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Thoughts on Baltimore?

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What are some thoughts by Cyburbanites on Baltimore? When I first moved to Baltimore from Omaha 6 1/2 years ago, it took a little getting used to. It was mostly from a convenience point-of-view. I think that changes moves at a sloth's pace in Baltimore unless you live in the "Land of Make Believe" (Canton) where 10' wide rowhouses are going for $400K plus.
The transit system is fractured and half-a$$ed at best. The system doesn't have a seemless link between the bus, light rail, subway and the commuter railroad.

The infrastructure is crumbling before my very own eyes.

Baltimore City and the new Administration in Annapolis rarely see eye-to-eye.

Do not get me started on the public school system. It's a shame. In Omaha, there were 3 public school systems that you could choose from depending upon where you lived.

Yet, my fiancee are willing to buy a house here in the very near future.

Would you guys tell me to:
1. Stick it out, it'll get better.
2. Run as far away as possible and don't look back.
3. Try to be the catalyst for change.

Please advise. Thanks.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
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Well, few large city school systems are worthwhile. As a midwesterner, you will probably usually be disappointed (compared to the high schools in my home town in Indiana, the local "campuses" in California look like decrepit prison camps-even the mega-ugly new one).

On the other hand, Baltimore is a low cost city in a high cost area, which means potential. It has a lot of character-particularly if, like myself, you like townhouses (rowhouses). Not to diss Omaha, but there are neighbrohoods in Baltimore that ooze character and walkability. Wood frame midwestern housing just can't compare. Plus, the waterfront, proximity to other eastern cities (and their job markets)

On the other hand, its a corrupt eastern city that is still declining. Good Luck.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
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I've always thought of Baltimore to be where the rust belt meets the deep south. I have no idea how accurate that is though.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
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I was in Baltimore in October and it was okay. Having spent the previous 3 days in Washington DC, it may be a unfair observation because I absolutely loved DC (I would rank it up there with NYC, Baltimore, and Chicago as my favorite Cities) Baltimore reminded me of Midwestern cities like Cleveland and Milwaukee. It had some really cool areas, but still needs a lot of work. The downtown wasn't super impressive, but the inner harbor (which I guess could be considered downtown) was cool, although a bit touristy...but that’s the point. I thought Fells Point was really neat and the area between Fells Point and Downtown seems to be undergoing a renaissance. Some of the homes in the Fells Point area were very cool and kind of reminded me of some areas in Boston or even Greenwich Village The Camden Yards area is pretty neat too.

Kind of interesting that you bring this up because last Thursday some lady from the Greater Baltimore Convention and Visitors Bureau called me doing a survey of people who requested information from them.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
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"Stick it out" is my choice, although by all means be a catalyst for change if you can. Find a neighborhood that suits you, even if it means the town next door with the decent school system.

I'm going to try like hell to visit for the first time this year. Everyone talks about Baltimore as a place with tons of potential. Whenever people complain about the housing market and traffic in DC, its another plus for Baltimore.

jordanb said:
I've always thought of Baltimore to be where the rust belt meets the deep south. I have no idea how accurate that is though.
I don't know, that sounds more like W. Virginia to me. Baltimore seems to big & cosmopolitan, and its problems are also very urban ones.
 

JivecitySTL

Cyburbian
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I love Baltimore. It's like St. Louis East. The two cities are eerily similar in so many ways.
 

ChevyChaseDC

Cyburbian
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BKM said:
its a corrupt eastern city that is still declining. Good Luck.

WRONG!!!

Charm City's population loss has finally begun to slow (though admittedly it's still shrinking), and the current Mayor, Martin O'Malley, is one of the most effective and dynamic politicians that the city and the state of Maryland have ever seen. Baltimore is no more corrupt than any other large city.

Baltimore had really hit rock-bottom by about 1990, and has been on a rebound since. The downtown area is experiencing a major flood of investment and rehabilitation, and not more of the same mondern monolithic "urban renewal" that defines the likes of Charles Center...on the west side alone, there are multiple major residential construction projects; The University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins Hospital have finally shed their fortress mentalities and are pouring money into enormous construction projects, on the west and east sides respectively; Canton and Federal Hill, neighborhoods that once served as homes for the city's blue collar workers, continue to gentrify rapidly; Mount Vernon's stately streetscaptes are among the best in the country; Hampden and Charles village continue to attract the young hipster crowd.

