BNHA Fell's Point

Interpretive Framework

Gaining Freedom for All: African American Heritage and the Struggle for Equality

Seeking Prosperity on the Chesapeake: Baltimore History from Colonial Times through the 1800s

Shaping a Monumental City: The City’s Growth in the 20th Century

Upholding Independence: Baltimore and the War of 1812

Resource Type

Historic Neighborhoods

Founded in 1726 by William Fell, a shipbuilder from England, Fell’s Point served as the city’s deep-water port and shipbuilding center. Today the quaint streets and centuries-old buildings speak to the Colonial past.

As the young nation entered the War of 1812, Fell’s Point was the city’s commercial heart—a bustling port with many shipbuilders and maritime facilities. Fell’s Point was also home to the privateers, privately owned ships authorized by the government to attack and capture British ships.

Fell’s Point was the point of entry and often the first home for successive waves of immigrants throughout the late 18th and 19th centuries. Both enslaved and free African Americans were a prominent part of the neighborhood’s population, working as servants and in many maritime industries.

Frederick Douglass credited his time in Baltimore, when he lived and worked in Fell’s Point, providing him with the educational and moral strength to progress from an illiterate slave to a teacher of others. Douglass’ legacy in Fell’s Point can be seen in the 500 block of South Dallas Street. In 1891, he purchased the abandoned Strawberry Alley Church, razed the building, and constructed five rowhouses to provide affordable housing for African Americans.

History runs throughout the cobblestone streets of Fell’s Point. Residents and visitors to today’s Fell’s Point enjoy a variety of restaurants, bars, and unique shopping amidst unique historic architecture and ambience.