New Visitors Center for US Anthem’s Birthplace

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By: Sarah Brumfield, Associated Press
BALTIMORE (AP).- After decades of making do with a small, outdated visitor center, the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is getting new space and an update for the 21st century, just in time for the bicentennial of the War of 1812. The National Park Service’s old center built in 1964 accommodated 250,000 visitors annually. It was soon overwhelmed and attendance grew to 650,000 in recent years, with about 30 percent of the groups that seek reservations being turned away, Superintendent Gay Vietzke said. The new $15 million, 17,000-square-foot center is expected to welcome 750,000 people annually and will likely see an attendance bubble in the years surrounding the bicentennial. Thursday’s opening of the center falls on the 80th anniversary of the “Star-Spangled Banner” becoming the national anthem. The anthem made the fort on Baltimore’s harbor one of the best-known sites associated with the war. “If you know something abou