There's so much love in Baltimore
Working hand in hand
To make this place a better land
Love is what you'll find
So stop and take the time
I've got Oriole Baseball on my mind"
Baltimore (nicknamed "Charm City") is the largest city in the state of Maryland. It is located in the central area of the state along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore was founded in 1729 and became an independent city (separated from Baltimore County) in 1851. Information about the distinct neighborhoods of Baltimore City can be found at the Other Wiki.
As a port city, Baltimore was quite important during things like the colonization of America, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. In fact, for a few decades in the early 19th century, Baltimore was the second biggest city in the entire United States, behind only New York City.note Because Maryland was founded as a religious sanctuary for Catholics in England, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore is the oldest in the United States and is a major stopping point for Popes when they visit the country. Pope John Paul II famously held mass in Camden Yards in his 1995 visit. Because of this, it's not uncommon for people from the Baltimore area to be depicted as Catholics in media and having gone to Catholic school. Babe Ruth and Tom Clancy both attended local Catholic schools.
Historically, Baltimore is probably most notable for being the birthplace of the National Anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner". The titular flag in the song was flown over Fort McHenry during the siege of Baltimore during the War of 1812. As depicted in the first stanza of the song (the part sung at the start of every major sporting event) the flag continued to fly over the fort, despite the siege, with only minor damage. Fort McHenry is also the first to fly the new flag when a state enters the union. The actual 15-star flag, however, is not kept here (it's in the Smithsonian Museum of American History in nearby Washington, D.C.).
Fort McHenry also was famous (or infamous) for turning its cannons on the citizens of Baltimore during the Civil War, done to keep the city, a major trade port which served as an outpost of the slave trade, from defecting to the Confederacy and thus surround Washington with hostiles. In fact, had it not been for this incident, which was memorialized in the song "Maryland, My Maryland", the war could have turned out very differently. Incidentally, this put Baltimore and Maryland as a whole into an odd little identity crisis over whether it was a northern or southern state. This still persists to this day, and it's not uncommon to see memorials to the brave Maryland Troops on both sides of Civil War battlefields. In Gettysburg, there is even a case of a Union Maryland monument directly across the battle line from a Confederate monument.
Unfortunately for Baltimore, the city is most likely to appear in modern media because of its high crime rate. Both Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire—helmed by former Baltimore Sun journalist David Simonnote —focused on the high crime and corruption in the city and, by and large, did a good job portraying it. The annual murder rate typically goes above triple digits before June; this is factoring in that crime in the city is on a downturn. This has lead many people both in and out of the city calling it "Harm City" or "Bodymore, Murderland". When Osama bin Laden was killed, Stephen Colbert noted that if the capital of Pakistan was Washington D.C., then the bin Laden compound was in Baltimore... then observed that you were more likely to get shot in Baltimore. Since the Freddie Gray riots in 2015 (two riots, one lesser known that took place on a Saturday and caused Camden Yards to refuse people from leaving the stadium as the riot was one block over and the more well known one the following Monday), the murder rate has gotten much worse. With an average of one murder a day, Baltimore may not boast the most murders per day (that honor goes to Chicago) but it holds the most murders relative to the population. To put this in perspective, in 2016, Chicago had just north of 700 murders compared to Baltimore's 300+. However, Baltimore is a smaller city and, had it had a population similar to that of Chicago, would have had an estimated 1,000 plus murders. And those are just the people who die. The number of people who are the victims of violent crime is incredibly high and the only reason that the shooting victims to murder ratio is so low is some of the worst parts of the city just happen to be near some of the best hospitals in the country. So the good news is if you're shot in Baltimore, you're more likely to survive. The bad news is you're more likely to get shot in Baltimore! It's gotten so bad that the Yanks with Tanks have started sending combat surgeons to train in area hospitals because it's the closest thing in the states they have to actual injuries they are likely to face in the field. So the reputation in media, while unfortunate, is not unfounded.
Unfortunately for the rest of Maryland, people from out of state tend to use "Baltimore" and "Maryland" interchangeably, despite the cultural diversity of the state, and in particular despite the fact that the city is unrepresentative of the state as a whole, which has a very low murder and poverty rate that would be even lower without Baltimore. The most populous and arguably the most economically important county in Maryland, Montgomery County, is not even in the Baltimore metropolitan area; it is in the D.C. area. Thing is, Baltimore is the only jurisdiction specifically established by the Constitution of Maryland (all other cities, towns and counties were established by ordinary legislation). It used to be suggested from time to time to amend the state constitution to reunite the city and Baltimore County, although such proposals always drew strong opposition from Baltimore County. The last such proposal was made in 1999 and withdrawn in less than a month.
