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Fort McHenry National Monument
Based on 1312 traveler reviews
A must see when in Baltimore
Apr 25, 2015 by: ParkTraveler from Lancaster, MA
While this National Park does charge admission ($7 per adult), unlike most other National Parks, it was well worth it. The site is extremely well preserved and presents an opportunity to learn about the historical significance of the site.
a must see
Apr 24, 2015 by: donna t from Rochester, New York
very interesting history and a wonderful view of the harbor. This is something that we must remember as part of our history and Fort McHenry is a must see and experience for visitors to the area.
Battle of Baltimore
Apr 24, 2015 by: Yarramalong from Berlin, Germany
This was fought between two different enemies, the defenders on land, the attack launched from sea. Not really my usual suspect for a battle. In the visitor center, you would see a short video telling the story of Sept. 14, the night when a British fleet attacked the fort while other British troops attacked Baltimore from land. One of the birthplaces of the American Nation. The fort itself does not look like the European counterparts. Inside the fort, it looks like a holiday camp while the guns outside look really old fashioned. Some of them look like those that smashed the walls of Constantinople around 600 years ago. but they are much smaller. Altogether an amazing display.
Outstanding visitor center
Apr 23, 2015 by: Martha B from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
While it's interesting to walk through the Fort itself, the visitor center is the star attraction. Its displays provide an interesting and understandable discussion of the War of 1812 and the writing of the Star Spangled Banner. The volunteers staffing the center were excellent.
Battle of Baltimore, War of 1812, the Flag and the National Anthem
Apr 23, 2015 by: Debbie K from Adrian, Michigan
It is worth taking the time to visit this museum/landmark. I am quite interested in US history and I have studied the post-revolution era through the Jackson administration rather extensively. Even at that, I can say there were many details I learned on this visit that I did not know previously. Visiting a site always makes the history associated with it come alive. However, when the information is presented in such a manner as to make the details more vivid, it is a particularly good experience. I was in the Baltimore area on business and had an afternoon free. I had been meaning to get to Fort McHenry for literally 20 years since I had first started traveling to Baltimore on a relatively frequent basis. I had never been able to make the time but when I found out that 4 hours had freed up from my schedule, there was no doubt in my mind what I wanted to do with it. As it turned out, I am glad I invested the effort. The site was not too difficult to find with a GPS. It was not far from I-95. I went through the Locust Point neighborhood in getting to the Fort. This, in itself, was an enjoyable journey through a revitalized neighborhood that invites one to take their imagination back to a bygone era. The row houses were what one thinks of being prototypical of Baltimore. Take your time going through to look around because the vintage homes are unlike what you will see in other parts of the US. Upon arrival, I discovered the Fort to have a reasonably decent amount of parking in front of the Visitor Center. The site is run by the National Park Service which generally does a great job with its facilities. I was disappointed to find that there was no special Ranger-guided presentation that day as such events usually add greatly to my experience at NPS-administered sites. Inside the Visitor Center, I paid my fee at the front desk. I was actually surprised there was an admission fee as that is not necessarily the case at all NPS attractions. But I did not mind paying the admission of $7 and it turned out to be well worth it. The Visitor Center was worth some time and attention. A film depicting the Battle of Baltimore was shown on a regular schedule. The film seemed to be shown every 30 minutes and only took perhaps 15 or 20 minutes to watch on the large wall screen. The film was well done and focused on the battle and particularly Francis Scott Key's perspective as he was detained by the British in the harbor watching from afar. He watched anxiously as the flag was raised in the morning following the battle to find out it was the US flag. This inspired the National Anthem as we know it today. It was an emotional story to experience and the film did a great job bringing it to life. The exhibits in the Visitor Center did a great job detailing the historical events leading to the War of 1812 as well as the early battles including the burning of Washington. The significance of the Battle of Baltimore was brought out very well as the US victory there clearly kept the British from securing major gains that would have led to far more US concessions when the truce was negotiated. The displays also did a terrific job in recounting the strategy of both sides and the events that eventually took place over the short period of the battle. Of course, the drama was heightened as it was recounted that the huge American flag was raised in the morning to indicate that the Americans still controlled the Fort, and therefore the city. The story of the flag was also paramount. The commander of the Fort, Major George Armistead, commissioned a large flag to be made by Mary Pickersgill, a local flag maker. Armistead wanted the oversized flag to send a message to the British attackers. The flag was pulled during the shelling but was raised through the morning mist to reinforce the message to the British that their attack was unsuccessful. The symbolic nature of the banner as well as the unusual size, comprise the elements of the lore that is passed down to school children concerning the anthem and this period of history in general. In walking from the Visitor Center to the Fort, the views over the harbor were impressive. It was worth taking the time to appreciate the scenery. The green space in the park was also enjoyable. The gunnery and fortifications on the perimeter of the Fort were sights to see. Many of the cannon were not War of 1812 era but were rather Civil War and turn-of-the-century hardware. The fort continued to be used until the 20th Century though there never was an active battle fought again. The displays did a good job of covering the less dramaic history of the Fort after 1814. The Fort itself was nicely preserved and architecturally interesting. Of course, the salient feature as one approached was the huge 15-star/15-stripe flag that flew over the entrance. Several of the barracks contained worthwhile displays. The one that caught my attention was the story of the Commander, George Armistead. He was credited with competent leadership in preserving possession of the Fort. His later life was tragic, however, as he died just three years after the battle. The stress of the battle was cited as a major cause in the rapid deterioration of his health. Overall, this is a must-see sight for your Baltimore itinerary. History will come alive and you will learn quite a lot with a visit. The themes of the Battle of Baltimore, the War of 1812, the Flag and the National Anthem are the thematic foci of the site interpretation. The Visitor Center is worth some time and the Fort is architecturally as well as historically interesting. The views of the Harbor and the green space are also enjoyable aspects. It is definitely worth taking the kids. But even if younger ones aren't part of your party, it is unquestionably worthy of your time. I would recommend it without hesitation.
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