Phoenix Shot Tower
The Phoenix Shot Tower, also known as the Old Baltimore Shot Tower, is a red brick shot tower, 234.25 feet (71.40 m) tall, located near the downtown and Little Italy areas of Baltimore, Maryland. When it was completed in 1828 it was the tallest structure in the United States. The tower was originally known as the Phoenix Shot Tower, then the Merchants' Shot Tower, and now is called the Old Baltimore Shot Tower. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on November 11, 1971. The Shot Tower lends its name to the nearby Shot Tower/Market Place station on the Baltimore Metro Subway.

The tower was built by Jacob Wolfe using bricks manufactured by the Burns and Russell Co. of Baltimore. Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, laid its cornerstone. The circular brick structure's walls are 4.5 feet (1.4 m) thick from the bottom to about 50 feet (15 m) up; then they narrow in stages of 4 inches (10 cm) each, until at the top the thickness is 21 inches (53 cm).

For more information on this process, see shot tower. Molten lead was dropped from a platform at the top of the tower, through a sieve-like device, into a vat of cold water at the bottom of the tower, to produce both "drop shot" for pistols and rifles and "moulded shot" for larger weapons such as cannons. When hardened, dried and polished, the shot was sorted into 25-pound bags. The annual production about 100,000 bags of shot a year, with the capacity of doubling that in case of war or other high demand. The tower stopped producing shot in 1892, when a new method of making shot made the tower obsolete. It re-opened for a brief period of production at the beginning of the twentieth century, and then closed for good.

The tower remained the tallest structure in the United States until 1846, when Trinity Church, New York was erected. The shot tower was originally owned by the Merchant's Shot Tower Company. The company closed in 1898. In 1921 the tower was purchased for $14,500 by the Union Oil Company, which planned to tear it down and put a gas station in its place. After strong objections by the community, by 1928 enough money had been raised to purchase the tower and present it to the City of Baltimore. The tower was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1972.


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