Imagine a Baltimore waterfront where people swim and fish. That’s part of the vision for the next generation Inner Harbor.

City officials and the Waterfront Partnership have revealed their plan for the next generation of the Inner Harbor—Baltimore’s most visited tourist attraction—a prominent area where they said is beginning to show signs of aging.

During a Nov. 13 news conference, officials showcased what they are calling “Inner Harbor 2.0,” a plan that will give the 40-year-old waterfront district a facelift and enhance and improve the city’s main attraction.

“Inner Harbor 2.0 is a plan for growth, building on the incredibly successful harbor that we’ve enjoyed for 40 years,” Laurie Schwartz, executive director of Waterfront Partnership, said during the news conference. The goal, she said, is “to add new parks, playgrounds, sculptures, biking and kayaking, all intended to bring tourists back, and back again, and to attract our local residents.”

So far, officials have not released an estimated cost for the project or even when groundbreaking will occur but said the results will be impressive –and costly.

“Inner Harbor 2.0” calls for a pedestrian bridge connecting Harbor East and Federal Hill. The revised inner harbor will feature an urban beach, bike trails, a floating swimming pool, interactive water features, and quality open spaces.

Schwartz said Baltimore is “a wonderful attraction with 23 million visitors each year, 60 percent of whom visit the Inner Harbor.”

“Its place where imaginations come to life—tall ships, views of the skyline from the World Trade Center, the wonderful National Aquarium, the science center, intimate views of the battles that took place long ago,” Mayor Stephanie-Rawlings Blake said.

“Its unthinkable that there was ever a time when the harbor was something other than the gem that it is today.”

But, as the Inner Harbor approaches 40 this year, the drive is on to make it bigger and better. The mayor said the harbor is no longer a place for businesses, it’s a place people want to go and residential living is on the rise.

“The old inner harbor—developed more than 30 years ago—represented the pinnacle of urban waterfront development that was widely emulated throughout the world,”

President and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee Donald Fry said.

“To maintain this place as a destination and a key economic engine for our city, it’s overdue for attention, Fry said. “We must reinvest in it, improve and maximize its appearance, modernize its uses and finish projects that never quite got off the drawing board.”


Blair Adams

AFRO Staff Writer