Where history abounds and awe is inspired, Federal Hill Park stands today—a signature Baltimore landmark. Situated just south of the main downtown and only a short walk from the Inner Harbor, Federal Hill Park offers visitors one of the best views in the city.
In 1608, while on a voyage exploring the Chesapeake Bay, the English colonial settler Capt. John Smith saw the site and remarked on its “great red bank of clay.” In pre-Revolutionary times, the site was used as an agora-like site of public gatherings. In 1788, 4,000 local citizens celebrated Maryland's ratification of the U.S. Constitution by building “The Federalist” ship and adopting the name, Federal Hill.
In the 19th century, Baltimore merchants built a tower to watch for ships from Europe and Asia—an important feature of Baltimore's mercantile heritage. Serving as a defensive stronghold during the War of 1812 and the Civil War, Federal Hill provided a panoramic view of Baltimore that lent itself well as a military outpost. Federal Hill was established as a public park in 1880.
Today, Federal Hill Park captures one of the most iconic views of the Inner Harbor. The “great red bank of clay” is now a big green hillside, graced by picnickers and star-gazers. Monuments commemorating the Battle of Baltimore in 1814 enhance the Park—one is dedicated to U.S. senator and Maj. General Samuel Smith; another, to Lt. Colonel George Armistead, who was commander of Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812.
Cannons that once manned at Fort Federal Hill during the Civil War are featured, as well, embellishing the serene promenade that spectacularly overlooks the downtown cityscape. Bikers, hikers and parents behind strollers are common in the park.
The history and prominence of Federal Hill, combined with its proximity to downtown, make it a truly amazing park setting. The neighborhood group South Harbor Renaissance was formed to help the City of Baltimore improve Federal Hill Park through leadership and fundraising.
Its members inspired the new Flag Staff Plaza, dedicated by Gov. O'Malley on June 14, 2012 (Flag Day) and the replacement of the existing playground with miniature “historic icons” that reflect Baltimore's and Maryland's unique history—including “The Federalist” ship, the Signal Hill Tower, a Baltimore and Ohio Railroad engine and roundhouse, and Fort Federal Hill.
Other features such as the basketball court (recently renovated by Baltimore-based Under Armour sportswear), Rash Field with a variety of events and activities, including beach volleyball, and a gated kids playground area are just a sampling of what makes Federal Hill Park a worthwhile city destination for recreation as well as leisure.
• Park bench seating and picnicking
• Basketball court
• Tremendous views
• Flag Staff Plaza
• Restaurants and pubs
In Proximity to. . .
• Inner Harbor
• Rash Field
• Cross Street Market
• Gateway Park
• Maryland Science Center
• American Visionary Art Museum
• City Park Rules
• Park Use Permits
Other Useful Links
• Federal Hill Online
• Historic Federal Hill
• South Harbor Renaissance