Baltimore, Maryland, is located on the US mid-Atlantic coastline along the terminus of the Patapsco River into Chesapeake Bay, and is the largest seaport along this part of the coast. This astronaut photograph, taken from the International Space Station, highlights the Baltimore area at night. Like many large US metropolitan areas, the most brightly lit area corresponds to the highest density of buildings and typically indicates the urban core - in this case, downtown Baltimore at image center.
Highways and large arterial streets appear as bright yellow-orange lines extending outwards from the downtown area into the surrounding suburban regions (light violet and reddish brown regions of diffuse lighting). Dark areas beyond the suburban zone are rural - or to the southeast, indicate the waters of Chesapeake Bay. Small dark patches within the metropolitan area are open space including parks, cemeteries, and the Baltimore Zoo (image top left). Two large, brightly-lit areas along Chesapeake Bay are commercial/industrial regions, and include the major port facilities for Baltimore.
The City of Baltimore was incorporated in 1796, after serving as the de facto capital of the nascent United States of America during the Second Continental Congress(from December 20, 1776 to March 4, 1777). Today, the Baltimore metropolitan area (as defined by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council includes over 2.5 million people and includes six Maryland counties (Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, and Howard) in addition to the City of Baltimore. The region is also a focus of urban ecological research through the Baltimore Ecosystem Study that is part of the National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research network.