A view of downtown from the Northeast
Looking West on Fayette St towards Downtown
Baltimore possesses samples from every period of architecture for over two centuries, and work from many famous architects such as Benjamin Latrobe, John Russell Pope, Mies Van Der Rohe and I.M. Pei.
The city has architecturally important buildings in a variety of styles. The Baltimore Basilica (1806-1821) is a classical design by Benjamin Latrobe and also the oldest Catholic Cathedral in the United States. In 1813 Robert Cary Long, Sr. built for Rembrandt Peale the first substantial structure in the United States designed expressly as a museum. Restored, it is now the Municipal Museum of Baltimore, or popularly the “Peale Museum”.The McKim Free School founded and endowed by John McKim, although the building was erected by his son Isaac in 1822 after a design by William Howard and William Small. It reflects the popular interest in Greece when the nation was securing its independence, as well as a scholarly interest in recently published drawings of Athenian antiquities.The Phoenix Shot Tower (1828), at 215 feet (65.5 m) tall, was the tallest building in the United States until the time of the Civil war. It was constructed without the use of scaffolding. The Sun Iron Building designed by R.C. Hatfield in 1851, was city’s first iron-front building and it was a model for a whole generation of downtown buildings. The Johns Hopkins Hospital, designed by Lt. Col. John S. Billings in 1876 was a considerable achievement for its day in functional arrangement and fire proofing.
I.M.Pei's World Trade Center (1977) is the tallest equilateral pentagonal building in the world at 405 feet (123.4 m) tall.
The most recognizable figure in the city's skyline is the art deco design of the Bank of America Building (1924) . It was the tallest skyscraper in the city at 509 feet (155.1 m) tall until 1973 when the Legg Mason Building was completed at a height of 529 feet (161.2 m). The eight-sided Charles Center Office Tower  and the Highfield House Condominium  are the only structures of Mies Van Der Rohe's design in the city of Baltimore.
Future contributions to Baltimore's skyline include plans for a 717 foot (218.5 m) tall structure known as "10 Inner Harbor". The building was recently approved by Baltimore's design panel and will be completed around the year 2010. It will include luxury condominiums, a hotel, restaurants, and shopping centers.
The streets of Baltimore are organized in a grid pattern. The streets are lined with tens of thousands of brick faced rowhouses. Many consider the rowhouse the architectural form most closely associated to the city. Some rowhouses are dated as far back as the 1790s.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards is considered by many to be the most beautiful ball park in Major League Baseball, and has inspired many other cities to build their own versions of this Retro-Style Ballpark.
Camden Yards along with the National Aquarium have helped revive the Inner Harbor from what once was an Industrial zone full of dilapidated warehouses, into a bustling commercial district full of bars, restaurants and retail establishments.
Despite the city's fame for its high crime rate (a reputation arguably fanned by such Baltimore-based TV series as Homicide: Life on the Street, The Corner, and The Wire), Baltimore nevertheless retains a distinctive local culture and social flavor. Historically a working-class port town, Baltimore has sometimes been dubbed a "city of neighborhoods," with over 300 identified districts traditionally occupied by distinct ethnic groups. Most notable today are three downtown areas along the port: the Inner Harbor, frequented by tourists due to its hotels, shops, and museums; Fells Point, once a favorite entertainment spot for sailors but now refurbished and gentrified (and featured in the movie Sleepless in Seattle); and Little Italy, located between the other two, where Baltimore's Italian-American community was based–and where current U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi grew up. Further inland, Mt. Vernon is the traditional center of cultural and artistic life of the city; it is home to a distinctive Washington Monument, set atop a hill in a 19th century urban square, that predates the monument in Washington, D.C. by several decades.
Washington Monument, in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore
The traditional local accent has long been noted and celebrated as "Baltimorese" or "Bawlmorese." One thing outsiders quickly notice is that the locals refer to their city as "Bawlmer" or "Ballmer," dropping with the "t" for the most part. The dialect is similar to that of many Marylanders and Pennsylvanians; it may reflect the region's roots in Cornwall and the English West Country, as many of the original settlers of the Chesapeake Bay area came from this area in colonial times. (Traditionally, many Marylanders call their state "Merlin"--and likewise, many Pennsylvanians call their state "Pennsavania," dropping the "l".) However, Baltimore's local accent also reflects the rich mix of ethnic groups from Ireland, Germany, and southern and eastern Europe who immigrated to the city during the industrial era. (For a more in-depth discussion of the Maryland dialect, click the "Culture of Baltimore" link above.)
As Baltimore's demographics have changed since World War Two, its cultural flavor and accents have evolved as well. Today, after decades of out-migration to suburbs beyond its corporate limits and significant in-migration of African-Americans from Georgia and the Carolinas, Baltimore has become a majority African-American city with a significantly changed, but still regionally distinctive, dialect and culture. Recently, neighborhoods such as Federal Hill and Canton have undergone extensive gentrification and have proven to be popular places for young professionals and college students to reside. In addition, new immigrants from Latin America are making their mark, notably in neighborhoods near Fells Point.
Much of Baltimore's African-American culture has roots that long predate the 20th century "Great Migration" from the Deep South. Like Atlanta, Georgia and Washington, D.C., Baltimore has been home to a successful African-American middle class and professional community for centuries. Before the Civil War, Baltimore had one of the largest concentrations of free African-Americans among American cities. In the twentieth century, Baltimore-born Thurgood Marshall became the first African-American justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Baltimore's culture has been famously celebrated in the movies of Barry Levinson, who grew up in the city's Jewish neighborhoods. His movies Diner, Tin Men, Avalon, and Liberty Heights are inspired to varying degrees by his life in the city.
Baltimore native John Waters parodies the city extensively in his films, including the 1972 cult classic Pink Flamingos.