Saturday, August 28, 2010

Baltimore Historical Trails, Hike # 3 - The "Railroad Segment"

(Previous hike segment posts [1] [2] )

Hmm. Part of the reason I decided to "reenact" the 4 Baltimore Historical Trails was to research the safety factor of the previous routes, not to mention discovering which of the previously suggested landmarks and stopping points are still extant. The third trail turned out to be the most risk (so far), and least similar to the views projected 2 decades ago. I would definitely not recommend anyone repeat what I did, exactly, and I'd probably also suggest talking to local police precinct officers before walking a few of the "Streets of Baltimore."

This post isn't to throw cold water into the face of downtown renaissance and heritage, merely to put the "be prepared" Scout dogma into urban existence.

My idea for the "Railroad Segment" of the Historical Trails was to include the Baltimore subway, also known as the Metro, into the hike access. As I live in Eastern Baltimore County, it made more sense to start at the terminus at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions at Broadway in the city, though parking is at a premium. Parking is free at some of the northwestern subway stops, so others may find these handy. The round trip fare is $3.20, plus I ended up paying $5.50 for parking, so unless you can find a downtown lot under $10, the subway is an option. Plus, for me, the comparison of the most modern technology with the historic stations, rolling stock and passengers of railways gives one something to consider.

[Subway video]

My mind must have wandered when the Lexington Market stop opened, as the next thing I knew I was at State Center, a mile from where I wanted to be. I thought about waiting for the next train in the other direction, but as it was a beautiful day and I knew I'd be at the Market within a few minutes, I hoofed it south on Eutaw Street. One route to Mount Clare Mansion in southwest Baltimore would have been to travel along Martin Luther King Boulevard. I opted to stay on smaller streets since King Boulevard as little foot traffic, not much greenery, and many vehicles whizzing by.

I crossed King Boulevard by the University Hospital complex, then went on a few back streets before emerging onto Washington Boulevard around the 1200 block. It was only a few more blocks to the edge of Carroll Park. I assumed that the mansion was at the top of the only hill in the vicinity, so headed that way. Typical Saturday afternoon in the park, though not as many neighborhood kids playing as I might have expected; probably in front of video screens.

Once at the top of the hill, I found I had missed the last tour of the day (it was already 3:30 PM, not a wonderful time to expect museums to be open). I learned quite a bit about the house, and the neighborhood, from the receptionist, including parking locations, good times to take the tour, and more. After viewing the parlor, it was back outside for a stroll down the hill, back along Washington Boulevard and an attempt to find the previous landmarks. I missed Babe Ruth's house (didn't see Emory Street), and the next stop was supposed to be Mount Clare station, via Poppleton Street.

I should have known, but you can't get into the train museum from the south any longer (the guide pamphlet I have is rather old). So it was back down the edge of a large warehouse, with gross scenery like the photo below, and back around the western edge of the old roundhouse.

And of course, the train museum closed at 4PM, so it was onward again.

The Edgar Allan Poe House, on Amity Street, by Lexington Avenue, isn't much to look at, and once again, tours were done for the day (or are by appointment). The neighborhood was a little grim looking, heading east on Lexington back towards downtown.

Further east on Lexington Street, several people were sitting on porches of row homes, relaxing in the shade of a muggy late Saturday afternoon. I said hello to several, and talked to one gentleman near King Boulevard, who thought at first I was taking pictures (I was tweeting; said I was texting). He opined that I was a teacher, based on how I spoke. Nice compliment, from an unlikely source.

I visited Poe's grave, not for the first time, having seen it in passing many times; probably the most memorable was when John Astin did a Poe reading in Westminster Hall.

From there, the trail led to Camden Station, which has changed demeanor several times since the original trail guides were published. I think we're lucky the building is standing, though it is sad to see it as a memorial to "sports legends" as if that's the epitome of historic legacies. Ah, America.

The directions said to continue on Camden Street to Old Otterbein Church, but at that time, the Convention Center wasn't built, so another detour, under breezeways. A wedding was going on, and by that time I was rather perspired, so I passed on. That's the official end of the hike, but I needed to get back to my car.

My return route was back through Harbor Place (refill water bottles), up Calvert Street to the Metro Station, down underground, and due east once the train arrived. A minor glitch with the ticket was easily solved by the MTA attendants. Aboveground, I came out an a different spot than I went in, which caused a minor head spin.

A Tweet recap, reverse chronological order:

  1. Headed home - Metro station had no cell coverage :( #BaltHistTrail3
  2. Harrbor Place, behind the William Donald Schaefer waving statue. Inside for water bottle refill, then headed home. Chalk up #BaltHistTrail3
  3. Ugh. The big ugly hotel N of Oriole Park at Camden Yards totally obliterates former views in + out of the baseball stadium #BaltHistTrail3
  4. Westminster Hall + Burying Ground, more popularly known as the tomb of Edgar Allan Poe. #BaltHistTrail3
  5. Edgar Allan Poe Housen Amity & W Lexington st. Many evil stares. I'm foolish 4 walking these streets alone #BaltHistTrail3 (but exhilirated)
  6. Pratt + Arlington. Poppleton was blocked. Amity had a blackened teaspoon - Mr. Yuk! #BaltHistTrail3 Near Mount Clare Station.
  7. Missed the last tour (3PM) of Mount Clare Mansion. Onward. #BaltHistTrail3
  8. Last tweet delay loop... now at Washington Blvd + Bayard. #BaltHistTrail3 (train whistles blowiing - Howard St. tunnel maybe?)
  9. South Poppleton + Ramsay - in sight of the B+O Museum #BaltHistTrail3
  10. Oops. Subway didn't stop at Lexington Market, or I blinked. Now at Fayette and Arch Streets. via PockeTwit
  1. On the Baltimore Metro at Johns Hopkins Hospital for #BaltHistTrail3 parking / trailhead . Ticket "punched" at 14:32. All aboard!
  2. heading downtown for third segment of Baltimore Historical Trail - the Railroad Segmet - #BaltHistTrail3

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