The fountain thus designated is composed of several springs collected together, which anciently flowed from beneath the brow of the precipice that overhung Jones' Falls, when the latter stream retained its original direction and passed over what is now Calvert street, between Saratoga and Pleasant streets. In the annexed plate, the reader will see the improvements made by art in the quondam bed of the current; and we need the veracious authority of our annalist, to induce our credence of the fact, that the time was, when vessels of considerable burthen, intended for the sea, were built and launched on tide water at the place now occupied by the City Spring. Such however was the fact, and the idle dreamer may stretch himself along the grass under the shade of the broad elms around the Spring, and expatiate to his heart's content upon the changes wrought by time and cultivation--moral or physical. When Calvert street was graded, in 1810, the lot now occupied by the City Spring, was purchased by the City Council, and under the direction of Peter Hoffman and Jesse Hollingsworth, the present pretty and appropriate buildings were erected, and the grounds about them improved.
Excerpted from John H.B. Latrobe, Jr., Picture of Baltimore (Baltimore, MD: Lucas Fielding, Jr., 1832), 72-73.