Where history abounds and awe is inspired, Federal Hill Park stands today as a signature Baltimore landmark. Situated just south of downtown and 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 for public gatherings. In 1788, about 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.
The City purchased Federal Hill in 1880 and dedicated it as a public park. Ninety years later, the “Federal Hill District” was accepted for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. The “District” includes Federal Hill Park and the immediate neighborhood south to West Street, west to Hanover Street, north to Hughes Street and east to Covington Street.
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.
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 unique history of Baltimore and Maryland—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 company Under Armour sportswear), and a gated kids playground area are just a sampling of what makes Federal Hill Park a worthwhile city destination for both recreation and leisure activities.
- Park bench seating and picnicking
- Basketball court
- Tremendous views
- Flag Staff Plaza
- Restaurants and pubs
- Accessible by Charm City Circulator
- Accessible by MTA Bus