The Ouija Board—One of Many Cool Things Invented in Baltimore

From the practical to the sublime, this small city has been the birthplace of a huge number of firsts.

The “aha” moments have come fast and furious in this industrious town. In 1803 Thomas Moore invented the electric refrigerator, and a few years later Baltimore became the first American city illuminated by gas street lamps. The nation’s first umbrella factory opened here in 1828, and the first telegraph arrived in 1844. A fan of the Ouija board? Thank resident William Fuld. Many of these milestones are chronicled at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, which also houses a Linotype, the world’s first typesetting machine, invented here in 1884. Read on for more city firsts.

National Museum of Dentistry

Tracing its roots to the world’s first dental college, founded in 1840, the National Museum of Dentistry holds a set of George Washington’s dentures, carved from ivory.

George Washington's teeth

Washington Monument

That D.C. obelisk?
 It’s not the first to honor founding father George. With a cornerstone laid down in 1815, Baltimore’s Washington Monument claims that distinction.
The centerpiece of elegant Mount Vernon Place features a museum at the base and views from the top.

B&O Railroad Museum

Dubbed “the birthplace of American railroading,” this Smithsonian affiliate site celebrates the 1829 construction of America’s first commercial railway.

B&O Railroad Museum

National Great Blacks in Wax Museum

In 1967, Baltimorean Thurgood Marshall became 
the Supreme Court’s first African-American justice. In 1983, this museum opened as the first of its kind, featuring Marshall and other luminaries.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

This arts-obsessed city boasts the nation’s oldest music conservatory (the 1857 Peabody Institute) and this first municipal orchestra is supported by public funds (the 1916 symphony).

Baltimore Basilica

America’s first Roman Catholic cathedral (1806-1821) showcases the exalted architecture of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, who also oversaw the construction of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Baltimore Basilica

Brooke Sabin
About the author

Brooke served as the Washington, D.C., edito...