Pigtown’s early development is very much tied to that of the nation’s first railroad, the Baltimore & Ohio. Beginning in West Baltimore, the railroad cut through previously undeveloped land owned by the Carroll and McHenry families. When construction finished in 1830 the area around the West Pratt Street station began a rapid transformation as industries such as locomotive works and car-building shops moved in. Residential development followed, with workers moving to small, two-story houses built on the narrow streets running south of Washington Boulevard, while shopkeepers and managers moved to three-story gable-roofed and early Italianate houses along Washington Boulevard and Scott Street.
The B&O Railroad also helped Pigtown earn its name, when during the second half of the nineteenth century pigs arrived from the Midwest and were herded down Ostend and Cross Streets to slaughterhouses in South Baltimore. Rumor has it that locals would sometimes even sneak a pig or two when the herders weren’t looking.
Pigtown, like the majority of Baltimore, experienced a decline in population and a rise in crime and poverty levels in the post-WWII era. As part of urban renewal efforts in the 1970s the City tried to give the neighborhood a new image and changed the name to Washington Village. While official city maps still reflect this renaming, as the neighborhood has rebounded many residents are rallying to return to the historic name. The area is listed as the Pigtown in the National Register of Historic Places, and both the neighborhood association (Citizens of Pigtown) and Main Street have chosen to use the historic neighborhood name.