About Us > History
Sail Baltimore was founded in 1975 by then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer to prepare the city to participate in Operation Sail 1976, a centerpiece of the U.S. Bicentennial celebration.
Since welcoming the first visiting ships to Baltimore in 1976, Sail Baltimore has welcomed more than 700 vessels and produced or partnered in more than 50 maritime events. Since its inception, we estimate that Sail Baltimore’s efforts have brought more than 5 million visitors to the city and contributed more than $300 million to Baltimore’s economy.
In addition to our ongoing program of visiting ships, Sail Baltimore has honored significant historic events for our country, state and city through large gatherings of ships:
- We provided hospitality for the 32 ships that came to Baltimore for Star-Spangled Spectacular (September 10-16, 2014), the culminating event for Star-Spangled 200, a three-year commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and the penning of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
- We hosted 45 ships for Star-Spangled Sailabration (June 13-19, 2012), the kick-off event for Star-Spangled 200, a three-year commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and the penning of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
- Sailabration 2004 (June 30-July 4, 2004) brought an international fleet of tall ships to Baltimore to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the launch of the USS Constellation.
- During OpSail 2000, an international tall ship event, 30 tall ships were in port and more than 1.5 million visitors came to our city with an estimated economic impact of more than $100 million.
- OpSail 1992 marked the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ Atlantic voyage. Sail Baltimore hosted 25 ships that year.
- For the Summer of Sail 1986, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the first tall ships’ visits to Baltimore and the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, we welcomed 26 ships to the Inner Harbor.
- For Operation Sail 1976, a celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial and our first large event, we hosted 13 ships in Baltimore.
See our Photo Gallery for pictures from some of these events.