The B&O Railroad and the Changing Use of Streets in Baltimore, Maryland, 1829-1865

David H. Schley

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Historians have documented the ways in which nineteenth-century rail lines quickened communications and bound once-distant places together, but less understood is how the same rapid movement that annihilated space in the countryside also reordered the spaces of everyday life in urban centres. This chapter turns to the city of Baltimore, Maryland, the birthplace of American railroading, and examines controversial efforts by the pioneering Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) to lay tracks and run trains through city streets in the first half of the nineteenth century. The railroad’s frictionless patterns of movement fit uneasily in city streets characterised by ad hoc traffic patterns and varied uses. This chapter first examines the B&O’s successful efforts to lay tracks through major urban thoroughfares and the controversy this engendered. Next, it looks at the company’s less successful campaign to introduce steam locomotives to the urban environment. Taken together, these debates, spanning decades, highlight the power of the early railroad to challenge longstanding ideas about urban life and urban form.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe City and the Railway in the World from the Nineteenth Century to the Present
EditorsRalf Roth, Paul Van Heesvelde
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781003204749
ISBN (Print)9781472449610, 9781032069630
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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