Your Complete Guide to Inner Harbor Baltimore Restaurants, Hotels & Events.
Inner Harbor is the crown jewel of Baltimore, Maryland with our restaurants, hotels and THE historic seaport vacation destination that attracts millions each year.
Whatever brings you to Inner Harbor Baltimore, there is something for everyone. From hotels and restaurants, live music on the pier to a haunting ghost tour on Fells Point, you will not be disappointed at the array of activities offered.
Some of the more frequented attractions include The National Aquarium, Port Discovery, The Gallery, Little Italy, Maryland Science Center, USS Constellation and Harborplace. There truly is something for everyone!
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra begins partnership with University of Maryland in ‘new era for the arts’
Stephanie Shonekan vividly remembers the moment she unwittingly violated an unspoken social norm of the art form she loved.It was 1996, and Shonekan, who grew up in Nigeria, had just attended her first classical music concert at Indiana University, where she was a graduate student.Advertisement“The first piece was so amazing that I stood up and started clapping,” Shonekan told an audience last month at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, where she is dean of the College of Arts & Humanities.But it didn’t take long for Shonekan to realize that she was the only patron on her feet, or to become mortified by icy glares from other audience members. It wasn’t until later that she learned that it’s considered a faux pas in the U.S. and Europe to applaud between the movements of classical pieces (which function like chapters in a book) instead of waiting for the entire symphony to end.Advertisement“People were appalled,” Shonekan said, and then repeated it for emphasis: “They were appalled.“I think we in classical music need to figure out how to close the distance a little between the audience and the stage. There are a lot of kids outside the Clarice who would come in, but they don’t know how to receive the music.”Shonekan made those comments as part of an experimental program featuring the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and music director Jonathon Heyward that was all about building bridges.It was a program that combined music with a conversation about that music. It melded together a masterpiece of the Western canon – Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 4 in B flat major” — with a tribute created in 2020 by a South Korean composer. Unsuk Chin’s “subito con forza” takes its name from Beethoven’s musical instruction to play the next passage “immediately, with force.”And the program celebrated the beginning of a new partnership between two powerhouse state institutions: the University of Maryland and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.Jonathon Heyward, music director of BSO, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Stephanie Shonekan, dean of the College of Arts & Humanities speak during BSO's performance. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun)The BSO performed the debut concert when the new center opened in 2001. But in the past two decades, the orchestra has returned only rarely, though the concert halls are located just 30 miles apart.“This is a landmark moment,” the university’s president, Darryll Pines, told the crowd. “It marks the beginning of a new era for the arts at the University of Maryland.”The BSO’s long absence and Shonekan’s anecdote go a long way toward explaining why arts groups nationwide occasionally battle to prove their relevance to today’s world.AdvertisementAs audiences for U.S. cultural groups have steadily declined since their peak at the turn of the 21st century, theaters, museums and symphonies have been scrambling to undo the mistakes of the past.For too long, experts say, cornerstone cultural institutions clung to their elitist origins, holding themselves aloof from the rapidly changing world and the public that inhabits it.The music director and the dean are trying to change that.“For me, music equals a sense of unity,” Heyward said. “I think of any place we play — these buildings, these performance spaces — as community centers.“The beauty of classical music, particularly when you’re talking about symphony orchestras, is that you are forced to think and to be collaborators. Together, we are stronger than each of us is apart.”Shonekan was born with a deep love for music, so she persevered. Now, she is an ethnomusicologist, equally at home in musical genres as varied as classical music, hip-hop, country and soul.AdvertisementBut not everyone is as tolerant of hidebound cultural attitudes as she has been.“In the musicology field we’ve been talking for the past five to seven years about what to do with the canon,” she said.