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

Monday, August 16, 2010

Baltimore Historical Trails, Hike # 2 - The "Shot Tower Segment"

Barely a week ago, I started on a reenactment of historic trails through Baltimore City, each of four a segment that would have qualified me for a patch segment from the Baltimore Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Though the patches are no longer actively promoted, the routes seemed worth exploring and sharing. In the 30 years or more since the original trails were established and documented, many changes have happened in the area. Besides several of the landmarks either no longer being in existence, or closed to the public, new buildings and even streets have appeared. I'm hopeful that my trail notes will help Scouts and members of the general public explore history and the future in Baltimore.

Segment #1, the Cannon Trail, took me from East Baltimore, through downtown, to Locust Point. While a physically longer trail, at 7+ miles, I didn't make a lot of stops, so completed it in just over 2 hours. Segment #2, the Shot Tower trail included so many stops to choose from, that I was not done for over 4 hours. Planning was similar to the previous segment, with many views of the legacy brochure maps and landmark descriptions, research into which sites are still open, and when. Parking in the downtown area is also a premium, with garages charging $10 or more for a few hours, parking meters only operating for 4 hours, including Saturdays and Sundays. Complicating the logistics was the route, like the first, is not quite a straight line, but certainly doesn't end anywhere near the start.

[Anything indented with a bullet below is a tweet, done either by me, or by someone else during my hike.]

  • Started #Scouts "old" Baltimore Historical Trail number 2 at Dolphin + Howard Streets (free parking)" Headed to Md Historical Society next. 11:02 AM Aug 14th

My parking choice was near the light rail, though rather than go to a suburban spot and travel both ways, I picked a spot close to the beginning of the trail - Dolphin Street at Howard. I had thought to park a little further south, next to the O'Connor State Office Building, but even though the entire complex is closed on Saturday, the meters are still in effect. Dolphin Street has no meters.

The additional walk to the Maryland Historical Society was just 3 or 4 blocks on Howard Street, including passing landmarks such as Maryland General Hospital, the Eubie Blake Jazz Center, and the A.T. Jones costume shop. Arriving at the "historic" entrance to the Historical Society on Monument Street, I found signs defining one of those doors as the school tour entrance, and pointing out a Park Avenue general public entrance. Yes, it's been a very long time since I was in this museum - 40 years? They still have the original manuscript of the Star Spangled Banner, though now it's on a timed cycle display, I suppose for protection from light. I particularly enjoyed a third floor display of local furniture and cabinetry, though the skills and craftsmanship displayed in those artifacts make my humble woodworking attempts seem quite primitive.

  • Marylamd Historical Society #BaltHistTrail 11:16 AM Aug 14th

After about 45 minutes in the museum (not enough to properly appreciate the entire collection, but to see many highlights) I headed east on Monument Street to the Mount Vernon parks around the Washington Monument, as described in the early brochures. As might be found in any urban park these days, there were neighbors, transients, shoppers and tourists strolling through, or occupying benches. I took photos of a few of the statues, as well as part of the monument itself. Over the past 50 years or so, I know I've been through those parks, but I doubt that I ever deliberately stopped on all four sides. The easternmost park has the largest slope, and includes some great fountains.

  • Done wth Md H S, east on Monument Street to, well, the Washington Monument, and parks around it. #BaltHistTrail Saturday, August 14, 2010 12:03:08 PM

That park segment also borders the Peabody Institute; the trail brochures don't require a stop but I recall having walked past and heard piano practice and other music. It just depends when you're there, I guess. Next to the southern park segment is the western entrance to the Walters Art Gallery, and as I recall from school days, was the original entrance. With a 1970s expansion, the formal glassed-in entrance is on Centre Street, where I exited after about 15-20 minutes wandering through the Egyptian and Greek/Roman collections, a tiny fraction of the entire museum. I kept moving as I knew the final stop had tours on the hour up until 3PM, and wasn't sure where else I might stop.

  • The Walters Art Gallery. Free! #BaltHistTrail Saturday, August 14, 2010 12:13:21 PM

Subsequent to the Walters, I went on a smaller street (Morton) to another small street (Hamilton) to take a shot of the older and newer Walters buildings. Then I headed down Cathedral Street to the Basilica and to the Enoch Pratt Central Library. The earlier brochures say to go south on Charles Street, but if you leave the Walters on Centre Street, Cathedral is a simpler route. I did not tour the Basilica -not sure if it was open, but the gate seemed closed. I went into the library for a few minutes, noting the almost total lack of the old card files, now replaced with computer stations, though there were a few places that might contain file drawers or microfilm spools. I was happy to see still-working water fountains in the main lobby, next to the large assortment of printed bus schedules. Some things are still old school.

