90 MIN­UTES IN: Fort McHenry

Where Baltimore - - Editor's Itinerary -

Built from 1799 to 1802, this star-shaped fort (above and page 19) be­came an important gar­ri­son in the War of 1812. Fran­cis Scott Key, de­tained on a Bri­tish ship, watched as Amer­i­can forces fought off the en­emy for 25 hours. By early morn­ing, he saw the mas­sive Amer­i­can flag fly­ing over­head, in­spir­ing him to write verses that later be­came the U.S. na­tional an­them. Over the years, the strong­hold has been used as a prison dur­ing the Civil War and a hos­pi­tal in WWI. For a quick visit, start at the Vis­i­tors Cen­ter, where a moving video pro­vides back­ground on the bas­tion’s his­tory. Then make your way to the bar­racks to ex­pe­ri­ence 19th-cen­tury mil­i­tary life. On week­ends, hand­son ar­tillery and can­non demon­stra­tions (above, cen­ter) draw crowds. And ev­ery day at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., vis­i­tors par­tic­i­pate in what may be the most pop­u­lar ac­tiv­ity—help­ing to raise and lower a flag (above), just like the one Key saw that joy­ful morn­ing.

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