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The heritage area dates to 1997, when the state of Maryland designated Baltimore’s concentration of historic, cultural, and natural resources as a recognized heritage area. This preliminary “recognized” status initiated a process to lead to certification.

From 1997 through 2001, the Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) worked with historic sites, city agencies, and the public to craft a management plan to guide the operations of the heritage area. In 2001, the Mayor and City Council adopted the Baltimore City Management Action Plan, and in 2002 the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority certified the Baltimore City Heritage Area.

In 2005, efforts began to review and revise the priorities and strategies in the 2001 management action plan. Part of this effort included a feasibility study to determine if the heritage area would be eligible for national designation. The Mayor and City Council adopted the 2007 Management Plan Update and initiated the process to gain national heritage area designation.

Based on the findings of the feasibility study and with the support of the Maryland congressional delegation, on March 30, 2009 the U.S. Congress adopted Public Law 111-11 establishing the Baltimore National Heritage Area.

In late 2011, the management of the heritage area transferred from the Baltimore City’s Mayor’s Office to the newly formed non-profit Baltimore Heritage Area Association. In 2012, the association began work on a new federally required management plan to guide the association and the heritage area for the next decades. In 2013, this new plan was approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

See the Management Planning section to access downloadable versions of the 2013 and previous plans.

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