Design Makes a Difference: Shipbuilding in Baltimore, 1795-1835


Baltimore and ships go together like a mortise and tenon. The time period after the Revolutionary War and before the Civil War established the city of Baltimore as a premier shipbuilder. The efficiency of these great ships affected not only the economy of Maryland, but that of the entire country. It seemed the fate of our nation rested in the hands of a few master carpenters and their crews. Perhaps it was only the skill and seafaring instinct of these humble men that grew America into the world power it is today. This aspect of America’s birth and economic explosion is little explored but worthy of serious pontification.

This is likely the most detailed analysis you will find about the peak of Baltimore’s shipbuilding industry and the process of urban expansion. Two maps, circa 1799 and 1828, show the wharves of Fells Point and how much growth took place in the thirty-year period between. Tables, charts and several ship illustrations summarize key information from the text. The three large appendices include statistics on commercial vessels built in Baltimore and shipbuilder production, and facsimiles of original carpenter’s certificates. An index to full-names, places and subjects completes this work.

Toni Ahrens

(1998), 2011, 5½x8½, paper, index, 232 pp.

ISBN: 9780788410017