  • At th Enoch Pratt Free Library, Central Branch. Have visted here since the 1950s, or early 1960s for sure. #BaltHistTrail. Saturday, August 14, 2010 12:39:17 PM

Beyond the library complex, my destination was the City Hall area, containing municipal offices, more statues, and the former Peale Museum. I was fortunate to have visited that building while it was still in operation several decades ago.

  • North Charles Street, heading east on Lexington Street. #BaltHistTrail Saturday, August 14, 2010 12:52:56 PM

  • Peale Musem (closed), Baltimore City Hall (closed), headed for the War Memorial Building (also closed). #BaltHistTrail Saturday, August 14, 2010 1:12:20 PM

City Hall was closed, on a Saturday, and there were a few people wandering around the park between there and the War Memorial Building. The latter was also closed, and had conspicuous signs directing that rest rooms were for employees only. The park across the street (Veterans Park), as well as the area around the War Memorial Building, state that the areas are closed from dusk to dawn.

As I took photos at various locations, I was thinking about which might be uploaded to Google Earth. As in the prior hike, I looked there to see where images are already available, and where there might be large gaps or angles not recorded yet. Uploading 30 or 40 photos, and geo-coding them, takes some time, but should help in future hike or trail planning.

Also, the overlap with the Baltimore Heritage Walk routes was most noticeable once I headed further east from the municipal buildings, past the Shot Tower and up to the area south of the Main Post Office. The recommended route was east on Fayette Street, then south on Exeter, though it's probably a more interesting walk to stay further west. I did not go as far as Central Avenue this time.

Oh, right, the Shot Tower:

I found Lloyd Street to be very quiet, though I could hear children playing in nearby streets. I took a few images of the synagogue and Museum buildings, then decided lunch on Corned Beef Row was in order.

  • Weiss Deli (Lombard Street - Corned Bee [sic] Row) lunch, corned beef on rye, what else? Saturday, August 14, 2010 1:41:20 PM

Past the few remaining delis, I entered a neighborhood of more newly built dwellings, including the awesomely named "Horseradish Lane". I know this must be a recent invention, and will need to check older maps I have for legacy street names.

Down Lombard Street a bit further I reached the "1840s" area, just north of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum. Not all of these buildings are open, but according to my research, the Carroll Museum remains viable. The staff person at the Maryland Historical Society recommended going to the back entrance (away from Lombard Street) and ringing the bell.

As the only one on the tour, it was a little odd, with individual attention yet none of the camaraderie tour groups often engender.

  • On time for the 2PM tour of the Carroll Mansion, 800 East Lombard Street. #BaltHistTrail Saturday, August 14, 2010 1:59:18 PM

Completed my guided tour of Carroll Mansion. The only attendee - a fascinating glimpse of history, ending my 2nd Baltmore Historical Trail. Saturday, August 14, 2010 2:46:00 PM

  • At the Baltimore Civic Center, I mean the 1st Mariner Arena, waiting for the light rail line back to my car #BaltHistTrail. Saturday, August 14, 2010 3:06:12 PM

Within 20 minutes, I had hiked over to Howard Street, picked up a light rail ticket ($1.60) and was waiting for the next train north.

Twenty minutes after that, I was pointed under the Jones Falls at Centre Street, ready to go east on the Monument/Madison street parallel in and out of town.

  • heading home - Calvert + Centre Streets. Saturday, August 14, 2010 3:26:49 PM

For hike #3, the Railroad Segment, I'm going to have to work the Baltimore Subway into the planning. Maybe start at Hopkins Hospital, go west to the downtown area, then walk the route, ending up at the station near State Center. To the map room!

More Photos

Monday, August 9, 2010

Baltimore Historical Trail reenactment, hike number one

On Sunday, August 8, 2010, I retraced a previous Boy Scout trail through Baltimore City, from Patterson Park to Fort McHenry. Though the patches and medal one could earn for a few decades are no longer available, except through patch trading, the routes are visible on legacy guide books, and walking through Baltimore City is an old tradition. I walked from downtown Baltimore to my home near Gardenville in the 1960s once, after spending all my change on books or something.

