Baltimore County, Maryland

Black and white photo of large group of men gathered in a room celebrating giving blood during WW2
Blood drive at Bethlehem Steel Company, Sparrows Point, Maryland in 1942.

Baltimore County

American World War II Heritage City

Before the start of World War II, east Baltimore County was already a center of industry for the East Coast. In the southeast portion of the county, Sparrows Point, a steel mill and shipyard eventually purchased by Bethlehem Steel in 1916, had been producing materials for railroads, skyscrapers, and bridges since the late 1800s. Ten miles to the north in Middle River, Glenn L. Martin purchased over 1200 acres of land in 1929 for an aviation factory, the Glen L. Martin Company (eventually Martin Marietta).

During World War II, the Sparrows Point Shipyard built ships for the U.S. Maritime Commission’s Emergency Shipbuilding Program helping to rebuild the British Merchant Navy. The shipyard also built Liberty ships as well as oil tankers for the private sector. At the height of World War II, Bethlehem Steel employed approximately 36,000 people in its Sparrow Point facilities. The Glenn L. Martin Company also saw a similar boom. The Middle River factory was one of the largest production facilities in the world during WWII. It built military aircraft, specifically the B-26 Marauders used by the U.S. and allied air forces in both the Pacific and European Theaters. By 1942 the number of people employed by the company at Middle River had reached 53,000 and by 1944, African American workers made up 5 percent of the workforce and women made up 35 percent.

To accommodate the large influx of workers, large workforce housing communities were built by Glen Martin, the U.S. Government, and private developers. Two of them - Victory Villa and Aero Acres - still stand today.

Last updated: December 28, 2023