The city with tons of "potential" has begun to realize it. I really think you ought to stick around.

Does anyone have some pictures of the city to post?
 

BKM

Cyburbian
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I do remember Charles Street as being one of America's great urban boulevards (The Mount Vernon? area is really cool). And, the park system is quite impressive.

As for corruption, it sounds like my opinions are outdated? Good. I had just read, though, that the level of heroin addiction, murders, out of wedlock births, and STDs were well above the national metropolitan average.
 

Greenescapist

Cyburbian
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1,169
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I think Baltimore suffers by its proximity to DC. If it had what it had, a decent little downtown, great aquarium, the beloved Orioles, harbor, Johns Hopkins, etc -- and was more by itself, it could be a regional center. But, with DC just 40 miles away it plays second fiddle. DC gets nicer looking and more cool every time I visit since I moved away from there (1999) - I don't imagine Baltimore has changed much. Hopefully, as someone else mentioned, there newish mayor can help get the city on the right track.
 

B'lieve

Cyburbian
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219
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9
ChevyChaseDC and RepoMan are right on the money on what they said, at least from what I've seen and heard, and BKM is right that the City's problem's are still above the nation's metropolitan average, although it is by no means the worst city around. And you, NOS, who have been in the area much longer than I have, are right that improvements, especially large and easily noticeable ones, still come too slowly, although they're coming faster and thicker than they used to. And the transit system is, indeed, a half-a$$ed, less-than-half-built, mismanaged mess.

That said, Baltimore is improving. City government is noticeably cleaner, more efficient, more aware of problems and its own resources, somewhat more responsive, and even a little leaner than it was before O'Malley.

Much of the infrastructure is crumbling, although the fact that so much has lasted for 50 to 130 years, and so much more is still intact and running at least okay, is a testament to its original high quality. (One recent water main that burst-for the first time ever-had been laid in the 1870s). And DPW (Dep. of Public Works) is working pretty hard with every penny it can scrounge up to fix it. It may still take a little longer than in the counties, but many more potholes actually get filled and streets repaved than, say, five years ago, and work continues on that huge ancient water system.

The murder rate, most of which is concentrated in a subset of neighborhoods, many of which are increasingly thinly populated, may have a long way to go, but there's no denying that it has dropped farther and faster in the last several years than in many other cities. (From 300+/yr to the 250's/yr). And the burglary/property crime rate, which effects (and drives away) far more people and neighborhoods, has over those same years dropped even farther and more steadily--from 12,000 in 1999 to 8700 in 2003, over 25%.

The transit system, and the TWTA (Third World Transit Authority) that runs it,
are in need of a serious overhaul, and the system needs an expansion badly. Gov. Erlich and MDOT Secretary Flanagan aren't exactly transit-friendly, but they're only definitely in for two more years, and after that who knows what might happen, for good or ill. Translation: don't give up hope just yet on the transit front.

As for the schools, the city/state partnership that took over in 1997 may have busted the budget, but it did improve the schools noticeably. Social promotion was almost entirely ended briefly, and is still far, far rarer than it was, and still the graduation rate went up from ~40% for the class of 1997 to I believe about 62 % for the class of 2003. The elementary schools improved noticeably (doing things right is much easier and more effective if you start right at the beginning), with a number of once crappy schools now above-average, in addition to some, like Roland Park Elementary-Middle, that always were good. The secondary schools (especially the middle schools) have lagged, but all of the kids there now went through their first few crucial grades, when most of the falling-behind begins, during the Very Bad Years immediately before the current partnership. I suspect that the very slow improvement of the secondary schools will accelerate as the kids who entered school after about 1997-98 reach those upper grades.
Do you have kids (I don't think so, but want to be certain before jumping to conclusions)? By the time you and your fiancee have one, if you want one, and that child is old enough for preK or preschool(4 yrs old, I think) or kindergarten (5 yrs old), the elementary schools should be still better, with more of them (dare I hope) catching up to the average suburban school. And by the time he/she hits middle and high school, those levels should also be noticeably better.
One more thing: The current budget crisis may in the long run be a blessing in disguise. It is a much-needed kick in the pants for the administration and area politicians reminding them that they need to be a lot more organized and vigilant. (The budget problems are largely but not entirely the admins'/school board's fault: some key resources, such as money and people with budgetary experience, that the state and city promised in 1997 never materialized, and the mayors, governors, and state superintendent didn't pay as much attention as they should have and said they would in 1997.) And after the deeeeeppp personnel cuts at North Avenue (City school headquarters), the city school system is, for the first time in decades, if not ever, actually somewhat less top-heavy than the area's suburban systems.

