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(Department of Planning)

Series Description

Planning activities in Baltimore are undertaken by a planning department which is headed by a commission. The present department was created in 1946, but its predecessors date from the early nineteenth century.

The first of several bodies to carry on planning activities was the Thomas H. Poppleton survey authorized in 1812 and completed in 1823. With the annexation of 1888 came the need for another survey, and the Topographical Survey Commission was created in 1893. The Baltimore fire of 1904 presented another opportunity for planned development which was carried out by the Burnt District Commission. The immediate predecessor to the current Planning Commission was the Commission on the City Plan. Created in 1910, this commission was under a Department of Public Improvements and investigated proposed plans for public highways and other public improvements. The commission was reactivated in 1932, reorganized in 1939, and renamed the Baltimore City Planning Commission in 1947. A good history of planning activities in Baltimore appears in the Planning Commission minutes, May 25, 1939.

While the commission determines what areas need to be studied and makes the final decisions on plans, the survey and drafting work associated with planning has been carried on in a variety of city agencies. In 1926 a new Bureau of Plans and Surveys in the Baltimore City Department of Public Works was created by combining the Topographical Survey Commission, the Bureau of Drafting, and the Municipal Surveyor's position. Twenty years later all planning activities of the city were combined into the present department in the 1946 charter.

The records in this record group include the minutes of the Planning Commission from 1932, the general administrative files of the Planning Department from 1974, and a variety of the maps, plats, and studies done by the Department to carry out its planning mandate.

See: Laws of Maryland, 1910, ch. 114; Baltimore City Charter of 1927, art. 85A, sect. 8; Baltimore City Charter of 1946, sects. 102-22; and Baltimore City Charter of 1964, art. 7, sects. 65-84.

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DateSeries NameDescriptionMSA Citation
  Details1974General Administrative Files

Central administrative files of the department with material on general topics as well as files on the department's divisions. The files for 1969-73 and some from 1964-68 are housed at the University of Baltimore's Baltimore Regional Institutional Studies Center (BRISC), and the whereabouts of the 1946-63 files are unknown. The BRISC collection also has a large amount of supplementary material especially cartographic records, books and pamphlets, reports, and routine files such as purchase orders and time sheets. The supplementary material dates from 1939, although the bulk is from the 1960's.

A file folder listing is available at the Baltimore City Archives.

  Details1974-1979Reader FilesThe reader files contain copies of correspondence, memos, and other material generated by administrative divisions of the department. Material in this central file is duplicated in the topically arranged general administrative files (series 1).BRG60-2
  Details1932-1966, 1971, 1976-1979, 1980-1985Planning CommissionMinutes begin with the first meeting of the reorganized Commission on the City Plan on April 7, 1932. In September 1947 the Commission on the City Plan was again reorganized and renamed the Planning Commission, but there is no break in the minutes. The minutes for May 25, 1939 give a lengthy history of city planning in Baltimore.BRG60-3
  Details1950-1977Subdivision and Development PlatsThese plats were used by the Baltimore City Planning Commission, and each plat is stamped with the date of the commission meeting at which it was discussed. A duplicate file of these plats is kept on apperature cards at the department. The plats are arranged by department drawer and plat numbers with a descriptive index to the plats in each drawer at the beginning of each reel. The drawers, however, were not filmed in numerical sequence. Beginning in 1965 the plats are arranged chronologically.BRG60-4
  Details1940-1960, 1971Master PlansThese master plans were prepared from the 1940s-1960s and a few in 1971 and arranged by function. A letter (1940) concerning the preparation of master plans is at the beginning of the film. Plans include: park plans, police and jail, libraries, markets, recreation, airport, port, bath houses, water, street cleaning, rapid transit, residential blight and slums, sewers, schools, fire departments, and street plans.BRG60-5
  Details1939-1960Statistical Data FolioThe Commission on City Plan began in 1939 compiling statistics on various aspects of the master city plan. Parts on the plan covered are: Master Park Plan (1939-51), Master Plan on Residential Blight and Slum Areas (1946), Master Street Plan (1939-57), Fire Department Plan (1941- 61), Bath Houses and Comfort Stations Plan (1941-60), Master School Plan (1939-51), Master Water Plan (1943, 1945), Master Recreation Plan (1944-50), and Master Plan for Rapid Transit (1946). The data consists of the location of existing and proposed facilities in each of the areas covered.BRG60-6
  Details1962-1964Square Mile SheetsThese are square mile sheets of the city, all revised in the period 1962-64. They are arranged on the film by location beginning with the northwest and ending with the southeast. Film of subsequent square mile sheets is in the department.BRG60-7
  Details1930, 1960Transportation Division PlansThese plans were prepared by other city agencies and used for transportation planning. The plans were filmed by plan number, but there does not seem to be any organization to the plans. The types of plans represented are Bureau of Highways plans on specific streets, urban renewal plans, interstate highway system plans, census tracts, and square mile sheets.BRG60-8
  Details1967Traffic SurveyIn order to determine pedestrian usage of downtown streets, interviews were conducted at various downtown street corners in 1967. The data conisted of sex of interviewee, starting point, and destination.BRG60-9
  Details1950-1959PicturesIn 1959 the Planning Department had slides made of graphic material relating to various planning projects. The material, collectively called "pictures," includes renderings, sketches, plans, close sections, profiles, and maps. These were done in the 1950s. This film features copies of these pictures and the following projects are represented: Camden Redevelopment (Area 7); Broadway Urban Renewal Area (Area 4); Hilton Street and Frederick Ave.; St. Mary's Industrial School; Carlin's Circle; Edmondson Ave. and Hilton St.; Inner Harbor Basin; Baltimore-Washington Expressway; East-West Expressway; Mount Vernon Place; Jones Falls Expressway; Harbor Tunnel; Stiles St.; and Battle Monument.

