Baltimore City dates from the late 1600s when colonists took advantage of its location just up the Patapsco River from the Chesapeake Bay for a port to export crops of tobacco, iron ore, and grains. Today, it remains an important harbor for international trade, including vehicles, raw materials, and manufactured goods from giftware to technology products. It's a vibrant city of neighborhoods, ranging from the old rowhouses of Federal Hill and Fells Point, the loft condos of Canton, to the elegant downtown homes in Mount Vernon and Bolton Hill, the residential area around Johns Hopkins University, and the early 'subdivisions' of large homes in Roland Park, Guilford and Homeland. Entertainment includes the Inner Harbor, several venues that have made the city a center for emerging bands, numerous restaurants, a variety of museums, and professional and college sports.
Baltimore County surrounds Baltimore City, extending to the Pennsylvania border. Towns such as Towson, Catonsville, and Dundalk maintain a semi-urban appeal, older neighborhoods such as Ruxton, Lutherville, and Brooklandville reflect their rail commuter roots, and post World War II subdivisions of Perry Hall, Reisterstown, and Cockeysville are close to major commuter routes and commercial areas. White Marsh and Owings Mills were existing neighborhoods when master plans of the 1980s designated them for planned communities. Rural areas include Monkton, Sparks, Dulaney Valley, and Parkton, and are known for horse farms.