kids encyclopedia robot

Baltimore County, Maryland facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Baltimore County
Baltimore County
The Baltimore County Courthouse
The Baltimore County Courthouse
Flag of Baltimore County
Official seal of Baltimore County
"B-More County", "The County"
Map of Maryland highlighting Baltimore County
Location within the U.S. state of Maryland
Map of the United States highlighting Maryland
Maryland's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Maryland
Founded June 30, 1659
Named for Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore
Seat Towson
Largest community Dundalk
 • Total 682 sq mi (1,770 km2)
 • Land 598 sq mi (1,550 km2)
 • Water 83 sq mi (210 km2)  12%%
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,219/sq mi (471/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 7th

Baltimore County is a county in the U.S. state of Maryland. It is Maryland's third-most populous county.The name of the county derives from Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore (1605–1675), the proprietor of the new colony in the Province of Maryland, and the town of Baltimore in County Cork, Ireland.

Since 1854, the county seat has been in Towson Baltimore County is part of the Baltimore metropolitan area and Washington metropolitan area. The county is also part of the Northeast Megalopolis stretching from Boston to Washington, D.C.

Among the county's major employers are MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center on the east side in Rossville, the Social Security Administration whose national headquarters are in Woodlawn, and Black & Decker in Towson. As of 2009, the county's workforce totalled 410,100, with 25% employed in the fields of education, health, and human services, 10% in retailing, and less than 1% in agriculture.

The county is home to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Towson University; Goucher College; and Stevenson University (formerly Villa Julie College).


The earliest known documentary record of the county politically in the Maryland State Archives in the Hall of Records in the state capital of Annapolis is January 12, 1659, when a writ was issued on behalf of the General Assembly of Maryland to its sheriff and is considered by historians to be its official year of "erection" (founding/establishment date) among the now twenty-three counties of the State, as it assumes that a certain amount of organization and appointments in the middle 17th Century had already occurred. Previously, Old Baltimore County was more known as a geographical entity than a political one, with its territorial limits consisting of most of northeastern Maryland, then the northwestern frontier of the Province and included the present day jurisdictions of Baltimore City, Cecil, and Harford Counties, as well as parts of Carroll, Anne Arundel, Frederick, Howard, and Kent Counties. In 1674, a proclamation of the Proprietor, established the then extensive boundary lines for old Baltimore County. Over the next century, various segments of the Old County were sliced off as population and settlements increased in the fringe regions so as to have a shorter distance to newly established county seats with their courts and commercial businesses.

In 1674, a portion of northeastern Baltimore County, as well as a portion of northwestern Kent County, was split off to create Cecil County. In 1748, a portion of western Baltimore County, as well as a portion of Prince George's County to the south, were split off to create Frederick County. In 1773, Harford County to the east was split off from Baltimore County. In 1837, another part of western Baltimore County was combined with a part of eastern Frederick County to create Carroll County. After the adjustment of the County's southern boundary with Anne Arundel County stated to be the upper Middle and Western Branches of the Patapsco River in XXXX, a portion of its northwestern area was designated in 1838 as the "Western District" or "Howard District" of Arundel and in 1851 was officially separated to form the new Howard County (named for Revolutionary War commander of the "Maryland Line" of the Continental Army, Col. John Eager Howard, [1752–1827]).