In 2010, twelve drawings, originals and copies, were located, cataloged, digitized, and hyperlinked. They form the content sub-series 2.

  Details Park Blue PrintsPlats of various parks prepared by the Commission on Efficiency and Governmental Economy, Engineering Committee. Parks included are: Herring Run, Wyman, Carroll, Clifton, Venable, Druid Hill, park board property, Gwynns Falls, Patterson, Broening, Swann (Moale Point), Garrett, Riverside, Latrobe, Easterwood, Franklin Square, Union Square, Harlem Square, Lafayette Square, Collington Square, Perkins Spring Square, City Springs Park, Mt. Royal Terraces, Johnson Square, Madison Square, Bo-Lin Square, Maple Park, Fulton Ave. Squares, Mt. Vernon Place, Jackson Square, Park Space, Broadway Squares, Eutaw Place, Wilkens Ave. Squares, Philadelphia Road Squares, Cold Stream Park, Friend's Park, and Taylor Park.BRG60-11
  Details1975-1979City Council BillsFiles created by the Planning Department when researching and making a recommendation on city council bills referred to them. The files contain printed city council bills, correspondence, draft testimony, newspaper clippings, plans, petitions, and rough drafts of resolutions.BRG60-12
  Details1967Institutional Survey

The Planning Department hired Morton Hoffman and Company (consultants) to prepare and conduct a survey of downtown or Central Business District III (CBD III) institutions. This survey provided the Planning Department with project space needs for future use. Separate questionaires were designed for each of four types of institutions: hospitals, health and welfare agencies, educational, and religious institutions. The various institutions surveyed are arranged alphabetically first, under their appropriate organizational category andthen, by the name of the institution. In addition to the questionaires the files contain: correspondence, articles, programs, brochures, interviews, published histories, analytical and annual reports, plats, and slides.

A container list is available at the Baltimore City Archives.

  Details1976-1988Board of Municipal and Zoning AppealsFiles created by the Planning Commission when requests were made for renovations and zoning changes. The files include: plats, correspondence, plans, newspaper clippings, petitions, and hearing decisions.BRG60-14
  Details1914-1980Economic Development Reports

Reports of studies and proposals done and issued by the Planning Department concerning industrial and commercial development in the city.

There is a container listing available at the Baltimore City Archives.

  Details1975-1988SlidesSlides organized by street address and created by the Planning Department for various projects. Note: many are general area views and do not photographically document the entire length of a particular street.BRG60-16
  Details1929-1973Baltimore City Planning files (formerly in the custody of the University of Baltimore)Correspondence, cartographic records, case files, computer printouts, consultant reports, federal grant applications, housekeeping records, memos, newspaper clippings, photographic files, etc. Here is a finding aid to the material. An earlier transfer of material took place in 1989. Series I through IV and VI were cataloged with the temporary designation of BTR 22.BRG60-17
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