attractions

The National Aquarium is Maryland’s #1 tourist attraction. The five-level structure houses over 10,500 marine and freshwater animals, a 265,000 gallon Open Ocean Tank with sharks and large game fish, a South American Rain Forest, and an Atlantic Coral Reef. Connected by a skywalk is a Marine Mammal Pavilion, which features a 1.2 million gallon pool inside a 1300 seat amphitheatre for viewing Beluga Whales and Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins. Surrounding the pool is the world’s largest acrylic window and two vidiowalls. http://www.aqua.org

The Power Plant is an old Baltimore Gas and Electric Company steam-powered generating plant that has been transformed into a major attraction. Visitors can dine, shop, be entertained and engage in various sport activities at the nation’s first ESPN Zone, Hard Rock Café, and Barnes and Noble Book Superstore. The Power Plant also houses a number of popular Baltimore’s night clubs. http://www.powerplantlive.com

The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House and 1812 Museum was built in 1793 and was the home of Mary Young Pickersgil, who made the 30x42 foot, 15-star, 15-stripe flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the British bombardment on September 13-14, 1814 and inspired a Maryland lawyer, Francis Scott Key, to write the Star-Spangled Banner. Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine is open to public and hosts thousand of visitors a year. http://www.flaghouse.org

The Great Blacks in Wax Museum is America’s first and only museum of African-American history and culture. It houses over 100 life-size, lifelike wax figures in dramatic historical scenes. http://www.greatblacksinwax.org

Boordy Vineyards was established in 1945 and is Maryland’s oldest and largest winery. Individual visitors and tour groups can sample wines and tour the facility. Boordy also hosts a numbe r of small concerts and get-togethers throughout the year. Rows of carefully tended vines, a cluster of charming 19th century farm buildings and shaded picnic grounds await the visitor. http://www.boordy.com

The Maryland Science Center, Davis Planetarium and IMAX Theater captivate all ages with three levels of exciting hands-on exhibits and its national visitors center for the Hubble space telescope. The IMAX 3D theater screen is four stories tall and 57 feet wide, and gives you an incredible visual presentation. http://www.mdsci.org

Washington Monument of Baltimore was the first monument built to George Washington in 1842. It was designed by Robert Mills. A statue of George Washington stands atop the 178-foot-high column with inside stairs to the top. The statue oversees the historic Mt.Vernon neighborhood.

Baltimore Maritime Museum is anything but a museum. It consists of a Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse and four separate ships that you can board, including the submarine Torsk, the lightship Chesapeake, USS Constellation, and the US Coast Guard Cutter Taney. Each ship in the fleet is a veteran. The Submarine Torsk sank the last enemy vessel of WWII and holds a record of 11,884 dives, the most of any US submarine. The US Coast Guard Taney is the only warship still afloat that saw the action during the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. It was the only vessel that actually engaged the incoming Japanese plains. The USS Constellation is the last Civil War vessel afloat. This 1,400-ton, 179-foot sailing sloop was built in 1854. The US lightship Chesapeake guided mariners to safe harbor for over 29 years. The seven foot Knoll Lighthouse was built in 1856 and is the oldest screw pile lighthouse in Maryland. It served Baltimore’s Harbor for over 133 years. http://www.baltomaritimemuseum.org

The Basilica of the Assumption was built in 1821. It was the first Roman Catholic cathedral in the US. Pope Pius XI honored this cathedral with the rank of basilica in 1937. The Basilica of the Assumption was visited by His Holiness Pope John Paul II on October 8, 1995 and by Mother Teresa of Calcutta on May 29, 1996. http://www.baltimorebasilica.org

Sherwood Gardens is the place to be in mid-May to enjoy an extravaganza of color in over 5000 azaleas and 100,000 tulips. There you can also see pansies, dogwoods and flowering shrubs. http://www.guilfordnews.com

The City of Baltimore Conservatory houses a permanent collection of tropical, arid and rare plants from many lands. The palm house and greenhouses feature a wide variety of annuals and perennial, a tropical display, cacti, rainforest plants, etc. http://www.rawlingsconservatory.org/

The Baltimore Railroad Museum is located in the magnificent 1884 Baldwin roadhouse. The Museum presents the most historic and comprehensive railroad collection in America. The story of the American railroad begins at the Mount Clare Station when Charles Carroll laid the first stone for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in 1828. In 1830, New York inventor Peter Cooper came to Baltimore to manufacture America’s first steam locomotives. In the museum you can observe a famous collection of 50 antique locomotives, including the 1st America’s freedom train, Imlay Coaches and replicas. In the yard you can find a display of larger, more recent equipment. http://www.borail.org

Baltimore on Ice operates during the winter season. Downtown’s outdoor ice-skating center is located on the waterfront within walking distance of the Inner Harbor.

In Baltimore, you can also visit the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum, http://www.baberuthmuseum.com/ the National Museum of Dentistry (the only museum of its kind in America), http://www.dentalmuseum.org/ the Public Works Museum, the Museum of Industry, the Baltimore Civil War Museum, the Edgar Allan Poe House and Grave, http://www.poeforevermore.com/ the Baltimore Streetcar Museum http://www.baltimorestreetcar.org/ and many other attractions of Charm City. Also, just south of Baltimore you can visit the Six Flags America Theme Park.

Bay Lady and Lady Baltimore Harbor Cruises http://www.spiritcruises.com/Metro/baltimore-metro operates year round. The Bay Lady and the Lady Baltimore have two fully enclosed climate controlled decks, and an open air top deck that offer a panoramic view of Baltimore Harbor. You can enjoy a lunch cruise or a romantic dinner cruise while traveling down the Patapsco River. After dinner you can enjoy a romantic dance or retire to the observation deck for a spectacular view of the sunset.

Explore Baltimore by water. Take a Water Taxi http://baltimorewatertaxi.com/ around Downtown Baltimore and visit the Inner Harbor, Fells Point, Canton and Federal Hill neighborhoods.

Baltimore is less than an hour away from Washington D.C., a city full of museums, galleries, historic places and almost everything else your heart desires to see and experience.

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