What is Maryland known for?
Maryland is known for its rich history, the Chesapeake Bay, the Baltimore Ravens, the Baltimore Orioles, and local dishes such as steamed crabs. Also worthy of note are its major cities such as Annapolis, Ocean City, and Baltimore.
Let’s face it, we’ve all overlooked Maryland before. However, we’ve been missing out on a fascinating state. It may be on the east coast, but it’s at the center of our nation in many ways.
In the following article, we’ll take a look at how Maryland has shaped our nation’s history and what makes Maryland famous in our own time.
- 27 Things Maryland is Known For
- 1. The Colonial Era
- 2. The American Revolution
- 3. The Star Spangled Banner
- 4. Chesapeake Bay
- 5. Chesapeake Bay Bridge
- 6. Kent Island
- 7. Baltimore, Maryland
- 8. State Flower
- 9. State Tree
- 10. The Civil War
- 11. The Free State
- 12. Frederick Douglass
- 13. Harriet Tubman
- 14. Major League Baseball History
- 15. Babe Ruth
- 16. Pit Beef
- 17. Steamed Crabs
- 18. Ocean City, Maryland
- 19. Annapolis, Maryland
- 20. “America in Miniature”
- 21. Deep Creek Lake
- 22. The Appalachian Mountains
- 23. Hancock, Maryland
- 24. The Mason-Dixon Line
- 25. The Decoy Capital of the World
- 26. F. Scott Fitzgerald
- 27. Jim Henson
- FAQs About Famous Maryland Things
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27 Things Maryland is Known For
1. The Colonial Era
Maryland is known for being one of the 13 original colonies, and, as such, has a long, rich history. It was named for Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles I, King of England at the time of the territory’s establishment.
During the early years of its existence, Maryland served as a haven for England’s persecuted Roman Catholic minority. Maryland’s main production was tobacco, providing the majority of the crop imported to Britain’s Caribbean colonies.
2. The American Revolution
When the American Revolutionary War began, Maryland played its part in the struggle against British rule. While most of the famous and critical battles were fought in other states, Maryland contributed soldiers, supplies, and ships to the war effort. The city of Annapolis served as headquarters for the Continental Congress when Philadelphia fell under threat.
No less a man than George Washington praised the valor of Maryland soldiers, referring to them as the “Old Line.” It was from this commendation that Maryland’s nickname “The Old Line State” originated.
3. The Star Spangled Banner
Maryland played a minor role in the Revolutionary war, but its most long-lasting contribution to the country came during the War of 1812. That war saw the writing of the national anthem. Francis Scott Key began writing “The Star Spangled Banner” while aboard an American ship as British ships fired upon American soldiers in Fort McHenry.
The British bombardment of Fort McHenry served as the focal point of the immortal first verse–“the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air.”
Francis Scott Key finished the poem the following night in a Baltimore hotel, the Indian Queen Hotel. From that point on, it continued to grow in popularity, but only in 1931 would it be officially recognized as the national anthem.
4. Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Bay has much more to it than famous battles and compositions. The more sheltered waters of the bay made it ideal for fishing, with a strong maritime culture thriving since colonial days. To this day, fishing and shipping are important parts of the state’s economy.
5. Chesapeake Bay Bridge
One of the most distinctive landmarks in the Chesapeake Bay area is the bridge that spans the bay. The dual-span bridge (two bridges located next to each other) connects the urban western shore with the rural eastern shore.
The bridge enabled faster transportation between the two shores, whether commuting or leisure travel. For those on the bustling western side, the bridge made the many beach resorts of the eastern shore more accessible. The bridge also made out-of-state destinations, such as the beaches of Delaware easier to reach.
6. Kent Island
Another Chesapeake Bay attraction is its largest island. Connected to the mainland by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, this island has a rich history. Kent Fort, Maryland is known for being the third oldest continually inhabited English settlement in the nation, second only to Jamestown, Virginia, and Plymouth, Massachusetts.
7. Baltimore, Maryland
The most populous city in the state of Maryland bears the name of Lord Baltimore, a British nobleman who was the first colonial ruler of the area. Baltimore harbor served as a significant port during colonial times, being sheltered by the eastern shore of Maryland from the harsher weather of the Atlantic Coast.
American poet Edgar Allen Poe hailed from Baltimore and his home is now preserved as a museum. Fort McHenry, famous for the events surrounding the creation of the national anthem also now functions as a museum. The National Aquarium is another notable attraction, housing a diverse array of marine life. Baltimore is also home to the prestigious Johns Hopkins University and Loyola University.
Nowadays, Baltimore, Maryland is known for its professional sports teams. Football fans follow the Baltimore Ravens and baseball aficionados know it as the home of the Baltimore Orioles.
