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Baltimore in the 1880s

By 1880 manufacturing replaced trade and made the city a nationally important industrial center. The port continued to ship increasing amounts of grain, flour, tobacco, and raw cotton to Europe. The new industries of men’s clothing, canning, tin and sheet-iron ware products, foundry and machine shop products, cars, and tobacco manufacture had the largest labor force and largest product value.

The construction of new housing was a major factor in Baltimore’s economy. Vill (1986) examines the activities of major builders between 1869 and 1896, especially as they gained access to building land and capital. Most, but not all, of the major builders were craftsmen who were entrepreneurs compared with others in the building trades, but were still small businessmen who built small numbers of houses during long careers. They worked with landowners, and both groups manipulated the city’s leasehold system to their own advantage. Builders obtained credit from a diverse array of sources, including sellers of land, building societies, and land companies. The most important source was individual lenders, who lent money in small amounts either on their own account or through lawyers and trustees overseeing funds held in trust. In spite of their important role in shaping the city, the contractors were small businessmen who rarely achieved citywide visibility.

Until the 1890s, Baltimore remained a patchwork of nationalities with white natives, German and Irish immigrants, and black Baltimoreans scattered throughout the ‘social quilt’ in heterogeneous neighborhoods.

1880s prostitute

Oyster Schooner Captain Shoots and Kills Prostitute Wife in Brothel

How can you not look at this title and want to know what’s up with this story? Below is a fascinating story that we dug up in The Baltimore Sun from September 28th, 1885. Short after 6...
Marburg & Bros. warehouse

Elevator Drops Five Stories; Two Seriously Injured

Here’s a crazy story we dug up in The Baltimore Sun, printed on March 24th, 1887. The elevator in the tobacco factory of Marburg & Bros., on South Charles street, fell yesterday morning from the fifth floor...

Woodrow Wilson and the 1883 Johns Hopkins Glee Club

What a cool photo! This shows Woodrow Wilson with his buddies on the Johns Hopkins Glee Club in 1883. Source: Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library Flickr
First Methodist Episcopal Church (Lovely Lane United Methodist Church) Collection: A. D. White Architectural Photographs, Cornell University Library

First Methodist Episcopal Church in 1887

Here’s a beautiful old photograph from 1887 of the First Methodist Episcopal Church. Today, it’s called Lovely Lane United Methodist Church. Source: Cornell University Flickr
The City of Baltimore / sketched and drawn by C.R. Parsons. (1880)

1880 Bird’s-Eye View of the Baltimore

How cool is this print? This bird’s-eye view of the city was done in 1880. Source: Library of Congress
Lexington Market

Great Photo of Lexington Market in the Late 1800s

The date on this photo is somewhere in the latter half of the 19th century. Maybe somewhere in the 1870s? What do you think? Source: Library of Congress
1881 map of Baltimore

1882 map of Baltimore With New Wards

Check out this cool map we dug up in the Johns Hopkins archives. It’s an 1882 map of the city outlining the new wards and precincts. Source: Johns Hopkins
oyster fleet in Baltimore Harbor

Can You Identify Where These Oyster Boats Are Docked?

Here’s our first challenge to you guys, and hopefully you won’t find it too difficult. That looks like city hall’s dome in the background. Any idea where this is? The photo was taken in 1885. Source:...