Abbreviated HdG, is a city in Harford County, Maryland, situated at the mouth of the Susquehanna River and the head of Chesapeake Bay. It is named after the port city of Le Havre, France, which in full was once Le Havre de Grâce(French, “Harbor of Grace”). The population was 12,952 at the 2010 United States Census. In 2014, the city was honored as one of the 20 best small towns in the U.S. to visit by Smithsonian magazine.
During the Revolutionary War, the small hamlet known as Harmer’s Town was visited several times by General Lafayette, considered a hero of the war. He commented that the area reminded him of the European seaport of Le Havre, which had originally been named Le Havre-de-Grâce. Inspired by Lafayette’s comments, the residents incorporated the town as Havre de Grace in 1785.
George Washington stayed overnight in the town in 1789 on the journey to New York City for his first inauguration. During the First Congress in 1789, Havre de Grace missed by only one vote being named the capital of the fledgling United States.
Havre de Grace’s location at the head of the Chesapeake Bay and the mouth of the Susquehanna River makes it popular for recreation and tourism. There are marinas and service operators along the shore line. The city yacht basin and park sponsors various events each year. The restored promenade and boardwalk that runs along the shore from the Concord Point Lighthouse to the yacht basin is a favorite place for locals and tourists to walk and enjoy views of the bay.
In 1987, the central business district was added to the National Register of Historic Places as the Havre de Grace Historic District, which recognizes its architecture and historic fabric. A variety of museums help explain and interpret the city’s rich maritime past and present: the Decoy Museum, the Havre de Grace Maritime Museum, Concord Point Lighthouse, the Lockhouse Museum, the Black Eyed Susan paddle steamer. Havre de Grace also claims a renovated seaplane port. The city has four public schools and Harford Memorial Hospital, the first to be established in Harford County.
Called “Harbor of Grace” for its scenic beauty, it was considered indefensible from the all-powerful British Navy. That proved prophetic, when the British later bombarded Havre de Grace during the War of 1812, destroying much of the town. Today, the town is known for its quiet streets, antiques shops, decoy shops, historic homes and the Promenade, an environmentally friendly boardwalk skirting the southern end of town and linking the historic Concord Point Lighthouse with the bustling Tydings Memorial Park.
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