Photos and text by Amy Davis
Neighborhoods of Baltimore
Founded in 1938, Tattoo Charlie’s remains on the Block in Baltimore today, making it one of the oldest tattoo parlors in the United States.
Although New York City’s Ellis Island gets more attention for its status as a hub for immigrants, just behind it was the port of Baltimore. The newly-opened Immigration Museum in Locust Point honors the experience of the millions who came through the port here.
Moving to the suburbs in the late 19th century was a fashionable thing to do, particularly for wealthy residents of city neighborhoods like Mount Vernon and Bolton Hill. Roland Park, a North Baltimore development created in the 1890s, was not the first of its kind in this area to inspire relocation. But in many ways, “Roland Park was the catalyst for the Baltimore suburban movement that followed it.”
That’s what Douglas P. Munro wrote in his 2015 book “Greater Roland Park,” which takes readers on a photographic journey through the neighborhood’s history. Conceived as a garden suburb that incorporated topography into its planning, Roland Park’s spacious lots and large homes earned it a reputation as Baltimore’s premier neighborhood for the affluent. That status has endured through time.
The path to one of the city’s most spectacular views is more than a little unlikely.
Head west past Arundel Elementary/Middle on Veronica Avenue and take a right on Giles Road. From there, a quick left takes you down a short, bumpy road that leads to a methadone clinic and a shuttered mail station. But drive straight, past a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall on your left, and ahead of you is a serene outlook of the Patapsco and Baltimore’s skyline.
Ask anyone in Baltimore where the Shot Tower is and they likely can tell you, but many wouldn’t be able to name the neighborhood.
If locals can’t identify Jonestown, boosters wonder how tourists will find the neighborhood north of Little Italy that’s home to several landmarks and historic homes. Even Baltimore’s tourist maps overlook the area, colorfully highlighting such nearby destinations as the Inner Harbor, Federal Hill, Harbor East, Fells Point and Canton, while leaving Jonestown and other areas in a drab gray.
A steady stream of cars is heading northeast on Belvedere Avenue on this humid late-August day. Parking spots along the street leading up to Belvedere Square are at a premium. The sidewalks are filled with lawn-chair-carrying concert-goers – young and old, black and white – heading to the final “Summer Sounds at the Square” event of the year.
The scene here encapsulates all that is attractive about Belvedere – and all that frustrates some residents of this North Baltimore neighborhood.
By this time next year, Reservoir Hill could have not one, but two small neighborhood cafes — a new step for a neighborhood tagged “up-and-coming” for more than 20 years.
Last month, a family of out-of-state transplants signed a lease to open a coffee shop on Madison Avenue, hoping for an October launch. Farther east on Whitelock Street, the owners of The Bun Shop in Mount Vernon are exploring plans for a soup-and-sandwich place at Tune Up City, a former auto shop.
American flags affixed to the front of several rowhouses on Latrobe Park Terrace blow gently in the light breeze. The adjacent park on this 85-degree, mid-June afternoon is active – at the dog park, on the playground equipment, around Banner Field. We’re just a few miles from the heart of downtown, but everything about this scene in Locust Point feels suburban.
“We have a retired police officer on my street,” says Will Jovel, the Locust Point Civic Association’s design review chair, “and he said while he was on duty, they called [our neighborhood] ‘Mayberry.’”