“Young people would like us to blow it up. I don’t agree. I’ve been thinking we should be expanding the canon, because there are geniuses in other parts of the world who weren’t born in Vienna.”As if to emphasize Shonekan’s point, the evening began with the musical mash-up. Chin wrote her five-minute “subito” in honor of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. The piece contains not only quotations from Beethoven’s Symphony Nos. 4 and 5, but also explores the Romantic composer’s trademark shifts in volume and mood.By pairing Chin’s piece with the beginning of Beethoven’s fourth symphony Heyward was attempting to draw a line not only between the 19th century German composer and the 21st century South Korean, but also to the 18th century Austrian composer Joseph Haydn, with whom the young Beethoven studied.“It was not a match made in heaven,” Heyward said. “Haydn and Beethoven didn’t hit it off very well.Advertisement“But I still think Beethoven took quite a number of interesting tidbits from Haydn. The humor, the sense of lightness, the jokes in the 4th Symphony — it all reminds me of late Haydn.”That dialogue across the centuries fascinates Heyward, who thinks it’s important for audiences to realize that the conversation is continuing today and will likely extend into the future. Every new iteration deepens and enriches everything that came before it.Weekend WatchWeeklyPlan your weekend with our picks for the best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV shows and more. Delivered every Thursday.“There’s a through line,” Heyward said. “There is an influence. You can connect the dots.”Equally important, he said, is providing a platform for contemporary voices and modern musical ideas. As he put it: “I never want people to attend a program I’ve put together and say, ‘Oh, we have to get through that new music before we get to the good piece.’“I want them to listen to the new music and think, ‘Oh, that made sense. I see why he chose that. It enhances the canon.”As the music director of a big-city orchestra, Heyward feels responsible — not just to the musicians and audiences, but also to a society full of people who may never step inside the Clarice or any other traditional concert hall.Advertisement“It all comes back to the idea that we can all be from different backgrounds, religions, races, creeds, and have this one unified experience,” Heyward said.“As a music leader, one has the power to create a unified presence within a community through a symphony orchestra.“Now, more than ever, we need to find common ground.”
The Baltimore Planning Commission began the process Thursday of reviewing sweeping land use changes for the Inner Harbor that would allow a mixed-use development, including two tall towers of housing, to replace the aging Harborplace pavilions.The staff of the Baltimore City Planning Department recommended the commission adopt — with some changes — the zoning and other revisions that would pave the way for MCB Real Estate’s project during the commission’s first public hearing on the proposal.AdvertisementDepartment staff called for the city to put into place a new overlay zone, similar to those used in other city waterfront neighborhoods, that would govern features such as building height and uses along the Inner Harbor promenade.“No recently enacted plans for the harbor contemplated residential or mixed-use of the Inner Harbor,” said Caitlin Audette, a design planner in the department. “However, recent history has shown the need to diversify the harbor’s economy and add population density that could support the area’s commercial tenants.”AdvertisementThe Planning Commission put off a vote on the high-profile project, which has drawn scrutiny for its proposed density and design, until more people could testify at a hearing likely to be held Dec. 21.The commission will be making a recommendation to the City Council on a set of companion bills that would allow the residential development and other new uses, remove height restrictions and expand both private and public space along the Inner Harbor arc from the Baltimore Visitor Center to the World Trade Center. The bills include rezoning requests, amendments to the city’s urban renewal plan governing the Inner Harbor, and an amendment to the City Charter.The charter amendment, which would require voter approval on a ballot next year, would expand the area of the city’s ground lease with the developer to 4.5 acres from the current 3.2 acres.Baltimore-based MCB has proposed demolishing the 43-year-old waterfront shopping and dining pavilions that for decades have symbolized the Inner Harbor attraction and replacing them with four taller, mixed-use buildings, including a conjoined tower with around 900 apartments, one smaller structure in a large new park, a two-tier promenade and realigned roadways.The developer said the proposal involves about $500 million of private investment and would need an estimated $400 million