Located off I-95, just southeast of Baltimore's Inner Harbor, the star-shaped Fort McHenry was designed by a
Frenchman named Jean Foncin and named after James McHenry who served as Secretary of War from 1796 to 1800 and supported construction of the new fort.
A famous point of interest best known for its role in the Battle of Baltimore, Fort McHenry successfully staved off the
British invasion of Baltimore by sea while the Battle of North Point was fought on land.
During the War of 1812, the brick fort defended the Baltimore harbor and stopped a British advance into the city.
Surronded by water on three sides and far enough from Baltimore to provide protection without endangering the city,
it was the valiant defense of the fort by 1,000 Americans that inspired Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and amateur poet,
to compose the Star Spangled Banner, originally entitled Defense of Fort McHenry.
During the civil war, Fort McHenry was used as a military prison from 1861 to 1865. The National Park Service's Civil
War Soldiers and Sailors system now allows you to search Fort McHenry'sprison records online.
Administered by the National Park Service in 1933, Fort McHenry is the only area of the National Park System to be
designated both a National Monument and Historic Shrine. Fort McHenry is open to the public year round and offers
visitor programs and special events that highlight the park's history.
It is a tradition that when a new flag is designed for use by the United States, it is first flown over Fort McHenry,
over the same ramparts referred to in the National Anthem.
One of the biggest celebrations around Fort McHenry happens in early September, when Defenders Day ceremonies are held to
celebrate the successful defense of the City during the War of 1812. But, any time of year is a good time to visit this historic
landmark that we recognize in the National Anthem.