BNHA Federal Hill

Interpretive Framework

Upholding Independence: Baltimore and the War of 1812

Star Attractions

Charles Street Byway

Resource Type

Historic Neighborhoods

This neighborhood is defined by its hilltop park – a welcome green space with commanding views of the Inner Harbor. Elegant rowhomes line the side streets, with restaurants, saloons, and shops lining Light and Charles streets. Historic Cross Street Market is a bustling establishment featuring food shops and small restaurants.

The name alludes to the 1788 celebration of Maryland’s ratification of the U.S. Constitution, which culminated on the hill. In 1797, an observatory opened at the hill’s peak that enabled merchants to receive advance word of ships approaching the harbor. During the War of 1812, Federal Hill served as an observation post and signal station. When the British bombarded Fort McHenry, many citizens watched from the hill. Today several monuments stand in the park in honor of War of 1812 heroes, including Lt. Col. George Armistead (commanding offer of Fort McHenry) and Maj. Gen. Samuel Smith (commander of the Baltimore defenses).

The American Visionary Art Museum sits at the northeast base of the hill; prepare to be delighted by the quirky and dazzling sculptures and mosaics adorning the museum, dedicated to displaying the work of self-taught artists.