All of us in Baltimore are reeling from the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge this week. Our thoughts go first to the workers lost in this terrible accident and their families. We are also mourning an iconic piece of Baltimore’s history and infrastructure. Today, we want to remember the history of Key Bridge, and its importance in both bringing our city together and connecting us with the rest of the world.

Francis Scott Key: An Essential History

The name Francis Scott Key is forever linked to a momentous event in American history. During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key wrote the poem that would become the words for “The Star-Spangled Banner,” our national anthem. On the night of September 13, 1814, he sat captive in a ship during the Battle of Baltimore. After witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British forces, he saw that the American Flag still stood in the morning light and put his thoughts to paper. Scholars believe that the bridge stood less than 100 yards from where Key wrote his poem. The Key Bridge served as a constant reminder of the enduring values of freedom and resilience.

The Need for the Bridge

The need for the Francis Scott Key Bridge arose from Baltimore’s geographical challenges and economic demands. As the city and its industrial base expanded, so did the need for an efficient transportation network. The bridge was especially important for trucks carrying hazardous material, which are not allowed to travel through tunnels. The Key Bridge became the only way for these trucks to travel directly across Baltimore’s harbor.  

Construction and Use

The construction of the Francis Scott Key Bridge was a monumental task. Construction spanned from 1972 to 1977 and cost 110 million dollars. The bridge’s design, a cantilever structure that stretches majestically across the Patapsco River, was chosen for its strength, durability, and aesthetic appeal. Once it opened on March 23 1977, it began a 47 year run of massive importance to both the city of Baltimore and the entire I-95 corridor. Roughly 30,000 commuters traversed the bridge every day.

An Economic Lifeline

Since its completion, the Francis Scott Key Bridge has played a pivotal role in bolstering Baltimore’s economy. By providing a direct route for commercial transport, the bridge has significantly reduced travel time and costs for businesses, particularly those involved in shipping and logistics. This has, in turn, made Baltimore a more attractive location for commercial real estate development, offering unparalleled connectivity to major markets and infrastructure.

A Symbol of Connectivity

Beyond its economic impact, the Francis Scott Key Bridge symbolizes the connectivity that is essential for thriving communities and businesses. It not only links different parts of the city but also connects people, facilitating cultural exchanges and fostering a sense of unity. For commercial real estate, the bridge represented the potential for growth and development, as it enhanced access to diverse opportunities within Baltimore and the surrounding regions.

Port of Baltimore: Enhancing Global Connectivity

The Port of Baltimore, one of the key drivers of Maryland’s economy, directly benefited from the enhanced accessibility provided by the Francis Scott Key Bridge. The bridge facilitated efficient transport of goods to and from the port, making it an attractive logistic hub for international trade. This not only bolstered the port’s competitiveness but also attracted related industries, including warehousing, distribution, and manufacturing, to nearby areas. Commercial real estate in these regions saw a significant uptick in demand after the construction of the Key Bridge, boosting the local economy.


The Francis Scott Key Bridge was more than a piece of infrastructure; it was a landmark that embodies the spirit of Baltimore and the ideals of the nation. It was a testament to the city’s resilience and innovation. As we remember our magnificent bridge, we’re reminded of the past struggles and triumphs that have shaped our nation. We’re inspired to continue building a future that honors those legacies. This is a sad, terrible week for Baltimore. But we will get through this together, rebuild, and emerge a stronger city. We always do.

If you are interested in a free broker opinion of value or just learning more about investing in commercial real estate in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington DC, please contact us. Avenue Real Estate is a leading full service commercial brokerage in the Baltimore and Washington DC areas and we would love to help you explore your options and make informed decisions about commercial real estate investments.