The beginnings of Baltimore County are somewhat murky. The first mention of the county was in 1659, in a writ issued to the sheriff. A formal boundary was established in 1698 that divided Baltimore County from Anne Arundel County. During that time, the county included Baltimore City. Today, Baltimore City is independent and not included in any county.
The county contains 84 listings on the National Register of Historic Places, including two National Historic Landmarks. The Hampton National Historic Site contains the Hampton Mansion and its outbuildings, slave quarters, and the gardens and grounds. The Hampton Mansion was the largest home in the United States when it was built in 1790.
The county seat of Baltimore County is Towson, an unincorporated community that dates back to the 1700s. This busy community contains the county courthouse, built in 1854, and the Baltimore County Jail, built in 1855. Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Towson University, the second largest school in Maryland’s university system, was founded in 1866. Unitas Stadium is home to the Towson Tigers football, lacrosse, and track and field teams.
Baltimore County’s natural wonders are as awe-inspiring as its historical ones. The Soldiers Delight Natural Environmental Area is a vast protected area of over 3,000 acres. During Colonial times, it was considered a hunting ground utilized by Native Americans. There are seven miles of hiking trails through this delicate system. The area contains dozens of rare, threatened, or endangered plant species.
The University of Maryland-Baltimore County and Stevenson University are also located in Baltimore County. Communities in the county include Essex, Hereford, Germantown, Hampton, Milford Mill, Fort Howard, Monkton, Rosedale, Sparks, Upper Falls, Nottingham, Overlea, and Baldwin.