Happy 175th birthday today to the Baltimore Sun. As night content production manager John McIntyre writes in his copy-editing blog today:

You can call it the dodransbicentennial, or the septaquintaquinquecentennial,or some of the other coinages. So few operations reach this age that there is not a generally accepted term for it.

The Sun celebrated with a red banner over its nameplate and a page-one column.

Today’s edition will set you back $1.50. That’s exactly one dollar and 49 cents more than the cost of the Sun‘s very first edition — a four-pager published May 17, 1837. Click for a larger view:

That vintage page might be difficult to read and enjoy. Therefore, the Sun had a little fun this week by taking some of those stories and publishing them in an online format: What if the web had been around, 175 years ago? This is what that front page might have looked like:

Check it out here. Scroll down that page to find other vintage Baltimore Sun front pages you can download in PDF format.

The huge print celebration was held back on Sunday in the pages of the slick Sun magazine insert.

Click this or any other page here today for a larger look.

The cover by Austin-based illustrator Marc Burckhardt is essentially a re-rendering of the artwork found in the Sun‘s nameplate. The art puts that nameplate onto a pedestal. Literally.

Find Marc’s web site here.

In addition to simply listing everything, of course, the contents page gives you a good feel for what’s in store inside. That’s a look at the Sun‘s old newsroom in 1908.

I’m not sure who designed the section, but Jay Judge — the Sun‘s head of visuals — is cited as creative director. If anyone can share credits, please drop me a line.


Jay tells us:

I did indeed design the magazine, as I have since we relaunched the publication in 2010.

We were fortunate to have great historic and current day images to go with outstanding content. As I like to say, the design is easy when the content is great. I also worked with a couple of illustrators that are new to the Sun, Marc Burckhardt (cover illustration) and John Ueland – who both did excellent work. And we were fortunate to have Doug Stevens from L.A. to help us out with the graphic. Many thanks to our Tribune colleagues at The Times for the assist. It was a lot of work, but worth it.

Inside are all sorts of stories about the Sun and its history. This spread kicks off a story about the birth and early years of the paper.


The top of the story by Jonathan Pitts:

A little more than 175 years ago, an ex-journeyman printer from New England boarded a carriage bound for America’s southernmost big city. His hope was to start a newspaper there and run it himself. His friends thought he was out of his mind.

Baltimore, they told Arunah S. Abell, already had six daily papers. It was rough-and-tumble, no cradle of literacy. And America was on the brink of a depression.

A decade later, Abell was at The Sun, the business he’d built, when he learned that, 1,900 miles away, the Mexican army had surrendered in a battle and, in effect, the Mexican-American War. The Sun got word to James K. Polk a day before the War Department did.

“I am requested by the President to thank you for your obliging kindness in communicating this information,” Polk’s secretary, J. Knox Walker, wrote on April 10, 1847.

What happened in between was the tale of a shrewd entrepreneur who understood his adopted hometown and took risks to serve it.

Abell’s family owned the paper until 1986.

The right side of this spread tells the history of the Sun‘s nameplate and explains the items in it.


The Sun also did a big takeout on the history of its nameplate two years ago. Check that out here.

Here, the sun excerpts some of its most notable editorials and lists every presidential endorsement it’s ever made.

The Sun‘s editorial cartoonist — Kevin Kallaugher, better known as Kalis given a full page to share historical perspective on the art of editorial cartooning and the Sun‘s legacy of award-winning cartoonists.

The Sun let Kal go back in 2006, but was recently invited back to draw one cartoon a week for the Sunday edition. Find Kal’s personal web site here [but beware the annoying autoplaying animated cartoon]. Find his Sun home page here.

The Sun was responsible for a number of major scoops over the years. This spread tells about some of them.


On page three of that spread is, yes, a bit about HBO’s the Wire. Read the entire “Making News” story here.


On the right, above, is a page devoted to gigantic screwups in Baltimore Sun history. Note the headline on that Titanic story.

The story is by John McIntyre. A couple of fun excerpts:

On Christmas Eve in 1873, the skeleton staff producing the paper locked the door to keep drunks from wandering onto the premises. When a servant of a local doctor arrived to deliver a message to the newsroom, he was turned away. Thus the next morning it was in the pages of the American rather than The Sun that Baltimore learned of the death of Johns Hopkins.

…An Evening Sun food page article on home canning and preserving produced a legendary headline, “You Can Put Pickles Up Yourself.” There’s no writing a correction for that.

A large section of the magazine is devoted to stories and people the Sun has covered, as well. It’s all kicked off with this illustration by San Francisco-based Illustrator John Ueland.

Find John’s web site here.

Here’s a fun spread in which former Sun artist Doug Stevens — who’s now with the Los Angeles Times — places landmarks onto a vintage map of Baltimore.


There are lots of other things in the magazine as well. Being a sports fan, I loved the full-page list of the top ten moments in Baltimore-area sports, topped off by “the greatest game ever played” — a 1958 Baltimore Colts win over the New York Giants.

Also nice: This look at the Orioles’ Cal Ripken Jr. when he broke Lou Gehrig’s record of consecutive games played. The Sun‘s beat reporter at the time — Ken Rosenthal, now with Fox Sports — calls it “a moment that wrote itself.”

The visual highlight of the section for me, however, was this multi-page romp through the Sun‘s photo archives.


The section kicks off with that 1948 picture by A. Aubrey Bodine of an “oyster tonger” — whatever that is.

A picture by Richard Stacks of an elementary school class in 1955 right after desegregation dominates the next two pages.


The third spread is led by another shot by A. Aubrey Bodine — this one of longshoremen in 1960.


At the top left, you’re seeing German citizens pressed into service by U.S. soldiers in May 1945, to attend services of 161 Jewish victims slaughtered by S.S. troops. That picture was by Lee McCardell.


On the right, above, Lloyd Pearson made this picture of a police officer dressed in riot gear after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

And — speaking of the Baltimore Colts — at the upper left here is a picture of Mayflower vans skulking out of town in 1984, carrying Colts’ gear to Indianapolis.


The citizens of Baltimore are still pissed about that.

Read the print version of this photo collection here or go here to see an expanded online gallery of great Sun photography over the years.

Find the online edition of last Sunday’s Sun magazine here. Find all the Sun‘s anniversary coverage here.

Find John McIntyre’s dodransbicentennial column here.

Average daily circulation of the Baltimore Sun is 170,510.

Today’s front page is from the Newseum. Of course.