Parts Of Baltimore Designated As National Heritage Area

August 24, 2009|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,

Baltimore has long been known as a historic city, but this year it's getting an extra layer of historic designation that's expected to open doors in terms of assistance and attention from the federal government.

Mayor Sheila Dixon and other public officials are scheduled to gather in Fells Point at 10:30 a.m. today to celebrate the creation of the Baltimore National Heritage Area, one of nine such districts designated in 2009 by Congress and President Barack Obama.

A National Heritage Area is a place where the natural, cultural, historic and scenic resources are considered "uniquely representative" of the American experience. Counting the latest additions, the United States has 49 heritage areas in 32 states.

The designation does not translate to immediate funding assistance, but it is expected to help the city in terms of promotion, tourism and economic development. As part of the ceremony, city officials will be unveiling signs that will be installed around the city to mark the heritage area.

"On behalf of the citizens of ... Baltimore, we are honored to be designated a National Heritage Area," Dixon said last week. "Our abundant historic treasures are essential to our quality of life and economy. This designation will support our local economy by bringing in federal dollars to strengthen and protect our cultural and historic jewels that tell our story to the world."

According to Jeffrey Buchheit, director of heritage programs in the mayor's office, about half of Baltimore is covered by the National Heritage Area designation. The heart of the heritage area is focused around the Inner Harbor, he said, and branches off to include sections of the city with the highest density of historic, cultural and natural attractions for visitors and residents.

"We're one of the only urban heritage areas" in the program, Buchheit said. "We're one of the smallest in size, but perhaps the densest in attractions."

According to the Department of the Interior, which administers the program, heritage areas are eligible to receive limited technical and financial assistance from the National Park Service for initiatives such as heritage conservation and "interpreting the landscape" for future generations. Other areas with National Heritage Area designation include Wheeling, W.Va., the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the entire state of Tennessee. More information about the program and its benefits is available at

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