the hardscrabble side of baltimore

Saturday, March 22:  Today, in honor of Restless Jo’s Monday Walks, I take a photo walk in Baltimore with the Washington Photography Group. Granted, it’s not a Monday, but as Monday is my fruitless job search day, I have to go on the weekend.  A group of nearly 30 photographers heads out to explore and document the gritty side of the city.

Baltimore is the largest city in Maryland and the 26th largest city in the country.  We walk through one of the more hardscrabble neighborhoods, with abandoned buildings, street art, and small neighborhood businesses in various states of disrepair.  Walking around this part of the city feels gritty and real, unlike the gentrified Baltimore Inner harbor and the generic, characterless suburbs found throughout America.  This is an American working class neighborhood at its most interesting.

Baltimore street art
Baltimore street art
Baltimore signage
Baltimore signage
more street art
more street art
Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore, Maryland
buildings in Baltimore
buildings in Baltimore
fire alarm
fire alarm
building in blue
building in blue
happy boys
happy boys
Braider on duty
Braider on duty
street lines
street lines
monsters and old cars
monsters and old cars
A Tree Grows in Baltimore
A Tree Grows in Baltimore
tree trunk on a brick wall
tree trunk on a brick wall
strolling on a Saturday
strolling on a Saturday

We head into Lexington Market to explore.  According to Wikipedia, Lexington Market is one of the longest continuously running markets in the world, having been around since 1782.  Many people believe Lexington Market shows the “real” Baltimore’s personality, as opposed to the more generic and tourist-oriented attractions found at the nearby Inner Harbor.  The market hosts small eateries and stands selling fish, produce, meat, baked goods, and candy.  There’s plenty of local color to go around here, along with jazz and rock-n-roll music played at Friday and Saturday lunch hours.

After we leave Lexington Market, we stroll down to the Inner Harbor, where it’s a little dreary and not a great day for pictures.  We pass the castle-like turret of the old Emerson Bromo Seltzer Tower, built in 1911 and once the tallest building in Baltimore.  It was supposedly modeled after the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy.  Captain Isaac Emerson, the inventor of the headache remedy, built the Bromo Seltzer Tower.  It now houses studio spaces for visual and literary artists and is known as the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower. (Bromo Seltzer Tower)

the old Bromo Seltzer Building
the old Bromo Seltzer Building
Olive Breweries Ltd.
Olive Breweries Ltd.
Outdoor tables at Oliver Breweries Ltd.
Outdoor tables at Oliver Breweries Ltd.
stop and go and leading lights
stop and go and leading lines
the Baltimore Waterfront
the Baltimore Inner Harbor
Baltimore waterfront
Baltimore Inner Harbor

The Inner Harbor is certainly nice, but it’s not what we came here to see today. If you want to see more of the Inner Harbor on a nice sunny day, you can check out my previous post: baltimore’s inner harbor {by day}.

We head back up into the city, passing by more scrubby buildings.

Baltimore streets
Baltimore streets
more wall art
more wall art
steam
steam
China D LL Restaurant
China D LL Restaurant
George the Tailor
George the Tailor
Baltimore Street Art
Baltimore Street Art
more street art
more street art
abandoned Mayfair theater
abandoned Mayfair theater

We meet back at the parking lot at noon, and a few of us decide to return to John W. Faidley Seafood at Lexington Market to sample Baltimore’s best crab cakes.  I can vouch that they are in fact delectable. 🙂

Most of the group decides to go for pizza on the way to Green Mount Cemetery.  They must really enjoy their pizza, because when the three of us who ate the crab cakes arrive at the cemetery, the rest of the group is nowhere to be seen.  I’m tired by this time from all our walking, and so I only drop in briefly at the cemetery, after finding a few interesting buildings in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Baltimore street art near Green Mount Cemetery
Baltimore street art near Green Mount Cemetery
Street art near Green Mount Cemetery
Street art near Green Mount Cemetery

Green Mount Cemetery, officially dedicated in 1839, is the final resting place of more than 65,000 people.  According to the brochure, within its walls are the remains of “statesmen, captains of industry, philanthropists, artists, authors, military leaders, and even a presidential assassin (John Wilkes Booth) and his co-conspirators.”  Elijah Jefferson Bond, patentee of the Ouija Board is buried here.

