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B&O Railroad Museum

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The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum is located at 901 West Pratt Street in Charm City. The museum is geared towards rail enthusiasts and fans of America’s industrial history. The collection includes over 200 pieces of rolling stock as well as hundreds of artifacts representing every key period in the timeline of American railways.

After studying rail facilities in England in 1826, businessmen Philip Thomas and George Brown returned to Baltimore and, with 25 others, organized the B&O. The railroad was formally chartered in 1827 and is the country’s first large scale commercial rail service. On July 4th, 1828 construction began with the aging Charles Carroll of Carrollton presiding over the ceremony.

The countries best engineers were hired to survey the line including Jonathan Knight, Major George Whistler and Colonel Stephen Long. The team initially set out to reach Ellicott Mills, a distance of 13 miles, as a test run on their way to the Ohio River. Over 140 years of continuous operation followed. In February of 1963 the Baltimore & Ohio was acquired by the rival Chesapeake & Ohio. By 1970 the line merged with several others to form Chessie System (now CSX).

Throughout the company’s long existence a few great men took great care in saving and preserving the B&O’s heritage, storing stock in unused yards for future exhibition. These relics would eventually find their place at West Charm City’s Mount Clare yards and its massive roundhouse.

In 1884 the company built a new structure at their existing Mount Clare yards. The E. Francis Baldwin designed roundhouse was the largest car shop in the country when it was completed. Today the building houses locomotives and rolling stock from the steam era to modern times.

The museum’s roundhouse, annex buildings and open acreage are littered with examples of rolling stock, and although some are in better condition than others, the collection is impressive. The price of admission may seem steep, $16.00 for adults, but if you have a few hours it’s definitely worth it. This is certainly one of the finer museums in Baltimore.

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Written by monumentcity

June 29th, 2012 at 7:12 am

A Brief History of Baltimore’s Electric Streetcars

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America’s first commercially operated electric streetcar ran in Baltimore on August 10, 1885 when inventor Leo Daft converted the Baltimore and Hampden line from horse-drawn cars to his third rail system. The pioneering technology used current from a middle rail as its power supply. Often attributed to Frank Sprague, Daft’s electric train was in service before Sprague electrified Richmond Virginia’s public transit system.

In 1891 an extensive cable car system was established by the Baltimore Traction Company, its first line running from Druid Hill Park to Patterson Park. The expensive technology used underground steel cables to pull streetcars along at 6-11 mph. Power was supplied by steam engines placed in warehouses. The cable car system was abandoned in 1899, the same year Baltimore’s numerous transit providers consolidated into the United Railways and Electric Company.

After consolidation a multitude of technical obstacles needed to be dealt with. The various types of streetcars, tracks and power sources were slowly standardized into one working unit. A massive coal-burning power plant was erected on Pratt Street near the center of the system, its four smokestacks reaching 190 feet into the air. Overhead lines were stitched throughout the city, and structures, large and small, were erected or altered in many neighborhoods and districts.

Baltimoreans used streetcars not only for vocation and recreation but to extend their territorial boundaries. As City Council annexed county land residents began to migrate. Electric streetcars enabled workers to live further from their jobs, facilitating the city’s growth in the first half of the 20th Century.

Enter the automobile. By 1914 Henry Ford was producing a new Tin Lizzie every fifteen minutes using improved assembly line techniques. The proliferation of cars created the need for better roads and highways, marking the beginning of the streetcar’s decline. WWI and WWII provided significant bumps in business, but it was too late. City engineers gradually removed trolley tracks to accommodate the influx of new automobiles. The United Railways and Electric Company was slowly taken over by out-of-state interests and eventually dismantled. The bus system was chosen and in November of 1963 the last electric streetcar to operate in Baltimore made its final run.

Several monuments to the city’s trolley system remain. North Baltimore has three waiting stations: Bedford Square, Overhill and Edgevale Road. Numerous communities have tracks still installed on or under the streets, especially in the Fells Point area. Old power stations and car barns are still standing. The Charles Street streetcar barn, built during the cable car experiment of the 1890s, is just north of Pennsylvania Station next to the Chesapeake Restaurant building. Park Terminal near Druid Hill Park and Bolton Hill’s Linden Avenue stop are further examples of local streetcar relics.

The Baltimore Streetcar Museum offers rides on restored historic cars. Located under the North Avenue bridge, the unique museum is open on Sundays year round. The facility also contains the Maryland Rail Heritage Library, a valuable resource to local history.

