It won't take much more than a few minutes into the new year to see the impact of the old one, with Baltimore's City Hall opening at midnight to begin performing same-sex marriages under a law that takes effect on Jan. 1.
But if the state's newly expanded marriage law provides the most immediate dividing line between then and now, it was far from the only one. Looking back, 2012 emerges as a gatepost of a year, one that will be remembered for both grand beginnings and bittersweet endings.
We were spared the massive snow dumps of recent years, and the kind of devastation
The door revolved at the top of several area colleges, and at City Hall, with officials such as Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld exiting. Former
And finally, there were changes that initially seemed small but stood for larger shifts in our collective landscape: The city evicting the old-fashioned carousel from an
Here is a more in-depth look at the year as it unfolded on various fronts:
Baltimore spent much of the year film-doubling as Washington for productions such as HBO's Veep and
In real life, the Baltimore area seemed in the midst of its own role change: February brought the news that Exelon, which had swallowed up the city's last Fortune 500 company, Constellation Energy, would build its local headquarters near nouveau Harbor East rather than in the traditional downtown.
The year closed with the inevitable yet sad final chapter of Sparrows Point — the once-thriving steel mill is essentially being sold off for parts and eventually will be razed.
Against this backdrop, the April opening of the new, $1.1 billion Johns Hopkins hospital seemed a signal moment in the city's move away from its blue-collar past and toward a future dominated by the health care and education sectors. The hospital's dedication also brought what must have been quite the charming scene as
A year's worth of change on the area's college campuses began in January, with
The following month, Notre Dame of
By year's end, three colleges would move to force out presidents. After a no-confidence vote from the faculty earlier in the year,
But perhaps the biggest campus move, at least for sports fans, was the decision by the
The area's professional teams brought much cheer this year: As
There were milestones back home as well: The Baltimore Sun turned 175 years old in May. But the biggest party came in mid-June, with Sailabration marking the bicentennial of the
On the crime front, Baltimore began 2012 having seen its murder rate drop below 200 the year before, for the first time in more than three decades. But by year's end, it was ticking back up, providing a challenge for
It was a year of often horrifying crimes: A 16-year-old was charged with killing his father in Harford County in January; a 21-year-old Morgan State student was arrested in May and accused of killing and cannibalizing a family friend; a 15-year-old
Crimes from previous years wended their way through the court system: In February, a Charlottesville, Va., jury found
A Supreme Court ruling in March opened the possibility that serial child rapist John Merzbacher could be freed from prison because his attorneys hadn't told him about a plea deal. In November, the Supreme Court announced it would review the state's DNA law, which allows police to collect and store genetic samples from those arrested even if they are ultimately not charged or convicted.
The city, though, was beset by a range of billing problems, often revealed by The Sun: Property tax assessments and water bills were riddled with errors, while speed cameras issued tickets to drivers abiding by the limit or even stopped at a light.
The city schools, meanwhile, were slapped with a critical state audit that found millions of dollars in questionable expenditures in overtime, sick leave, vacation pay and expired contracts.
Less seriously, the best-selling erotica, "Fifty Shades of Gray," was deemed too hot for Harford, or at least its county library, while it was sugary drinks that were banned at Howard County's public properties and events.
The General Assembly failed to pass a state budget during its regular session, prompting a special session to avoid a "doomsday" budget of more than $500 million in cuts — our own version of the
After a record $95 million spent by forces for and against the measure, flooding the airwaves with endless ads, the referendum passed, authorizing a casino in Prince George's County and table games in all state casinos. Meanwhile, the state's largest casino, Maryland Live, opened at Arundel Mills in June.
Maryland voters in November also approved the
Election Day also brought Maryland into the fold of states that extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. As a result, some couples are planning just-after-midnight weddings on Jan. 1 — meaning that they'll spend