While few remember the slogan of the Emerson Bromo-Seltzer Company—"If you keep late hours for Society's sake Bromo-Seltzer will cure that headache"—the iconic Bromo-Seltzer Tower has been a Baltimore landmark since its construction in 1911. At fifteen stories, the tower made the Bromo-Seltzer factory the tallest building in the city. The tower boasted a four-dial gravity clock that was the largest in the world (bigger, even, than London's Big Ben) and an illuminated, rotating 51-foot blue steel bottle. The iconic design immediately secured the tower's spot as a favorite of city residents and visitors alike. Ship captains traveling up the bay reportedly used the bottle as a beacon to guide them toward the Light Street docks and the removal of the blue bottle in 1936 is still a sore point with many Baltimoreans. The tower was built by Captain Isaac Emerson, a chemist, and inventor of the headache remedy and alleged hangover cure, Bromo-Seltzer. Emerson was a wealthy and well-regarded Baltimorean, known as a generous philanthropist and world traveler. He had been a lieutenant in the Navy during the Spanish-American war and a post-war visit to Florence's tower on the Palazzo Vecchio provided the inspiration for the design of this tower created by local architect Joseph Evans Sperry. Though the factory was torn down in 1969, the 289-foot tower survived several threats of demolition and in 2007 philanthropists Eddie and Sylvia Brown worked with Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts to transform the structure into 33 artists' studios. The tower is open once a month for public tours and while much has changed visitors can still ride the 1911 Otis elevator to the clock room on the 15th floor and view the still-functioning clock works.
Watch our Five Minute Histories video on this building!