in public funds — about $300 million for parks and public spaces and $100 million for the roadwork.MCB began the city review process two weeks ago when it presented its master plan to the city’s Urban Design & Architecture Advisory Panel, a group of experts in urban design, architecture and landscape design. Panel members criticized the proposal, saying it lacked both an analysis of alternative options and a clear vision and design framework.MCB has said it produced its plan after months of community meetings, during which residents prioritized safety, waterfront access and inclusion of small- and minority-owned businesses as tenants.ExpandAutoplayImage 1 of 12The new 201 E Pratt St. will offer retail and commercial space. MCB Real Estate, which is redeveloping Harborplace, calls it the “The Sail." It will house a marketplace on the first two floors, and restaurant, venue, and commercial options on the upper levels. (Rendering courtesy of MCB Real E)The developer wants to build two 200,000-square-foot commercial buildings on Pratt Street plus two apartment towers — 32 stories and 25 stories — on Light Street that connect and also have shops.AdvertisementOne commercial building on Pratt Street, dubbed “The Sail,” would house food and beverage tenants and feature a tiered, amphitheater-like 50,000-square-foot, public rooftop park. The second would feature publicly available conference space on the ground floor.Audette told commissioners that replacing the current zoning with an overlay zone “to provide that nuance necessary for this unique area ... would be in keeping with what we’ve done in other waterfront areas, such as Canton, Fells Point, the Key Highway area and Middle Branch.”P. David Bramble, MCB’s managing partner and a Baltimore native, struck a deal to acquire the mostly vacant pavilions out of receivership in April 2022. The pavilions have lost tenants and fallen into disrepair over the last decade, with many blaming the previous, New York-based owner’s mismanagement.Bramble argues that only a densely populated project that mixes park space with commercial uses and housing is economically viable and will spark further growth downtown. He has said he hopes to start work as soon as possible, starting with seeking approvals.Bramble told commissioners Thursday that his firm does not have to take on the project, “but it’s a project that we want to do, because it’s important for the future of the city and a place I proudly call home.”He argued that the Inner Harbor Renewal Plan was established almost half a century ago and waterfront development has evolved.AdvertisementThe Evening SunDailyGet your evening news in your e-mail inbox. Get all the top news and sports from the baltimoresun.com.“The Harborplace that we all remember hasn’t been around for many years,” Bramble said.Though dozens of people crowded into a planning department hearing room, several opted to hold off testifying until the next hearing.Planning Commission Chairman Sean Davis said the commission had received 15 letters in opposition to the proposed project and one in support. Many of those opposed to it objected to design issues, said Davis, noting that the planning commission has “no control” over design.Those who did testify strongly opposed the project.David Tufaro, a Baltimore resident and developer in the city for 45 years, said he opposed the proposals on both procedural and substantive grounds.“In my view, it’s a disastrous proposal in both the way this proposal’s being crammed down the throats of the citizens of Baltimore in its total lack of respect for this sacred public space, which is the Inner Harbor,” Tufaro said.AdvertisementHe said MCB’s presentation at the end of October, surrounded by state and local officials, came “out of left field,” and was “an arrogant, orchestrated display of power intended to communicate to the public that this plan is going forward regardless of how the citizens of Baltimore feel.”Originally Published: Nov 30, 2023 at 7:07 pm
LOS ANGELES — Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson remained in concussion protocol Thursday, making it even more likely Joe Flacco will start Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.The 38-year-old Flacco signed as a free agent with Cleveland last week as an insurance policy in case Thompson-Robinson struggled or got injured. The fifth-round pick suffered a concussion in the third quarter of last week’s loss in Denver.AdvertisementFlacco didn’t dress for that game and is still on the Browns practice squad. But with Thompson-Robinson not yet cleared, Flacco appears to be in line to become the fourth QB to start in 12 games for Cleveland this season.Flacco took the majority of reps with Cleveland’s starting offense for the second straight day in practice at UCLA. Thompson-Robinson hasn’t been ruled out yet.AdvertisementOn Wednesday, coach Kevin Stefanski said Flacco had moved into the backup role ahead of P.J. Walker, who made two starts earlier this season when Deshaun Watson was dealing with a shoulder injury.Flacco at least gives the Browns (7-4) an experienced QB who has led a team to the playoffs and Super Bowl title. Last week, Flacco, who had been home in New Jersey waiting for a team to call, said he believes he can still play at a high level.After observing Flacco in practice, Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt is sure he can perform.Baltimore Ravens InsiderWeeklyWant the inside scoop on the Ravens? Become a Ravens Insider and you'll have access to news, notes and analysis from The Sun.