Traipsing across the vacant, littered lot at the Southwest corner of Druid Hill Avenue and Baker Street, Anthony Pressley looked ahead proudly to 17 newly constructed homes. In this perpetually struggling West Baltimore neighborhood, those gleaming houses were a substantial victory for Pressley and his colleagues at the Druid Heights Community Development Corporation.
Neighborhoods of Baltimore
“This is the block where it’s scary to everyone,” Preston Greene says as we walk down the 4700 block of Liberty Heights Avenue, a once-vibrant stretch of Howard Park now marked by cheap carry-outs and a handful of shuttered storefronts. “There was a hardware store there, very small. This door is that of a halfway house – right next to a liquor store. A protected class of citizens. Are you kidding me?”
The houses sit on large, well-manicured lots. The neighborhood’s public elementary/middle school is one of the best in Baltimore City. Downtown is a quick drive down the JFX or a short ride from the Light Rail station. There are parks, a neighborhood swimming pool and a driving range, not to mention quality restaurants and bars, salons and boutiques.
Is there anything Mount Washington doesn’t have?
Baltimore is a city of neighborhoods, many of which have signs announcing entry into those areas. Our staff has taken pictures of a handful of neighborhood signs in the city, but we need your help to fill in the blanks. Click through the gallery below, and if there’s a sign you know of that’s missing, take the picture and upload it using the form below.
For those without signs, a flag, banner, mural or iconic location will do.
A tree-lined median bisects most of 33rd Street, stretching from the eastern edge of Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus all the way to the southwestern edge of Lake Montebello. To the north of 33rd from Old York Road to Ellerslie is Waverly; to the south is Better Waverly. They are two distinct neighborhoods, separated by that median, but connected by signs announcing entry to Waverly Village.
At its peak, Greektown was home to about 1,000 families. Now it’s around 600. People come and people go, mostly to the county. But the pull of this Southeast Baltimore neighborhood – particularly for Greek-Americans – remains strong.
“They come down to the restaurants, they come down to the little shops,” said Theo Harris, a Greektown resident and prominent local realtor. “Their weddings, their funerals, their baptisms, it’s all happening in the community. That’s really the bond.”
Stone houses from the 1850s sit on lush, spacious lots next to “new” construction built in the 1950s. Neighbors wave to one another on the streets, stopping for conversation with familiar faces and strangers alike. Our tour guide – the village’s unofficial historian – makes his living as a wood-turner.
We have entered Baltimore’s most anachronistic neighborhood. Welcome to Dickeyville.
“You might have heard today that there were three shootings that happened over there on Cold Spring. Part of that stuff is what we’re trying to weed out. That element, as long as drugs continue to rule …”
Julius “Julio” Colon is aware of the perception – and, as noted in the quote above, the reality – of Park Heights. In his role as president and CEO of Park Heights Renaissance, Colon sees evidence of urban blight every day. Vacant buildings throughout the neighborhood. Forty-some liquor stores dotting long stretches of Park Heights Avenue and Reisterstown Road. Significantly higher-than-average rates of teen pregnancy, HIV infection and recidivism among residents.
From the exterior, the rowhouse at 1524 Hollins Street is indistinguishable from the other grand, three-story Victorians overlooking Union Square. Since 1997, when Baltimore closed its City Life museums, the interior has been left largely unkempt, save for some general maintenance efforts by the Friends of the H.L. Mencken House. But in the backyard blooms a lush urban garden, dutifully maintained by Betsey Waters and the Society to Preserve H.L. Mencken’s Legacy.