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Written by monumentcity

February 15th, 2012 at 1:28 pm

The Latrobe Family and Charm City

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The Latrobe family is sewn into the fabric of Americana. Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the patriarch, was the Union’s first trained architect and a strong proponent of Greek, Gothic and Neoclassical architecture. Latrobe designed elements of the U. S. Capitol and the White House. His sons John H. B. Latrobe and Benjamin Henry Latrobe II, with headquarters in Baltimore, helped organize, orchestrate and engineer the nations first railroad. Ferdinand Claiborne Latrobe (son of John H. B. Latrobe) was mayor of Baltimore five times. He was known as the “Grand Old Man of Maryland.” His cousin Charles H. Latrobe (son of Benjamin Henry Latrobe II) was city engineer for a quarter century, designing bridges and buildings around Baltimore. Together the Latrobe Family helped shape and develop Charm City.

Architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe arrived on American soil in 1796. Known as the “Father of American Architecture,” Latrobe was born in England in 1764 to a British father and an American mother. He showed an early interest in landscape drawing and quickly moved to the architectural field. By age 20 Latrobe entered his initial apprenticeship in design and engineering. Married and the father of two, Latrobe’s first wife died in 1793 while giving birth to their third child. He struggled financially in his native country and sailed, with his children, to the newly forming United States in hopes of establishing a career. Landing in Virginia in March of 1796, Latrobe visited the Mount Vernon estate of President George Washington by that summer and his succesful and incredible life began taking form. After building a state of the art prison in Richmond, Virginia he moved to Philadelphia and then Washington D. C. seeking further government commissions.

Benjamin Latrobe relocated his family to Baltimore at the beginning of 1818 in order to finish work on the Baltimore Cathedral (or Basilica of the Assumption of the blessed Virgin Mary). Commissioned by John Carroll, America’s first native-born Archbishop, the building’s construction began in 1806 and was completed in 1821. He also created Baltimore’s original Merchant’s Exchange (razed in 1901) and the quaint Spring House of Dairy. Known as the father of American architecture, Benjamin Latrobe was a friend of presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. He and Jefferson were instrumental in bringing Greek Revival architecture to our newly forming country, pairing the classic style with themes of democracy. Latrobe died of yellow fever in New Orleans in 1821 while working on a massive waterworks system for the southern port city. His sons and grandsons stayed in Baltimore and created legacies of their own.

John Hazlehurst Boneval Latrobe was born in 1803 in Philadelphia. Moving to Washington as a young child his house was frequented by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The multi-talented Latrobe took after his father’s passion for landscape painting. He eventually studied engineering at West Point but was forced to return home before graduating when his father suddenly passed away in 1820. Baltimore was home, and John H. B. began studying law with his father’s good friend, Robert Goodloe Harper. After passing the Maryland Bar, John went into private practice with his younger brother Benjamin Henry Latrobe II. The practice proved too difficult to maintain and Benjamin II turned to engineering. John H. B. went to work for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad as a land acquisition attorney. He was instrumental in the railroad’s expansion west, helping to link America’s rising industrial network. John H. B. incorporated the first telegraph service in the world along the Baltimore & Ohio’s line, his persuasive manner convincing company’s leaders of the communications system’s potential. He would spend most of his life working as the B&O’s chief legal counsel.

In his spare time, John H. B. Latrobe pursued numerous other ventures with the same intensity and professionalism he had for his day job. He was on the board of directors for Druid Hill Park and Green Mount Cemetery, spearheading the establishment of two of Baltimore’s finest outdoor museums. He founded the Maryland Historical Society and established a colony in Liberia for America’s growing population of freed slaves. John also wrote an extensive memoir (along with poetry) that can be read in the Maryland Room of the Central Branch of the Enoch Pratt Library System.

John’s work as a patent attorney may have peaked his interest in inventing. His most famous creation is the Latrobe Stove (Baltimore Heater), a heat concentrating device that went inside a home’s fireplace. By 1878 there were 300,000 in use in the United States.

Perhaps best known today for his association with Edgar Allan Poe, John H. B. Latrobe was one of three judges that awarded the struggling author with a first place prize in a local writing contest for the story MS. Found in a Bottle. Poe showed up to collect his prize at John’s Mount Vernon rowhouse. The historic building stands today and is in shouting distance of the Basilica of the Assumption. The short story was published in the the Baltimore Saturday Visitor, helping to launch Edgar Allan Poe’s turbid career.

