Travel back into the past with a stroll down Main Street in Berlin, Maryland. The path you walk is the same as that taken by the Assateague and Pocomoke Indians well before the colonial period. Later, the path became the Philadelphia Post Road, the main route connecting the centers of commerce to the north and west. This area was part of the Burley Plantation, a 300-acre land grant dating back to 1677.
At the corner of the Philadelphia Post Road and Sinepuxent Road, now South Main Street and Tripoli Street, colonial travelers stopped at the Burleigh Inn. Here at the present day town center, memories linger of the tavern that probably gave its name to the village. “Berlin” is said to have come from a contraction of the words “Burleigh” and “Inn”.
Although the village began in the 1790’s, it was not incorporated until 1868, after the Civil War. The town grew and became a popular spot for tourists who enjoyed hunting and fishing on the Eastern Shore or were on their way to the small coastal town of Ocean City.
Berlin is noted as the birthplace of Stephen Decatur, the 19th century naval hero.
Today the town is a wonderful example of what can be done when citizens work together for the success of their community. The renovation of the town center and the historic preservation of the commercial and residential districts are a result of the cooperative efforts of local citizens, businesses and the Town government. Berlin’s beautiful tree-lined streets, Victorian town center, museum and historic homes captivate those who visit.
47 individual structures in Berlin are noted in the National Register of Historic Places and represent nearly two centuries of architectural heritage. These structures are well preserved or renovated and date from three distinct periods: Federal, Victorian, and 20th Century. The town center features mostly brick structures with compatible rooflines, proportionate window and door openings, uniform setbacks from the street, and bulkheads beneath the lower windows. Magnolias, sycamores, tulip poplars, bald cypress, and ginkgo trees add to the beauty of the town’s setting. An audiocassette walking tour is available for rent at the Globe Theatre.
Located just minutes from Ocean City and Assateague Island National Seashore, Berlin enjoys a superb location and offers visitors a variety of shopping and dining experiences.
Berlin has also starred in two major motion pictures. In 1998 Berlin was the location for the filming of Paramount’s Runaway Bride starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. In the movie Berlin became the fictional town of Hale, Maryland, Maggie’s (Julia Roberts) hometown. Main Street became a “hot” set as filming was done using many of the downtown shops, not to mention hundreds of locals as extras. Then in 2001 Berlin became “Treegap”, the fictional setting for Tuck Everlasting starring Sissy Spacek, Ben Kingsley, and William Hurt. Downtown Berlin was transported back to the turn of the century complete with dirt roads, horses and carriages, and period costumes.
The population of Berlin as of the 2000 census was 3,491 and current estimates place the population at about 4500.