A natural outcropping of clay, Federal Hill has long dominated the skyline of the Inner Harbor and South Baltimore. First recorded by the English explorer, Captain John Smith, in 1608 as he navigated the regions of the Chesapeake Bay, this location has long been the site for civic celebrations, commercial enterprises and community recreation and enjoyment.
Named to commemorate Maryland’s 1788 ratification of the U. S. Constitution, Federal Hill by 1950 had become the center of a neighborhood that was increasing depressed as surrounding industrial plants and shipyards closed, laying off thousands of workers. Ten years later with the total collapse of the once vibrant industrial base, the neighborhood had become the home of crowded tenements and blocks of vacant and decaying housing with few employment opportunities for its residents.
To compound the problems of the neighborhood Baltimore City joined the ranks of cities around the country applying for monies to build portions of the newly announced plan for a Federal Highway system to accommodate rising vehicular traffic in the United States. Baltimore’s contribution to this system would provide for two new highways. One segment would pass through the core of historic Fell’s Point to the east and, from the west, a second highway that would cut through the Federal Hill neighborhood and cross over the top of Federal Hill itself as it joined the link through Fell’s Point.
With the rise of the preservation movement in the 1960’s the Society for the Preservation of Federal Hill and Fell’s Point sought to prevent the construction of the highway over the top of Federal Hill as it worked simultaneously to block the highway through Fell’s Point. Due to the actions taken to protect these two historic landmarks by the Preservation Society Federal Hill was spared destruction by the proposed Federal Highway. Today Federal Hill’s long storied history and its importance as a city landmark have been preserved. It is again a valued asset in the neighborhood providing a much needed park with open green spaces and recreational amenities with panoramic views to the harbor for all the citizens of Baltimore.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we do not have specific tour times, but contact us for private tours that are within CDC guidelines.