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Old meets new at an intersection in Baltimore

Nicknamed 'Charm City' because of its hospitality, Baltimore is every bit as proud as it is welcoming. Pride sparkles in the bold designs of the skyscrapers and museums that surround the Inner Harbour, and in the spit-and-polished neighborhoods such as Fells Point. You can sense pride in the elaborate descriptions of entrees on the menus in Little Italy and in the beckoning voices of vendors in the city's five markets.

Baltimore played a significant part in the American Revolution and since then has endured a cycle of rebounding and suffering anew. In recent times, it's become one of the shining lights in the urban renewal movement, although the neighbourhoods with dirt under their nails remain.

After becoming the second-largest city in the US post-Revolution, Baltimore was crippled by military rule and the violence born of divided loyalties during the Civil War. Blooming again during the railroad-rich last decades of the 19th century, the city was devastated by a fire in 1904, bounced back undaunted, but was then plunged deep into the doldrums by the Great Depression. Baltimore didn't really recover from economic stagnation (and the resulting social problems) until concerted urban renewal programs of the 1980s gave the city back its zing.

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