Today (July 2, 2020) marks the 40th Anniversary of the opening of Harborplace. Along with the opening of the National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center, and public promenade lining the water, Harborplace forever changed the trajectory of our city which was experiencing severe decline, with businesses and residents leaving the city.
The dramatic replacement of vacant warehouses lining the Harbor with a sparkling new brick lined promenade and new cultural attractions resulted in hundreds millions of dollars of investment in the city and tens of thousands of jobs for Baltimoreans in a new hospitality and tourism industry. At Harborplace, 90% of the workers hired at the time of opening were city residents, and 81% of those hired were unemployed before working there.
Sadly, due to multiple ownership changes and absentee ownership since 2003 Harborplace has declined and is largely vacant today.
The dramatic turnaround in 1980 was a result of a bold vision, a partnership and a strong commitment by government and business leaders to reversing the decline of Baltimore. Essential was our government and business leaders’ belief in Baltimore, in the future prosperity of the city and its people. We can do this again. We can breathe new life into Harborplace; bring thousands of construction and permanent jobs to the Harbor. Already Rash Field is being transformed into a new public park for Baltimore, a new Constellation Visitor Center is underway, and the National Aquarium and Science Center are reopening and welcoming visitors back.
Let’s be bold. Let’s think big. Let’s join together for the future of the Harbor and for the future of Baltimore, as a people and as a place.
Watch the opening video from July 2, 1980 below (courtesy of The Rouse Company)