Baltimore Fun Facts
Historical Trivia
A City of Many Firsts

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MJC Logo-sdg1743 - The First Professional Sports Organization in the United States, The Maryland Jockey Club, was formed in Baltimore.
1773 - First Newspaper, the Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser, established by William Goddard; first issue 20 Aug 1773
1773 - First US Stage Coach route - It went from Baltimore to Philadelphia
- The First Post Office was built in Baltimore in 1774. It was the precursor to the modern Postal Service we see today 

1778 - First independent corps in the Revolutionary War Army- organized by Count Casimir Pulaski

drugingmud machine1783 - First dredger in the world - the Baltimore Mud Machine, was invented by Andrew and John Ellicot.
1784 - The First successful Manned balloon launch in the United States was launched from Baltimore and was operated by 13-year-old Edward Warren.

1784 - First Methodist Church in America- Lovely Lane Meeting House

1785 - First General meeting of the Quakers

1785 - First Church of the United Brethren

1789 - First Catholic diocese in the U.S.

1790 - Due to it's ship building years and the Clipper (a war ship) being first built in Baltimore, Baltimore had a nickname of The Clipper City. The "Skipjack" was also first built in Baltimore, but is a fishing boat and not used for war. The USS Constellation was used after the War of 1812 to hunt and capture slave trading ships, which it did very successfully. It is now docked in Baltimore's Inner Harbor at Pier One, and can be toured by the public.


1791 - First Roman Catholic seminary in the U.S. St. Mary's Seminary

1792 - The first Monument to Columbus in the United States

1792 - First water company chartered in the United States - Baltimore Water Company.

1796 - First Sunday newspaper in America- Monitor

domino-sugarDomino Sugar

1796 - First sugar refinery in the U.S. - Domino Sugar - founded by Garts and Leypoldt

constellation4U S Constellation

1797 - First US War Ship to capture an enemy vessel - Constellation

1798 - First fort built by U.S. Government – Fort McHenry

1799 - First Swedenborgain church - erected at Exeter and Baltimore Street

1800 - First investment banking house in America- founded by Alexander Brown

1803 - First electric refrigerator- invented by Thomas Moore

1804 - First stationary store- Lucas Brothers
1805 - Court house built in 1805 occupied in 1809 torn down to make room for present marble structure

1811 - First U.S. Company to import and consumer package teas – Martin Gillet and Company
1813 -
The Star Spangled Banner (Fort McHenry's flag, not the Nation's song) was sewn in Baltimore by Mary Young Pickersgill. Pieces of the flag can be seen in Baltimore at the Star Spangled Banner National Historic Landmark, but the entire flag can be seen at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum in Washington, D.C. *1

ssbStar Spangled Banner

1814 - Birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner - written by Francis Scott Key at Fort McHenry

1814 -The Star-Spangled Banner First printed in the Baltimore American and the Daily Advertiser 21 Sep after the 12/13 Sept 1814 bombardment on Ft McHenry by British fleet

ssbiStar Spangled Banner1815
- First manufacturers of silverware in the United States - Samuel Kirk Company

1815 - The First permanent monument to George Washington was built.

1816 - First city to illuminate streets with hydrogen gas (Ran by the Baltimore Police to reduce crime)

1817 - First independent Unitarian Church- formed at 21 Hanover Street, home of Henry Payson

1817 - First annual conference of the African Methodist Episcopal church

1819 - First Odd Fellows lodge in the U.S.- organized by Thomas Wildey and others

1819 - First gaslight company in the country- Gas Light Company of Baltimore

1820 - First canning of oysters- by Thomas Kennett  

1825 - Cornerstone of Washington Monument laid 4 July 1815 it would completed 25 Nov 1824 and was the first monument erected for George Washington in the country. *2

Washington MonumentWashington Monument

1828 - Shot-Tower (Phoenix Company) 234 feet high, circular, and of brick built without scaffolding: complete 25 Nov 1828

Photo14427oUmbrella Factory
1828 - First American umbrella factory - William Beehler (
Beehler Umbrella Factory. Baltimore can  lay claim to the nation’s first umbrella factory, established by William Beehler in 1828. The company’s motto: “Born in Baltimore, raised everywhere. It is said that it was at Beehlers that the first Umbrella was opened in the United States )

