Overall History of Maryland

September 16th, 2011 11:23 pm

George Calvert set Maryland up as a refuge for persecuted English Catholics in 1634 when he purchased St Mary’s City from the local Piscataway, whom he initially tried to co-exist with. Puritan refugees drove both Piscataway and Catholics from control and shifted power to Annapolis; their harassment of Catholics produced the Tolerance Act, a flawed but progressive law that allowed freedom of any (Christian) worship in Maryland – a North American first.

That commitment to diversity has always characterized this state, despite a mixed record on slavery. Although her loyalties were split during the Civil War, a Confederate invasion was halted here in 1862 at Antietam. Following the war Maryland harnessed its black, white and immigrant workforce, splitting the economy between Baltimore’s industry and shipping, and later Washington, DC’s need for services. Today the answer to ‘What makes a Marylander?’ is ‘All of the above:’ the state mixes rich, poor, the foreign-born, urban sophisticates and rural villages like few others.

Maryland Growth since World War II

September 16th, 2011 11:21 pm

Since World War II, public-works legislation, particularly that concerning roads and other traffic arteries, has brought major changes. The opening of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in 1952 spurred significant industrial expansion on the Eastern Shore; a parallel bridge was opened in 1973. The Patapsco River tunnel under Baltimore harbor was completed in 1957, and the Francis Scott Key Bridge (1977), crosses the Patapsco. Other construction projects have included the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, formerly called Friendship International Airport (1950), south of Baltimore, and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (1954). The state gained a different kind of attention in 1968 when its governor, Spiro T. Agnew was elected vice president.

Maryland experienced tremendous suburban growth in the 1980s, especially in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area. This growth occurred in spite of a decline in government jobs, as service sector employment rose dramatically. Suburban Baltimore grew as well although the city proper lost 6.4% of its population during the 1980s. Baltimore undertook major revitalization projects in the 1980s and the early 1990s, including the construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the new home of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team.

Maryland has become increasingly popular as a vacation area—Ocean City is a popular seashore resort, and both sides of Chesapeake Bay are lined with beaches and small fishing towns. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge has brought the culture of the Eastern Shore, formerly quite distinctive, into a more homogeneous unity with that of the rest of the state; the area, however, is still noted for its unique rural beauty and architecture, strongly reminiscent of the English countryside left behind by early settlers.