Despite these problems, Baltimore has a rich cultural tradition. It is most famous for its crabs, which must be covered in large quantities of Old Bay Seasoning and must be Maryland Blue Crab, none of that stuff you get in Florida. It's also known for the... unique accent of city natives. Be prepared to be called "Hon'" A LOT, and learn to say goodbye to hard consonant sounds and hello to drawn out vowels. ("Baltimore" is pronounced by natives as "Bawl'imer" (or "Balw-mer" or "Ball-tee-mo") more often than not, as examples.) Baltimore is also the birthplace of National Bohemian Beer, or "Natty Boh" as Baltimoreans call it.
In sports, the Preakness Stakes, an American flat Thoroughbred horse race for three-year-olds (and the "second jewel" in the Triple Crown note ), is held on the third Saturday in May each year at Pimlico Race Course.
Fans of the city's pro football team, the Ravens, have a strong rivalry with those of the Pittsburgh Steelers and aren't too fond of the Washington Commanders either, who actually play in Maryland barely an hour's drive from the city. Part of the reason why the rivalries with the Steelers and Commanders are so strong in Baltimore is because they both gained significant fanbases in the city in the decade the city was without a football team, which infuriates both fans of the Ravens and old loyalists to their predecessor, the Baltimore Colts (named for the aforementioned horse racing tradition of the city). Speaking of which, don't mention the Indianapolis Coltsnote or former owner Robert Irsay if you value your teeth. Irsay moved out the storied franchise of Baltimore in the dead of night in 1984, after the city refused to front the bill for stadium improvements, leaving fans feeling stabbed in the back.note For what its worth, a fan in Cleveland would accuse a Ravens fan still mad at this of being a huge hypocrite since the Ravens were originally the Cleveland Browns before they jumped ship to Baltimore.
In baseball, Baltimore is home to the Orioles of MLB's American League, who have a long-standing rivalry with the New York Yankees (who were actually the original Orioles for two years before moving to Bronx in 1903), the New York Mets (Baltimore tends to hold deep grudges in sports; the dislike of the Mets is due to a "bad call" in the 1969 World Series), the Cleveland Guardians (several nasty postseason meetings; see the deep grudges thing) and the Washington Nationals, though both the Mets and Nats are rarely played against (being in the National League). Since 1992, the Orioles have played in Orioles Park at Camden Yards, a refurbished train yard that turned into the first of the retro ballparks created in the '90s and '00s. The Orioles have also had an impressive list of who's who, being the first top-flight team Baltimore native Babe Ruth played on, and the exclusive team of Cal "Iron Man" Ripken Jr., who played the most consecutive games.
Artistically speaking, Baltimore is home of the Baltimore Rock Opera Society, the Baltimore School for the Arts, the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), and the Peabody Institute.
Baltimore City is also the home of Johns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Domino Sugar refinery (known locally as "the sugar factory"), and the Inner Harbor, a tourist location of shops, restaurants, boat slips, and the National Aquarium. It is no longer the home of McCormick & Company, the spice maker, who moved out to Hunt Valley, a suburb of Baltimore. To celebrate the anniversary of their move, during 2007, McCormick was running ads in newspapers and magazines to tell people that if you still had a can of McCormick Spice that in the manufacturer's identity field, said "Made by McCormick & Co, Baltimore MD" instead of "Made by McCormick & Co., Hunt Valley, MD" your can of spice was over 20 years old.
Hunt Valley is also the home to the Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner of many TV stations in large markets; they're infamous for cutting budgets at their stations, using loopholes to own or control multiple stations in one market, buying up multiple major station groups like Fisher and Albritton, and forcing their conservative views onto their stations. They recently came to national attention thanks to John Oliver calling attention to their bullcrap amidst an ultimately-failed attempt to swallow up Tribune Media (Tribune ultimately went to their less-odious rival Nexstar). Also in the realm of TV are the stations based on Television Hill in the northwest side of town: WJZ-13, owned by CBS, and previously a Westinghouse station, before CBS bought them in the '90s (they were ABC before that); WBAL-11, flagship of Hearst Television and an NBC affiliate (they switched to CBS in 1981 but reclaimed NBC in 1995); and the flagships of Sinclair, WBFF Fox 45, and WNUV CW 54. TV Hill's famous candelabra tower can been seen from across the city.
