« Baltimore Chop is staying put | Main | Will Virgin Mobile Festival draw? »

April 2, 2008

Is Boston Street cursed?

In the few years I've been covering Baltimore nightlife, so many bars and clubs have come and gone on that one little stretch of Boston Street.

Flirt gave way to Kamp, which closed last year.

Pur (which I've never seen packed) replaced the GoodLove Bar (pictured).

And the Gin Mill has closed and reopened a few times.

What is it about that section of Boston Street?

Is it cursed?

(Photo from Sun archives)

Follow Midnight Sun on Facebook and Twitter @midnightsunblog
Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:25 AM | | Comments (39)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Back in the 2000 time-frame that area used to be THE place to go. It was always packed. But there was also a huge parking lot across the street. Then they built those town homes and now that strip is just an "in between" area between fells and the square. Hasn't been the same since.

Which is sad, because gin mill has always been my default.

beleive it or not, that used to be a pretty busy gay district.
Kamp was a bar called Numbers and Pur was a bar called the Unicorn (heh). next to that, there was a club house for Knights of the Road. ON Sat. you could drive pass and see like a million Harleys lined up on Boston and drag queens filing into Sip and Bite. I agree with Ryan. Developers ruined the area by not providing adequate parking when they built those homes. Boston is a goner.

ryan97ou, I couldn't agree you more. That parking lot was awesome, but now, there is little to no parking down there.

Sam, Redfish has been sold a few times. The Grille was replaced by Hookas, which is never busy and quite shady. The only busy place I can think of is Bay Cafe, but that is farther down.

Maybe the Sip and Bite is scaring people away.

I for one go to the Gin Mill pretty frequently, but yeah you're totally right, those places turn over with the quickness.

Hey anyone remember The Grill when they had fresh cut potato chips and $1 natty bohs (when they first opened) and the place was DEAD? Didn't make much sense to me, that place was ok.

I agree with Ryan, in 2000 the Wed ladies night at Gin Mill was the place to be for the Canton crowd. I can remember many a post BSSC game spent in the GM. Great times. The day they built those townhomes and cut back the view and the parking Boston Street never recovered.

The townhomes changed everything. They complain about the bars and people parking in their lot. A few have had guns pointed at them when they told someone they weren't allowed to park there.

This brings in the SE district police who make life hell for the bars. Funny how the bar with the most complaints, begins with an H, is still around.

The correlation here between parking and the success of drinking establishments should be embarrassing. Take a @$!#ing cab.

The issue is that the Boston street bars started being marketed to a bunch of degenerates, who not only cause trouble with the police but alienate neighborhood people. This means they're packed on the weekend but empty the other 5 nights, when locals go out to other (better) Canton establishments. It's pretty hard to survive on 2 business nights a week.

"The correlation here between parking and the success of drinking establishments should be embarrassing. Take a @$!#ing cab."

i couldn't agree more. i am just sayin' what i think the reason is. baltimore, for the most part, is a neighborhood town, not a cab town...unfortunately.

Whenever i talk to people from certain neighborhoods that start with a 'c' or 'f', they don't even know baltimore has any other neighborhoods. Their response to where i live is generally "Mt. what? Isn't that in Virginia?"

Full disclosure: i lived 3 years in canton and loved it, but i also always made sure to spread myself around the city.

gofreescott - From the county?

Yeah, tell the people who come to Canton from Severna Park or White Marsh to take a cab. See what they say to you.

I for one ride my bike to the bars - and when I'm feeling saucy, the water taxi is a fun excuse for me to go to Fell's (or canton even) from areas with decent parking!

Canton is well past Phase 2 of gentrification, Phase 1 being "discovery" and Phase 2 being "development." Boston Street was the first gentro anchor in the area. Now, as they said, with the condos built it well past that.

Some neighborhoods are still in Phase 1, ready for Phase 2. Mt. Vernon, with Magic Johnson's condos going up, Hampden with the Rotunda development about to changee that area forever.


No. Why? Are people in the city expected to be cool with drunk driving? Wouldn't it logically be the other way around? It strikes me that the places with good parking are more likely to attract County folk and, well, douchebags.

Living in the city, I find I can get around pretty easily -- drinking or otherwise -- through some combination of bike, transit, cab, or feet; part of why I like living in the city.

Hooka's is shady...what's the deal with that? And I agree with Evan about The Grille - they had above average pub grub and good drink specials

goscottfree - Who said anything about drunk driving? It is possible to have designated drivers. That concept has trickled out to the county.

But Boston Street will be cursed if I can't park near it. Guess I will just have to keep drunk driving around until I wing someone on a bike at 10 on a Saturday by Patterson Park or just wait til the Gin Mill sets up in Cockeysville.

And I'm sure everyone on here talking about parking uses DDs.

Also, JTK, I am genuinely curious about what in my first post said "County" to you.

goscottfree - Because you mentioned to take a cab if there was a question about parking. It's really not feasible to take a cab if you live anywhere else but the city proper. And, since not all of the night life business in Baltimore is from Baltimore City proper, some people actually have to drive to get into the city to enjoy these watering holes.

There is correlation between parking and the success various business.
Sacrificing parking from maximum development profit shouldn’t be allowed. We are a car based society and lack of parking hampers other things beyond the nightlife and club scene.