Hikes and trails often overlap other trails, such as the red and blue trails following the same path for some distance. Likewise the Baltimore Historical Trails overlap the newer Baltimore Heritage Walk, with both overlapping other trails, tours and vistas.

My research started with the Nentico Lodge "Where To Go Camping" Guide, as I'm supposed to be the adult adviser for the Camping Promotions committee. I have kept the contents somewhat updated, though in a few cases, I simply copied over what was in previous guides. A question or two about the "Baltimore Historical Trails" led to me copies of a couple brochures from the 1970s or 1980s, including maps, descriptions, even sets of questions for the hiker.
Despite not being able to earn a patch, I decided I'd try out the hikes.

The first hike, as mentioned above, went from Patterson Park to Fort McHenry. How to be prepared? First, the route is fairly simple. As I've lived both near Patterson Park, and near Federal Hill I wasn't concerned about getting lost. Weather in summertime can be brutal, with either major heat/humidity/smog as well as the chance of torrential rain. I checked the weather, and found Sunday was to be superb, in the mid-80s. Then, file a hike plan, bring lots of water, and get geared up.

Gear for city walking is similar to backwoods hiking, with less concern for insect bites and more concern for sunburn and dehydration. One of the photos I took shows a non-working fountain in Patterson Park. Along the way there were plenty of places to re-hydrate though. I brought a basic digital camera; one caveat in walking through urban areas is to be discrete, not wave around an expensive-looking camera or other gear, and to not take photos of groups of people.

In planning my trip, I decided to leave my car at Fort McHenry, take city buses to the east side, and walk back. The routes were very basic: the number one leaves right from the Fort entrance, and the number 40 goes east/west on Baltimore and Fayette Streets. From living in Butchers Hill, I knew to get off at Linwood Avenue, then walk south to Patterson Park.

The Park was crowded on early Sunday, including soccer teams, tennis players, walkers, bikers, joggers, and many swimmers in the public pool. The Historic Trail guide said to start at the Pulaski monument, and then walk up to the Pagoda.

After walking around the Pagoda, I headed west on Pratt Street. The city was relatively quiet, with a few joggers and dog walkers who preferred the routine of the streets instead of the park. I had memories of which homes had been renovated more than 30 years ago when I lived in the neighborhood.

At the intersection of Pratt Street and Albemarle (not Albermarle as one of the brochures says) is the Flag House, as well as the Reginald F. Lewis Museum. As I was passing by, a tour of the Heritage Walk was going on.

This is what their "trail blazes" look like:

I paused to look north to the Shot Tower, and Old Town, as the former is part of one of the remaining hikes, not to mention an icon of the City of Baltimore (note the plaque above).

Once past the Jones Falls, the tourist density increased, so I plodded ahead, stopping in Harbor Place to refill my water bottles, then walked across the sky bridge to the second leg of my hike: down Light Street toward Fort Avenue.

Instead of taking Key Highway around the hill, I walked up to Montgomery Street then climbed the stairs onto Federal Hill. With a large crowd at the top enjoying the weather and the view, I took a ten minute rest stop overlooking the Inner Harbor.

A few photos of the statue of Major-General Sam Smith, including this one.

After winding through the area behind the American Visionary Arts Museum, I ascended to Fort Avenue via Jackson Street; any number of other routes go up from Key Highway. If you haven't been to the Baltimore Museum of Industry before, stay on Key Highway for that.

I stopped by two parks, including Latrobe Park, that include recreation fields, prior to my final stop at Fort McHenry.

Not a bad day hike!

If I had planned this for Scouts doing their 5 mile hike, I'd probably cut off most of Patterson Park, starting on the west side by Patterson Park Avenue, rather than the entire east side and walking through the park. According to the old trail guide, the entire hike is 7.5 miles (I haven't checked my route yet). I'd also probably stay on Eastern Avenue rather than Pratt Street, especially if it were a warm day.

Next hike?


Hike # 2 starts at the Flag House, and then winds its way up to the Maryland Historical Society. To work in the Light Rail mass transit theme, I'll park up north, take the streetcar to Camden Yards, then walk east to Albemarle Street. After the trail is complete, I'd pick up the train at State Center or nearby on Howard Street.

More Photos

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mortise and Tenon Media Shelves




(I omitted a few key steps)