Forty years ago, state and city leaders had the vision, resourcefulness, and the tenacity to transform Baltimore’s Inner Harbor from a struggling industrial port area into a world-renowned destination for tourists and city residents. Today, the Inner Harbor continues to be one of America’s greatest urban waterfront destinations.
At the same time, little has changed at the Inner Harbor since the National Aquarium, Harborplace, and the Science Center first opened. Due in part to its popularity, hosting over fourteen million visitors on an annual basis, significant signs of wear are evident throughout the Inner Harbor. Electrical systems suffer most from rising sea levels resulting in corrosion, the Promenade’s distinctive brickwork is deteriorating and in need of brick replacement, the bulkheads and pilings are in need of repair work, and the area around the Ampitheatre is subject to frequent flooding and does not meet current ADA requirements.
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
Inner Harbor 2.0 presents a visionary master plan aimed at increasing the quality of the open spaces, and building off the strengths of the National Aquarium and the Maryland Science Center. The plan proposes new free amenities and attractions strategically located to extend the destination experience for both visitors and locals throughout the Inner Harbor district.
Rash Field, located on the south side of the harbor, emerged as a priority area as it’s the last undeveloped open space in the Inner Harbor. Originally designed as a football field for a local high school, the area remains underutilized with the exception of some recreational activities. Changing demographics—including a 56.4% increase in 25-34 year-olds between 2000 and 2010 and an increase in the number of families staying and raising their children around the Inner Harbor—drive the need and the structure for the changes to Rash Field. This area will become a multi-use open space that can accommodate both smaller, daily programming and large events.
Waterfront Partnership and the Greater Baltimore Committee worked closely with city government to develop an updated master plan—Inner Harbor 2.0—to guide the evolution of the Inner Harbor to best meet the needs of today and tomorrow. In November of 2013, the plan was released by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Inner Harbor 2.0 is the result of city leaders recognizing the Inner Harbor’s economic impact on the city while also understanding its aging infrastructure and changing demographics.