Before that, the Baltimore County court sessions had been held in private residences before 1674, with a small amount of documentary evidence. seat had been located in old Joppa, near the mouth of the Great Gunpowder Falls since 1712. Later by 1724, the Assembly authorized Thomas Tolley, Capt. John Taylor, Daniel Scott, Lancelot Todd and John Stokes to purchase 20 acres from a tract named "Taylor's Choice" after John Taylor who also held other parcels in the area. The Ordinance directed that the land be divided into 40 lots with streets and alleys to accompany the courthouse and jail which had already been previously erected. By 1750 had some 50 houses (including a few large two-story brick structures), a church (St. John's Anglican Parish), courthouse, 3 stone warehouses, inns, taverns, stores, a public wharf, "gallows-tree" with an "Amen Corner" with pillories and whipping posts but which is now extinct (but located northeast of the City near present-day suburban "Joppatowne" off Harford Road). When with a bit of financial pressure and paying for the cost of a new courthouse for 300 pounds sterling, dominant business, commercial and political residents of old Baltimore Town were able to get the county seat transferred to their growing and bustling port town in 1767, with the first courthouse constructed in 1768 at a new "Courthouse Square", (today on North Calvert Street, between East Lexington and East Fayette Streets), later site of the present "Battle Monument Square", constructed 1815–1822, commemorating defenses of the city and county in War of 1812 with bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy fleet in the Patapsco River, the two-day stand-off in the fortifications dug east of the city on Loudenschlager's Hill (now "Hampstead Hill" in today's Patterson Park) and the earlier Battle of North Point, in "Godly Woods" on the "Patapsco Neck" peninsula in southeastern county, commemorated ever since by Defenders' Day (a city, county and state official holiday) on September 12–14, 1814. A second city-county courthouse constructed in 1805–1809 was moved to the western side of the Square at North Calvert and East Lexington Streets. (In the future, after the City-County separation, a third, present courthouse for the increasingly complicated and more numerous judicial system for a growing metropolis, including the lower magistrates, commissioners, district and circuit courts, orphans (inheritances/wills) court, small claims court and the old Supreme Bench of Baltimore City was constructed on the entire western block of North Calvert, East Lexington, East Fayette and Saint Paul Streets from 1896 to 1900, later renamed in 1985 as the Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. City Circuit Courthouse (for the famous Baltimorean and leader in the Civil Rights Movement, Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. (1911–1984), reputed to be "considered the 101st U.S. Senator").

The first county seat of Baltimore County was known today as "Old Baltimore". It was located on the Bush River on land that in 1773 became part of Harford County. In 1674, the General Assembly passed "An Act for erecting a Court-house and Prison in each County within this Province". The site of the court house and jail for Baltimore County was evidently "Old Baltimore" near the Bush River. In 1683, the General Assembly passed "An Act for Advancement of Trade" to "establish towns, ports, and places of trade, within the province." One of the towns established by the act in Baltimore County was "on Bush River, on Town Land, near the Court-House." The court house on the Bush River referenced in the 1683 Act was in all likelihood the one created by the 1674 Act. "Old Baltimore" was in existence as early as 1674, but we don't know what if anything happened on the site prior to that year.

The exact location of Old Baltimore was lost for years. It was certain that the location was somewhere on the site of the present-day Aberdeen Proving Grounds (APG), a U.S. Army weapons testing facility. APG's Cultural Resource Management Program took up the task of finding Old Baltimore. The firm of R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates (Goodwin) was contracted for the project. After Goodwin first performed historical and archival work, they coordinated their work with existing landscape features to locate the site of Old Baltimore. APG's Explosive Ordnance Disposal of Army personnel went in with Goodwin to defuse any unexploded ordnance. The field team worked from fall 1997 through winter 1998. The team dug 420 test pits, and they uncovered several artifacts including a King Charles II farthing coin, French and English gun flints, as well as glass, metal and other items. The team also uncovered a brick foundation that proved to be the remains of the tavern owned by colonist James Phillips, a prominent land holder in the area. Along with James Phillips, the other most prominent land holder in Old Baltimore was William Osbourne. Osbourne operated the ferry across the Bush River. In his article Migrations of Baltimore Town, the Rev. George Armistead Leakin related a letter he received from Dr. George I. Hays. In that letter, Dr. Hays related an event in William Osborne's life that his grandmother, born Sarah Osborne, and his great-aunt, Fanny Osborne shared with him. The account is of a raid by the Susquehannocks (a notoriously fierce war-like tribe from further north in Pennsylvania) who took William Osbourne's oldest son. Osbourne and a party were unsuccessful in their attempt to rescue the boy. The boy was never seen by Osbourne again, and it is reported that he remained broken-hearted until his death.