WMAR-2, the ABC station (owned by Scripps; they were initially CBS but got NBC in 1981, then ABC in 1995; it, WJZ and WBAL were all affected by the Disaster Dominoes caused by Fox getting the NFL from CBS) is the only station that isn't based on Television Hill. In May 2014, their studios were the subject of a major news story, when a man tried to force his way into the studios by ramming a stolen truck into the lobby.
Another suburban area just west of the city limits, Woodlawn, is home to the two US federal agencies that arguably have the largest day-to-day impact on the country's senior and disabled populations—the Social Security Administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The former, independent of any Cabinet department, administers the country's social insurance system for retirees and the disabled. The latter, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, administers Medicare, the federal health insurance program for seniors and many disabled individuals, and cooperates with state governments to administer Medicaid, a health insurance program for low-income people.
Notable Pop Culture Things From or Set in Baltimore
- Big Bill Hell's is set in Baltimore. The video was created as joke for a gathering of local advertising and television companies.
Fuck you, Baltimore!
- All John Waters movies
- Movies by Barry Levinson
- ...And Justice for All
- He Said, She Said
- He's Just Not That into You — and the book it's based on.
- Home for the Holidays
- Live Free or Die Hard — several scenes take place in Baltimore.
- The Silence of the Lambs — Hannibal Lecter's practice and residence is in Baltimore.
- Sleepless in Seattle — Meg Ryan's home in the movie is in Fell's Point.
- The Sum of All Fears
- Most of Tom Clancy's novel Without Remorse is set in Baltimore.
- In From the Earth to the Moon the protagonists are members of the Baltimore-based social club "The Gun Club".
- Jane Porter and her family from the Tarzan series are well-to-do Baltimore natives.
- In the Hannibal Lecter franchise, the titular doctor practiced in Baltimore and was a member of the city's social elite — who unwittingly chowed down on banquets made from the flesh of his victims. Once the truth comes out and Lecter is incarcerated, the Baltimore elite are said to suffer a sudden rash of alcoholism, institutionalization, and crippling anorexia.
- Ace of Cakes
- Homicide: Life on the Street
- Roc: An early 90's sitcom starring Charles S. Dutton (set in Baltimore, filmed in a studio in Los Angeles).
- The Wire
- The character Tony DiNozzo of NCIS was originally a Baltimore City cop.
- Dr. Paul Weston of In Treatment has his residence and private practice in the neighborhood of Arlington.
- Kathy Bates' character, Ethel Darling, in American Horror Story: Freak Show is supposed to be from Baltimore originally. The accent is pretty accurate for a good portion of Baltimore City in the 1950s.
- Sal Romano and his wife/beard Kitty on Mad Men are originally from Baltimore.
- Motor Week is based in suburban Owings Mills and films extensively on the roads of the area.
- Dr. Claire Finn from The Orville is from Baltimore, as is the actress who plays her, Penny Johnson Jerald. Her Baltimore heritage is a key plot point in the episode "A Happy Refrain". Isaac at one point says to her that "I would like to know more about Baltimore", and Claire replies "that's a sentence you don't hear very often".
- One Big Happy is set in Rick Detorie's hometown of Baltimore.
- Stacy Keibler - Former Ravens cheerleader, WWE "manager"
- Ric Ocasek
- Tupac Shakur (attended the Baltimore School for the Arts; not a Baltimore native)
- Dru Hill (90's R&B group where Sisqo of "Thong Song" fame got his start. They're named after Druid Hill Park, which sounds like "Dru Hill" in the local accent).
- Jada Pinkett Smith - attended high school with Tupac.
- James Ransone
- Lance Reddick
- When Heaven Spits You Out: Baltimore serves as the home of series protagonist, Ryan Hanson.
Notable Pop Culture Things From or Set in Maryland in GeneralFilm
- Homicide: Life on the Street is about the Baltimore Police Department.
- NCIS occasionally sends the team into "Maryland". It's never actually Maryland.
- The Wire is set in Maryland.
- The X-Files would have you believe that parts of Maryland and Baltimore City look a lot like Vancouver.
- David Deboy's Christmas song "I want Crabs for Christmas" is about a Baltimore native asking a mall Santa for a bushel of Maryland Crabs for christmas, as it would remind him of his home in "ol' Ball-tee-more". You can listen to it here.
- WCW's secondary-flagship pay per view event The Great American Bash was generally, although not exclusively, held in Baltimore. When WWE revived the event they did not retain the association with Baltimore.
