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Baltimore Living

Best Reason to Live Here

The architecture

Posted 9/18/1996

We’re not talking about the monstrosities downtown. And, really, we’re not even talking about the cool old stuff everybody knows—the Belvedere, the Bromo-Seltzer Tower—worthy of admiration though they are.

We’re talking about the touches—odd, obscure, pretty, utilitarian, nostalgic, sometimes even spectacular—that you can’t see from the highways or you might miss when careening down the major thoroughfares. We’re talking about the bay windows and corner-house turrets in Charles Village; the fading near-mansions on Gwynn Falls Parkway; the stately rowhouses and gorgeous apartment buildings on Reservoir Hill and around the Washington Monument, and the squat shipbuilders’ and steelworkers’ homes in East and South Baltimore. There’s glowering City College, Mount Vernon’s soaring Gothic spires, East Baltimore’s Orthodox churches, the whiff of grandeur in the crumbling old theaters near Lexington Market and of failure in the rotting, rusting industrial hulks on the various waterfronts. There are unexpected little oddities—stained glass on houses on Abell Avenue, French Quarterish ironwork around Union Square, a golden-onion-topped clock tower at the First National Bank at Howard and Madison, the bizarre stone water tower down in Curtis Bay.

Seeing these buildings, you want to know their past, or imagine pasts for them: Who decided to put that there? Who were these houses, this neighborhood, built for—rich or poor, black or white, capital or labor? They tell stories. It’s the look of a city to be lived in, rather than gloried in.

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Other Awards for Best Reason to Live Here:

You're already prepared for the collapse of society, 9/16/2009

The Eternal Return, 9/17/2008

Crime, 9/19/2007

To keep it from being taken over, 9/20/2006

We Can’t Wait To See What Happens Next, 9/21/2005

Because of What We’re Not, 9/22/2004

Baltimore Needs You, 9/17/2003

It's Cheap, 9/18/2002

We're So Cool, 9/19/2001

Neighborhoods, 9/13/2000

It's cheap, 9/15/1999

One degree of separation, 9/17/1997

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