Annapolis is the capital city of the U.S. state of Maryland as well as the county seat of, and only incorporated city in, Anne Arundel County. Situated on the Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of the Severn River, south of Baltimore and about east of Washington, D.C., Annapolis forms part of the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area. The 2020 census recorded its population as 40,812, an increase of 6.3% since 2010.
This city served as the seat of the Confederation Congress (former Second Continental Congress) and temporary national capital of the United States in 1783–1784. At that time, General George Washington came before the body convened in the new Maryland State House and resigned his commission as commander of the Continental Army. A month later, the Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris of 1783, ending the American Revolutionary War, with Great Britain recognizing the independence of the United States.
The city and state capitol was also the site of the 1786 Annapolis Convention, which issued a call to the states to send delegates for the Constitutional Convention to be held the following year in Philadelphia. Over 220 years later, the Annapolis Peace Conference took place in 2007.
Annapolis is the home of St. John's College, founded 1696; the United States Naval Academy, established 1845, is adjacent to the city limits.
Colonial and early United States (1649–1808)
A settlement in the Province of Maryland named "Providence" was founded on the north shore of the Severn River on the middle Western Shore of the Chesapeake Bay in 1649 by Puritan exiles from the Province/Dominion of Virginia led by third Proprietary Governor William Stone (1603–1660). The settlers later moved to a better-protected harbor on the south shore. The settlement on the south shore was initially named "Town at Proctor's," then "Town at the Severn," and later "Anne Arundel's Towne" (after Lady Ann Arundell (1616–1649), the wife of Cecilus Calvert, second Lord Baltimore, who died soon afterwards).
In 1654, after the Third English Civil War, Parliamentary forces assumed control of the Maryland colony and Stone went into exile further south across the Potomac River in Virginia. Per orders from Charles Calvert, fifth Lord Baltimore, Stone returned the following spring at the head of a Cavalier royalist force, loyal to the King of England. On March 25, 1655, in what is known as the Battle of the Severn (first colonial naval battle in North America), Stone was defeated, taken prisoner, and replaced by Lt. Gen. Josias Fendall (1628–1687) as fifth Proprietary Governor. Fendall governed Maryland during the latter half of the Commonwealth period in England. In 1660, he was replaced by Phillip Calvert (1626–1682) as fifth/sixth Governor of Maryland, after the restoration of Charles II (1630–1685) as King in England.
In 1694, soon after the overthrow of the Catholic government of second Royal Governor Thomas Lawrence (1645–1714), then third Royal Governor Francis Nicholson (1655-1727/28, served 1694–1698), moved the capital of the royal colony, the Province of Maryland, to Anne Arundel's Towne and renamed the town Annapolis after Princess Anne of Denmark and Norway, soon to be the Queen Anne of Great Britain (1665–1714, reigned 1702–1714). Annapolis was incorporated as a city in 1708. Colonel John Seymour, the Governor of Maryland wrote Queen Anne on March 16, 1709, with qualifications for municipal officials and provisions for fairs and market days for the town.
17th-century Annapolis was little more than a village, but it grew rapidly for most of the 18th century until the American Revolutionary War as a political and administrative capital, a port of entry, and a major center of the Atlantic slave trade. The Maryland Gazette, which became an important weekly journal, was founded there by Jonas Green in 1745; in 1769 a theatre was opened; during this period also the commerce was considerable, but declined rapidly after Baltimore, with its deeper harbor, was made a port of entry in 1780. Water trades such as oyster-packing, boatbuilding and sailmaking became the city's chief industries. Annapolis is home to a large number of recreational boats that have largely replaced the seafood industry in the city.
Dr. Alexander Hamilton (1712–1756) was a Scottish-born doctor and writer who lived and worked in Annapolis. Leo Lemay says his 1744 travel diary Gentleman's Progress: The Itinerarium of Dr. Alexander Hamilton is "the best single portrait of men and manners, of rural and urban life, of the wide range of society and scenery in colonial America."
Annapolis became the temporary capital of the United States after the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Congress was in session in the state house from November 26, 1783, to August 19, 1784, and it was in Annapolis on December 23, 1783, that General Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.