Green Mount Cemetery
Green Mount Cemetery
Green Mount Cemetery
Green Mount Cemetery

I head back home after this, my poor legs feeling like rubber.  It’s one of our few days between snowstorms around here, so I’m happy I’m able to get out and explore a part of the city I’ve never seen before.

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24 thoughts on “the hardscrabble side of baltimore

  1. Hardscrabble – now that;s a word you don’t hear every day – at least not over here! What’s the precise meaning of it? Interesting how you find most street art in the downtrodden suburbs in the US. Not so much in the gentrified areas I suspect. Amusing Ouija board memorial. Weird,I never really thought that someone patented it! Now that brings back teenage memories 🙂

    1. It’s not a word that’s used too often here either, Jude. It means: having harsh and difficult conditions because of poverty. Yes, I find it strange that these downtrodden areas have so much street art. Maybe it’s a way to make the buildings more presentable that’s cheaper than renovating or tearing them down. I found the Ouija board memorial quite cute. I have some good memories of that too. 🙂

  2. Settled in with coffee and toast as I knew it would be a long day, Cathy 🙂
    You’ve shown some fascinating murals here. I’m not a fan of the uglier ones but isn’t it amazing what dereliction brings out in people? The creativity is amazing. I love, love, love that ‘mother and child’ and the ‘spiderman’ made me smile.

    You sound so discouraged, Cathy. Nothing remotely interesting jobwise? How much longer have you got to search? I keep expecting to find ‘Nomad in Hindustan’ in my posts one morning! Trying to make you smile, hon, but I know it’s not easy. You still have that lovely family, Cathy. How goes the book? 🙂

    1. I loved all the street murals and decrepit buildings in Baltimore, Jo. It’s so interesting to see how people live so differently from how I live. I guess I’ve been lucky, at least so far.

      I am very discouraged about the job hunt, and people don’t deny that age discrimination takes place on a large scale in America. Sadly, the economy is still bad, so employers get tons of applicants for every job; thus they will look for any reason to disqualify an applicant just to reduce the number of people to consider. There is really no way to prove it. I really only have until the end of May to search for something else, at which time I’ll have to return to the community college and work for a pittance. Or go abroad again. Nomad in Hindustan would at least be more interesting than my life in America!!! So funny, Jo.

      The book is coming along well; I have about 20 more chapters to revise, meaning I need to cut about 60 more pages, or 22,000 words. Hard work cutting so much, but it has to be done. At least I have a reader now, my dear friend Martha, who is giving me feedback. I look forward to starting to send it out, even though I’m bracing myself for a hard battle there too. You know me, Jo, I’ll keep trying. 🙂

    1. Maybe that term isn’t used in British or Australian English, Carol. Hardscrabble: having harsh and difficult conditions because of poverty. It can also mean: having barren or barely arable soil. Thanks!! 🙂

  3. Loving the ‘tree grows in Baltimore’. I always worry taking photos of people. How did you/the guy with the little girl feel? You’re looking at him, he at you and the child at him which makes me wonder if he said something.

    I’ve just come back from Marrakech where you’re run at for payment if a pic is taken!

    Baltimore does not look like the Hairspray set one bit but I love the street art as you know.

    1. Thanks so much, mrscarmichael. So nice to hear from you again. 🙂 I know, I often feel uncomfortable taking pictures of people, and in this case the guy saw me but didn’t seem to mind. He didn’t say anything anyway. I often ask people if I can take a picture, or point to my camera with a questioning look on my face.

      I know that in many Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan for example, people do demand payment for a picture. I guess it can be expected in the poorer countries. I never encountered that in Oman. The street art in Baltimore was lots of fun. I needed a whole weekend to find it all. 🙂

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