10 Things You Didn’t Know About Havre de Grace

1. John O’Neill was the first keeper of the Concord Point Lighthouse. Defender’s Day in Havre de Grace–celebrated this year on Saturday, May 4–is in honor of him and his heroism when Havre de Grace was attacked during the War of 1812. 

2. Havre de Grace has a sister city of Mumbles in the region of Swansea, Wales, or Cymunedy Mwmbwls as it is called in the Welsh language. This formal relationship began in September 2019 through the Community Projects of Havre de Grace as a way to foster friendship and understanding between two different communities. The Charter between the two cities is on display in City Hall.

3. Downtown Havre de Grace is one of 34 Main Street Districts in the state of Maryland. The City has been a Main Street Community since 2005, and is the third oldest Main Street Community in Maryland.

4. Hutchins Park, located at 100 Congress Avenue, has free food composting bins. Visitors who picnic and have leftover food waste or residents who want to make Havre de Grace a greener place to live can deposit their food waste in the labeled containers at Hutchins Park. Composting helps reduce the amount of food waste that ends up in municipal landfills. 
4a. Speaking of waste…since 2013, Citizens Against Trash (CAT) Club volunteers regularly monitor the city for litter, preventing an estimated 15 tons of trash from ending up in the Chesapeake Bay. The CAT Club has about 60 active volunteers, as well as school and civic groups who help out during special events such as their upcoming City Wide City Sweep on Saturday, May 4.

5. Havre de Grace used to have a horse racing track in town nicknamed “The Graw,” located where the National Guard Base is now. The current $16.5M design-build facility replaced the Guard’s previous building, which was designed and built in 1924 as a clubhouse for the Havre de Grace Race Track and served as an armory since 1955. The new and modern facility houses the 1297th Combat Service Sustainment Battalion and 1729th Maintenance Company. Graw Alley, the city’s newest park, highlights this part of Havre de Grace’s history with its colorful outdoor murals and artwork.

6. Although Havre de Grace is known as the Decoy Capital of the World, the City is also home to some fantastic live bird watching on the 3/4 mile long waterfront Promenade. During the spring and fall migration season, the Promenade provides a gorgeous setting for viewing warblers and other waterfowl. Nearby Susquehanna State Park and the Conowingo Dam provide other excellent bird watching opportunities. 

7. One vote can make a difference. Havre de Grace narrowly missed being named the capital of the United States by only ONE vote. The deciding vote would be cast by the Speaker of the House Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, of Pennsylvania.

8. Many restaurants and businesses are dog friendly, including the Visitors Center. Look for Pet Friendly stickers in their windows. Need a safe outdoor place to bring Fido? The K-9 Cody Dog Park is a half-acre fenced in grassy area with separate sections for large and small dogs and water fountains for both dogs and their humans. It is located near the Havre de Grace Community Center at 100 Lagaret Lane, off Route 155.

9. In 2021, a statue of Ernest Burke was dedicated in Tydings Park. Burke, who lived in Havre de Grace as a child, was one of the U.S. Marine Corps’ first Black Marines. He fought in WWII in the Pacific Theatre and earned a medal as a sharpshooter. In 1947 he joined the Negro Leagues with the Baltimore Elite Giants. Today, Burke is remembered for his community advocacy. He is quoted as saying, “what I loved most is the hundreds of letters I have received from young people telling me how much they have appreciated learning about the Negro Leagues.”

10. Last but not least. Havre de Grace was originally called Susquehanna Lower Ferry. Major General Marquis de Lafayette wrote in his diary on August 29, 1782 that the town reminded him of Le Havre, France. The citizens decided to change the name in 1785. Walk the Lafayette Trail throughout town to learn more about the Marquis de Lafayette and Havre de Grace’s vibrant history.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive our email newsletter!