baltimore through a buyer's eyes

The other day I started working with an absolutely lovely out-of-state buyer looking for a home in Baltimore (we'll call her Ms. D for easy). Since she didn't know the city beyond her hotel in the inner harbor, I offered to give her a tour of the city and the neighborhoods we'd been discussing - sort of a "lay of the land" excursion. I have to tell you all, driving through Baltimore, acting as a tour guide for someone who doesn't know the city, really gives you a new perspective and appreciation for the cool details and differences the neighborhoods offer. In two hours, I saw my city with new eyes.

Let me start by telling you, my office alone is noteworthy, since it sits on the Promenade, overlooking the Canton Marina through floor to ceiling glass. Everyone that comes in my office oohs and ash, which always gives me a sense of appreciation for living so near and working alongside the water - how many people can say that? From there, we looped through Canton admiring restaurants and bars, then up to Patterson Park (where Ms. D noted that Baltimore seems like, "the most dog-friendly city ever!") and through historic Butchers' Hill's grandeur (where she had already fallen in love with one house where we first met, but the layout didn't work for her aging mother). Rumbling down Wolf Streets cobblestones and across on Thames was like meandering through a picture postcard - Fells Point is just the most charming place I know, even on a gray day. The wide cobblestone street, myriad businesses and restaurants, each with its own vibe and style, the scent of bread wafting over form H&S Bakery... love it.
From there, we shot up North, through Washington Hill (so close to the Medical Center!), and
over to 83, which is the most wonderful expressway I know - does that sound weird? - and
shelters the most wonderful farmers market on Sundays! Ten minutes later, we were still in the city but with a whole different feel, as we wound through Roland Park's hilly enclave. I love my neighborhood, I really do, but Roland Park is simply gorgeous, with an enormous variety of house styles, huge canopy trees, and winding roads that make you slow down and admire it all. Of course, my favorite house in all of Baltimore is in Roland Park....just look at it! That porch! The gables! How can you not want it?!

Homeland and Cedarcroft are equally charming but different and distinguishable - where
Roland Park is all trees, Cedarcroft is generally more open, less winding, but houses vary from Dutch Colonia and Tudor to Cape Cods and Italiante. It's also worth noting that as of 2000 statistics from the 2000 Demographic profile show that about 75% of homes were occupied by families! Homeland's stone houses are to die for, and people truly know how to take care of their yards over there - I never see a blade of grass out of place. The Lakes of Homeland are just gorgeous, and offer the nicest little scenes in the spring, with daffodils and cherry blossoms abloom . And with Belvedere square so close by, the most delicious food ever is a walk or short drive away.

Our next neighborhood was Hampden, which stands in stark contrast to Homelands quiet grace and controlled order. Hampden is the ultimately mixing pot in Baltimore - young and old, hip and aging, modern and old-school... it's got it all. It is all that is funky and odd (I say that with nothing by love), with eclectic retail and dining down The Ave, the outrageous explosion of lights at Miracle on 34th Street in the winter, and the beehives and leopard-print of HonFest in the summer.

We went to Federal Hill and saw brightly painted old clapboard rowhouses and talked about the history of the Hill itself. In Locust Point, we checked out Silo Point (I hate condos, but I love that place) which has seamlessly blends history (it was the largest point of grain export in the U.S.!) with modern luxury in a way that makes you want to find the designer and applaud (have you been? Do you want to go? I will so take you. While we're talking about new construction i love - which is rare - I'd like to add Overlook at Clipper Mill to the list).

What struck me at this point was how wildly different, how uniquely apart, each of these neighborhoods was from each other. You've all heard the old adage about Baltimore being a city of neighborhoods, about the bock-by-block nature of our port town. But I really appreciated it from a newcomers perspective - the difference of three minutes in most cities may mean brick instead of stone houses, but in Baltimore, three minutes is a different world. In less than an hour and a half we'd been cultural tourists in an American city. Do you realize how lucky we are? That we can stroll through such history whenever we choose, but also have access to the best of modern medicine around the corner? I'm not saying Baltimore doesn't have its shortcomings, but if you take stock of what it has to offer, and what it holds in store, you'll surely agree that is worth fighting tooth and nail to help this city realize its potential, one unique neighborhood at a time. Let's commit to changing people's perceptions of our city, one visiting newcomer at a time.

love k


Summer said...

Great post and very well said. I appreciate Baltimore more and more each day.

Jen said...

awesome post! :)

Meaghan said...

I love this Kimi. So true. Baltimore rocks!

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