With the many marine-themed attractions around Baltimore, you'd think the city was close to the water or something. Oh, wait -- it is. You can't get any closer to the water than the Inner Harbor, at least without wearing a bathing suit.
The Inner Harbor is arguably the city's main attraction for tourists and residents. Overlooking the water is an arc of shops, restaurants, entertainment venues and other amusements sure to whet visitors' interest.
This picturesque waterfront area has seen considerable development over the years. For a long time, beginning in the 1700s, Baltimore's harbor was a major seaport. The Port of Baltimore remains functional today, but the Inner Harbor's transformation from its former incarnation into an iconic landmark began around the turn of the 20th century.
After the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 wreaked havoc on the area, the Inner Harbor fell into depression. It wasn't until the 1960s and 1970s that its rejuvenation got under way. It was during these decades that the city government made a priority of resurrecting the Inner Harbor as a tourist destination. As that initiative gained momentum, such current mainstays as the restored U.S.S. Constellation, the Maryland Science Center, the National Aquarium and the Harborplace pavilions cropped up and breathed life back into the harbor. The old saying certainly applies: "If you build it, they will come."
And come they do. On any given day or night, throngs of people of all ages mill around the Inner Harbor, enjoying a delicious meal at any of a number of restaurants, perusing the vendors inside Harborplace, taking a paddleboat ride or just admiring the view from the brick walkways that lead up to the water's edge. It is a scene painted by light and music; street performers are a common sight around the Inner Harbor and bring vitality to the district's character.
In the immediate area around the Inner Harbor, there are boundless other attractions for those who choose to venture out. Power Plant Live! is a collection of restaurants and nightlife hotspots, and the Harbor East area and Little Italy are also a short walk away. This part of town is the heart and soul of downtown Baltimore - the kind of places you see on postcards. Whether by foot or water taxi, access to the neighborhood gems of the city is well within reach.
With so much to see in this single concentrated area, it can be overwhelming and difficult to take in during one visit. Certain to be the centerpiece of the city for years, the Inner Harbor's growth and flowering are sure to keep it an attraction worth returning to.
Location: Central Baltimore City
Boundaries: Lombard Street to the north, President Street to the east, Key Highway to the south and Greene and Paca streets to the west.
Schools: Baltimore International College, University of Maryland Baltimore
Highlights/Landmarks: Baltimore Convention Center, ESPN Zone, Harborplace and the Gallery, Hard Rock Café, Maryland Science Center, M&T Bank Stadium, The National Aquarium, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Power Plant Live!, U.S.S. Constellation, World Trade Center
Trivia: There are more than 40 food and dining places in the Inner Harbor.
Rapper Sisqo (remember "The Thong Song"?) used to work at the Fudgery in the Light Street Pavilion.
The Power Plant building, which now houses bars, restaurants, clubs and an enormous Barnes & Noble, used to be an actual power plant.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun