Easton (population 11,708) was founded in 1710 when the General Assembly of Maryland decreed that a courthouse for Talbot County should be built at the headwaters of the Tred Avon River. The courthouse formed the nucleus of a community that was named Easton in 1788. Starting in 1817, steamships began to ply routes across the Chesapeake Bay to Easton, and the steamship industry became a mainstay of the community’s economy for over a hundred years.
Arrival of the railroad in 1869 also created a boom in the seafood and agricultural markets, which is reflected in community’s many stately Victorian homes. Today, Easton is known for its medical facilities, small and medium-size businesses, county airport, and the fine restaurants, boutiques, and specialty shops in its historic district.
Easton’s historic downtown has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an historic district since 1980. Each year, a portion of the historic district is closed to traffic during the Waterfowl Festival, a showcase of waterfowl art that has been held in Easton for 33 years. Several historic buildings are used as exhibit venues, and the event brings 18,000 to 20,000 tourists to Easton’s historic downtown.
Throughout the year, visitors can tour historic Easton through a self-guided walking tour or on docent-led tours sponsored by the Historical Society of Talbot County. The Society has also created a driving tour of sites in Easton and Talbot County associated with abolitionist Frederick Douglass. A group of public and private partners that call themselves “Fred’s Army” are raising funds to erect a monument to Douglass in Easton.
Designated a Preserve America Community in August 2005.