The heroic bronze figure in front of you is not, as many suppose, a likeness of Francis Scott Key. The statue represents Orpheus, the artful poet, musician, and singer of Greek Mythology.
In 1914 Congress appropriated funds for a monument at Fort McHenry to mark the centennial of the writing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and the defense of Baltimore. Orpheus with the Awkward Foot, the creation of sculptor Charles H. Niehaus, was selected from thirty four designs submitted in a national competition.
Orpheus is depicted playing a lyre, and stands twenty-four feet from head to toe. The marble base bears a medallion honoring Francis Scott Key, flanked by a procession of allegorical figures. The pedestal contains a time capsule filled with documents of patriotic and historical interest. In 1962 the statue was moved here from its original site near the fort's principal entrance.
(photo caption) President Warren G. Harding headed the list of dignitaries at the unveiling ceremonies on June 14, 1922. The speech he delivered here was the first by a U.S. President to be broadcast on coast-to-coast radio.