The first mechanics’ institutes founded in London and Philadelphia—a movement sparked by the Industrial Revolution “to provide instruction…in the principles of science…[and raise] artisans to their proper place in a democratic society.”
By the 1820s Baltimore was the fastest growing city in the young nation, third largest overall. It was a-buzz with the triumphant visit of the Marquis de Lafayette in 1824 and the completion of a 170-foot monument honoring George Washington the following year (the first city in the nation to do so). Merchants and manufacturers flocked to its harbor—lined with sailing vessels, steamboats and new factories signaling the arrival of the industrial revolution in America.
A handful of visionary Baltimoreans grasped the opportunity that lay before them and moved to educate people for the new age.