Top 5 Things outsiders don’t know about Baltimore

Baltimore is a wonderfully diverse city with a fascinating history. The metropolis has a strong connection with the formative years of the United States we know today. There are also more than a few fascinating historical figures that have called the place home over the years.

Despite its impressive heritage, not a lot of people know a great deal about Baltimore. So, whether you’re bored at work desperate to take your mind off that spreadsheet in any way possible or are spending time in this fascinating city, here are five things you probably didn’t know about the Baltimore.

The annual wreath laying takes place at Poe’s grave at Westminster Hall and Burying Ground. (Anthony C. Hayes)

Edgar Allan Poe is Buried There

Legendary US author, poet, and general gothic literary hero Edgar Allan Poe’s grave is found in Baltimore. Although the literary genius was born in Boston just after the turn of the nineteenth century, his final resting place is in the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground. He died at just 40 years old. His mother-in-law and wife are buried to his right and left respectively.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Poe’s grave is not the fact it’s in Baltimore but rather that each year it was paid a mysterious visit on the anniversary of the iconic writer’s birthday, January 19, from 1949 to 2009.

The individual arrived at the grave by night, dressed in black and sporting a wide-brimmed hat and scarf. After raising a glass of cognac for the iconic writer, the mysterious individual disappeared into the night leaving behind three roses and the unfinished bottle of cognac.

Since the Poe Toaster, as the media dubbed the individual, had been doing this for about 60 years, people speculated that the as yet unidentified mourner was played by two or more individuals. Unfortunately, in 2009 the Poe Toaster never arrived and hasn’t since. However, the event had become such a spectacle that people continue to gather on the night of the late Poe’s birthday to celebrate both the author and now, his mysterious mourner.

The Birthplace of the US National Anthem

Yeah, we all know the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner” but do you know their backstory? Unless you’re a serious national history buff, probably not.

The piece was not written as a whole in one go. The music was written by John Stafford Smith in 1773. Smith, ironically enough, was a British composer. His piece “To Anacreon in Heaven” was popular in the US and had various lyrics set to it over the years.

However, it would not be until the next century that the now famous words to the anthem were penned. Like the music, the creative force behind the lyrics had no intention of his work being used by the nation years later. Amateur poet Francis Scott Key simply wrote a poem based on his own eyewitness account of the attack on Baltimore’s Fort McHenry in 1814. The US won out and the sight of the US flag proudly waving over the harbor following the victory inspired the rousing words.

The poem was called “Defence of Fort M’Henry”. When it was set to music, it became “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The tune quickly became a popular patriotic song before it was recognized for official use by the US Navy at the end of the nineteenth century and later by President Hoover as the official national anthem of the United States in the 1930s.

World’s Tallest Five-Sided Building is in Baltimore!

Baltimore’s pentagonal World Trade Center is officially the largest building with five sides on the planet. It was designed in 1966 and completed in 1977 for a total of $22 million (about $95,000,000 at today’s dollar valuations).

Why have 4 when you can have 5.

Set right on the side of the Patapsco River’s Inner Harbour, the building takes pride of place between some of the top attractions of the city has to offer. No visit to Baltimore is complete without at least a walk around the Inner Harbour area. As well as the striking World Trade Center itself, you can see the National Aquarium, the Marine Mammal Pavilion, Pierce’s Park, the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, and other must-see sights.

Of course, if funds are tight or you just want to have cheap fun from the comfort of your hotel room we suggest going with online casinos. The state of Maryland offers legal real money gambling. Who knows, you might even drop enough cash to pay a visit to the iconic Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. or one of the many other fine diners across the water from the world’s tallest five-sided building!

Babe Ruth

Not a lot of people know this but The Sultan of Swat hails from Baltimore. Babe Ruth, the iconic southpaw pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, was born in the city in 1895.

Ruth would actually start his 22-season-long career in Baltimore too. He signed a deal with Jack Dunn, the manager of the team, Baltimore Orioles in 1914. Although there is no definitive version of events, it appears that Dunn headhunted Ruth during a game between his own and another local college. Later financial difficulties would see the now-legendary pitcher move to Boston, where he became the superstar he is known as today.

Most Statues and Monuments Per Person

Another obscure fact you may not know about Baltimore is that there are more structures dedicated to individuals and events from US history per person than in any other city of the nation. You might have guessed that, however, if you know that one of Baltimore’s nicknames is “The Monumental City”.

The city is literally covered in dedications to its most famous inhabitants over the years. Artists, politicians, military leaders, and musicians all have likenesses dotted around the metropolis. In fact, three of the individuals on our top five list have actually been further immortalized by the construction of an honorary statue in the city. They are Edgar Allan Poe, Babe Ruth, and Francis Scott Key.

Amongst the other famous figures commemorated around Baltimore, you’ll see jazz legend Billie Holiday, abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and author Alex Haley. There are also monuments to important historical events, such as the Holocaust and various military victories.