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!

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