The canning industry was also an important economic engine for Baltimore's future. Canning became key as the riches
of the Chesapeake Bay began (for the first time) to be preserved and shipped to other parts of the country.
Older industries, such as shipbuilding and transportation, remained industrially strong, and the
city continued as an active port of entry for European immigrants and rural residents from the
upper South. In 1904, however, the city's progress suffered a rude setback when a fire consumed
most of its business district, including a number of historic structures. The devastated area was rapidly rebuilt,
perhaps even stimulating economic life, and Baltimore prospered through the First World War and into the 1920s.
The Depression, however, was too great an obstacle for local initiative to overcome, and physical developments
in the city were retarded, first by economic distress and then by controls imposed by World War II.
After the war, Baltimore's economy continued to thrive as people spent heavily on consumer goods.
As their standard of living increased, city residents were attracted to new housing developments
beyond Baltimore's borders, and many people left. The city, which had grown in popularity every year since
the mid-century, actually began to shrink as adjacent counties experienced tremendous growth.
Much to everyone's delight, the city began to come back strong in the 1970s.
The city encouraged a redoubling of efforts from the municipal, business and
volunteer partnerships, and tapped into ambitious federal programs for urban renewal.
The municipality managed to revitalize the downtown area, where dilapidated wharves and
warehouses were torn down and replaced by restaurants; attractions such as the Maryland Science Center;
and retail in the form of Harborplace, which opened in 1980 to tremendous fanfare.
The National Aquarium in Baltimore and hotels soon followed.
Baltimore's growth continues today. Development is moving both east and west of the Inner Harbor with more projects on the way.
Baltimore is currently enjoying a second renaissance with more than $1 billion in new development planned.