Historic Houses of Baltimore, Maryland
Colonists from the Province of Maryland established the Port of Baltimore in 1706 to support the tobacco trade with Europe. The American Revolution stimulated the domestic market as flour milling increased, and iron ore transport boosted the local economy. By 1827, Baltimore became the country’s fastest-growing city and largest flour market in the world. The oldest railroad in the United States, the B&O Railroad, began operations in 1830 and cemented Baltimore’s status as a major transportation hub, giving the Midwest and Appalachian regions access to the city’s shipyards. The railroad triggered technological innovation as nearby iron fabricators began producing much of the nation’s cast-iron architectural components.
In 1816, land surveyor Thomas Poppleton mapped and prepared a plan to control future street extensions. His plan consisted of a gridiron street pattern that created a hierarchy of streets: main streets, side streets, and small alleys. This set in motion the city’s basic development pattern of various sizes of rowhouses built on a hierarchical street grid. The larger streets held larger homes, the smaller cross streets held smaller houses, and the alleys held tiny homes. Baltimore is rich in architecturally significant buildings in a variety of styles. The tens of thousands of rowhouses that line the streets have a mix of materials on the face providing Baltimore its distinct look.
In 1964, The Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) was established and oversees local historic districts. Along with the help of CHAP and other private foundations, Baltimore has over 56,000 structures listed on local and national registers.