In 1695, the "Old Baltimore" courthouse had evidently been abandoned, for in that year the county justices advertised for a purchaser of the late courthouse at Bush River and adjoining land. Apparently a new courthouse at "Simm's Choice" on the Baltimore County side of the Little Gunpowder Falls had been under construction since 1692 and in 1700, Michael Judd, the builder of the house of justice sold the lot on which it was situated to the county justices. This move away from the Bush River area reflects the growing economic and political importance of the Gunpowder region. In the next decade of the 18th Century, the county seat would move again, this time to Joppa where it would remain until 1768, indicative that the "Simm's Choice" location was less totally desirable.

The provincial assembly attempted to create at least two other towns during the county's early existence, but neither attempt moved very far beyond the planning stage. In 1680s, the Assembly ordered that "Patapsco Town" be laid out on Sparrows Point. A jury traveled to the land and marked off town lots, but few other improvements were made on the site. Foster's Neck in the fork of the two Gunpowder Rivers ("Great" and "Little"), exhibited a similar fate. Created by a legislative act in 1706, the projected town was abandoned the following year. With a large number of plantations and small farms, some on a subsistence level,and the methods of business and commerce in this era made town life unnecessary, and without the attraction of a county courthouse, artificial ventures like "Patapsco Town" and "Foster's Neck" experienced a quick and painless death. However, a port and wharfing site such as Elk Ridge Landing on the upper Patapsco River's Western Branch, soon became very prosperous and busy in the 18th Century which was established on the "falls" of the river which was the dividing point from which below the rapids and rocks of the area, the river at that time was deep enough to permit loaded sailing merchantmen to travel upstream a considerable distance in this southern border of the County with Anne Arundel County (and future Howard County (after 1851). The Landing was a designated "port of entry" and was the terminus of several "rolling roads" on which horse or oxen-drawn hogsheads (huge barrels) packed with tobacco were wheeled down to the Landing/port to market and to be loaded on the sailing ships for London and Europe. However, with the later gradual silting-up over the decades from soil erosion and primitive poor farming cultivation methods of the upper Patapsco, southwest of the later 1729 Baltimore Town on the deeper Northwest Branch of the river, the maritime economy of the Landing wilted away and later by the next 19th Century became and important stop on the rapid new form of ground transportation, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the main north-south East Coast highway for wagons and carriages, later motor vehicles, on the Washington Boulevard or the designated U.S. Route 1 by the 1926 as the town of Elkridge was a stopping point, along with its famous Elkridge Furnace Inn and the earlier local iron ore deposits and small foundries.

The town of Baltimore became the county seat of Baltimore County in 1767. The town annexed several parcels of land and in 1851 separated from the county with the adoption of the second Maryland state constitution. Baltimore became one of the few "independent cities" in the United States, putting it on the same level with other 23 counties of the state and granting limited "home rule" powers outside the authority of the General Assembly of Maryland.

The city of Baltimore continued annexing land from the county. It added areas known as the "Precincts" on its west, north, east and southwest sides in 1816 and on the western and northern boundaries in 1888. The factory and business owners in the eastern industrial communities of Canton and Highlandtown resisted and opposed annexation, but were eventually annexed 30 years later. The last major annexation took place in 1918–1919, which again took territory from the County on all three sides (west, north and east) as well as to the south for the first time from Anne Arundel County, along the south shores of the Patapsco River.

