“Anyone can love a perfect place. Loving Baltimore takes some resilience.” – Laura Lippman
When one first attempts to explore Baltimore – Maryland’s largest city – it becomes clear that this is a city of villages – each with their own culture, style and identity. As you move from one neighborhood to the next, it begins to feel as if you’re in different cities. Federal Hill. Greektown. Mt. Vernon. Hampden. Charles Village. Belair-Edison. Sandstown-Winchester. Fells Point. Canton. Each inner city hamlet congers up unique images of Charm City life.
What unites Baltimore, and the sometimes divisive region it serves as a nexus, is, of course, the harbor front which leads out into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. The resulting Inner Harbor district, a foci of 1970s revitalization efforts, shines as a meeting place for residents and visitors alike. Nearby sits two stadiums – home of the MLB’s Orioles and the NFL’s Ravens – which draw a legion of faithful fans. Beyond the home runs of Camden Yards, lies the compact and walkable downtown area – home to a mix of historic and modern office, hotel and residential spaces – mostly centered upon Charles Street, which runs northward toward the city’s cultural districts and outward toward Baltimore County.
Founded as a haven for Catholics and the tobacco trade in 1729, by 1900 Baltimore was one of the nation’s leading industrial and shipping towns with a population approaching 1 million. While the postwar suburban boom fueled a massive population flight to the suburbs, the city has regained some of its footing through the continued expansion of its leading universities, with the most notable being Johns Hopkins University and its storied medical center. Even more recently, Baltimore’s next generation of leaders have begun to combat blight, unemployment and crime through investments made in housing restoration, planned expansion of the transit system and over $1 billion in school renovation/construction. Even so, Baltimore sometimes finds itself in an identity crisis as it seeks national prominence while sandwiched between Washington and Philadelphia.