50 States - 03/50 - Maryland


Maryland has a very odd shape on the map. It almost looks like Virgina is cutting it in half across the top left, with a big bite taken out of it where the Potomac goes out to sea. Along the East Coast you get all the smaller, historic states and Maryland is right in there with them. One fact that is different in Maryland from most other Northern Stats is that is has a decent flag! Yep! Not content with being lazy and just sticking their seal on a blue background (I mean really!) Maryland has that distinctive yellow checked pattern and house insignia going for it. It's pretty unique!

My experience of Maryland revolves around two places; Baltimore and Silver Spring, though I hope to visit Annapolis in the near future (the home of sailing so they'd have you believe!). I've mentioned Silver Spring before when I mentioned Catylator. So I figure it's probably best to start there.

Silver Spring is at the top of the Red Line here on the DC Metro. It's reasonably easy to get to and is just over the DC / Maryland line. I haven't seen much of it but it strikes me as a classic American-new-town; big pavements, wide roads, tall glass buildings and somewhat sterile. I suspect the area I was in was mostly an office one but it has the major advantage of hosting the nearest Indian cash and carry! Yup! Top tip for anyone who loves their curry - Silver Spring is where you go for all your naans, pickles and parathias!


Baltimore is a different kind of place. When we got off the train, I was struck at how it felt like a northern town in the UK. The look of the buildings, the compactness of the city centre, the terraced style houses. It reminded me quite a lot of Liverpool, especially the area around the harbour. That feeling of a post industrial city that has seen a lot of urban renewal. Think the Albert Dock and you've pretty much got it. It even has that most rare of things in the United States - a cobbled street!


Baltimore is quite historic. It celebrates the War of 1812 on it's licence plates. There is a large monument to George Washington and they are very proud of repulsing the British after they attacked. Apparently, Baltimore was high on the list of targets because it's corsairs were so effective against the British Navy. We stumbled across an old lighthouse that has been transplanted onto the harbour, along with an old submarine. Like many harbour/industrial towns, Baltimore has had more than it's fair share of crime. It's murder rate is still particularly high, though I couldn't quite put my finger on why.

Mr Trashwheel

I was quite excited to see Mr Trashwheel. I'm a bit of a sucker for silly, green engineering projects! This wheel helps dredge up all the floating plastic in the harbour. For some reason, someone decided to retroactively fit googly eyes to it. I say googly, they don't move but they still look cool! I guess we all find it nicer to deal with things that have a face right?


Get out of the harbour area and you do get to see scenes that wouldn't look out of place in towns like Preston. Because of the industrial heritage I assume, Baltimore has terraced town houses that evoke the feeling of a northern town in the UK. It still has an American flavour to it, but you get the impression that stuff happened here that probably involved steel, machine parts, and smog. It's had a lot of money put into it though. Baltimore has a lot of lovely art galleries, museums and the like. It's become quite the place to go for events and what not it seems. As the nearest large town to DC, it's easy to get here on the train.


I'm not sure how representative Baltimore is of Maryland. I get the impression, looking out of the window on the train, that it's not so dissimilar from the Northwest of the UK. I joke often about how DC is like Southport but the greenery, the colours, the closeness of the sea and the last remaining industrial buildings pointing to a lost past really do remind me of that stretch of Lancashire and Merseyside.

fire escapes

Maryland has a large biology sector, especially with the National Institute of Health just across the way in Bethesda. Many smaller firms are in and about the area and it seems to me like the place has managed to translate from an industrial to high-tech economy reasonably well, though I'm sure there will be some people who see it differently. As always, it's really hard to say anything too general about a state you've only just seen the surface of, but with it's proximity to DC, I suspect I'll be visiting again.