8. State Flower
In 1918, the Maryland state government adopted the Black-Eyed Susan as their official state flower. The flower’s distinctive name comes from the black center, surrounded by vibrant yellow petals. They chose this flower because black and were featured on the state flag. The flag itself derived inspiration from the family coat-of-arms of Lord Baltimore, the founder of Maryland.
9. State Tree
The official tree of the state of Maryland is the white oak. These trees grow throughout the state and are admired for their sturdiness and natural beauty. Interestingly enough, Maryland shares this official tree with the state of Connecticut.
A prime example of the state tree stands was found in Wye Oak State Park. Here stood a tree known as the Wye Oak, the largest white oak in the United States. This massive tree stood at a lofty 91’ high, with a trunk circumference of 31’ 10”. Unfortunately, a powerful windstorm toppled this majestic oak in 2002.
10. The Civil War
While it had not played a major role in the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812, Maryland would play a significant role in the American Civil War. With the Union capital, Washington D.C. located “within” Maryland, the state held major tactical significance. Although a slave state, Maryland sided with the Union, with only a fraction of the population leaving to join the Confederacy.
The war’s first fatalities occurred in the riots in Baltimore in April of 1861 and major battles would be fought on Maryland soil.
The Confederates launched their first major invasion of the Union near Sharpsburg at the Battle of Antietam in 1862. Later, in 1864, the Battle of Monocacy, although technically a Confederate victory, slowed their advance enough to lose them the opportunity to take the Union Capital.
11. The Free State
With Maryland entering the Civil War as a slave state, one might wonder where the nickname “The Free State” comes from. While the war raged on, Maryland abolished slavery within its borders, officially ending slavery on November 1, 1864. So, even though it was not the first free state, the name stuck due to the pride Marylanders felt at their state’s decision to end slavery.
12. Frederick Douglass
One of America’s most famous abolitionists, Frederick Douglass escaped slavery in Maryland. Upon reaching the North, he became an outspoken advocate for the ending of slavery and equal rights for African-Americans.
His campaigns brought him into contact with radical abolitionist John Brown, known for his guerilla warfare in Kansas. Douglass declined to join Brown on the ill-fated raid on Harpers Ferry, preferring more peaceful means to bring about his desired ends.
13. Harriet Tubman
Another famous person from Maryland is Harriet Tubman. She was born and raised in slavery on Maryland’s eastern shore, but escaped to freedom after marrying a free African-American man, John Tubman.
She then used her newfound freedom to become a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, helping dozens of slaves escape to freedom.
14. Major League Baseball History
Maryland has a long history with America’s favorite pastime. One fascinating chapter of this history is how New York City’s premier team, the New York Yankees, traces its origins to Baltimore, Maryland. Today’s Baltimore Orioles are actually the second franchise to bear that name. The original team, back in the early 1900s, wound up transferring to New York after a series of difficulties.
Havre de Grace, a small town in eastern Maryland, has also contributed to baseball history. It was the birthplace of legendary player Cal Ripken Jr. and his brother Bill Ripken.
15. Babe Ruth
Havre de Grace gave baseball to the Ripken brothers, but Baltimore, Maryland was the birthplace of America’s first baseball legend–Babe Ruth. Nicknamed “The Sultan of Swat” for his legendary skill at the plate, Babe Ruth is considered to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Although famous for his career in New York City, he was born in Baltimore, Maryland.
16. Pit Beef
Every state has its own delicious food, and Maryland is no exception. The specialty of the seventh state is pit beef. Pit beef is simple, but delicious. It is a top round cut of beef, cooked over a charcoal fire until the outside is crispy and the inside, at the most, medium rare. Then it is sliced thin and, according to Maryland custom, served on a Kaiser roll with sliced onion and a mix of mayo and horseradish sauce.
17. Steamed Crabs
Another delicacy Maryland is known for is the Chesapeake blue crab. These blue crabs are highly prized by crustacean connoisseurs for their delicate flavor. Seafood restaurants all along the Chesapeake Bay serve these steamed crabs with a side of butter or in dishes such as crab salad or a variety of soups. Chesapeake blue crabs also make for an excellent crab dip.
18. Ocean City, Maryland
One of the more unique cities in Maryland, without a doubt, is Ocean City. Situated on a narrow barrier island, this beach resort town is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on three sides.
Boardwalks, shops, and an amusement park make Ocean City a popular tourist destination. After a day of fun in the sun, a wide variety of restaurants offer cuisine from around the world, as well as local stand-bys like pit beef sandwiches and steamed blue crabs.