1828/29 - Baltimore was the birthplace of the American Railroad. In 1828/29, the B&O Railroad (Baltimore & Ohio) was built, serving as the country’s first commercial railroad and long-distance track, with the nation’s first passenger station as well. This advancement lay the foundation for American commercial and geographic expansion. Today, visitors can experience the evolution of America’s unique railway system at the B&O Railroad Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian.
1829 - First Black Catholic religious order of nuns- Oblate Sisters of Providence
1830 - First coal burning steam locomotive built - Tom Thumb
1830 - First operating railroad
station/depot in the US - Mt. Clare Station

1831 - First national nominating convention for President of the United States

1836 - First regular steam vessel to cross the Atlantic from the U.S - "City of Kingston"

ferryFirst car ferry

1836 - First Car Ferry used in the U.S. was built in Baltimore for the Susquehanna River

1837 - 17 May 1837, the first issue of the Baltimore Sun is printed - The first article in the Baltimore Sun that references our police is titled Rioting and as we would exspect it is a negative report, that even when police explain the article was incorrect,the paper still runs the story. *3
1839 - First commercial canning of corn

1840 - First Dental College in the world- Baltimore College of Dental Surgery

1840 - First steam boating company in the U.S. - Baltimore Steam Packet Co.

1844 - First public supported high schools for girls - Eastern High School and Western High School

1844 - The First Telegraph line in the world was established between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. sent from the Capitol building in D.C. to the Railroad Depot in Baltimore was a message that read, "What hath God wrought."
- First Ice Cream Freezer - patented by W. G. Young

1849 - First teachers college for women - Baltimore Female College (Goucher College)

1849 - Edgar Allen Poe dies in Baltimore 7 Oct 1849 - He is buried at Westminster Hall and Burial Grounds
1850 -
Snowballs—grandfather to slushie, snow cones, and shaved ice — were invented in here in Baltimore during the American Industrial Revolution. - Story goes, in the days of Ice-Boxes, and home ice delivery, when the ice truck delivered ice to houses, on those hot summer days the kids would run up to the ice truck, and the drivers would give them the ice chips from the blocks of ice. After a while mothers would start making flavors to turn this icy treat into even more of a treat for their kids. The most common flavor was "Egg Custard" made from eggs, sugar and vanilla.
- First Radial Heater for the home - at Mansion Alexandrinsky 

1854 - First Jewish Community Center I the U.S. - (YMHA) Young Men's Hebrew Association

1856 - First Elevator to be operated by electrical power - invented by James Bates

1859 - First YMCA - Pratt and Schroeder Streets

1859 - First American horse drawn street car line was done so in Fell's Point

baltimore-riot001First battle  the First death of the Civil War

1861 - Baltimore saw the First battle, and the First death of the Civil War in 1861, when residents with Southern sympathies engaged Union troops - HERE
- The First black-owned shipyard in the United States is now an African American heritage site, the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum
- First black labor union - Colored Businessmen's Association, organized by Isacc Meyers

1869 - First candy factory to produce licorice - J.S. Young Company

Photo19944Edgar Allan Poe

1875 - The First monument to Edgar Allan Poe

1878 - First animal welfare association - American Humane Society

1879 - First synthetic sweetening agent - Saccharine, developed at Johns Hopkins University

1883 - First public financed vocational school in the U.S. - Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

1884 - First typesetting machine in the world - invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler

1885 - First commercial electric street car line - Baltimore to Hampden

lossless-page1-300px-Enoch Pratt Logo tifEnoch Pratt Free Library

1886 - First public Library System with branches - Enoch Pratt Free Library

1890 - First steam tanker built in America The Maverick by W.T.Malster


1891 - First commercial stomach antacid seltzer - Bromo-Seltzer, made by Captain Isaac E. Emerson

1892 - First bottle caps with crown cork in the U.S.- Crown Cork and Seal

Untitled-3First Ouija Board

1892 - First Ouija Board - invented and patented by Isaac and William Fuld

1895 - First Catholic college for women - Notre Dame College

1895 - First electronic railway locomotive in the world - put in service by the B&O

