BALTIMORE CITY ARCHIVES
(Burnt District Commission)
The "Great Baltimore Fire" of February 7, 1904 destroyed 140 acres, 1,500 buildings, and four large lumber yards and left over thirty-five thousand Baltimoreans jobless. Total damages were estimated between $125 and $150 million. On March 12, 1904 (Ordinance 66) the Burnt District Commission was established with broad powers to plan, improve, and rebuild the city with appropriate monies. The commission lasted three and one half years and reduced street grades, widened streets, established public squares and market spaces, established building lines and sidewalks, and planned extensions in the harbor. In its work this commission spent over $7 million to remove hundreds of buildings, increasing the street areas by about thirty-five thousand square feet with the widening of St. Paul, Pratt, Light, German, Lombard, and Charles Streets and Hopkins Place.
Further information about the fire and commission can be found in Ord. 66 (1904); Harold A. Williams, Baltimore Afire (Baltimore: Schneidereth and Sons, 1954 and 1979 rev. ed.); and James B. Crooks, "The Baltimore Fire and Baltimore Reform, Maryland Historical Magazine 65 (Spring 1970): 1- 17.