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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 numerous 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: © Rob Hollis)

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.”

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. Read about Rotterdam’s creative use of technology and smart urban planning to mitigate the effects of climate change in this New York Times article.


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

Optimists visit Baltimore
Kids from Rotterdam competed in Maryland’s Optimists Boat Regatta race in May 2006. They are shown here with former Mayor Martin O’Malley at the Baltimore waterfront.

ISWA Conference 2017

International Solid Waste Association’s World Congress is in Baltimore in 2017 and features 2 sessions about Rotterdam and the Netherlands:

Navigating a Circular Economy Roadmap
Jeff George from IMG Rebel talks about Rotterdam’s roadmap to a circular economy by 2030.

The Netherlands Circular in 2050
Herman Huisman from Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment talks about the Netherlands’ efforts to become a circular economy with zero waste.

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

Press release 2015

Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center

Theatre artist/educator Kathie diStefano, who lives in the Heijplaat area of Rotterdam’s waterfront, organized a penpal exchange between Baltimore’s Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center and a school near Rotterdam. Masonville Cove is a wetlands preservation area. Local school children participate in stewardship projects with the Masonville Cove Center.

Taste of Business in the Netherlands

February 2017

World Trade Center Institute Baltimore hosts this networking event (for WTCI members and invited guests) at Spark Baltimore, a tech incubator near the Inner Harbor. Speakers include Remco Zeeuw, Economic Minister at Netherlands Embassy, speaking about Port of Rotterdam’s full automated port system, and Steve Conky, Vice President of Microbiology from BD.

WTCI website

Thank you to C. Steinweg!

C. Steinweg, a Rotterdam-based shipping logistics company, has generously provided ocean freight shipping of a sculpture gifted to Baltimore by a Rotterdam sculptor, Aloysius van Saus, in honor of the 30th anniverary 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.