Visualizing Early Baltimore

Since 2012 UMBC’s Imaging Research Center (IRC) has worked to build a vivid recreation of how Baltimore would have looked between 1815 and 1820. This effort has resulted in the projects shown below, and the work continues.


BEARINGS of Baltimore, Circa 1815

BEARINGS of Baltimore, Circa 1815 installation at the Maryland Historical Society

BEARINGS of Baltimore, Circa 1815 is an interactive 2.5 billion pixel image that visualizes Baltimore City in 1815 - right after the attack by the British. UMBC’s Imaging Research Center, in collaboration with the Maryland Historical Society and its network of historical scholars, has created an interactive touch-screen display at the Historical Society that allows viewers to tour the early city and understand its history. This tour is also available online here. This project was funded with generous support from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation and from the Maryland Division of Tourism 1812 Bicentennial Commission.

For more information regarding the BEARINGS of Baltimore, Circa 1815 project see here.

NOTE: This online tour works best in Google Chrome.

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Slave Streets Free Streets

Visualizing the Landscape of Early Baltimore

Colored building indicate sites associated with various themes in Slaves Streets Free Streets

Slave Streets, Free Streets: Visualizing the Landscape of Early Baltimore builds on the BEARINGS of Baltimore by using the landscape map as a story-telling medium. We bring Early Republic Baltimore to life by focusing on the city in which approximately 4,300 enslaved and 10,300 free African Americans lived and worked. Questions of slavery and freedom were enmeshed in the landscape of Baltimore. This project investigates four interconnected themes: the lives of free blacks, the lives of enslaved workers, the sites and workings of the slave trade, and stories of fugitive slaves, who ran both to and from Baltimore. Drawing on records such as city directories, tax records, census reports, newspapers, and other historical documents, we are re-discovering people, including free and enslaved residents, at locations around the city, and tying them by name to specific addresses.

For more about Slave Streets, Free Streets see here


The Founding of the Baltimore Gas Electric Company

The Peale Museum and surroundings lit by gas lamp in 1816.

In 2016 the IRC created two illustrations of Baltimore for a book commemorating the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Baltimore Gas Electric Company. The first image depicted the entire city and the surrounding countryside as it appeared in 1816 when BGE was first established. The second image, seen here, illustrated the effect that the first gas lamps had on the city when they were installed by Rembrandt Peale in the neighborhood surrounding the Peale Museum and the Holliday Street Theater.