“I think there’s still a lot left in that tank,” Van Pelt said.Flacco has passed for 42,320 yards in 15 NFL seasons, 11 with the Ravens, who drafted him in the first round out of Delaware in 2008. While he might not be the same quarterback who led the Ravens to the top, Van Pelt said Flacco can still sling the football around.“He has an elite arm. There’s no question,” Van Pelt said. “If you put it on a scale of one to five, I’d say he is a five. His ball flight, his velocity on the ball at every level of the field is very impressive.”Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett didn’t practice for the second day in a row because of a left shoulder injury. He worked on the side and is expected to play Sunday.Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is getting several different plans ready dependent on Garrett’s availability.Advertisement“We’ll be prepared if he’s not able to make it, we’ll be prepared if he’s able to go and play every single snap in the game,” Schwartz said. “We’ll be prepared if he just has a certain role in the game. He feels a tremendous amount of responsibility to be on the field. He’s wired that way.”Garrett has 13 sacks and is having perhaps his best season while leading Cleveland’s top-ranked defense.
Two of Baltimore’s most recognizable buildings and brands are its two pro stadiums, Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, and the teams that inhabit them.The Orioles and Ravens bring attention, pride and joy to Maryland — and Maryland gives a lot of taxpayer dollars back to the teams.AdvertisementThe state of Maryland built and financed both of the Baltimore stadiums and, last year, agreed to earmark at least $1.2 billion to improve the stadiums — $600 million for each. The principal and interest on the bonds sold to cover those costs ultimately would be paid off with lottery revenue.The Orioles, whose lease with the state expires Dec. 31, are currently negotiating a new lease with more state resources.AdvertisementAccording to a Baltimore Sun review of financial documents obtained in public records requests and interviews with experts, the MLB club has received or is on track to get at least $1.3 billion in public benefits since Oriole Park opened in 1988.That figure includes $450 million in construction and financing costs and $125 million to help maintain the stadium, plus the pending $600 million for ballpark renovations. An estimated $121 million in property taxes were not collected because Camden Yards is state-owned. It does not factor in capital expenditures at the ballpark, which the Maryland Stadium Authority declined to provide.The Ravens, who signed a lease earlier this year, also have received substantial public support. By signing a lease earlier this year, they unlocked their $600 million in state investment and will renovate their stadium over the next few years.The Orioles pay rent to the state each year, but among the reasons for Maryland’s ballooning investment in the team is that the ballclub’s rent does not cover the cost of maintaining and operating the stadium. As part of their current lease, the state pays for upkeep of the ballpark.In fact, the arrangement has favored the Orioles in every year from 1993 to 2002, leaving the state to pay $125 million more than what it’s received in rent, according to financial information provided by the stadium authority.An agreement outlined in a memorandum of understanding that the Orioles and stadium authority signed in September aims to “save the state money and reduce risk” by letting the Orioles take on those operating costs and, in return, stop paying rent, said David Turner, a senior adviser and communications director to Maryland Gov. Wes Moore.Over the past decade, the state has paid more than $6 million annually in upkeep, a cost they would no longer have to pay under the potential new arrangement.Still, the state would be on track to contribute to the Orioles with a new $3.3 million annual “safety and repair fund,” according to the memorandum.AdvertisementThe memorandum also proposes leasing the B&O Warehouse and other land near the ballpark to the Orioles for an average of $950,000 a year for 99 years in a redevelopment deal that economists have said is favorable to the club.Some economists believe that the overall benefit from public investment in sports teams rarely pays off.