- Tori Amos (the song quoted at the top of the page was her entry in an Orioles theme song contest she won when she was 16)
- John Astin (Born and reared in Baltimore, and lives there today, where he teaches drama at Johns Hopkins and for years was the Master of Ceremonies for Baltimore's yearly Edgar Allen Poe celebration at the Poe House.)
- Josh Charles
- Charles S. Dutton
- "Mama" Cass Elliot
- Anna Faris
- Josh Fruhlinger, The Comics Curmudgeon blog
- John Gallagher (From Upper Marlboro, a suburb that is closer to DC, but Dying Fetus is generally thought of as a Baltimore band)
- John Glover
- Dashiell Hammett
- Stacy Keibler
- Francis Scott Key (the guy who brought you the US national anthem)
- Barry Levinson
- H. L. Mencken
- Jason Netherton (Same deal as Gallagher)
- Edward Norton
- James Ransone
- Lance Reddick
- Gina Schock (drummer for The Go-Go's)
- Dwight Schultz
- David Simon
- Jada Pinkett Smith
- John Waters
- Oprah Winfrey (Not a native of Maryland, but moved here early in her broadcast career and was a staple of the local news for decades)
- Frank Zappa, who once wrote a song called "What's New in Baltimore?"
- Sid Meier, creator (most famously) of Civilization and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, has lived in Hunt Valley (just north of Baltimore) for a long time, and his company, Firaxis Games, is based there.=
- Rebecca Sugar
- Vivienne "Vivizepop" Medrano
Notable Pop Culture Things Where Baltimore or Maryland Subbed for Another Location
- In the 2000s and 2010s, a small part of Maryland's politics have been looking for ways to attract the film industry to do shoots in the city and in the state in general. Maryland being a small size has a surprisingly diverse topography, which affords film makers the ability to get a good bulk of subbed locations with little travel time to location sites. Early, Baltimore was even discussed as Hollywood of the East. The problem comes with taxation, which cost Maryland several of these film locations. It wouldn't be as embarrassing if two films (Annapolis and Hairspray) weren't set in the state. This is changing, as noted in House of Cards below.
- Washington Metro: The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the bus and subway operator for Washington, DC, has a policy that they will not permit any filming of any movie in the subway system where violence occurs. If someone gets shot in film taking place in a subway in Washington, DC, it will not be allowed to be filmed there. Typically the producer will travel 65 miles to downtown Baltimore, where the Maryland Transit Administration has no problem allowing a movie where someone is shot at to be filmed in the Baltimore subway system. The movie The Jackal (the one with Bruce Willis) has a scene involving a firefight in the subway, supposedly in Washington, but the subway fight was filmed in Baltimore.
- In For Richer or Poorer, Baltimore subbed for New York City for street scenes. The bulk of the film was filmed in the small town of Westminster, MD, which is about 40 minutes from Downtown Baltimore, just south of Pennsylvania, which was subbing for Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which is just north of the Maryland Border.
- The Social Network uses Johns Hopkins University's main Homewood campus for many of its Harvard scenes, thanks to Harvard's famous prohibition against filming on campus.
- The American version of House of Cards, although set in DC, was largely filmed in Baltimore, thanks to the similar look-and-feel of the locations, and because of Maryland's tax credits.
Notable Pop Culture Things Associated with Baltimore or MarylandAnime
- Otakon, an anime convention held in the Inner Harbor during the summer until it outgrew the venue, and moved to Washington, D.C. in 2017. Reported may return after renovations to the Baltimore Convention Center.
- Edgar Allan Poe
- Cal "Iron Man" Ripken Jr.
- The Baltimore (now Indianapolis) Colts
- The Baltimore Ravens
- The Baltimore Orioles
- Michael Phelps aka The Baltimore Shark.
- The middle-of-the-night move of the Baltimore Colts football team to Indianapolis. Decades later, some people still haven't gotten over it.
- The Beltway Snipers: John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, a pair of serial/spree killers active and captured in 2002.note The pair inspired a series of Ripped from the Headlines stories, most notably a Season One episode of CSI:Miami and a one off gag in Runaways justifying why the team's first mode of transportation was a white van note
- Yes, the Maryland state flag is rather complex.note Proper heraldic charge And it's the shiznit. Marylanders like it a little too much. If something is from or near Baltimore and/or Maryland, expect to see this design worked into a logo or some other identifier. (Just look at the shield.◊)