View Single Post
Old Posted Jan 18, 2014, 4:38 PM
LPD Lighting LPD Lighting is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 4
What a Difference a Couple of Years Has Made

I moved to Baltimore in 2008, and it very much had the feel that it was crawling out from under the shadow of The Wire at the time.

It's always interesting to see what people who have never been to Baltimore think of it. Lots of people think The Wire, others think of the Orioles in their heyday, most think that the city stops at Inner Harbor. My German friends all want to see Hampden because of its association with John Waters.

Let's turn this into a discussion of the rest of the city.

I'll start with Hampden - where I have lived for 5 years. For decades, Hampden was a white, working-class neighborhood. One of the few neighborhoods that survived white flight. It's an odd thing to talk about that as a positive (and I am in no way saying that lack of diversity - particularly in a city with a rich African American culture - is a good thing) but it led to the development of a distinctive neighborhood culture.

Through the early 2000's, Hampden developed a knack for what many would consider kitschy, tacky culture. To this day, many old-school Hampdenites maintain yard gnome collections in their front yards, and pink flamingos are displayed without irony. 36th street survived as a central downtown with affordable restaurants, resale stores and the like. Unfortunately, drugs (particularly meth) and petty crime were common.The John Waters film "Pecker" captures this era of Hampden in its waning years.

Over the past decade, young families looking for city life have begun to replace the old-school residents. These newcomers (my wife and I count ourselves among them) appreciate the existing culture, and added a layer of hipsterdom to the neighborhood. Home values have recovered and many are being renovated. Crime is way down, and the neighborhood is largely safe, especially compared to other areas of Baltimore.

36th Street is bustling - there is still a large representation of resale shops and affordable restaurants, but now there are also trendy shops, boutiques and high end restaurants in the mix.

In short, I don't believe that any visit to Baltimore would be complete with at least an afternoon in Hampden. Let's have some other people chime in on other neighborhoods that dispel the Baltimore stereotype. Off the top of my head:

-Federal Hill
-Mount Vernon
-Station North
-Mount Washington
-Roland Park
-Belvedere Square/Govans
Reply With Quote