Benjamin Henry Latrobe II, younger brother to John H. B., was born in 1806. He studied engineering and law, following the paths of his famous father and gifted older sibling. After a short time practicing law, Benjamin II began a career in engineering, starting at Ellicott’s Mill measuring ballast stone for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. He rose rapidly through the ranks and eventually became head engineer for the historic company. His greatest standing accomplishment is the Thomas Viaduct, the railroad’s first bridge built on a curved alignment. Originally rated for 30 ton trains, today the massive stone viaduct carries loads weighing up to 300 tons. Benjamin Henry Latrobe II designed the rolling pathways in Green Mount Cemetery where he is buried.

Charles Hazlehurst Latrobe was born in a house on Calvert Street in 1833. He was educated locally and apprenticed under his father, Benjamin Henry Latrobe II, as an engineer for the B&O Railroad. He worked several years with his father expanding the rail lines west of the Ohio River at Wheeling, Pennsylvania. When his cousin, Ferdinand Claiborne Latrobe, was elected mayor of Baltimore in 1875, Charles was appointed Chief Engineer of the Jones Falls Commission. He designed the containing walls that direct the Jones Falls through the city. The former Guilford, Calvert and Saint Paul Street bridges spanning the Jones Falls, with their monumental iron arches, were also articulated by the third generation engineer. As an architect Charles created Patterson Park’s Pagoda and Casino building, projects he worked on during his quarter century tenure as a city employee. During the Civil War he served in the Confederate Army where he earned the title of First Lieutenant in the Engineers of the Confederate States of America. Charles H. Latrobe is memorialized with a granite cross on the eastern wall of Green Mount Cemetery.

Born in 1833, Ferdinand Claiborne Latrobe was the oldest son of John H. B. Latrobe. During his first professional life he practiced law with his father, working closely on the B&O Railroad’s legal affairs during its westward expansion. In 1875 Ferdinand was elected to his first of seven terms as Charm City’s top official. Loved by many in the community for his down to earth lifestyle, the mayor was known to have breakfast with his mother each morning, traveling there (as he traveled everywhere) in his horse-drawn carriage with his legendary Old Grey Mare leading the way. His political tenure was one of dignity and respect, his battles with Baltimore’s mob culture uniquely significant. In 1895 Ferdinand acquired land from the estate of Johns Hopkins that eventually became Clifton Park. He is memorialized in statue on the North Broadway median near East Baltimore Street.

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Written by monumentcity

June 18th, 2011 at 10:43 am

Overhill Waiting Shelter in Roland Park

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The Overhill Waiting Shelter is one of the last remnants of the No. 29 Boulevard streetcar line which ran from Roland Park to downtown. In operation from 1908 to 1947, the line’s open air cars were a favorite of Baltimoreans during summer months, the commute offering a brief respite from the exhausting heat. The No. 29 was converted to bus service in June of 1947. The waiting station, situated along University Parkway in what is known as Centennial Park, is a lasting monument to the Baltimore trolley system. The Roland Water Tower stands at the top of the hill.

Written by monumentcity

January 13th, 2011 at 9:27 am

Bedford Square Station in Guilford

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This waiting station was part of Bedford Square Streetcar Line No. 11. Operated by the United Railways and Electric Company, the streetcar line was developed to supply Guilford residents with reliable and affordable access to the city. Built between 1913 and 1950, Guilford is a north Baltimore neighborhood designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr. The 210 acre suburban tract is characterized by rolling hills, regal homes and classic landscaping. The historic community was serviced by trolley until 1947 when the progression towards automobiles finally overtook the interurban railway. The Bedford Square Station was converted to a bus stop and later a monument. A bust of Simon Bolivar is across the street.

Written by monumentcity

December 30th, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Engineer Wendell Bollman

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The Baltimore born Wendell Bollman (1814-1884) designed the first iron truss bridge in the United States. In 1847, working under the engineer Benjamin Henry Latrobe II, son of the U. S. Capitol’s architect, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Bollman was named head of the Harper’s Ferry, Virginia line of bridges for the B&O Railroad. Realizing that standard wooden bridges decayed too rapidly, he turned to the less frequently used iron for construction. The self-taught engineer’s structures performed well and the iron truss bridge was quickly adopted by his bosses. He received a patent for his truss design, vaulting him to the top of his profession. Wendell Bollman‘s importance to the advancement of American engineering is rooted in his methods. His use of math and logic helped pave the way for a more scientific approach to civil planning.

Only one Bollman bridge, located in Savage, MD, remains today. The rest have either been replaced or were destroyed. His most famous bridge (at Harper’s Ferry) was taken out several times during the Civil War. The strategic overpass was rebuilt and lasted until 1936, when it was wiped out during a devastating flood. However, two of his iron creations still adorn historic Baltimore buildings. The dome of City Hall‘s rotunda and the steeple of the First and Franklin Presbyterian Church were fashioned by Bollman.