“The state of Maryland has almost certainly not received an adequate return on its investment in the Orioles in economic terms,” said Brad Humphreys, a West Virginia University economist. “That’s no different from any other professional sports team in the country, but we still continue to subsidize pro sports teams like this.”According to the stadium authority’s 2022 budget briefing to legislators, the state has received $600 million in taxes from spending related to the Orioles over the three decades of Oriole Park’s life. Those taxes were generated by roughly $9.2 billion in spending during that time.Economists, however, argue that the economic impact of pro teams is misleading. In particular, they explain that if fans did not attend games, they’d likely spend some of their dollars on other entertainment that would generate tax revenue and economic impact.Seven economic impact reports by Crossroads Consulting Services, commissioned by the stadium authority and obtained by The Sun through a records request, show that between the 2014 and 2021 baseball seasons, state taxes generated by the Orioles averaged $15.6 million per season.AdvertisementThat figure includes personal and corporate income taxes as well as sales taxes, but not admissions taxes on tickets to games. The authority redacted those numbers, citing confidentiality, but mistakes made in redacting the records helped reveal those numbers for some years — including $5.2 million in admission taxes when attendance at Orioles games was relatively high in 2017, and $3.2 million when attendance slumped in 2019.Public investment in privately owned sports teams is not unique to Baltimore: About three-quarters of the money spent over the past 50 years to build Canadian and American pro stadiums came from public coffers, per a 2022 study. That is not the case in Europe, where soccer stadiums are generally privately funded.And more than two-thirds of MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL teams do not pay any real property taxes, according to research by Geoffrey Propheter, a University of Colorado Denver professor of public affairs.The Tennessee Titans currently play in a stadium built in 1999 — making it newer than M&T Bank Stadium — but will have a new $2.1 billion home in the coming years. Of that, an estimated $1.26 billion will come from public funds and the rest from the Titans. The Buffalo Bills will soon play in a stadium costing an estimated $1.7 billion, which will be paid for by both team and public dollars.The Tampa Bay Rays are splitting costs for an upcoming ballpark, too, while the Milwaukee Brewers recently made a deal with the state to receive about $500 million in government support for ballpark improvements (in addition to $110 million from the team).“The Brewers have decided that they need additional cash, and we are falling for that,” Wisconsin Sen. Chris Larson, who voted against the bill, told fellow legislators earlier this month.AdvertisementThe Ravens signed a lease in January, extending their commitment in Baltimore by 10 years (from 2027 to 2037, plus two five-year options) while the Orioles remain in negotiations with the state. That lease is expected to be a much longer term, as the memorandum detailed a 30-year lease with two five-year options.A new lease would need approval from the stadium authority’s board and the state’s Board of Public Works. Only one more regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Public Works — on Dec. 13 — is left before the end of the year, when the Orioles’ lease ends.The board, which consists of Moore, Comptroller Brooke Lierman and Treasurer Dereck Davis, who are all Democrats, could call a special session after that, though the governor did not answer when asked by a reporter Wednesday when he expected the deal to be ready for a vote.Asked about the tight timeline, Moore said only that “the MSA and the state are literally working around the clock with the Orioles” and that the parties “have a few weeks to finalize what the next steps are going to be.”Two people with direct knowledge of the discussions told The Sun that negotiators are considering separating the issue of the development rights from the lease extension.Moore did not specifically confirm that possibility when asked. What’s important, he said, is accomplishing his previously stated goals of keeping the Orioles in Baltimore for the long term, using the deal to benefit the local economy and getting a fair deal for taxpayers.Advertisement“Honestly, the only thing that matters to me is that my three objectives are hit,” Moore said. “How we are packaging that, honestly, that is less relevant.”Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Barker contributed to this article.