To mangle what I remember from a telling quote to a friend of mine by her roommate (who I also know), both of whom live in the city and are nurses at Hopkins: "I might leave next year, but I think I want to come back soon. I kinda think in five years this will be the place to be."

My vote, roughly the same as Seabishop: If it becomes utterly unbearable or an literally irresistable job offer/life opportunity pulls you elsewhere, do what's best for the you (and your fiancee) and, if that means go, then go. Otherwise, I say stick it out, and if the opportunity to be a catalyst for change comes up, or if you can make your own opportunity, by all means do so. Anyone who wants to be here is welcome. :)

Wow, that's the second-longest post I've ever made anywhere (maybe even the longest). MZ eat your heart out! :-D
 
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BKM

Cyburbian
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6,463
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29
Nah, you need to add more pathos before you can match MZ (Just Kidding) :p
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
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I remember a geography professor back in the (well, a long time ago) posit that Baltimore was the largest and least known city in the country.
 
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BKN,

I wouldn't have took your response as a diss to Omaha. I know what Omaha is like, that's one of the reasons why I left. I will give Omaha credit; they are trying to transition from an old agricultural center to a hi-tech destination. They have begun redeveloping the riverfront, focusing on neighborhood (re)development, trying to improve transit, among other things. However, it's still very sprawl-like. It won't be too long before Omaha and Lincoln touch.






BKM said:
Well, few large city school systems are worthwhile. As a midwesterner, you will probably usually be disappointed (compared to the high schools in my home town in Indiana, the local "campuses" in California look like decrepit prison camps-even the mega-ugly new one).

On the other hand, Baltimore is a low cost city in a high cost area, which means potential. It has a lot of character-particularly if, like myself, you like townhouses (rowhouses). Not to diss Omaha, but there are neighbrohoods in Baltimore that ooze character and walkability. Wood frame midwestern housing just can't compare. Plus, the waterfront, proximity to other eastern cities (and their job markets)

On the other hand, its a corrupt eastern city that is still declining. Good Luck.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
the north omaha star said:
BKN,

I wouldn't have took your response as a diss to Omaha. I know what Omaha is like, that's one of the reasons why I left. I will give Omaha credit; they are trying to transition from an old agricultural center to a hi-tech destination. They have begun redeveloping the riverfront, focusing on neighborhood (re)development, trying to improve transit, among other things. However, it's still very sprawl-like. It won't be too long before Omaha and Lincoln touch.
Well, my hometown (Fort Wayne, Indiana) is a smaller, perhaps less prosperous version of Omaha. When people in California talk about "aprawl," I have to laugh. (compared to the midwest and southeast).

I like rowhouses/townhouses. I think they are a great compromise. I could easily live in a city like Baltimore with its rich tradition of rowhouse architecture.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
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1,369
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29
As a totally rural person, I have to say that Baltimore is one of my favorite big cities. It may have something to do with being a baseball fan and Camden Yards, but while the problems are obvious (as they are in any big city - I had to pass through Phoenix yesterday and it was soooo depresssing even to see it out of an airplane window), but my sense has always been that there is a good energy in Baltimore, that there is a willingness to get things done. That doesn't mean YOU should stick it out, but if the choice is among other large cities, I am not sure you will improve your situation.
 

bocian

Cyburbian
Messages
212
Points
9
baltimore is great -- and I say that consciously after being mugged there a couple of years ago -- and that's the only time I ever got mugged.... I love the harbor, row housing, I could live there if the opportunity came along.. So - I say stick with it, it's one of the only real cities in the US (maybe along with New York, Phily, Boston, and San Fran) and the fact that it lacks government offices and boring federal workers from Washingtom DC only works to its advantage.
 

