Neither southern nor northern, Baltimore has charted its own course through the American experience. The spires of the nation’s first cathedral rose into its sky, and the first blood of the Civil War fell on its streets. Here, enslaved Frederick Douglass toiled before fleeing to freedom and Billie Holiday learned to sing. Baltimore’s clippers plied the seven seas, while its pioneering railroads opened the prairie West. The city that birthed “The Star-Spangled Banner” also gave us Babe Ruth and the bottle cap. This guide navigates nearly three hundred years of colorful history—from Johns Hopkins’s earnest philanthropy to the raucous camp of John Waters and from modest row houses to the marbled mansions of the Gilded Age. Let local authors Brennen Jensen and Tom Chalkley introduce you to Mencken’s “ancient and solid” city.