After the Revolution Baltimore began to grow explosively, and by 1800 it was the nation’s third-most-populous town. It grew in extent as well, both out into the countryside and—like Boston—into its harbor through a process of wharfing-out and fill.
Folie’s plan conveys the impression of a dynamic and growing metropolis. While highlighting its large built-up area, many public edifices, and the stream of traffic in the harbor, it also shows an even larger zone laid out and awaiting development. Similarly, a line in the harbor indicates the point “beyond which improvements shall not extend.”
The plan’s decorative qualities—notably the sailing vessels and the ornate cartouche—are uncharacteristic of American maps of this era. But this exception helps prove the rule: Folie was by his own account a “French geographer,” apparently a refugee from the violence of a slave revolt in St. Domingue (Haiti).