Baltimore Neighborhoods Research Guide

Baltimore map 1873

Defining a Neighborhood

We usually think the boundaries of our neighborhood enclose the few square blocks surrounding our home, church, school, business, park or playground. However, agencies collect, study, and disseminate Baltimore City data define neighborhoods quite differently. Geographic and social criteria provide useful information for understanding neighborhood dynamics of small areas of the city.

Using Demographics

Baltimore Neighborhood Profiles: One commonly-used method for understanding a neighborhood is to review the characteristics of the people who live there, such as age, race, gender, and other social and economic factors, and then create a demographic profile of the area. Data from the 2010 Census are now available from the Baltimore City Planning Department.

Census tracts: The United States Census Bureau uses semi-permanent boundaries to maintain accurate statistics. Census tracts may not fit neatly into your neighborhood's boundaries. The Baltimore City Planning Department has an interactive map of neighborhood statistical areas with census tracts. Use the  American Factfinder from the U.S. Census Bureau or the Maryland State Data Center website to find information on the one or more census tracts that may comprise your neighborhood.

Community Statistical Areas (CSAs): Most neighborhoods in Baltimore City have different borders than those established in census tracts.  So, clusters of neighborhoods were combined along census tract boundaries, forming 55 CSAs. The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance's Vital Signs report provides detailed demographic profiles of each CSA in Baltimore City.

Regional Planning Districts (RPDs): First developed in the 1970s, RPDs follow census geography boundaries and contain one or more census tracts. They are larger than most neighborhoods, but provide more to analyze. Find data covering RPD demographics, transportation, and environmental issues at the Regional Information Center, a library operated in partnership between the Baltimore Metropolitan Council and the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Zip Codes: The U.S. Census also makes demographic data available by zip code at their American FactFinder page.

Using Numerical Statistics

Crime Statistics

  • SpotCrime: provides a crime map of Baltimore City and daily statistics by street.
  • Baltimore Homicides: an interactive map provided by the Baltimore Sun, that is searchable geographically by police district and zip code.

Health Statistics

Economic Statistics

  • Live Baltimore: provides home sales statistics about Baltimore City neighborhoods and information about new neighborhood developments.
  • Vital Signs: BNIA's report for home sales data, neighborhood affordability information, and statistics concerning vacant/abandoned properties and reinvestment activity.
  • Economic characteristics are available at American FactFinder: Find information by zip code or census tract, concerning housing, income, and poverty status.

Plans for the Future

  • Neighborhood Plans: Master Plans and Urban Renewal Plans for the futures of many Baltimore neighborhoods, prepared by the Baltimore City Planning Department.

Using Maps

Discovering the History of a Neighborhood

The Pratt Library's Maryland Department is a great place to visit for neighborhood history research.

  • Neighborhood History Books
    To find published Baltimore neighborhood histories, search for the name of your neighborhood in the Pratt Library catalog.
  • Vertical Files
    File folders containing news clippings, pamphlets, brochures, etc. full of interesting information about city neighborhoods.
  • Historic MapsSanborn Map 1879/80
    • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps: show the locations and construction information of all buildings and houses on each street in Baltimore City between 1890 and 1984.
    • Sachse Map of Baltimore City: a detailed map that provides a unique portrait of Baltimore City, its businesses, houses, institutions, and landscapes, as they appeared in 1869.
    • Aerial Photographic Map of Baltimore and Metropolitan District of Baltimore County: photographed by the Chesapeake Aircraft Company between October, 1926, and February, 1927. Also available in hard copy in the Maryland Department.
    • Baltimore City Census District Maps: show changes in census districts over time. Available in hard copy in the Maryland Department.
  • Photographs
    Many of the mounted black & white photographs (mainly dating from the 1930s to the 1950s) in the Maryland Department collection show Baltimore streets, street corners, and notable buildings. They are often used for neighborhood history research.

Who Can I Contact for Assistance with a Neighborhood-Related Issue?

Getting Involved in my Neighborhood

Ask Us

If you would like to know more, email us through our Ask-A-Librarian service or contact us at:

Maryland Department
Enoch Pratt Free Library
Central Library, State Library Resource Center
400 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
(410) 396-5468