For the 1783 Congress, the Governor of Maryland commissioned John Shaw, a local cabinet maker, to create an American flag. The flag is slightly different from other designs of the time. The blue field extends over the entire height of the hoist. Shaw created two versions of the flag: one which started with a red stripe and another that started with a white one.
In 1786, delegates from all states of the Union were invited to meet in Annapolis to consider measures for the better regulation of commerce. Delegates from only five states—New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey, and Delaware—actually attended the convention, known afterward as the "Annapolis Convention." Without proceeding to the business for which they had met, the delegates passed a resolution calling for another convention to meet at Philadelphia in the following year to amend the Articles of Confederation. The Philadelphia convention drafted and approved the Constitution of the United States, which is still in force.
Civil War era (1849 – late 1800s)
On April 24, 1861, the midshipmen of the Naval Academy relocated their base in Annapolis and were temporarily housed in Newport, Rhode Island, until October 1865.
In 1861, the first of three camps that were built for holding paroled soldiers was created on the campus of St. John's College. The second location of Camp Parole would house over 20,000 and would be located where Forest Drive is currently. The third and final location was finished in late 1863 and would be placed near the Elkridge Railroad, as to make transportation of soldiers and resources easier before and allowing the camp to grow to its highest numbers. This area just west of the city is still referred to as Parole. The soldiers who did not survive were buried in the Annapolis National Cemetery.
In 1900, Annapolis had a population of 8,585.
On December 21, 1906, Henry Davis was lynched in the city. He was suspected of assaulting a local woman. Nobody was ever tried for the crime.
During World War II, shipyards in Annapolis built a number of PT Boats, and military vessels such as minesweepers and patrol boats were built in Annapolis during the Korean and Vietnam wars. It was at Annapolis in July 1940 that Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg arrived in exile during World War II.
In the summer of 1984, the Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis hosted soccer games as part of the XXIII Olympiad.
During September 18–19, 2003, Hurricane Isabel created the largest storm surge known in Annapolis's history, cresting at . Much of downtown Annapolis was flooded and many businesses and homes in outlying areas were damaged. The previous record was during a hurricane in 1933, and during Hurricane Hazel in 1954. Downtown Annapolis has high-tide "sunny day" flooding. A Stanford University study found that this resulted in 3,000 less visits and $172,000 in lost revenue for local business in 2017.
From mid-2007 through December 2008, the city celebrated the 300th anniversary of its 1708 Royal Charter, which established democratic self-governance. The many cultural events of this celebration were organized by Annapolis Charter 300.
Annapolis was home of the Anne Arundel County Battle of the Bands, which was held at Maryland Hall from 1999–2015. The event was a competition between musical groups from each high school in the county; it raised over $100,000 for the county's high school music programs during its 17-year run.
On June 28, 2018, at the Capital Gazette, a gunman opened fire, killing five journalists and injuring two more.
An EF-2 tornado struck the western edge of the city on September 1, 2021 during the remnants of Hurricane Ida. Homes, businesses, and restaurants had significant damage near Maryland Route 450, where EF-2 damage was observed with estimated winds of 125 mph. The tornado dissipated immediately past U.S. Route 50 and U.S. Route 301.
2007 Annapolis Conference
As announced by United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Annapolis was the venue for a Middle East summit dealing with the Israeli–Palestinian peace process, with the participation of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ("Abu Mazen") and various other leaders from the region. The conference was held at the United States Naval Academy on November 26, 2007.
The State House
The Maryland State House is the oldest in continuous legislative use in the United States. Construction started in 1772, and the Maryland legislature first met there in 1779. It is topped by the largest wooden dome built without nails in the country. The Maryland State House housed the workings of the United States government from November 26, 1783, to August 13, 1784, and the Treaty of Paris was ratified there on January 14, 1784, so Annapolis became the first peacetime capital of the U.S.
It was in the Maryland State House that George Washington famously resigned his commission before the Continental Congress on December 23, 1783.
