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The Passano Files

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Baltimore, a History Block By Block: Q&A with James Singewald

When he is not busy shooting rare, historic objects for the Maryland Historical Society, James Singewald keeps himself occupied with a more personal form of historic preservation. For the past six years he’s been capturing the deteriorating urban landscape of Baltimore City, one block at a time. This week, we highlight Singewald’s work, which recently [...]

A Short History of Hoes Heights

Ever wonder about Hoes Heights? The hidden and oft-overlooked north Baltimore neighborhood of Hoes Heights bears the name of Grandison Hoe, a freed slave in Antebellum Baltimore who once owned and operated a farm on the location. Nestled between its more renowned neighbors—Hampden to the south and Roland Park to the north— this neighborhood remained [...]

Conduit: Druid Lake and the Wall of Mud (1863 – 1871)

In 1863 the Baltimore City Council approved a $300,000 loan to construct a billion gallon capacity reservoir in the newly established Druid Hill Park. Though the new city waterworks project from Lake Roland to the Mount Royal Reservoir on the Jones Falls had just been completed, it had become apparent that the city’s water problems were far [...]

Then and Now: Pratt Street – A View From the Power Plant

Today’s “Then and Now” photograph was taken from the roof of the Pratt Street Power Plant, ca. 1905. The three-story buildings shown here on the 500 block of East Pratt were built to replace a row of four-story buildings, most likely involved in maritime supply or wholesale commodity trades, that were destroyed by the Baltimore [...]

From Slabtown to Hampden

As I was inventorying some of our maps a couple months ago, I was very excited to stumble across a crumbly, crusty, and torn map of Hampden from 1857. Though we have an absolutely staggering amount of material in our collection, we do not have a lot from the community that almost half of our [...]

The Passano Files*

The most valuable resource for studying the buildings of Baltimore is not Google Maps—in fact, it isn’t online at all. It is an index card collection of historic structures known as the Passano File that lives in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society. Edited and overseen by Francis O’Neill, a reference [...]