The One

Cyburbian
Messages
8,289
Points
30
Baltimore is OK

I like Baltimore. I've been visiting since the late 70's when I was a kid going to see Cal Ripken :-D (saw him from the month he started his streek to the year he ended it...!) I'm glad your getting married though, I've heard Baltimore has the highest STD rates in the country 8-! ...?.... Trust me when I tell you the City has come a long way from what it used to be and will continue going in the right direction.... If your worried about school quality....don't move to an urban center.....at least until something changes in the way big school districts are operated.... Give it a try....
 

jresta

Cyburbian
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1,474
Points
23
I feel the same way about Baltimore now that i used to feel about Philly. I grew up in the NYC suburbs in NJ and Philly was only 70 miles away but i knew almost nothing about it. It was very mysterious. So I moved here. Now Baltimore is less than 90 miles away and i know hardly anything about it other than the inner harbor and fell's point.

it's funny because i was sitting around a table with friends recently - one of them happened to have moved to Philly recently from NYC and we were talking about how so many kids (most of you can read:hipsters) are making the move from B'klyn to Philly. We asked him - "why?" He said matter of factly "because normal people can't afford to live there anymore."

then the topic turned to how expensive housing in Philly is getting and a few people said that in a few years they'd probably have to think about moving when they are ready to buy a house. I said, "yeah, in a few years we'll probably all be sitting around a table in Baltimore having this same conversation."

Not that Philly has anywhere neared its full potential but we've gotten somewhere good and i seriously think that Baltimore is next in line. It's going to start atracting a lot of attention as DC gets more and more (overpriced in my opinion) expensive and Philly catches up.

I'm sure it's on the up and up for its own reasons but i'm just saying that in 5 years or so it will really take off . . . especially if that Baltimore Rail Plan is succesful. I really think the city's future hinges on that. I also think the SEPTA/MARC connection in Elkton, MD will open things up a lot too.

http://www.baltimoreregiontransitplan.com/pages/map.htm
 

B'lieve

Cyburbian
Messages
219
Points
9
Here's the official website for the Baltimore Transit Plan:

Baltimore Regional Transit Plan

More than a few people are displeased, if not yet angry, that the governor and state transportation secretary keep trying to simultaneously slide the transit plan onto the back burner and downgrade what was originally a rail plan to BRT. Especially since BRT isn't really going to be possible, let alone usefull, anywhere around here other then the interstates and a couple of other highways. We already have express buses, with low ridership, and a couple of those routes were recently cut. Much of any new BRT line would require either major road-widenings and extensive condemnations--which would drive the construction costs up to the same levels as light rail--or reserving of existing lanes exclusively for rapid buses, which would disrupt traffic just as much as reserving lanes for light rail or streetcars would. Baltimore's General Assembly delegation, led by House Environmental Matters Committee chair Maggie McIntosh, are threatening to hold up Gov. Erlich's beloved InterCounty Connector freeway if the Red Line doesn't get the money to finish planning it. I don't know what Ms. McIntosh can do, though the papers say she has a lot of power over transportation projects; maybe she can hold up EIS's or something?
 

Cirrus

Cyburbian
Messages
303
Points
11
The recent good news is the Ehrich Administration may be starting to soften:

Line could go farther than Morgan State
Michael Dresser
Baltimore Sun


State Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan said yesterday that he has directed department officials to begin studying a possible extension of the Baltimore Metro, which ends at Johns Hopkins Hospital, to the Beltway northeast of the city.

Flanagan told the city's House delegation yesterday that he believes the subway's Green Line could be extended beyond Morgan State University, which would have been the eastern terminus of the subway under previous plans.

The transportation secretary said an extension to the Baltimore Beltway would attract riders.

"It provides an opportunity to encourage commuters from Baltimore County and Harford County to use the Green Line into the city," Flanagan said.

Flanagan later emphasized that the study, which would be necessary to estimate the cost of the extension, is not a commitment to build.

The secretary's statement came as part of an aggressive effort to persuade city lawmakers to support Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s transportation revenue bill.

