90 MINUTES IN: Fort McHenry
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.