19. Annapolis, Maryland
This city on the Chesapeake Bay is the state capital of Maryland and also the sailing capital of the United States. Interestingly enough, it was also the nation’s capital when the Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Revolutionary War between America and Great Britain.
With a population of just over 40,000 Annapolis is quite cozy, yet maintains a lively atmosphere. Restaurants and pubs serve local delicacies, such as the ubiquitous blue crabs, and live music is not uncommon. Annapolis is also home to significant institutions of higher education such as the United States Naval Academy and St. John’s College.
20. “America in Miniature”
For a comparatively smaller state, Maryland’s geography is surprisingly diverse. Maryland has been dubbed “America in Miniature” or “Little America” because of this variety of landscapes. The one environment it lacks is desert, like that of the American Southwest states.
21. Deep Creek Lake
Western Maryland is quite a change of pace from the bustling atmosphere of central and eastern Maryland. One of the best places to experience this other side of Maryland (no pun intended) is Deep Creek Lake. The surrounding hills and forests create an environment quite different from the eastern regions.
There are many hiking trails through the tranquil forests adorning the hills around the lake. One can even go skiing in the wintertime at the nearby Wisp Resort. The urban bustle of central Maryland and the sometimes overcrowded seaside resort towns on the eastern seaboard will feel (and actually be) miles away from this hidden gem in Maryland’s hill country.
22. The Appalachian Mountains
Western Maryland is situated snugly in the hills and valleys of the Appalachian Mountain Range. As with most mountain ranges, the Appalachians incorporated smaller ranges into themselves. In Maryland, it is the Allegheny Mountains that constitute Maryland’s portion of the Appalachians.
23. Hancock, Maryland
Although you may never have heard of this tiny town in western Maryland, it will not be hard to find it on a map. The town sits on the narrowest point in Maryland, where a thin strip of land (less than 2 miles wide!) is sandwiched between Pennsylvania to the north and West Virginia to the south.
How did Maryland get such a strange shape, with such a narrow corridor of land in the west? This came about due to a few factors. The rugged valleys of the Appalachians shaped the curving arc of the southern borders. The northern border was determined by the work of two English surveyors, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon.
24. The Mason-Dixon Line
Probably the most famous “old line” from the Old Line State is the state’s northern border. Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon were called in to help resolve a border dispute between several colonies.
From 1763 to 1767, they traveled about the area and the results of their labors gave us the line bearing their name. Later on, the United States government used it as a dividing line between free states and slave states, and to this day, it unofficially serves as a border between “The North” and “The South.”
25. The Decoy Capital of the World
The small town of Havre de Grace in eastern Maryland makes this big claim. The Havre de Grace Decoy Museum houses an extensive collection of these carved animals, celebrating the hunting heritage of the Chesapeake Bay area. Exhibitions chronicle the evolution of the decoy from a rather utilitarian piece of wood to painstakingly detailed productions that seem too fine to risk scuffing with shots or bullets.
26. F. Scott Fitzgerald
American author F. Scott Fitzgerald, best known for his novel The Great Gatsby may have been born in Minnesota, but his family had connections to Maryland. His father was born and raised on a farm in Rockland in Maryland’s Montgomery County.
Fitzgerald’s full name was Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald. He was distantly related to the writer of the national anthem, and Fitzgerald’s father felt it would be a fitting tribute to give his son that name. Today, the remains of Fitzgerald and his wife are interred in a cemetery in Rockland.
27. Jim Henson
Another famous non-native Marylander is Jim Henson. The creator of the Muppets was born in Mississippi, but grew up in Hyattsville, a suburb of D.C. He attend the University of Maryland and, together with his wife Jane Nebel, created a simple puppet show for a local TV station.
After graduating, they continued their puppeteering work, airing for brief appearances on TV shows or commercials. In 1969, his fame took off with the rising popularity of the new show Sesame Street.
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FAQs About Famous Maryland Things
Is Washington D.C. in Maryland?
Washington D.C. is its own autonomous unit. In 1790, the federal government decreed that the District of Columbia would be the national capital and not “belong” to any state. This was done so that the capital would remain a neutral ground for the states to meet and discuss their affairs.
Does Maryland hold any interesting or unusual world records?
Maryland is home to the longest set of single-span escalators in the Western Hemisphere. A pair of 230’ long escalators are found at the Wheaton Metro Station of the Washington Metro System.
Now you don’t have to wonder “what is Maryland known for” anymore.
Whether it was our nation’s first struggle for independence or the struggle against slavery, Maryland has made significant contributions. Not only that, there’s a ton to do and see here, so it would certainly be a good idea to use your free time to go visit the Free State!