A Tess Monaghan Mystery
by Karen Ahn
Laura Lippman's detective Tess Monaghan, ex-reporter turned P.I., is as much a part of Baltimore as the Inner Harbor or the Orioles. Though her cases may take her far away from her beloved "Charm City," there's no mistaking where Tess's roots are firmly planted.
Baltimore, Maryland inspires a near fanatic loyalty from its residents, both obscure and famous. Journalist H.L. Mencken, at the height of his productivity, refused to leave the city even though most of his assignments were located in New York. Filmmaker John Waters remains firmly entrenched in Baltimore, far from the gleaming lights of Los Angeles and New York. Author Anne Tyler remains in her native city, and it has been home to scores of the famous and infamous, like the Duchess of Windsor, Edgar Allan Poe, Barry Levinson, Russell Baker, Dashiell Hammett, John Dos Passos, Cab Calloway and Billie Holiday.
Baltimore boasts an impressive past: King Charles I of Englandgranted the Maryland Charter to Lord Baltimore (Cecil Calvert) in 1632. Its natural resources and location at a natural port contributed to its growth. The inner harbor of Baltimore gave it a natural advantage during the early years of American history, and contributed to an economic boom that continued until the American Revolution. Most of the city's early growth and prosperity was due to the fact that it layfarther west than any other major Atlantic port, endearing its harbor toshippers. During the nascent stage of the American Revolution, when the Continental Congress was fleeing the British in 1776, it chose Baltimore as its meeting place.
In 1797, Baltimore was incorporated and declared a city. The busy harbor and backwater town had grown into a bustling metropolis, andby the mid-1800s, was second only to New York City in population.
Baltimore was, and is a city of firsts. It was the first to have street gaslights (followed shortly by Paris). Francis Scott Key penned thenational anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner," while detained during thebattle of Fort McHenry in 1814.
A concerted effort from local volunteer, municipal and federal sources helped rejuvenate Baltimore during this difficult period. The InnerHarbor area was a main focus, and soon new office buildings,entertainment facilities and hotels were constructed. In recentyears, Baltimore has added Oriole Park at Camden Yards and theNAACP headquarters as part of the city's rich civic heritage.
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