The Port of Cambridge is the seat of Maryland's Dorchester County. Lying on the banks of the Choptank River near the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, the Port of Cambridge is about 56 nautical miles (84 kilometers or 52 miles by air) south-southeast of Baltimore. It is also some 120 nautical miles (189 kilometers or 117 miles by air) via the Chesapeake Bay north-northeast of Norfolk, Virginia. In 2010, the US Census reported that about 12.3 thousand people lived in the Port of Cambridge.
The Port of Cambridge is one of Maryland's oldest colonial cities. English colonists arrived there in 1684, finding the indigenous Algonquian-speaking Choptank people living along the river. Today, the Port of Cambridge occupies some of the area of the former Choptank Indian Reservation.
During the Colonial era, the colonists farmed the Eastern Shore, first raising tobacco on big plantations. African slaves were used on the plantations. The Port of Cambridge was incorporated in 1793.
During the late 19th Century, food processing industries grew in the Port of Cambridge, including factories that canned sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and oysters. The Phillips Packing Company led industrial growth in the Port of Cambridge, becoming the area's biggest employer. Phillips won contracts with the US Department of Defense during both World Wars, employing some ten thousand workers at its peak.
By the 1960s, Phillips closed its operations, leading to major unemployment in the Port of Cambridge and fueling social problems. During the 1960s, the Port of Cambridge was a center for the Civil Rights Movement. The Maryland National Guard was called to help keep the peace. Passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act brought public segregation to an end in the Port of Cambridge.
In the early 2000s, Hyatt opened the 400-room Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay resort, bringing both tourism and jobs to the Port of Cambridge. The resort has a marina, a spa, and a golf course. In 2007, the George W. Bush spoke at the US House Republican Conference held here.
Designated a Main Street community in Maryland in 2003, the Port of Cambridge's Main Street project involves major downtown revitalization efforts that will strengthen the city's economic potential. As a result, the Port of Cambridge's heritage attractions have been enhanced, and it is attracting more tourists.
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