The site of Harrison’s at Pier 5 (18BC62) encompasses an early 19th- through early 20th- century pier or wharf, various industrial buildings and commercial properties, and a 19th-century street. Located on the waterfront within Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the site contains cultural deposits reflecting 200 years of the city’s history.

Archaeological Investigations

Initial archaeological work at Piers 5 and 6 consisted of a 1984 coring study by Elizabeth Anderson Comer. Testing for archaeological and architectural resources was conducted during the summer of 1987 by Camille Juliana. A total of 6 trenches were excavated, identifying two sites: 18BC62 and 18BC63.

Archaeological investigations were conducted on the two Harrison’s sites in 1988 by the Baltimore Center for Urban Archaeology (BCUA) under the direction of Scott Simmons. Trenches were placed over known locations of historic structures at 18BC62 and 18BC63, and 15 test units were excavated. A total area of 5,070 square feet was excavated.

A history of extensive filling for wharf creation was documented by the archaeology. In addition to dredged sediment from the Jones Falls and Baltimore Harbor, a secondary deposit of refuse soil with a primary dump of oyster shell was used to fill the wharf.
As a major tributary of the Patapsco River, the Jones Falls was responsible for carrying great amounts of eroded topsoil out into Baltimore Harbor. Archival research has shown that both the Jones Falls and the Harbor were periodically dredged in order to prevent both from being filled by sedimentation. Archaeological evidence suggested that most of the earliest fill layers identified at Pier 5 were deposited as a result of those dredging activities. Other material used as fill include refuse from leather tanning activities, pottery wasters and kiln furniture (possibly a secondary deposit dredged from the Jones Falls), wood chips from saw mill leavings, and destruction rubble from the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904.

The cobbled surfaces of historic Locust and Mill Streets, Lumber Alley, and Eastern Avenue were identified, along with a Belgian block street, curbing, and utility piping laid down in 1914. The only structural remains of note were the late 19th-century foundations of Charles Knoop's Tavern and Restaurant. This waterfront construction was unusual in that it was supported by wood planking found under the brick foundation and piers. Remains associated with the Smith and Wicks Tin Can Manufactory (1880-1890) and later the R. Tynes Smith Can Company (1890-1904) were found as well.

Although domestic structures were known to have existed on the wharf, no evidence of them was found during the excavations.

Archeobotanical Studies

Floral and faunal analysis was conducted by Cheryl Holt as part of the 1988 BCUA investigations. Much of the floral and faunal material recovered from Piers 5 and 6 represented the dietary refuse of the early 19th-century residents of Baltimore. The variety of fruit and nut remains recovered from the fill soils excavated on Piers 5 and 6 helped round out the picture of the subsistence patterns of early 19th-century Baltimoreans.

A richly diverse assemblage of non-carbonized plant remains was recovered through soil flotation at 18BC62. A total of 770 floral specimens were recovered. Native wild plant foods identified within the Pier 5 assemblage include hickory nuts and black walnuts, raspberry or blackberry, chestnut, and huckleberry. The importance of orchard crops is evidence by the presence of peach, strawberry, apple, plum, and cherry. Garden or market-garden produce including tomato, pepper or eggplant, watermelon, and peanut were also identified. The presence of coconut is perhaps the most interesting element in the botanical assemblage from site 18BC62, documenting the importation of exotic products into Baltimore.

The floral and faunal material recovered provided important information on the manner in which early 19th-century waterfront piers were created in Baltimore. Meats, fruits, and vegetables were brought into town, purchased at one of the local markets, consumed by the town's residents, and discarded into household privies. It is suggested that the need for fill material in the pier building process created an ideal disposal area for the domestic refuse collected by the town's privy cleaners, the "nightsoil men."


Holt, Cheryl A.
1990 Floral and Faunal Report. Appendix J to An Investigation of the Archaeological Resources Associated with Piers 5 & 6 and the Harrison's At Pier 5 Complex (18BC62 & 18BC63), Baltimore, Maryland.  BCUA Research Series No. 29. MHT # BC 66.
Simmons, Scott E.
1990 An Investigation of the Archaeological Resources Associated with Piers 5 & 6 and the Harrison's At Pier 5 Complex (18BC62 & 18BC63), Baltimore, Maryland. BCUA Research Series No. 29. MHT #BC 66.

Thank you for visiting our web site. If you have any questions, comments,
or new information to share, please contact us at