The legislation, the centerpiece of which is a hefty increase in vehicle registration charges, has been a tough sell with urban lawmakers because of a perception that the Ehrlich administration is less than sympathetic to mass transit projects. Lawmakers have also questioned the mix of revenue-raising methods in the package.

Flanagan sweetened the pot for Baltimore lawmakers by saying he would try to move up the start of construction on the region's proposed Red Line, extending from Woodlawn to the Fells Point-Canton area, from 2011 to 2010. He had previously promised $17 million to begin planning the route, provided the legislation passes.

Although he continued to discourage city lawmakers' hopes for a full-fledged subway on the route, Flanagan assured them that he was open to the idea of making the east-west transit route a light rail line. He assured them that he was not wedded to the notion of making the Red Line a rapid bus route, a solution that he and the governor had been promoting as recently as January.

Some delegates expressed reluctance to settle for anything less than a heavy rail line.

"Buses are buses, and light rails are trolleys," said Del. Keith E. Haynes, a Baltimore Democrat. "We really need an emphasis on a true Metro rail system."

Flanagan replied that any light rail included in the Red Line would not necessarily be the same as the current north-south light rail system, which is frequently caught up in downtown traffic. Some underground light rail is not out of the question, he said.

Because the Red Line is the Baltimore region's top priority, any extension of the Green Line to the Beltway could be far in the future. Even the extension to Morgan State would not begin until sometime next decade.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
Cirrus said:
The recent good news is the Ehrich Administration may be starting to soften:
Line could go farther than Morgan State
Michael Dresser
Baltimore Sun
That's really positive news. In places like Philly and Baltimore where you have serious concentrated poverty spread out over large areas you can't even begin to address it until you have a way to get people in and out of there. Cars and busses just don't do it and freeways just make it worse.

On the other hand i think the Baltimore folks demanding heavy rail are being silly. Light rail can do the same job if the platforms are long enough and they don't try to run it in traffic.

I think the MARC/SEPTA connection will really open Baltimore up and put it on a lot of people's radar screens. It will make it possible to take local trains from Fredricksburg, VA to New London, CT. Of course you'd have to make 5 transfers but i think the Baltimore/Philly traffic would pick up a lot as would the Baltimore/NYC traffic.

A weekend SEPTA/NJT train ride from Newark, DE to NYC is $30 r/t so i'm sure adding MARC on to that would cost about $40 r/t. That same trip costs $100 on Amtrak.
 

poncho

Cyburbian
Messages
96
Points
4
I spent last Monday there and though it was really nice. It was a speed trip but I got a really good feel. It's Southern enough to have some soul, :-D w/ a bit of a metropolitan feel. IMHO
 
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Jresta,

Can you tell me how the SEPTA/NJT trip works? I went to the SEPTA website and couldn't make heads or tails of the R7 schedule and how that works with the NJT schedule. Thanks.



A weekend SEPTA/NJT train ride from Newark, DE to NYC is $30 r/t so i'm sure adding MARC on to that would cost about $40 r/t. That same trip costs $100 on Amtrak.[/QUOTE]
 
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2
jordanb said:
I've always thought of Baltimore to be where the rust belt meets the deep south. I have no idea how accurate that is though.
Interesting comparison. I believe Baltimore was at one time the South's largest industrial city. Culturally, Baltimore was never "Deep South," which decribes a region of the South below North Carolina and Tennessee. It was and is culturally "Southern," but in its own unique way. Baltimore has its own unique dialect, which is related to the local Southern dialects up to a point. (Linguists have yet to completely describe its origins.) The city maintains three large public monuments to the Confederacy and a large public park named in honor of R.E. Lee, and Confederate flags are not at all an uncommon sight in the residential rowhouse neighborhoods. --Just think of a John Waters film. So, I suppose it may seem like the Deep South to some. On the other hand, its rowhouse neighborhoods remind me of Philadelphia's. Many of the homes in both cities look virtually identical.
 

passdoubt

Cyburbian
Messages
407
Points
13
I like Baltimore. I definately consider Baltimore and even DC to be the Northeast. The "Bos-Wash" Northeast corridor at least.