United States Naval Academy
The United States Naval Academy was founded in 1845 on the site of Fort Severn, and now occupies an area of land reclaimed from the Severn River next to the Chesapeake Bay. Students that attend the Naval Academy are enrolled for four years with a following five year commitment to serving on active duty in the Marine Corps or Navy. Students hold the naval rank of Midshipman, and on average about 4,500 are enrolled.
St. John's College
St. John's College is a non-sectarian private college that was once supported by the state. It was opened in 1789 as the successor of King William's School, which was founded by an act of the Maryland legislature in 1696 and was opened in 1701. Its principal building, McDowell Hall, was originally to be the governor's mansion; although £4,000 was appropriated to build it in 1742, it was not completed until after the War of Independence.
St. John's has a second campus in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Students are able to choose between the two campuses and switch at any point in their education. The curriculum of St. John's relies heavily on the use of literature with their Great Books Curriculum, which focuses on texts of Western Civilization. Each year, students are required to participate in a seminar-style course to discuss the assigned works. This program has been highlighted as one that is unique to St. John's and requires the students to become well-versed through reading about political science, philosophy, math, language, and many more topics.
Located south of Baltimore and east of Washington, D.C., Annapolis is the closest state capital to the national capital.
The city is a part of the Atlantic Coastal Plain, and is relatively flat, with the highest point being only above sea level.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , of which is land and is water.
Annapolis lies within the humid subtropical climate zone (Köppen Cfa), with hot, humid summers, cool winters, and generous precipitation year-round. Low elevation and proximity to the Chesapeake Bay give the area more moderate spring and summertime temperatures and slightly less extreme winter lows than locations further inland, such as Washington, D.C.
In November 2020, NASA reported that Annapolis had 18 days of high-tide (non-storm-related) flooding from May 2019 to April 2020, an increase over 2018's 12 days, and higher than the 1995-2005 average of 2 days annually. The increase is attributed to sea level rise caused by climate change. Resultant flood damages caused local businesses to lose as much as $172,000 a year. On Naval Academy grounds, seawater came out of storm drains, with McNair Road and Ramsay Road flooding 20 times in 2020 and more than 40 times each in 2018 and 2019. Adaptation approaches such as sea walls and building up the height of roadways and athletic fields are predicted to last only a few decades.
Neighborhoods and suburbs
As of the census of 2010, there were 38,394 people, 16,136 households, and 8,776 families residing in the city. The population density was . There were 17,845 housing units at an average density of . The racial makeup of the city was 60.1% White, 26.0% African American, 0.3% Native American, 2.1% Asian, 9.0% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 16.8% of the population.
There were 16,136 households, of which 26.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.3% were married couples living together, 14.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 45.6% were non-families. Of all households, 35.0% were made up of individuals, and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 3.02.
The median age in the city was 36 years. 20.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 31.1% were from 25 to 44; 25.3% were from 45 to 64; and 13% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.8% male and 52.2% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 35,838 people, 15,303 households, and 8,676 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,326.0 people per square mile (2,056.0/km2). There were 16,165 housing units at an average density of 2,402.3 per square mile (927.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 62.66% White, 31.44% Black or African American, 0.17% Native American, 1.81% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.22% from other races, and 1.67% from two or more races. 8.42% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 15,303 households, out of which 24.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.6% were married couples living together, 16.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.3% were non-families. Of all households, 32.9% were made up of individuals, and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 21.7% under the age of 18, 9.3% from 18 to 24, 33.4% from 25 to 44, 23.7% from 45 to 64, and 11.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over there were 86.8 males age 18 and over.
The median income for a household in the city was $49,243, and the median income for a family was $56,984 (these figures had risen to $70,140 and $84,573 respectively, according to ). Males had a median income of $39,548 versus $30,741 for females. The per capita income for the city was $27,180. About 9.5% of families and 12.7% of the population were living in poverty, of which 20.8% were under age 18 and 10.4% were age 65 or over.
According to the City's 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city, excluding state and local government, are:
Arts and culture
Annapolis has a thriving community theater scene which includes two venues in the historic district.
