May 23, 2011

Neighborhood love: Pigtown


Photo of Mount Clare in Pigtown by Meg Fairfax Fielding


Today, Meg Fairfax Fielding is reviving a reader-fueled feature that started off strong last year and sadly petered out: My Neighborhood 'Tis of Thee, an opportunity to share a resident's-eye view of where you live. Neighborhood love -- or tough love, depending.

Last year readers shared Overlea, Hoes Heights and Canton with us. Now comes Meg to give you a tour (complete with photos) of Pigtown, the Southwest Baltimore neighborhood also known as Washington Village. She just bought her first house elsewhere in the city -- an earlier contract she had on a home in the neighborhood fell through -- so it's a chance to reflect on her Pigtown days.

Take it away, Meg:



I've lived in Pigtown for about five years, since moving back to the U.S. from the U.K. I wanted to live in a place that was up-and-coming, and was close to things that I knew and places I visited a lot. Pigtown seemed to tick a lot of boxes, and when a nice little house with very reasonable rent on a tree-lined street became available, I snapped it up.

The main street in Pigtown is Washington Boulevard, which swings from east-west at Martin Luther King Boulevard, to north-south as it heads past Carroll Park. On the east, Russell Street and MLK Boulevard make up the general boundary, and on the south, it's Monroe Street. To the north, it's Pratt and Lombard streets.

Most of the housing stock dates from the 1880s and is comprised of two- and three-story rowhouses. The B&O Railroad was the leading cause for the original development of the neighborhood, and as legend has it, the pigs used to run down Washington Boulevard, from the railroad sidings at the B&O to the slaughterhouses where Camden Yards is sited now. In the early 2000s, a number of new townhouses were built on Scott Street and comprise Camden Crossing.

Continue reading "Neighborhood love: Pigtown" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: My neighborhood, 'tis of thee

February 23, 2010

On neighborhoods, to each his or her own

If you ever needed proof that a neighborhood cannot make all of the people happy all of the time, check out the comments on this post about Canton. Some people ardently love the place. Some ardently hate it.

"Try to find a parking spot in the evening. If you're lucky and do find one, someone will be happy to break into your car," says EatTheRich.

Mencken opines, "I'll take the Canton of my youth over the arrogant snobby YUPPIEVILLE it has become. The drunks yelling and screaming, not to mention urinating on the sidewalks and leaving beer cans and bottles all over the street when the bars close."

Ed, on the other hand, writes: "I moved to Canton 9 years ago from Fells Point. I heard all the rumors of it being a stuffy location and full of yuppies who believed they were all mighty. What I have found in Canton is a real community with real people."

Busia says: "I love Canton! My husband and I retired here 11 years ago, before the increase in prices. We can walk to everything we need, grocery store, church, doctor's office, and affordable places to eat. We have wonderful neighbors, both young and old, and we have fantastic block parties."

Naturally your experience in a neighborhood can vary a lot from someone else's depending on your particular block and your particular priorities. Do you live somewhere that syncs up well with your wants and needs? Or are you in a spot that's ideal for a certain demographic but not you?

February 22, 2010

Neighborhood love: Canton


Photo of the Canton waterfront by Jamie Mason


One resident told you all about Overlea. Another shared stories of Hoes Heights. Now comes Jamie Mason, a real estate agent with Long & Foster and a Canton resident, who wanted to join in on My Neighborhood 'Tis of Thee.

Here's what she shared -- in words and pictures -- about living near the Baltimore waterfront. (To see all her photos, plus ones shared by earlier participants, go to the My Neighborhood 'Tis of Thee gallery.)


Although my husband and I loved our six years in Fells Point, we moved to Canton in 2006 because we were able to purchase a larger, newly constructed, two-car garage townhome. I was representing the developer in the sale of all ten new townhomes she was building near the Canton Dog Park, and like to say I was so good at selling the houses, I sold myself. My husband was an easy sell; as soon as he saw the view of the water and Fort McHenry from one of the roof terraces, he was convinced.

Canton -- like many of Charm City's locales -- is really a neighborhood. There is a sense of camaraderie among the residents, a feeling that we're all in this together. When it snows, my husband clears our walk as well as those of several of our neighbors. Next time around, one of our neighbors will clear our sidewalk. (After the last snowstorms, neighbors banded together and shoveled part of our street out by hand, too.)

