November 21, 2016 / Love Letters

Love Letters: Phoenix Shot Tower Letter #2

Shot Tower

Image courtesy Brian Miller, Full Circle Fine Art Services

Dear Shot Tower,

When I first came to Baltimore, I noticed you standing tall and proud and I wondered what you could be. Your warm red bricks cast a welcome over you tall, intimidating appearance.

It wasn’t until a year later, after I met you, that I learned what you are. Molten lead was dropped from your top, solidifying into tiny spherical balls of shot as it fell, and landing in a tub of water at the bottom. You produced an astonishing 100,000 bags of shots a year.

Brought to life in 1828, you held your ground as the tallest structure at 234 feet. Made with over a million Baltimore bricks, it took six months to erect you. Your cornerstone was laid by Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

You jumped from different identities, being known as the Phoenix Shot Tower, then the Merchants Shot Tower, and finally, the Baltimore Shot Tower. In 1878, you suffered major damage from a fire.

Purchased by an oil company in the early 1900s, you were to become a gas station and once again, a parking space. You survived almost being torn down. Your community saw you were worth much more and bought you. To ensure you would remain, you became a National Historic Landmark in 1971.

Thank you for holding tours around the year, inviting people to see your life. The climb to the top is easily worth it once we see a panoramic sweep of the city from your eyes. I hope you continue to watch over the city through all eleven on your windows. Wish I could’ve seen you at your greatest!


Bataul Alkhateeb

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