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Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Baltimore, Maryland

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2400 East Fort Avenue
Baltimore , Maryland
21230
Tel: 410 962 4290
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Concierge.com's insider take:

The National Anthem was inspired by this world-famous fort commanding the entrance to Baltimore's Inner Harbor, which withstood a daunting 25-hour bombardment by British warships beginning September 13, 1814. The bastion's resilience—and the sight of the flag with its "bright stars and broad stripes" (15 in all)—prompted Francis Scott Key, a young Washington lawyer who was negotiating a prisoner exchange with the British aboard a truce ship, to pen his immortal poem. Exhibits at a small visitor center and throughout the restored ramparts trace the lengthy history of the star-shaped fort from its 1805 construction to its use as a Civil War prison for Confederate sympathizers—including, ironically, Key's grandson—and, later, a World War I hospital. The original banner now hangs in the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., but an exact replica of the 30-by-42-foot flag flies over the fort. You can arrive by land or by sea: Family-owned Ed Kane's Water Taxis (410-563-3901; www.thewatertaxi.com) stops at the fort's dock from April through October.

Open daily 8 am to 5 pm, with extended summer hours.

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