The area where Pigtown is now located was originally part of the Mount Clare plantation, a 2,368-acre estate owned by Dr. Charles Carroll in the 18th century. Carroll built one of Maryland’s first iron foundries on the property, which operated the largest pig iron furnace in the colonies prior to the American Revolution. Dr. Carroll was a cousin of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, who signed the Declaration of Independence.
In 1827, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was founded in Baltimore. Ground was broken on the Mount Clare property in 1828, with the first stone laid by Charles Carroll of Carrollton, at the age of 90. Initially providing service between Baltimore and Ellicott Mills (now Ellicott City, Maryland), the railroad began operating along West Pratt Street on May 22, 1830. The horsedrawn cars of the early B&O Railroad were the nation’s first regular passenger rail.
Construction of the first houses to the north and south of the railroad yards began in 1833. A community of railroad workers grew along Columbia Avenue (now Washington Boulevard) in the 1840s, followed by industrial development in the 1850s and 1860s. Slaughter houses located near the railroad yards earned the area its name as Pigtown as workers herded pigs for slaughter and processing to shops and packing plants across the streets from the rail cars.
Although official records have identified the neighborhood as Washington Village at various points since the 1970s, it has been consistently labeled as Pigtown since 2006 at the insistence of community groups such as Southwest Community Council, Inc.