Elk Mills, Maryland
December 3, 2000
I originally took my Maryland sign picture back in October 1999. By the time I got to the border, though, it was quite after sunset. The picture came out completely black, except for the sign which was covered in reflective sheeting. I couldn't very well have a picture of me in front of the Maryland welcome sign without me actually visible in it, so I pulled over on I-95 on my Dallas trip, and here I am.
This one of the more graphic welcome signs I've seen. A photograph of one of Maryland's traditional harbor scenes occupies almost half of the sign. On the right side, across the top "welcome" is written trilingually (is that even a word?) in English, French, and Spanish.
Maryland's state flag is my favorite. It reminds me of European flags from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Marylanders are fond of it as well, as it appears everywhere. I think the only place I've been to that is more proud of its state flag would be Texas. Maryland's state flag contains the crests of two families, the Calverts (black and gold) and the Crosslands (red and white). The city of Baltimore is named for the second Lord Baltimore, Cecil Calvert, who settled Maryland for the English in 1634.
Newer signs than this one feature both the Maryland state flag as well as the state flower, the Black-Eyed Susan. That is also the official flower of the Preakness Stakes (as the Kentucky Derby is the "Run for the Roses"). Although lately, when the Preakness is run the black-eyed susans aren't in bloom yet, so they actually use daisies that are painted black.
January 7, 2001
October 17, 1999
I know I have made fun of Delaware and Vermont for having capital towns instead of capital cities. And from what I could tell, Annapolis was a big town (at least the parts I saw, albeit rather hurriedly). But Annapolis is really quaint, and I never even drove by the Naval Academy.
Annapolis is home to the oldest statehouse in continuous use in the country, built in 1779. The Maryland State House was the U.S. Capitol in 1783 and 1784; during that time it was where George Washington resigned his commission and the site of the ratification of the Treaty of Paris on January 14, 1784. "From here," says the National Historic Landmark plaque, "the Annapolis Convention issued the call to the states that led to the Constitutional Convention."
What it lacks in stately grandeur of a modern capitol with a massive dome (like Pennsylvania or Minnesota), it makes up in charm and then some, especially if you love colonial style as much as I do. It's very interesting how the capitol grounds are laid out. There is a circular road around the statehouse, barely wide enough for cars to park on either side and one car to drive through. The circle is on a hill, it is high behind the capitol (from this angle, I'm pretty sure this is the front, I believe we are facing southeast) and slopes downward. In the middle of the circle is another hill atop which the capitol is perched. Along the outside of the circle are shops and restaurants. The sidewalks are bricks laid in a herringbone pattern, and streetlights that look like gaslamps illuminate the loop. There is a bulkhead about three feet high along the inside, and a few sets of stairs that go up to "capitol hill." There are brick walking paths that meander around the capitol grounds.
The Maryland State House itself is a two-story brick structure. The rotunda is a little difficult to make out since this picture was taken just before dusk. It is eight-faced, with gray shingles and off-white outer walls. On each side is a window on the lower tier, which is five panes across and six panes high, plus a semicircle with panes every 30 degrees. Towards the second tier it narrows slightly with gray shingles delimiting the two tiers. The second tier is the lowest area of the rotunda visible in this picture. It is much shorter than the lower tier, and features a small oval window with decorative panes. Above that the dome curves inward and rises to the sky.
The area around the Maryland State House is one of those places where you can have your eyes ignore the cars on the street and the credit card signs in the store windows, and imagine that you're walking around the colonies in the late 18th Century. I think that if I could chose any period in history in which to live it would be the late colonial era. It's one of those areas that has allowed the 1770's atmosphere to survive; another is Charlestown, Massachusetts, where I might like to live one day.
Annapolis is east of Washington on US-50 and south of Baltimore on I-97. After getting off US-50 you drive south for about two miles, and as you pull into town the capitol is off to the left.