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John Stoddert Plan

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John Stoddart Plan

John Stoddert 1718 plan shows the two circles here called church circle and public circle and the streets that radiate from them. This is the plan that was drawn up by govenor Nicholson in 1695.

On the Water

Oyster Boats

   Water has always been the basis of the economy of Annapolis.   Tobacco, grown  on the nearby plantations, was shipped out of  Annapolis's port.  The  fish, oysters, and crabs of the Chesapeake Bay provided a living for many residents of Annapolis for many years.  The U.S. Naval Academy was founded in  1845 on the site of the 1808 Fort Severn.  Today, with the the overfishing of the  Chesapeake,  large privately owned yachts moor at the city dock bringing money and tourists into Annapolis. 

The Settlement of Annapolis

   Annapolis was founded  as Arundelton in 1650. It became  the capital of the province of Maryland in 1694 and the name was changed to Annapolis to honor Queen Anne. The  Royal Governor of Maryland,  Francis Nicolson, laid out the street plan in 1695 that you still see today. The Baroque plan has two circles on the high points of land on the peninsula and streets radiating out from Church Circle and Public Circle as it was first called.

Economy & the Role of Water

   The town grew slowly even with the provincial government center there.  The economy was early based on tobacco, easy to ship to England because of the many waterways nearby.    Rich planters lived out near their tobacco fields and the city of Annapolis was a trades center and shipbuilding and repair center.  

The Golden Age of Building in Annapolis

   In the mid 1700s this changed and grand houses were built in the town.    This was the Golden Age of Annapolis building and commerce. During the American Revolution Annapolis’s economy suffered but the city was not attacked by the British forces.  In 1784 St. John’s College was chartered, incorporating the unfinished governor’s mansion and the buildings of the 1696 King Williams School.

The Decline of Importance

   After the Revolution shipping resumed.  But by 1800 the size of the clipper ships was such that the Annapolis harbor could not accommodate them and much of the trade moved to the city of Baltimore. The Naval Academy was founded in 1845  and was expanded after the Navy’s successes in the Spanish American War of 1898, taking over adjacent residential streets and displacing the townspeople.     Some of them moved into new houses put in former gardens of the older houses, some across Spa, Weems and College Creeks.  By the 1950s the city was again expanding but not in the grand manner of the Golden Age.

Urban Renewal

   The 1950s  brought to Annapolis, and to many cities across the United States, the new concept of Urban Renewal.   The basic premise was that entire city blocks, entire neighborhoods of mostly poor people in  older  or substandard housing, would be asked to leave and their neighborhoods razed for new and better housing.  
      Annapolis had already had a taste of this in 1941 with the U.S. Naval Academy taking a neighborhood of 93 households in two city blocks to build an athletic field house. This neighborhood, called Hell Point, was racially and ethnically and economically mixed, with  Filipino, African- American, Irish, Italian, and Greek residents. 
     In 1952  the city acquired and tore down a much smaller community called Gott's Court, an alley community of homes rented by African Americans.  This became a municipal parking garage after everyone was displaced and their houses torn down. 
    This must have been a wake up call for the city's citizens who did not wish to see great holes  made in  the 18th and 19th century core of the commerical and residential sections.

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