On East Street, Colonial Players produces approximately six shows a year in its 180-seat theater. A Christmas Carol has been a seasonal tradition in Annapolis since it opened at the Colonial Players theater in 1981. Based on the play by Charles Dickens, the 90-minute production by the Colonial Players is an original musical adaptation, with play and lyrics by Richard Wade and music by Dick Gessner. Colonial Players, Inc. is a nonprofit organization founded in 1949. Its first production, The Male Animal, was performed in 1949 at the Annapolis Recreation Center on Compromise Street. In 1955, the organization moved to its venue in a former automotive repair shop on East Street.
During the warmer months, Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre presents three shows on its outdoor stage, which is visible from the City Dock. A nonprofit organization, Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre has been providing "theatre under the stars" since 1966, when it performed You Can't Take It with You and Brigadoon at Carvel Hall Hotel. It began leasing its site at 143 Compromise Street, the former location of the Shaw Blacksmith Shop, in 1967, and became owner of the property in 1990.
The Naval Academy Masqueraders, a theater group at the United States Naval Academy, produces one "main-stage show" each fall and student-directed one-act plays in the spring. Founded in 1847, the Masqueraders is the oldest extracurricular activity at the
Naval Academy. Its shows, performed in Mahan Hall, are selected to support the Academy's English curriculum.
The King William Players, a student theater group at St. John's College, holds two performances each semester in the college's Francis Scott Key Auditorium. Admission is usually free and open to the public.
Museums, historical sites, and monuments
The Banneker-Douglass Museum, located in the historic Mount Moriah Church at 87 Franklin Street, documents the history of African Americans in Maryland. Since its opening on February 24, 1984, the museum has provided educational programs, rotating exhibits, and a research facility. Admission is free.
Preble Hall, named for Edward Preble, houses the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, founded in 1845. Its Beverley R. Robinson Collection contains 6,000 prints depicting European and American naval history from 1514 through World War II. It is also home to one of the world's best ship model collections, donated by Henry Huttleston Rogers. Rogers's donation was the impetus for the construction of Preble Hall. The museum has approximately 100,000 visitors each year.
The Hammond-Harwood House, located at 19 Maryland Avenue, was built in 1774 for Matthias Hammond, a wealthy Maryland farmer. Its design was adapted by William Buckland from Andrea Palladio's Villa Pisani to accommodate American Colonial regional preferences. Since 1940, when the house was purchased from St. John's College by the Hammond-Harwood House Association, it has served as a museum exhibiting a collection of John Shaw furniture and Charles Willson Peale paintings. Its exterior and interior preserve the original architecture of a mansion from the late Colonial period.
Annapolis City Dock lies at the foot of Main Street that slopes down from Church Circle and St. Anne's Church. The dock is now a narrow waterway from Spa Creek, once named Carrol's Creek with the dock area called Dock Cove, into the heart of the lower town. At the head of the dock is a small park with the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial with the Market House and a traffic circle in an expanse of asphalt surrounded by historic buildings. The Market House, though relatively modern, stands in a vicinity occupied by similar market houses dating to 1730 when the city market was moved from the State House area to the head of the dock. The dock itself is now used largely by recreational vessels rather than the commercial boats and boats of Chesapeake Bay watermen selling catches. The dock and surroundings are part of the Colonial Annapolis National Historic Landmark (NHL) District.
The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley memorial, located in a park at the head of Annapolis City Dock, commemorates the arrival point of Alex Haley's African ancestor, Kunta Kinte, whose story is related in Haley's book Roots. A sculpture group at the memorial site portrays Alex Haley seated, reading from a book to three children. The final phase of the memorial's construction was completed in 2002.
The Paca House and Garden encompasses an 18th-century Georgian mansion constructed by William Paca, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The property includes a terraced garden that has been restored to its colonial-era design.
Annapolis often serves as the end point for the 3,000-mile annual transcontinental Race Across America bicycle race.
To the north of the state house is a monument to Thurgood Marshall, the first black justice of the US Supreme Court and formerly a Maryland lawyer who won many important civil rights cases.
Located just before the Naval Academy Bridge is the World War II Memorial, which was constructed in 1998 to symbolize the sacrifice made by the 275,000 citizens from Maryland who joined the service to fight in the war. The memorial is composed of 48 granite columns to represent the 48 states at the time of the war surrounding an amphitheater in which are the names of 6,454 men who gave their lives in the war. Directly behind the memorial are both the Maryland, and United States flags, and a star shaped column with a seven sided base to represent Maryland being the seventh state in the Union.
