The home of the original Star-Spangled Banner manuscript is honoring the 200th anniversary of the U.S. National Anthem with numerous special events running from the middle of June through to September. Explore the awe-inspiring sites that mark the birth of a nation and see re-enactments, performances and hands-on activities along the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail.
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
creativecommons.org/Official US Navy Page
September, 1814 – For 25 hours the British hurled approximately 1,800 shells at the fort, one of the greatest artillery assaults on a U.S. fort in history. When the shelling finally stopped, through the smoke and haze, defenders defiantly raised a garrison flag.
The visitor centre tells the story of the War of 1812 and the dramatic moment that Francis Scott Key forever captured in The Star-Spangled Banner. Board a sight-seeing cruise to travel out to the buoy marking the spot where Key, detained aboard a flag-of-truce ship, awoke in the dawn’s early light to see the flag, proudly waving, forever a symbol of the American spirit.
Through a partnership between Fort McHenry and Visit Baltimore, the "Fort! Flag! Fire!" event allows visitors to tour the fort, be part of the hoisting of a giant, 30 x 42 foot flag o’er the ramparts and hear the cannon fired, sounding much as it did 200 years ago. Wednesday through Sunday, the fort will be filled with living history participants dressed as soldiers, sailors and civilians from the same time period. Fife and drum concerts will accompany the event along with cooking demonstrations and activities just for kids.
The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House
The garrison wanted to fly an enormous flag that would be visible to all the British ships sitting far from the fort’s guns. Mary Pickersgill along with her daughter, two nieces and two African American servants stitched the flag which measured 9.1 metres by 12.8 metres and has 15 stars and 15 stripes. Each stripe on the flag is two feet wide, and each star is two feet in diameter. Today the Pickersgill house is a museum showcasing Mary’s story and the monumental part she played in history.
Maryland Historical Society
The original version of Francis Scott Key’s poem is on display here. Titled The Defence of Fort M’Henry, the words were later set to music written by John Stafford Smith. Although the tune was originally a popular British song, it quickly became accepted as an American patriotic piece. In 1931, President Herbert Hoover declared The Star-Spangled Banner to be the national anthem of the United States.
In addition to events at historic centres, the area's attractions, museums, restaurants and hotels have created programs and events to contribute to the summer-long celebration of historic events that were key to America’s fight for freedom.
Reginald F Lewis Museum Of Maryland African American History & Culture
The famous flag that flew over fort McHenry was worked on by two African American servants in Mary Pickersgill’s home. The summer’s exhibit “For Whom it Stands” highlights the contributions of one of those young women, Grace Wisher. Little is known about her, but her part in history is immortalized in song and in the flag now displayed in Washington D.C.
Maryland Science Centercreativecommons.org/-ted
Here you can learn about the causes of the War of 1812 and follow the story of Major George Armistead, commander of Fort McHenry. It was Major Armistead that demanded the creation of what was then the largest battle flag ever flown. An IMAX film produced with actors and computer graphics recreates the battle of Fort McHenry, bringing to life the miserable night and glorious morning of that event just as Francis Scott Key saw it.
American Visionary Art Museum
The sidewalks that surround AVAM will be transformed into a visual representation of the national anthem using environmentally safe pigments and sealant. The art began in April and the installation has been open to viewing since then. The art will remain until September to encourage visitors to “stand and take part” in history.
Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum
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In celebration of the battle of Fort McHenry, the museum presents “O Say Can You See: The Star-Spangled Banner in Sports.” The film projects images onto multiple surfaces, creating a fascinating and high-tech viewing experience.
Fort McHenry Boat Tour
Follow the route that Francis Scott Key took on that historic day and learn how the citizens of Baltimore protected their city from the British on this unique boat tour that runs through the middle of September.
National Anthem Tour By Sea
This cruise takes you through the Inner Harbor, mixing present and past as a narrative recounts the story of the War of 1812. Spend an hour seeing a side of Baltimore that most visitors miss.
Pride of Baltimore II
The replica of an 1812-era schooner, Pride II is a working symbol of the rich maritime heritage of the country. During the summer, Pride II will offer deck tours, lectures, student education programs, experiential day sailings and overnight guest crew passages.
The Star-Spangled Spectacular
This is the festival that concludes the summer’s events. The Tall Ships and Navy Vessels arrive in the Inner Harbor on September 10th to kick things off and will be open for tours the next day. For the next six days enjoy air shows, ship tours and a full day of events on September 14th – the 200th ‘birthday’ of the American National Anthem. The birthday celebration begins with a dawn’s early flag raising followed by festivals, tours and a concert at Old St Paul’s Church. Stay up late for the fireworks, and don’t leave Baltimore before watching the Parade of Tall Ships Departure on Tuesday morning.