Bromo-Seltzer Tower: Then & Now

Baltimore and the surrounding area sure has changed a lot in its centuries-long history. But many traditions and landmarks from decades ago are still around today, give or take a few variations. In this “Then & Now” feature, I have combined one of Lewis Reed’s original photograph’s for “then” and matched it with a corresponding contemporary shot for “now”. In the following photographs, you can see the difference 100 years can make.

So… you’re the inventor of a popular headache remedy living in the city of Baltimore around 1910. You have a factory on Lombard Street, a few blocks from the harbor. You want to create something memorable for the city. Of course, you also want to promote that headache remedy…

What do you do?

If you are Captain Isaac Emerson, inventor of Bromo-Seltzer, you hire a well-known architect and build a massive clock tower next to your factory.

Bromo-Seltzer Tower (THEN): When it was built in 1911, the 15-story Emerson Tower—better known locally as the Bromo-Seltzer Tower—was the tallest building in Baltimore. The tower was inspired by the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy, and took its name from Captain Isaac Edward Emerson, the inventor of Bromo-Seltzer, a popular cure for headaches and indigestion. Until 1936, the tower was topped by a 51-foot illuminated Bromo-Seltzer bottle that was supposedly visible from twenty miles away.

Bromo-Seltzer Tower 1914

Bromo-Seltzer Tower, Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Lewis Reed, 1914

Bromo-Seltzer Tower (NOW): The Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower has been transformed into studio spaces for visual and literary artists. Inside the Tower is the Emerson/Maryland Glass Museum which houses the largest collection of Bromo Seltzer and Maryland Glass bottles in existence. The Emerson Bromo-Seltzer Tower was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Bromo Seltzer Tower

Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower today


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About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006. In 2016, I received the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development.

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