Built in 1828 by the Phoenix Shot Tower Company, this soaring 215 foot structure is the last remaining shot tower of the three that accented Baltimore's skyline in the 19th century. Shot pellets used as ammunition for muskets was produced by pouring molten lead through perforated pans from "dropping stations" high up in the tower. The swift passage of the lead droplets down the shaft rounded the pellets into shot. The "quenching tank" of water at the bottom cooled and solidified them.
The Tower produced as many as 500,000 25-pound bags of shot a year, and was one of the largest suppliers in the nation. Despite technological improvements, the principle of the "drop method" is still applied in the production of small shot. Modern towers less handsome and less sturdy have spouted up in California, Illinois and Oklahoma.
Shot was produced here until 1892, when rising cost forced the owners to abandon the tower. When the tower was threatened with demolition in 1921, a group of citizens purchased it and presented it to the City for preservation. It was converted into a museum in 1977 and forms the centerpiece of Shot Tower Park, in startling contrast to 9 North Front Street, the historic house at its side.
The tower was built with more than one million bricks. It was constructed in less than six months and built entirely without the use of exterior scaffolding.