1896 - First Multi-store shopping center building in the country - Roland Park Marketplace

1897 - First country day school in the U.S. - Gilman School

1897 - First practical submarine in the US - "Argonaut," invented by Simon Lake

1900 - First time Duck Pin Bowling introduced - at Diamond Bowling Alleys

1901 - First woman professor at a U.S. medical School - Dr. Florence Rena Sabin

1904 - First city magazine- Baltimore Magazine

1911 - First international women's volunteer organization - Hadassah, founded by Henrietta Szold


1915 - 7 April 1915 - Legendary American Jazz Singer and Songwriter “Eleanora Fagan” some called her "Lady Day", but she was better known as “Billie Holiday” and she was born in Baltimore. *4
1916 - First portable electric drill with pistol grip - Black & Decker
- First municipal orchestra supported by public funds - Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Untitled-4Visible Pump

1917 - First gas station with pumps enabling a driver to see the amount of gasoline being pumped (Visible Pump) *5

1920 - First factory to manufacture stainless steel - Rustless Iron & Steel Company

1921 - First National Guard Air Squadron started - Logan Field

1921 - First black musical on Broadway - written by Baltimorean Eubie Blake, Shuffle Along

1922 - First nationwide presidential radio broadcast - by President Warren G. Harding

1925 - First triple combination fireboat in service - operated by Baltimore City Fire Dept

1932 - First producer of venetian blinds in the United States - Eastern Venetian Blind Company

1936 - First black newspaper chain- Afro-American Newspaper

aanpAfro-American Newspaper1946 - First photograph of earth from space - produced at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory

1948 - First Strat-o-vision television telecast

1959 - First Mobile microwave television tower

1964 - First Permanent Building in the U.S to have a revolving restaurant - Holiday Inn, Downtown

1966 - First baseball player to be named MVP in both leagues - Frank Robinson

1967 - First African-American to serve on the US Supreme Court - Baltimorean Thurgood Marshall

1975 - First native born U.S. Citizen to be canonized as a saint - Elizabeth Seton (born 1809)

1983 - First African American wax museum - The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum

1995 - First American city to win championship in the Canadian Football League - Baltimore Stallions

*1 -
Mary Pickersgill (born Mary Young; February 12, 1776 – October 4, 1857), was the maker of the Star Spangled Banner Flag hoisted over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. The daughter of another noted flag maker, Rebecca Young, Pickersgill learned her craft from her mother, and, in 1813, was commissioned by Major George Armistead to make a flag for Baltimore's Fort McHenry that was so large that the British would have no difficulty seeing it from a great distance. The flag was installed in August 1813, and, a year later, during the Battle of Baltimore, Francis Scott Key could see the flag while negotiating a prisoner exchange aboard a British vessel, and was inspired to pen the words that became the United States National Anthem.


Pickersgill, widowed at the age of 29, became successful enough in her flag making business, that, in 1820, she was able to buy the house that she had been renting in Baltimore, and later became active in addressing social issues, such as housing and employment for disadvantaged women. From 1828 to 1851, she was president of the Impartial Female Humane Society which had been founded in 1802 and incorporated in 1811 that helped impoverished families with school vouchers for children and employment for women. Under Pickersgill's leadership, this organization built a home for aged women in 1850-51 on West Lexington Street at Franklin Square, and later added an Aged Mens' Home which was built adjacent. These, more than a century later, evolved into the Pickersgill Retirement Community of Towson, Maryland which opened in 1959. Pickersgill died in 1857 and was buried in the Loudon Park Cemetery off Frederick Road and Wilkens Avenue in southwest Baltimore, where her daughter erected a monument for her, and where some civic-minded organizations later erected a bronze plaque. The house where Pickersgill lived for 50 years, at the northwest corner of Albemarle and East Pratt (formerly ueen) Streets in the Jonestown/Old Town neighborhood of eastern downtown Baltimore, along the eastern banks of the Jones Falls later became known as the Star Spangled Banner Flag House in 1927, through the efforts of many historically and preservationist-minded citizens which came out of the Centennial Celebrations during 1914. - Back

