It is no secret that Baltimore possesses the grave of legendary poet Edgar Allan Poe; however it is less well known that Baltimore was home and inspiration to such notable writers as Frederick Douglass, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Francis Scott Key, H.L. Mencken, Ogden Nash, Emily Post, Gertrude Stein and John Waters. Get a taste of Baltimore’s literary side at these locations.
Annabel Lee Tavern
601 S. Clinton St.
Baltimore, Md. 21224
Baltimore was the home and is the final resting place of celebrated Gothic writer Edgar Allan Poe. Poe penned his very last poem, “Annabel Lee,” in Baltimore shortly before his tragic death in 1849. This little corner bar, Annabel Lee Tavern, was established in 2007 as an homage to Poe and his poetry. The food is affordably priced with daily specials, beer and a wine list. The atmosphere is moody and gothic while still remaining comfortable, with lots of Poe memorabilia for the poetry fan to enjoy. While primarily a bar, it serves a generous variety of food, and offers table seating by candlelight, as well as seating at the bar. This is the perfect spot for a relaxing evening at the bar or a romantic tryst for literature lovers.
2400 E. Fort Ave.
Baltimore, Md. 21230
During the Battle of Baltimore in September 1814, a distressed American lawyer and author named Francis Scott Key watched helplessly from a British war ship as Fort McHenry in Baltimore was subjected to a brutal naval attack. As he watched the American flag that hovered over the fort to see if the British flag would replace it, signifying the capture of the fort, he penned the most famous poem in American history: “The Star-Spangled Banner.” This inspiring piece of poetry was eventually set to the ironically British tune, “The Anacreontic Song.” Every year on July 4th, Fort McHenry still hosts a reenactment of the Battle of Baltimore along with a stunning fireworks display. As a National Monument, Fort McHenry is also open year-round for educational tours.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s House
1307 Park Ave.
Baltimore, Md. 21217
A famous descendant of Francis Scott Key was author F. Scott Fitzgerald. Considered the Great American Novelist of the early 20th century, Fitzgerald penned such defining works as “This Side of Paradise” and “The Great Gatsby.” While Fitzgerald moved around for much of his life, living in places as exotic as Paris, France and Hollywood, his wife’s onset of schizophrenia forced him to move to Baltimore, Md. where she was being hospitalized at Sheppard Pratt. Fitzgerald lived in an apartment on Park Avenue in Baltimore which remains a private home to this day (and which was recently on the market). While in Baltimore, Fitzgerald wrote his semi-autobiographical work, “Tender Is the Night.” Fitzgerald also set several of his short stories in Baltimore, including “Benediction” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” recently adapted to film. While Fitzgerald’s home is not open to the public, there is a nearby plaque commemorating his time in Baltimore which may be seen in the upcoming Baltimore Literary Heritage Driving Tour, along with readings from his works.
Related: Best Literary Landmarks In Baltimore
The Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower
21 S. Eutaw St.
Baltimore, Md. 21201
The Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower has been a landmark of Baltimore since it was erected in 1911, essentially as an advertisement for a headache remedy. For decades, a giant rotating bottle of Bromo Seltzer was a feature of the clock tower, but has since been removed as a hazard. The castle-turret-like clock, however, still features the letters B-R-O-M-O-S-E-L-T-Z-E-R rather than the traditional numbers on a clock face. For several years now, the 13th floor of the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower has been home to the Benevolent Armchair reading series hosted by writer Barbara DeCesare. The reading series features a variety of local writers and artists, and sometimes an open mic night where aspiring poets and writers are encouraged to show up and read their works for the crowds. This location and ongoing event has been an inspiration to such local writers as Cheryl Quimba, Mike Young, Marie Abate, Barrett Warner and many others. Follow The Benevolent Armchair on its Facebook page to track upcoming events and readings.
The Inner Harbor
E. Pratt St.
Baltimore, Md. 21202
The Inner Harbor consists of a tiny section where the Chesapeake Bay kisses downtown Baltimore at the intersection of E. Pratt Street and Light Street. Home to a broad variety of attractions, including the Maryland Science Center and the Baltimore Aquarium, as well as a number of upscale restaurants, the Inner Harbor was not always so attractive. In his 1953 novel, ”City of Anger,” author William Manchester describes the harbor this way:
“The city faced the bay. In the days of sailing vessels all the people had lived in a horseshoe of homes circling the downtown basin, and everyone could see the water, and the land behind was wild. Now the skyline blocked out the bay, and those who could had moved inland and built in the green corridor of the Valley. But the horseshoe remained, a vast arc of decaying houses running from sea to sea, walling the skyline in and the suburbs out.”
While Manchester’s description of the Inner Harbor area is less than attractive, the Harbor has improved in appearance and amenities since the 1950s, while still paying homage to its sailing vessel days. Take a tour of restored sailing vessels or enjoy the “Urban Pirates” sailing activity for children.
Joel Furches is a freelance writer and researcher for The Examiner and Logos Software, and also manages his own catalog of writing on Hub Pages. Joel is on the board of directors for Ratio Christi. He has a bachelors in Psychology and a Masters in Education.