As Maryland's biggest city and one of the USA's busiest ports, Baltimore's position at the end of the Patapsco River that feeds into Chesapeake Bay gives the city easy access to the Atlantic Ocean and it became an important port and shipbuilding centre.
It was home to a large number of US Navy vessels as well as the famously swift Baltimore clipper ships that destroyed or captured many of the British merchant ships during the war of 1812. Unlike Washington, D.C., Baltimore survived the vengeful attack by Britain, and with the triumphant flying of the American flag over Fort McHenry the country's national anthem was born.
Since its important role in the Revolution, Baltimore has experienced a turbulent history. Its fortunes have seesawed from post-Revolution prosperity to a city crippled by the violence of divided loyalties during the Civil War; from a railroad-rich 19th century to the devastation caused by the fire of 1904.
Nicknamed 'Charm City' for its fusion of small-town hospitality and city finesse, Baltimore combines an interesting mix of neighbourhoods, a diverse range of attractions, and delicious seafood specialities of the Inner Harbor that includes the abundant Maryland steamed blue crabs.
The distinct neighbourhoods are an attractive feature of Baltimore, among them the historic maritime district of Fells Point, the broad avenues of wealthy Mount Vernon, the village ambiance of Little Italy, and the Bohemian area of SoWeBo, or Southwest Baltimore.
Fells Point is the most popular district for entertainment, with a large selection of restaurants, cafes, bars, and nightclubs. The Power Plant Live! area near the Inner Harbor has several restaurants, bars, and clubs. Other neighbourhoods in Baltimore with good nightlife include Canton Square, Mount Vernon, Hampden, Federal Hill, and the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.
The waterfront and Inner Harbor are the hearts of this vibrant and growing city, making it a major tourist destination. It features the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center, the Port Discovery Children's Museum, and the World Trade Center with its 27-storey high Top of the World Observation Level.
Offerings cover everything from art to archaeology to black history. The water taxi service, besides providing an efficient means of harbour transport, is an excellent way to experience the waterfront and affords fantastic views of the city's skylines.