Continue reading "Neighborhood love: Canton" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (89)
Categories: My neighborhood, 'tis of thee

February 2, 2010

Neighborhood love: Hoes Heights


Photo of Hoes Heights rowhouses by Mary Beth Lennon


There's nothing like hearing about a neighborhood from someone who lives there. That's the point of the "My neighborhood, 'tis of thee" project, which kicked off with some neighborhood love for Overlea from a man who's lived there since 1998.

Now comes Mary Beth Lennon, who moved to Hoes Heights in the summer of 2006 when she decided to buy a home. Lennon, director of communications at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, kindly offered to share why she's glad she picked the small northern Baltimore neighborhood.

There's some disagreement about whether the neighborhood is properly Hoes, Hoe's or Hoes' -- you can find it all three ways. Hoes' makes sense for reasons you'll see in a moment, but the city officially has it sans apostrophe, so that's how it's appearing here. (Oh, apostrophe: bane of mapmakers everywhere.)

Here is Mary Beth's take on her neighborhood, in words and pictures. (Find more of her photos, along with the Overlea pictures, at the My Neighborhood 'Tis of Thee gallery.)


The day after I moved into my home in Hoes Heights, I introduced myself to my next-door neighbor, a longtime resident. After exchanging pleasantries, he told me, "We like to keep our lawns nice here." He continued, "You know, we like to keep our lawns looking nice." After a pause, he said, "I’ve got someone who cuts my lawn." Finally, I got the hint and arranged for my lawn to be cut at the same time as his!

That’s the way Hoes Heights is. Residents take care of their homes, and their front lawns and tidy flowerbeds show pride of ownership.

Continue reading "Neighborhood love: Hoes Heights" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: My neighborhood, 'tis of thee

January 5, 2010

Neighborhood love: Overlea

A few weeks back I put out a call for some neighborhood love -- why you live where you live, what makes it a nice or quirky or neighborly place (and, if tough love is required, what you're trying to change).

A handful of you have already raised your hands to participate. Overlea resident Bob Marousek was the fastest to the finish line, letting neither the holidays nor the snow deter him.

Marousek, who works in real estate and has lived in Overlea since 1998, also shared lots of photos -- so many that we started a "My Neighborhood 'Tis of Thee" gallery.

So: Take it away, Bob!



Photograph of Overlea sunset by Bob Marousek


Overlea, a suburb of Northeast Baltimore City and Baltimore County, means "Over the Meadow." But it's been called other names throughout the years -- Raspeburg (after the Raspe family, who once ran a general store on Belair Road) and Belgravia (a fashionable residential suburb of central London). Overlea began to flourish with the introduction of streetcar service to the area in 1903. This allowed downtown workers to move away from the cramped city to the "rolling hills of the countryside." The No. 15 streetcar ran from Overlea to West Baltimore Street -- a trip that took a whopping 46 minutes in those days!

Continue reading "Neighborhood love: Overlea" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: My neighborhood, 'tis of thee

November 27, 2009

Hidden gems coda, and your very own soapbox

It started with a request in July and ended today, dozens of nominations and 10 selected places later. The hidden-gem-neighborhood project highlighted the variety of nice places in the Baltimore region with home prices first-time buyers could swing. Not all nice and less-expensive places by any means, but a cross-section.

I hope you found it a fun trip. If you'd like to take it again, you'll find the list -- with links to the photo gallery and all the individual profiles -- right here.

Now: What do you like about your neighborhood? I'm planning to launch an occasional feature on the Real Estate Wonk blog that will give you a soapbox to stand on for a few minutes and few hundred words, an opportunity to introduce everyone to your neck of the woods, share tales of life there and explain what (if anything) you would change about the place. Call it "My neighborhood, 'tis of thee."

Comment below if you'd like to participate. (Just remember to include your email address in the line meant for it, or I won't be able to contact you.) Or email me by clicking on my name directly below. (See it? It says "Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins." Yup, that.)

Thank you all for your help with hidden gems. I'm looking forward to what you'll say about your neighborhoods.

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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
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