On March 9, 2010, the Chesapeake Bayhawks of Major League Lacrosse moved from Washington, D.C. to the Annapolis area, at Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. In 2013, the Bayhawks won the league's championship, the Steinfeld Cup, for the fifth time.
Parks and recreation
The city boasts over of parkland, with the largest being the 70-acre Truxtun Heights Park. Quiet Waters Park, a 340-acre regional park run by Anne Arundel County, offers water access, a playground area, over six miles of paved trails, and ice skating rink, and a dog beach.
Events and festivals
Annapolis is home to many seasonal or holiday-themed events and festivals that take place throughout the year. Some examples are the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, May Day, and United States Naval Academy Commissioning Week.
Annapolis is governed via the weak mayor system. The city council consists of eight aldermen who are elected from single member wards. The mayor is elected directly in a citywide vote. Since 2008, several aldermen have introduced unsuccessful charter amendments to institute a council-manager system, a move opposed by both Democratic mayor Joshua J. Cohen and his Republican successor Mike Pantelides.
The state legislature, governor's office, and appellate courts are located in Annapolis. While Annapolis is the state's only capital, some administrative offices, including a number of cabinet-level departments, are based in Baltimore.
Annapolis is served by the Anne Arundel County Public Schools system. Founded in 1896, Annapolis High School has an internationally recognized IB International Program.
Public schools that serve students in the Annapolis area:
St. Anne's School of Annapolis, Aleph Bet Jewish Day School, Annapolis Area Christian School, St. Martins Lutheran School, Severn School, St. Mary's High School (Annapolis, Maryland), and Indian Creek School are private schools in the Annapolis area. The Key School, located on a converted farm in the neighborhood of Hillsmere, has also served Annapolis for over 50 years. Anne Arundel County's alternative school which has around 160 students ranging grades 6–9, Mary E. Moss Academy, is also in the Annapolis area.
The Capital covers the news of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County.
Roads and highways
No major highways enter the city limits of Annapolis. Just outside the city limits, Interstate 595/U.S. Route 50/U.S. Route 301 traverses the region on an east–west route, connecting the Annapolis area to Washington, D.C., and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Interstate 97 interchanges with I-595/US 50/US 301 a few miles west of Annapolis and provides the most direct link to Baltimore. Maryland Route 2 also passes just outside the city limits and is the best connection to Southern Maryland, while also providing an alternate route to Baltimore.
The most prominent roads directly accessing the city include Maryland Route 70, which connects downtown Annapolis to US 50/US 301, and Maryland Route 665, which does likewise for the southwestern portions of the city. Other state highways serving Annapolis include Maryland Route 181, Maryland Route 387, Maryland Route 393, Maryland Route 435, Maryland Route 436, Maryland Route 450, Maryland Route 788 and Maryland Route 797.
The Annapolis Department of Transportation (ADOT) provides bus service with eight routes, collectively branded Annapolis Transit. The system serves the city with recreational areas, shopping centers, educational and medical facilities, and employment hubs. ADOT also offers transportation for the elderly and persons with disabilities. Several Maryland Transit Administration commuter buses also allow for access to Baltimore or Washington, D.C.
From 1840 to 1968, Annapolis was connected to the outside world by railroad. The Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Electric Railway (WB&A) operated two electrified interurban lines that brought passengers into the city from both the South and the North. The southern route ran down King George Street and Main Street, leading directly to the statehouse, while the northern route entered town via Glen Burnie. In 1935, the WB&A went bankrupt due to the effects of the Great Depression and suspended service along its southern route, while the newly created Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad (B&A) retained service on the northern route. Steam trains of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad also occasionally operated over the line to Annapolis, primarily for special Naval Academy movements. Passenger rail service on the B&A was eventually discontinued in 1950; freight service ceased in 1968 after the dilapidated trestle crossing the Severn River was condemned. The tracks were eventually dismantled in 1976.
Government and politics
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