The Evolution of the Inner Harbor

Inner Harbor 1752
Inner Harbor 1752

Inspired by an impressive collection of postcards and images at, I decided to begin another project that’s been on my mind a while – creating a visual history of the Inner Harbor.

As an adopted Baltimorean, like many people the Inner Harbor was one of my first introductions to the city. In my memory, the Inner Harbor will always be bright and shiny new, with Harborplace, an aquarium and science center, and lots of people milling about. It represents Baltimore’s renewal and redevelopment.

I learned that the Inner Harbor didn’t always look that way. It used to be a dump, but long before then it was a busy port. I was fascinated by how the harbor evolved and grew over time.

Baltimore’s importance as a port dates to 1632, with the shipment of valuable black walnut to England – the first lumber from the New World.

The harbor is the reason why Baltimore exists. As the eastern seaboard’s furthest inland port, Baltimore was closer to America’s burgeoning farmlands and industrial production and a key transfer point between ships and railroads.

I also learned that the Inner Harbor defined the city in many different ways – West and East, South Baltimore and everywhere else.

Although we experience and remember the Inner Harbor in different ways, it is a touchstone that is familiar to every Baltimorean.

What I hope to do is collect a series of images that illustrate the changes of the Inner Harbor over time, starting with the earliest known image – John Moale’s 1752 painting of Baltimore Town – and up to the present day.

Contributions of images and comments are welcome. Send yours to

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