The separation of Baltimore County from Baltimore City which it surrounds on three sides (east, north and west) occurred on July 4, 1851, as a result of the adoption of the 1851 second state constitution. Towsontown was voted in a referendum by the voting citizens as the new "county seat" several years later on February 13, 1854. A new Baltimore County Courthouse was authorized to be built facing Washington Avenue, between Chesapeake and Pennsylvania Avenues to replace the previous courthouse and governmental offices then centered for near 85 years in the City, which had been the official "county seat" since just before the American Revolution. Now surrounded by manicured flower gardens, shrubs and curved walkways, the historical landmark is built of local limestone and marble, it was completed and dedicated in 1855. Several additional wings and annexes have been added in 1910, 1923 and 1958, some done so well architecturally that they blend in together quite well as one unit. By the 1970s, the County's legal system and governmental offices had grown so much that a separate modernistic "County Courts Building" was erected to the west behind the old Courthouse with its annexes separated by a paved plaza which is used for employee/visitors relaxations and official ceremonies.

A constitutional amendment to the 1867 Maryland Constitution was approved by referendum in 1948, prohibiting any future annexations without approval from residents in affected territories. The county's population reached a maximum of 959,000 in 1950, declining ever since as growth expanded to the five counties that make up Baltimore's greater metropolitan area. There was extensive city-county hostilities during the Civil Rights Movement, and by the 1980s, the county's older inner suburbs faced increasing urban social ills. An atmosphere of cooperation emerged with the drawing of cross-border state assembly districts, organizing of regional government agencies, and increasing state assumption of powers.

The County has a number of properties and sites of local, state and national historical interest on the "National Register of Historic Places" which is maintained by the National Park Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior by the "Historic Sites Act" of August 1935.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 682 square miles (1,770 km2), of which 598 square miles (1,550 km2) is land and 83 square miles (210 km2) (12%) is water. It is the third-largest county in Maryland by land area. The larger portion of the terrain is undulating, with bold hills often rising to a height of 800 feet (240 m) above tide water. The highest elevation is approximately 960 feet (290 m) above sea level, along the Pennsylvania state line near Steltz. The lowest elevation is sea level along the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay.

Much of Baltimore County is suburban in character, straddling the border between the Piedmont plateau to the northwest and, in the southern and southeastern regions of the county bordering the Patapsco River and the Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic coastal plain. Northern Baltimore County is primarily rural, with a landscape of rolling hills and deciduous forests characteristic of the Southeastern mixed forests and shares the geography with its neighbors to the east and west, Carroll County and Harford County, and going north across the historic Mason–Dixon line into Adams County and York County in south central Pennsylvania.

Adjacent counties and independent city

National protected area

State protected area

  • Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area


Major highways

  • I-70
  • I-83
  • I-95
  • I-195
  • I-695 (Baltimore Beltway)
  • I-795
  • I-895
  • US 1

  • US 1 Alt.
  • US 40
  • MD 7
  • MD 23
  • MD 45
  • MD 129
  • MD 130
  • MD 140
  • MD 150
  • MD 295
  • MD 700
  • MD 702


The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) operates three rail systems—one light rail, one rapid transit, and one commuter rail—in the Baltimore area; all three systems have stations in Baltimore County. The heavy-rail Metro Subway runs northwest of the city to Owings Mills; the Light Rail system runs north of Baltimore City to Hunt Valley and south of the city through Baltimore Highlands with some routes terminating at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport located in Linthicum (Anne Arundel County), Maryland. Commuter MARC Train service is available in the county at Halethorpe, St. Denis, and Martin State Airport stations.

The MTA's local and regional bus services also serve Baltimore County.