- The glorification of George Washington began long before his death in December 1799, and the dedication of a memorial in his honor seemed certain. A monument honoring Washington in Baltimore was first proposed in 1809, and a committee was formed to commission and fund said monument. In 1811, Baltimore held the first of six lotteries, authorized by the Maryland General Assembly, eventually raising enough funds to construct a Washington Monument in Baltimore. Robert Mills's design was chosen in an architectural competition in 1815, and the cornerstone laid on July 4 of that year, As a side note Robert Mills also designed the more famous Washington Monument in the District of Columbia but it was not completed until 1885. A brief hisgory on that is as follows Construction of the monument began in 1848, was halted from 1854 to 1877, and finally completed in 1884. The hiatus in construction happened because of co-option by the "Know Nothing party", a "lack of funds", and the intervention of the "American Civil War". Two of which make interesting reading, the, Know Nothing Party, and of course the American Civil War. A difference in shading of the marble, is visible approximately 150 feet or 27% up, shows where construction was halted. During the stop and start of construction, Rober Mills' design was modified significantly. - Back

*3 - Baltimore Sun article June 8 1837 - Rioting – The peaceable and orderly part of our citizens will have to set their faces against all public celebrations, Upon almost every occasion where a crowd is drawn together, we are sure to be treated with a fight or riot. On Monday, whilst the military of the city were ranged in a line in front of our office, our attention was aroused by a loud outcry, and a moment afterwards a man in citizen’s dress was seen rushing through the ranks with a pistol in his hand, threatening everyone in his way. No police appeared, and the duty of arresting him devolved we believe upon a musician of one of the companies who is also a police officer. In another part of the crowd we understood there was another fracas and Bowie knives and pistols gleamed amongst the course of the same day, a person was knocked down and very seriously injured in Monument Street and was obligated to take refuge in the store of a respectable gentleman who probably saved his life by arming his household and threatening to shoot any man who should dare to cross his threshold.

The truth is our police department is totally useless. Rioters laugh at it. The citizens have no confidence in it. There are some good lieutenants of the watch – and perhaps, one or two bailiffs who are willing to do their duty – but as for the rest; they are rather of the mob than against them. The City would be just as well without them. Our Mayor would do his duty, always, but hi great age prevents him from personal interference and supervision, and his subordinate officers have an interest in concealing from him the irregularities which they are unable or unwilling to suppress or prevent. – Chronicle 

It is almost impossible to arrive at any correct information on this subject. Since the above was in type, we have been called upon by two lieutenants of the watch, who state that they were present at the commencement of the disgraceful scene, and immediately arrested the ringleaders and took them before a magistrate. On the other hand, we are told by persons who were present that the violators of the laws were not arrested until the fight was quite nearly over. Such are the contradictory statements of the case, that we are unable to decide which is correct. One thing is very certain that there is not one fourth part officers enough belonging to the police keep down the present riotous disposition. Something should be done, and that quickly, before any lives are sacrificed. A pretty state of things is this, for a magistrate after hearing the charge against a set of lawless rioters, instead of committing them, to send home under the protection of a posse of police officers. 

The Article that inspired this article was as follows:

A Disgrace Riot Jun 1837

A Distasteful riot –we are informed that a most brutal fight took place yesterday afternoon, on the corner of Gay and Baltimore Streets between some persons who called themselves firemen.  We hope for the credit of this body of our citizens the report is not true.  The fight lasted some time, and a pistol was snapped within a few inches of the head of one of the belligerent party, which misfired, when the wretch having it, turned the weapon, and struck his antagonistic to the ground, who was taking up as dead; whether he was brought to again we did not learn.  No police, as a matter of course, interfered to quell the riot. - Back

*4 - Billie Holiday, the jazz singer, was born in Baltimore. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. A monument in her honor stands on the corner of Lafayette and Pennsylvania Avenues. - Back

 *5 - Black & Decker - Baltimore, Maryland - It is not known if this company ever made a gas pump, but they were issued a design patent for a curb pump in 1917. and then there's The Monarch Engineering & Manufacturing Company - Baltimore, Maryland - Between 1917 and 1918, Monarch made a gas pump, but no pictures are available. - Back





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