English settlers were greeted on the tip of Southern Maryland by the Powhatan tribe in 1632. The 7th Colony, Maryland had ports in St. Mary's and Annapolis, and settlements along both sides of the Chesapeake Bay and into the Potomac and Patapsco rivers by 1670. Established as a city in 1725, Baltimore's port at the mouth of the Patapsco grew quickly as agricultural crops and iron ore shipped to English ports.
Baltimore became an immigration port, and neighborhoods influenced by their German, Polish, Chinese, Italian, Greek and Russian settlers, among others, continue to have those cultural references.
The land for Washington was given to the United States by Maryland and, to a lesser degree, Virginia, to create the new Capital. It was formally laid out by Pierre L'Enfant and Benjamin Banneker, and thus has always had the national government as its focus.
The advent of the railroad, and building of the national highway (Route 40 today), encouraged development into the western areas of the state, and beyond. Timber and coal, as well as orchard crops, contributed to the economy.Small towns developed throughout the state at crossroads, supporting the local residents and providing way stations for travelers.
During the Civil War, Maryland was a border state, meaning it did not succeed from the Union, but also was not hostile to the Confederacy. This was, to a great extent, because President Abraham Lincoln -- concerned that Maryland's civic and business leaders sided with the Confederates and thus would surround Washington with the enemy -- suspended due process and imprisoned the leaders for the war's duration. Some families had brothers in each army, and stories of a relative's exploits in battle or while spying on the other side remain part of oral histories.
After the Civil War, farms in Maryland became smaller. The economics moved more toward making things and distributing them. Manufacturers and mills for steel, cloth, industrial equipment, automobiles, and food grew. Trucking companies, warehouses, shipyards, and distribution centers arrived. Chemical industrials located here.
The technologies that developed during World War II began to call the area home. Today, they are the focus of much of the area economy, although distribution remains important.