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Langsdale Library

BCP Collection Overview

Collection Title:  Baltimore City Planning Department (BCP)

Inclusive Dates: 1929-1973

Size: 324 linear feet

Scope and Contents: 
Correspondence, cartographic records, case files, computer printouts, consultant reports, federal grant applications, housekeeping records, memos, newspaper clippings, photographic files, position papers, reference materials, staff reports, survey returns, and working papers.  (Please note: Series I through IV and VI were returned to the Baltimore City Archives. To see these files, please email the BCA:

Historical Note: 
In Baltimore before 1918, a Topographic Survey Committee performed many of the tasks today associated with city planning. In 1918, the Board of Estimates named a quasi-official City Plan Committee of three members to take over the planning duties. By 1932, the Committee's lack of authority had become evident, especially in zoning matters. The Board of Estimates created a stronger Commission on City Plan. Although the new Commission possessed greater legal power than its predecessor, its authority too proved insufficient for effective planning.

On May 2, 1939, Baltimore voters ratified an amendment endowing the Commission on City Plan with greater power and status under the City Charter. The amendment established a commission of nine members, three public officials serving ex-officio and six additional city residents. The amendment required that the commission appoint a Secretary-Engineer and employees in accordance with Civil Service regulations. The commission received full power to investigate land uses and zoning and to prepare plans for physical development of the entire city. In 1947, another City Charter Amendment established the positions of Director and Deputy Director within the Department of Planning.

The Zoning Commission staff became part of the Department of Planning in 1958, although the Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals continued as a separate entity. At that time, the Department of Planning also began to work with a growing number of other agencies and organizations, including the Baltimore Urban Renewal and Housing Authority (BURHA), the Regional Planning Council (RPC), and the Planning Council of the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC).

Custodial History: 

The collection was formally deposited at the University of Baltimore on August 8, 1973, based on a contract between Dr. W. T. Durr of the Baltimore Regional Institutional Studies Center and Larry Reich, Director of the Baltimore City Department of Planning. There were  20 accessions of records between 1972 and 1977. Upon request in 1989, Geraldine M. Yeager of the University of Baltimore returned Series 1-4 and 6 to Thomas L. Hollowak at the Baltimore City Archives.