I think Richmond is really the first Southern city you hit as you travel down I-95.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
the north omaha star said:
Can you tell me how the SEPTA/NJT trip works? I went to the SEPTA website and couldn't make heads or tails of the R7 schedule and how that works with the NJT schedule. Thanks.
All SEPTA trains pass through the commuter tunnel in center city which means that all trains that run on the NEC have to divert off of it eventually. The R2 from Wilmington/Newark heads up to the northern suburbs after it goes through the tunnel and the R7 to Trenton actually goes the opposite way through the tunnel.

http://www.septa.org/parking_project/fullmap.html

So - the R2 will take you from Delaware up to Center City. Get off at 30th St. and change to the R7 Trenton.

when you're checking the schedule you have to make sure you select R7 Trenton not Chestnut Hill and you also have to check the "show return" box so you get the outbound schedule not the inbound schedule. And of course make sure you're looking at the right day of the week.

http://www.septa.org/schedule.cgi?route=r7s&day=4&return=on

Just find 30th St. and read across 'til you find the departure time that's good for you then read down - it shows the NJT connection and the NYPenn arrival time.

The trains don't run through to Newark, DE on the weekends and the trip from Wilmington to NYC will take you about 3 hours. Which is about how long it will take you to drive by the time you get through the tunnel, find a place to park, etc.

If you are just into taking the train ride that's one thing. The "quickest" way to get to NYC if you're already on 95 is to take the Delaware Memorial Bridge to NJ and get on 295 north. Go up to exit 65b and you'll see the signs for the Park & Ride. That's Hamilton Station. They run express trains on the weekend and you'll get up there in exactly an hour. It's $2 to park all day on the weekends. Forget finding a space during the week. 30 minute headways pretty much all weekend.

The other way to go is to take the NJ Turnpike north to where it intersects with the Garden State Parkway. Take the Parkway north for about 3 miles (exit 131) and follow the signs for the Metropark Park & Ride. This is the same train that stops in Hamilton - Metropark is the last stop before it expresses to Newark, NJ. The ride from there takes about 20 minutes. If you get on here expect to stand the rest of the way into the city. The seats are full after Princeton.

The other possibility is to take the NJTurnpike north to exit 6 and take the PA extension towards, well, PA. Get off at the next exit, which is Rt. 130 (exit 6a). Take 130 south for a mile or so and you'll see the park & ride on your left. That's for the light rail to Trenton (which is also every 30 minutes) - $1.10 and 15 minutes later it will drop you off across the street from the Train to New York.

Last but not least - Take 95 through Philly and just as you leave the city limits on the north side you'll come upon the Cornwell's Heights Park&Ride - you can catch the R7 there and it will take you 20 minutes to get to Trenton. The R7 is hourly on the weekends (and very crowded) and close to half-hourly during the week.

Good luck with all of that.

ohh yeah - NJT's map is pretty authoritative.

http://www.riverline.com/images/pdf/njt_railmap.pdf
 
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37
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2
passdoubt said:
I like Baltimore. I definately consider Baltimore and even DC to be the Northeast. The "Bos-Wash" Northeast corridor at least.

I think Richmond is really the first Southern city you hit as you travel down I-95.
I believe the "Northeast Corridor" as a megalopolis includes DC and Balto, but as a DC native I consider the area culturally Southern. Kojo Nnamdi on DC's WAMU (DC's NPR affiliate) recently hosted an interesting discussion on whether or not DC is still a Southern city. And there are quite a few Marylanders who would shudder at the thought of being a Northerner. Heck, the state song (written during the Civil War) is a very anti-Northern song and it condemns Lincoln in the first stanza. --just a fun fact.
Personally, I think that the Northeast Corridor will eventually extend to Richmond with the advent of high-speed rail south of DC. Richmond's historic Main Street station just reopened and will eventually become the base for a new regional public transportation network. Rail will eventually become a viable alternative to the clogged stretch of 95 between DC and Richmond.
So I guess my point is that while the DC/MD/VA region is part of this Northeast megalopolis, it retains to some degree the local Southern attitudes.
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,550
Points
24
I've only been to Baltimore twice, and both times were just semi-quick tours of the downtown/Camden Yards/Inner Harbor area and a few neighborhoods.

