Baltimore is a Big City with a Small Town Feel

Book Hey Hon! How to Talk Like a Real Bawlamoron.

Baltimore is a big city with a small town feel because no matter where you go, you will probably find a Baltimore connection. More importantly, Baltimore is a city with a ton of names and a ton of stuff to explore. Before we get to the names, let us start with how do you pronounce Baltimore.

We pronounce it “Bawlmar” or “Baldemore” and the state “Merlan or Murlan or Marlan” (Maryland) depending on where you grew up. According to lingual scholars, our accent is part mid-Atlantic and part Southern with hefty doses of Appalachia, Irish and German thrown in for good measure. Whatever. If you are not from around here but want to try and blend, I recommend two books. Tom LaCosta’s Lexicon of Bawlmarese or Ernest Smith’s Hey Hon!  How to Talk Like a Real Bawlamoron.

Aside from our odd pronunciation of Baltimore and Maryland, the one word you will hear most often is “hon.”  “Hon” is short for the term of endearment “Honey.”  Common phrases where you are likely to hear the term include: “How you doin’ Hon?”; “Can you grab that for me Hon?” or “Thanks Hon.” Why do people from Baltimore say Hon? I guess we are just a friendly bunch.

Baltimore Slogans

Enoch Pratt founded the first free public library that was open to everyone regardless of race or income.
Enoch Pratt: “Pretty fly for a white guy.”

B’More has had many marketing slogans over the years. For example, former Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke promoted Baltimore as the “City that Reads.”  While this may have been aspirational, Baltimore was the first American city to have a free public library. Baltimore businessman Enoch Pratt, used his fortune to create a library system that would be open to “rich and poor without distinction of race or color.” A later mayor, Martin O’Malley promoted Baltimore as “the Greatest City in America,” and well, I’m biased too. 

Our current marketing slogan is Charm City because the city is so darn charming. However, many locals just call it “Smalltimore.” You know I am not exaggerating that Baltimore is a big city with a small town feel if you do this one simple experiment. Start a conversation with anyone, anywhere and you should be able to find a common Baltimore connection in less than 10 minutes. Seriously, I have done this throughout the U.S. and even Europe. During one 6-week summer vacation we met someone with a Baltimore connection every single day and this was in states where folks do not like to travel.

A City of Firsts with a Ton to See and Do

Ouija was invented in Baltimore.
Ouija was born in Baltimore

Like any big city, Baltimore offers visitors and residents alike, hundreds of attractions like the science center, the aquarium, Ft. Mc Henry, the zoo, and just about any art, cultural, or history museum to meet your fancy. Commercial attractions also abound, like the ESPN Zone, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, paddle boats, and a pirate ship. In the city alone, it would take years to check out all the places to shop, eat, drink and be merry. If that is not enough to pique your interest, Annapolis, Washington, DC, wineries, distilleries, breweries, beaches, nature trails, and even more attractions are within an hour’s drive.

But Baltimore is so much more than attractions and parks. Baltimore is and continues to be a city of firsts – first railroad, first clipper ship, first bottle cap, and the list things invented in Baltimore goes on. This is a place of learning and experiment and of history and culture. Baltimore is where people came when they left their homelands to start a new life and it still is. This is a city of pride and achievement, but also a city of heartbreak and historic failures that we are still trying to fix.

What Makes Baltimore Special?

Audrey Hepburn rocked a Baltimore classic beehive hairstyle in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Audrey Hepburn rocking a beehive hairdo in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Most importantly, Baltimore is a city of endearing quirks like the way we talk. It is a city of crazy contests and celebrations like:

  • The Hon Festival where a beehive hairdo is almost required; and
  • The Kinetic Sculpture race which you have to see to believe.

We also have long standing traditions like putting Old Bay on everything (more on that story….) This is a city of neighborhoods defined by the people who live there from cradle to grave just because their ancestors did the same. All these things make Baltimore not just a city but a community, which is why I say that Baltimore is a big city with a small town feel.

There so many fascinating stories to tell about Baltimore’s people, events, and places so stay tuned. Together, these stories have made and continue to make this city such an amazing place to explore. Come check us out, you will not be disappointed.

Need some places in Baltimore to explore? We have you covered.

By Carolyn

Carolyn is a seasoned traveler who finds amazing things to explore wherever she goes. Carolyn has explored all 50 states in the U.S. and has traveled widely throughout Canada and Europe, including Iceland. For over 15 years, Carolyn has been helping people make the most of their get-a-ways by personalizing their travel adventures. She believes "tailored to you" is the only way to make the most of your next adventure.

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