Burgeoning Baltimore

By 1840, Baltimore’s population had grown to 102,000 – including approximately 1,000 Jews – and its economy, due in large part to the city’s port location, was quickly diversifying.


The establishment of the B&O Railroad in 1830, the nation’s first chartered railroad, gave the city access to new markets. Flourishing industries such as canning and manufacturing attracted new immigrants, as well as migrants from other American cities and towns. Many came from German states because of the city’s trade ties with Bremen. Maryland exported tobacco from Baltimore on Bremen-bound ships which returned loaded with laborers.

O we’re hopping, skipping, jumping,

O we’re all crazy here in Baltimore.

Here’s a road to be made, with the Pick and Spade.

Tis to reach to Ohio for the benefit of trade.

Here are mountains to be leveled, Here are vallies to be fill’d.

Here are rocks to be blown, and Bridges too to build.

And we’re all digging, blowing, blasting, And we’re all crazy here in Baltimore.

-John Cole, song to honor the B&O Railroad, 1828

Cornerstone of the B&O, laid July 4, 1828, by Charles Carroll of Carrollton Baltimore Harbor, courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore’s new arrivals were not always warmly welcomed. In the 1850s, many Baltimoreans joined the “Know Nothing” party which was renowned for its anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic positions as well as for its violent tactics and riots.


Know Nothing Party Platform Courtesy of Duke University Library.

Baltimore Harbor, courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society

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The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen was created by:

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Special thanks to: 

The David Berg Foundation; The David and Barbara B. Hirschhorn Foundation; Maryland Heritage Area Authority; Homer and Martha Gudelsky Foundation; The Richard and Rosalee C. Davison Foundation; Morris Schapiro + Family Foundation, Barbara P. Katz; The Eliasberg Family Foundation; Members of the Jewish Museum of Maryland and Minotaur Mazes.