Written by monumentcity

February 26th, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Mount Royal Station and Train Shed

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The Mount Royal Station & Train Shed is situated where N. Howard Street and W. Mount Royal Avenue meet. The building, constructed in 1896 and designed by E. Francis Baldwin & Josias Pennington, is steeped in the Italian Renaissance style. With the train shed providing comfort and shelter in case of bad weather and the clock tower providing Baltimore’s landscape with another icon, the station was renowned for its blend of art and purpose. The clock was built by the E. Howard Watch and Clock Company of Boston.

In 1966 the Maryland Institute College of Art purchased the structure for their expanding campus. Before moving in, the school reconfigured the interior’s foyer, turning the two story open space into multiple floors with extra classrooms and studios. The granite and limestone exterior is unchanged. The property is used annually during the city’s Artscape celebration.

Written by monumentcity

February 15th, 2010 at 12:46 pm

B&O Warehouse at Camden Yards

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The B&O Warehouse at Camden Yards is located along the right field boundary of Oriole Park. A former structure of the B&O Railroad, the narrow building was part of Baltimore’s Camden Station. Early in the 19th century when trade with the western interior United States threatened Charm City’s historic port economy, a plan was hatched to build a railway connecting Baltimore to the Ohio River. Camden Station was completed in 1856.

In 1905 construction of the E. Francis Baldwin and Josias Pennington designed warehouse was finished by James Stewart and Company, its unique design necessary so it could squeeze between Eutaw Street and the station’s pre-existing railroad tracks. Today the structure contains offices for the Orioles’ staff, businesses and restaurants. At 1,116 feet, the Warehouse at Camden Yards is the longest building in America east of the Mississippi.

Written by monumentcity

January 26th, 2010 at 7:14 am

George Peabody Monument in Mount Vernon

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East Mount Vernon Place (Street View)

GPS: 39° 17′ 51.18″ N 76° 36′ 54.33″ W

History

Born in 1795 in the town of South Danvers, Massachusetts, George Peabody was an entrepreneur and philanthropist who moved to Baltimore in 1816, where he lived for twenty years overseeing the dry-goods mercantile business he co-founded, Peabody, Riggs, and Company.

In the 1850s, while in London, Peabody became involved in banking, forming a prominent partnership with Junius Spencer Morgan, father of financier JP Morgan. A number of large financial institutions, including Morgan Grenfell, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, can trace their roots directly back to Peabody’s handiwork. For this reason, a statue of Peabody quite similar to Baltimore’s was unveiled before his death beside the Royal Exchange in London.

Peabody is also considered to be father of modern philanthropy. In 1857, Peabody founded the first music conservatory in the United States in Baltimore, the Peabody Institute (now a part of Johns Hopkins University). In 1862, he set up the Peabody Trust in London to provide housing for the city’s deserving poor.

After the American Civil War, he established the Peabody Education Fund to educate children from the Southern States, and is known to have donated some $8 million dollars to charitable trusts and organizations during his lifetime. His philanthropic acts served as a model for others, including Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and Bill Gates.

Notes

Peabody’s Baltimore Monument rests in the park just east of the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon. Immediately to his south is the historic Peabody Institute building, with the Mount Vernon Place Methodist Church to the north.

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May 15th, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Johns Hopkins Monument in Charles Village

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N Charles Street & E 33rd Street (Street View)

GPS: 39° 19′ 41.02″ N 76° 37′ 4.55″ W

History

In 1873, Johns Hopkins died. In 1875, a university in his name was established, one of many institutions that would eventually use his moniker. A Quaker from a plantation in Virginia, Hopkins and his brothers first business was selling supplies from covered wagons in the Shenandoah Valley. Occasionally they traded goods for corn whiskey, repackaged the liquor, and sold it to Baltimoreans as Hopkins Best. After a series of businesses Hopkins eventually helped bankroll the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad during the company’s westward expansion, bailing the company out of debt several times and making himself a very wealthy man in the process. During and after the Civil War, Hopkins thrived as an investor and professional, becoming one of the richest men in American history.

Notes

The bust of Johns Hopkins, sculpted by Hans Schuler, rests atop a tall foundation and is flanked by two statues, one a young male and the other a youthful female. Originally located at North Charles Street & East 34th Street, the structure was moved a block south due to numerous automobile accidents attributed to its placement. Surrounded by lush vegetation, with the school’s campus behind, the monument presents a dignified view of an American icon.

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Written by monumentcity

March 29th, 2009 at 3:24 pm