Phoenix Shot Tower

Phoenix Shot Tower

Infobox_nrhp | name =Shot Tower
nrhp_type = nhl

caption = Phoenix Shot Tower
location= Baltimore, Maryland
lat_degrees = 39
lat_minutes = 17
lat_seconds = 26
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 76
long_minutes = 36
long_seconds = 20
long_direction = W
locmapin = Maryland
area =
built =1828
architect= Unknown
added = October 01, 1969
governing_body = Local
refnum=69000373cite web|url=|title=National Register Information System|date=2007-01-23|work=National Register of Historic Places|publisher=National Park Service]

The Phoenix Shot Tower, also known as the "Old Baltimore Shot Tower", is a red brick shot tower, 234 ft and 3 inches tall, located near the downtown and Little Italy areas of Baltimore, Maryland. When it was completed in 1828 it was the tallest structure in the United States. The tower was originally known as the Phoenix Shot Tower, then the "Merchants' Shot Tower", and now is called the Old Baltimore Shot Tower.

The Shot Tower lends its name to the nearby Shot Tower/Market Place station on the Baltimore Metro Subway.


The tower was built by Jacob Wolfe [ "An Engineer's Guide to Baltimore: Phoenix Shot Tower"] , accessed May 6, 2007] using bricks manufactured by the Burns and Russell Co. of Baltimore. Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, laid its cornerstone.

The circular brick structure's walls are 4.5 feet thick from the bottom to about 50 feet up; then they narrow in stages of 4 inches each, until at the top the thickness is 21 inches.


:"For more information on this process, see shot tower."Molten lead was dropped from a platform at the top of the tower, through a sieve-like device, into a vat of cold water at the bottom of the tower, [ "Shot Tower"] , National Park Service, accessed May 6, 2007] to produce both "drop shot" for pistols and rifles and "moulded shot" for larger weapons such as cannons. [ "Baltimore (Phoenix) Shot Tower"] , National Park Service, accessed May 6, 2007] When hardened, dried and polished, the shot was sorted into 25-pound bags. The annual production about 100,000 bags of shot a year, [ [ Phoenix Shot Tower] , Greater Baltimore History Alliance, accessed May 6, 2007] with the capacity of doubling that in case of war or other high demand.

The tower stopped producing shot in 1892, when a new method of making shot made the tower obsolete. It re-opened for a brief period of production at the beginning of the twentieth century, and then closed for good. [ Phoenix Shot Tower"] , Carroll Museums, accessed May 6, 2007]


The tower remained the tallest structure in the United States until 1846, when Trinity Church, New York was erected. [ Statement of Significance] at the National Park Service's National Historic Landmark Program website, accessed May 6, 2007] It remained the tallest free-standing masonry structure in the world until 1884, when the Washington Monument in the District of Columbia was completed.

The shot tower was originally owned by the Merchant's Shot Tower Company. The company closed in 1898.

In 1921 the tower was purchased for $14,500 by the Union Oil Company, which planned to tear it down and put a gas station in its place. After strong objections by the community, by 1928 enough money had been raised to purchase the tower and present it to the City of Baltimore.

The tower was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1972.

External links

* [ Phoenix Shot Tower] - web page by Carroll Museums, the organization that maintains the tower as a museum
* [ Two photos of the tower, around 1900] - Trapshooting Hall of Fame and Museum website, accessed May 6, 2007
* [ Baltimore, Maryland, a National Park Service "Discover Our Shared Heritage" Travel Itinerary]


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