Both CSX Transportation and Amtrak mainlines run through the county. Former rail lines running through the County beginning in the 19th Century were the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad and the Northern Central Railway (previously the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad, later becoming part of the old Pennsylvania Railroad). The Ma & Pa and parts of the Northern Central were abandoned. The present-day streetcar/trolley line coming north from Anne Arundel County and the Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport through Baltimore City uses the Northern Central right-of-way south of Cockeysville and Timonium; starting slightly north of that, the right-of-way was converted into the popular hiking, biking and jogging pathway from Loch Raven to the Mason–Dixon line with Pennsylvania known now as the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail, named for a former state secretary of natural resources.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 38,937
1800 59,030 51.6%
1810 75,780 28.4%
1820 96,201 26.9%
1830 120,870 25.6%
1840 134,379 11.2%
1850 210,646 56.8%
1860 54,135 −74.3%
1870 63,387 17.1%
1880 83,336 31.5%
1890 72,909 −12.5%
1900 90,755 24.5%
1910 122,349 34.8%
1920 74,817 −38.8%
1930 124,565 66.5%
1940 155,825 25.1%
1950 270,273 73.4%
1960 492,428 82.2%
1970 621,077 26.1%
1980 655,615 5.6%
1990 692,134 5.6%
2000 754,292 9.0%
2010 805,029 6.7%
Est. 2015 831,128 3.2%
Population before 1860 includes town and (1797)
city of Baltimore. Population decline in 1890
and 1920 census figures reflect annexations by the
City of Baltimore.
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2015

2000 census

As of the census of 2000, there were 754,292 people, 299,877 households, and 198,518 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,260 people per square mile (487/km²). There were 313,734 housing units at an average density of 524 per square mile (202/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 74.39% White, 20.10% Black or African American, 0.25% Native American, 3.17% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.62% from other races, and 1.43% from two or more races. 1.83% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 18.4% were of German, 10.8% Irish, 7.3% English, 7.0% Italian, 6.1% US or American and 5.4% Polish ancestry according to Census 2000. There is also a large Jewish population that migrated from Park Heights into the communities of Pikesville, Owings Mills and Reisterstown, referred to by Jewish residents as "100,000 Jews in three zip codes" Baltimore County is 7.5% Jewish with a Jewish population of around 60,000 people.

There were 299,877 households out of which 30.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.40% were married couples living together, 12.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.80% were non-families. 27.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the county, the age distribution of the population shows 23.60% under the age of 18, 8.50% from 18 to 24, 29.80% from 25 to 44, 23.40% from 45 to 64, and 14.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 90.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $50,667, and the median income for a family was $59,998. Males had a median income of $41,048 versus $31,426 for females. The per capita income for the county was $26,167. About 4.50% of families and 6.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.20% of those under age 18 and 6.50% of those age 65 or over.

As of the 2010 Census the population of Baltimore County was 62.80% Non-Hispanic Whites, 26.05% Blacks, 0.33% Native American, 4.99% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.59% Some other race and 2.40% reporting more than one race. 4.19% of the Population was Hispanic.

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 805,029 people, 316,715 households, and 205,113 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,345.5 inhabitants per square mile (519.5/km2). There were 335,622 housing units at an average density of 561.0 per square mile (216.6/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 64.6% white, 26.1% black or African American, 5.0% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 1.6% from other races, and 2.4% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 4.2% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 20.7% were German, 14.6% were Irish, 8.7% were English, 7.4% were Italian, 5.8% were Polish, and 5.0% were American.

Of the 316,715 households, 31.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.5% were married couples living together, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 35.2% were non-families, and 28.3% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.04. The median age was 39.1 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $63,959 and the median income for a family was $78,385. Males had a median income of $53,104 versus $43,316 for females. The per capita income for the county was $33,719. About 5.3% of families and 8.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.1% of those under age 18 and 7.6% of those age 65 or over.

Family support services

General counseling, trauma-based therapy, comprehensive support for victims of domestic violence, and in-home assistance for the adult disabled, are offered to Baltimore County residents by Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland (FCS), a private nonprofit organization. Some services are offered without charge; others are offered on a sliding-fee scale based on income. In addition, there are other private organizations providing various social services.


Census-designated places

Baltimore County has no incorporated municipalities located entirely within its boundaries. The following census-designated places recognized by the Census Bureau:

Unincorporated communities

Although not formally Census-Designated Places, these other communities are known locally and, in many cases, have their own post offices and are shown on roadmaps:

kids search engine
Baltimore County, Maryland Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.