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de waterkant

In Baltimore and many other historical port cities around the world, once-bustling harbor activities moved out of their original inner-city locations toward deeper waters that could accommodate the ever-larger ships being built in the years after World War II.  This left many inner-city harbor areas vacant, decaying, and unsuited to any positive contribution to the host city.  Completed in 1980, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, one of the world’s first attempts to revitalize a dilapidated harbor area, inspired Rotterdam to initiate a similar revitalization of the Kop van Zuid (“South-Head”) area of its own inner-city harbor. 

This exchange of ideas for solving an important urban redevelopment problem was the spark that led to the establishment of the sister city relationship between Baltimore and Rotterdam.  The exchange of ideas has continued over the years as the Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee has hosted many delegations from Rotterdam, visiting Baltimore to learn about new developments in waterfront revitalization, and Baltimore citizens and officials have contributed ideas for Rotterdam’s waterfront.

Rotterdam waterfront
Rotterdam waterfront. (Photo: © BRSCC)

Climate change and rising seawaters

Baltimore and Rotterdam are port cities and will be affected by rising seawaters and storm surges as a result of climate change. Rotterdam is a member of RC100 (100 Resilient Cities) and home of the Global Centre of Excellence on Climate Adaptation. Learn about Rotterdam’s creative use of technology and smart urban planning to mitigate the effects of climate change in this New York Times article and a segment about flood resiliency in the 60 Minutes tv show (Watch video). The Netherlands is providing its water management expertise and technology to coastal areas around the world.

In late March 2019, a ">Dutch delegation came to Baltimore to discuss solutions to flood resiliency challenges with the Baltimore region.

Rotterdam’s PortXL Accelerator

The Port of Rotterdam Authority has launched, together with international partners, the startup accelerator program PortXL. PortXL is an accelerator program focusing on port related industries offering an ecosystem of founders, corporate partners, investors and mentors that support and accelerate the entrepreneurial journey.

PortXL website


Both cities have an active interest in shipping, historical reconstructions, boat racing, and other activities related to the harbor. The committee helps host visiting naval ships and other boats.

De Boompjes

Rotterdam invited Baltimore, London, Hamburg, and Barcelona to participate in conceptualizing ideas for the revitalization of an important urban waterfront area in Rotterdam — De Boompjes. Baltimore's concept plan was produced by the Baltimore Development Corporation, with contributions from several Baltimore architectural firms. Baltimore’s contribution was included in a 2001 exhibition, in conjunction with Rotterdam’s year as “Cultural Capital of Europe.”

Flooded city street with Maryland and Netherlands flags

Flood Resiliency & Smart Cities

Dutch delegation to Baltimore

A delegation of Dutch researchers, government officials, and businesses, led by Rotterdam, visited Baltimore in late March 2019. The Rotterdam and Baltimore regions exchanged best practices and challenges with regards to the role of flood resilience in adapting their cities to climate change. Additional focus was on how technology can contribute to making cities more resilient.

More information

Photos on our Facebook page

GreenPort Congress America

GreenPort Congress America 2018 in Baltimore #GPCAM18

This annual international sustainability-themed port conference took place in Baltimore in May 2018. Baltimore Sister Cities & Maryland Sister States helped Maryland Port Administration attract international speakers & attendees, including a speaker from Port of Rotterdam and other speakers from the Netherlands.

More about the sister city/state network’s role in GreenPort Congress America

Thank you to C. Steinweg!

C. Steinweg, a Rotterdam-based shipping logistics company with an office in Port of Baltimore, has generously provided ocean freight shipping of a sculpture gifted to Baltimore by a Rotterdam sculptor, Aloysius van Saus, in honor of the 30th anniversary of Baltimore-Rotterdam sister city relationship. The artwork is a metal seal, a "sister" sculpture of a seal that is installed in the Rotterdam harbor.