Rather a social musical chairs by patrons and homeowners with chairs periodically being removed.doesn't make for the greatest social harmony.

City dwellers, would you take the bus to the bar? Baltimore officials along with the Downtown Partnership are considering such a service, as I wrote about here.

But it's not clear how late these routes would run ... but if it were free, it could cut down on transportation costs at least in one direction.

the water taxi is a great service for getting across the harbor for an early start to a night out.

you might end up having to wait a bit but the ~$80 year pass is much cheaper than taking a cab.

granted you usually have to end up taking a cab at the end of the night because the taxi stops relatively early.

anyone know if the rusty scupper stop will be back up and running this season?

I for one, live just north of Patterson Park and I use cabs alot. I don't think parking along the Boston St. area is any worse than Canton Square or the Federal Hill area. I think parking in Fed Hill is the worst, unless you get there early enough to pay for parking or happen to have a permit.

There are some shady bars on the Boston St. strip that probably scare away customers but there are places that are absolutely beautiful inside that get next to no customers (Castaways) and one bar, IMO that attracts the typical Canton crowd, and that place is Bartenders. I think that strip will continue at it's current pace until all of the bar owners put their heads together and try to come up with a way to attract a common crowd.

Maybe they could offer similar drink specials on the same day of the week or develop a way to market them as an area (ie: Canton Point....the best I could come up on the spot) Those bars are all so different that if you go to that area, you're more than likely going to stay in one place all night.

I think the reason why people will go to Canton Square or Fells Point is because they have several options within walking distance. If I were a bar owner in that stretch I'd try to organize a meeting with the other owners to develop a strategy to draw more people to the area.


my buddy (and former coworker) who works the water taxis says the Scupper stop is open. No more Harbor View stop though.

But ... then ... how are people supposed to view the harbor?

really? i'd say that over 50% of the people riding the taxi are taking it between fells point and inner harbor. it's a pretty long walk from scupper to the touristy places...

any ideas what the reason for this is?


Would absolutely take a bus to the bar. Already do on occasion, it's just a huge pain in the [butt]. But so is taking a bus anywhere in Baltimore.

I'd take a bus....a PARTY bus!


Nice points made. What bars are North of Patterson park that you would go to? Hey Sessa, Why don't you do a piece on obscure bars on different hoods like North Patterson park or locust point (and I don't mean the same bars you've visited before in those hoods either) Maybe you could do an article on bars that have plexi-glass windows or door buzzers or, wait, are you white? Then forget it. On second thought, do it. I challenge you.


Oh don't get me wrong, all of the major stops at the Science Center, Aquarium, Constellation, Pier 5, etc. etc. are all still there, including the one by the Scupper, but the stop right next to Little Havana (aka the Harbor View stop) is out of commission. he Tide Point and Fort McHenry stops are still around as well.

How am I supposed to get from brunch at Lil' Hav. to the Fells Pt Festival in the fall?

Got a sneak peak last night of the renovations at Gin Mill. The owners said it was ok to share, so here it is...

The place looks awesome! From the new U-Shaped granite bar, to the more "lounge style" seating, the fireplaces, and the nice banquet seating for dining, this place has potential.

Oh, and that's just the downstairs. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

This place looks like it could be a very cool sports bar with the potential to have some good food. Plenty of plasmas have been put in to catch the games.

So, that said, let's see if this place is decent. If it is, and fails, I think the curse may be right.

They are planning a press party in a few weeks.

"This place looks like it could be a very cool sports bar with the potential to have some good food. Plenty of plasmas have been put in to catch the games."

Sam, when are you going to start charging for ad space?

I have no interest in Gin Mill's success. I don't live in Canton and sports bars really aren't my cup of tea.

It's nice to see people trying to improve places and areas. I guess you can't please everyone.

Though I wish Gin Mill success, it's downfall was due to several factors that may continue to hamper them:
1) the gigantic, free parking lot across the street became houses
2) the people in those houses became less interested in noisy bars than the previous surrounding houses
3) the people who packed into the bar have gone elsewhere, both in the neighborhood (new bars on the square and in the hood) and elsewhere (these are the folks who now inhabit Powerplant).

There are several established sports bars in the neighborhood, so I hope they have something else to draw people in. Della Rose's had to have the radio shows just to get butts in the seats.

You're right Mike those are all really good points. It's definately not going to be easy for them to turn that place into a successful operation.

If the concept they are going for (have no idea what it is) in on par with the renovations, and this place still fails, there is definately may be some truth regarding Boston St. being cursed.

We walked by yesterday and checked things out from outside, the renovations look pretty good.

So is it open yet or still renovating?

Liz - the bus sounds really great, but it would have to be safe. And it seems buses are not all that safe here these days. Would there be a Bus Marshall like we have Air Marsrhalls on planes?

I'll call up Keanu and Sandy.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Please enter the letter "l" in the field below:
About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

Most Recent Comments
Recent tweets
Sign up for FREE nightlife alerts*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for nightlife text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Weekend Watch newsletter
Plan your weekend with's best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV picks and more delivered to you every Thursday for free.
See a sample | Sign up

Photo galleries
Stay connected