I believe that Baltimore has great potential because it has one great asset and one great intangible -- proximity and character. Baltimore's position as a low-cost city in the high-cost Northeast Corridor will make it attractive to people looking to get more housing value than they do in DC, NYC and Philly. As for character, it has aesthetic character, it has local cultural character, it has historical character... It will only be a matter of time before these things snowball for the city.

Maybe it's possible for Baltimore to be sort of like Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA, but on a larger, more urban/gritty, slightly less Southern scale.

Is that possible?
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
pete-rock said:
Maybe it's possible for Baltimore to be sort of like Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA, but on a larger, more urban/gritty, slightly less Southern scale.
Is that possible?
Good call. I think you're on to something there.

As for Baltimore/DC/Maryland being "southern" i think that's very relative. If you're on the eastern shore around Salisbury you'd get a very southern vibe. In the suburbs between DC and Baltimore I don't think many people consider themselves southern at all.

In most of Virgina they call the DC suburbs "NoVa for Not Virginia"

When i lived in SC Virginia was considered southern only by scholarly types. On a cultural level they just couldn't identify with it - I even heard a lot of older people say - "ohh we lost raleigh/durham to the yanks 20 years ago"

When i lived in NC most of VA was considered southern but def. not Maryland.

But then again, MD recently had some flap over the "sons of the confederacy" license plates with the confederate flag on them.

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~DRBR/REED/reed24.html
 

ChevyChaseDC

Cyburbian
Messages
190
Points
7
The Washington Post book critic, Jonathan Yardley, wrote a book called States of Mind in which he discovered a "Mid-Atlantic" culture that is neither completely Northern or Southern, but somewhere in between, combining elements of both. Baltimore and the whole of Maryland fall into this category, as do parts of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia.

Here in DC, the local residential architectural vernacular reflects both north and south, sometimes on the same block - brick rowhouses across from bungalows with large front porches. It's no accident that the nation's capital is located in a sort of neutral zone between North and South. Culturally...well, DC has a culture all its own.

As for Baltimore, I'd say it has about equal parts in common with Philadelphia and Richmond or Norfolk, VA.

"Baltimore...the city that combines the industrial decay of the North with the casual racism of the South" (from The Daily Show, back when Craig Kilborn still hosted)
 

pete-rock

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ChevyChaseDC said:
The Washington Post book critic, Jonathan Yardley, wrote a book called States of Mind in which he discovered a "Mid-Atlantic" culture that is neither completely Northern or Southern, but somewhere in between, combining elements of both. Baltimore and the whole of Maryland fall into this category, as do parts of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia.

"Baltimore...the city that combines the industrial decay of the North with the casual racism of the South" (from The Daily Show, back when Craig Kilborn still hosted)
There's nothing especially new about that analysis; Philly and Baltimore were the chief starting points for a Midland culture that extends westward through the Ohio Valley. Think Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, Indianapolis and St. Louis, the rural central and southern parts of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, western (non-Appalachian) Kentucky and northern Missouri. All have been traditionally defined in a North/South context, but the fact is they are both and neither. Linguists studying American English dialects have known this for years. The accents in these places have their roots in Philly and Baltimore, and they are generally seen as Southern by folks from the Northeast or the Great Lakes, and Northern by folks from the South Atlantic or Deep South.

I think Midland culture is the lost American subculture, and Baltimore started it.
 
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ChevyChaseDC

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pete-rock said:
There's nothing especially new about that analysis; Philly and Baltimore were the chief starting points for a Midland culture that extends westward through the Ohio Valley. Think Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, Indianapolis and St. Louis, the rural central and southern parts of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, western (non-Appalachian) Kentucky and northern Missouri. All have been traditionally defined in a North/South context, but the fact is they are both and neither. Linguists studying American English dialects have known this for years. The accents in these places have their roots in Philly and Baltimore, and they are generally seen as Southern by folks from the Northeast or the Great Lakes, and Northern by folks from the South Atlantic or Deep South.

I think Midland culture is the lost American subculture, and Baltimore started it.
(I agree, I didn't mean to say Yardley "discovered" the Mid-Atlantic or Midland culture, he just wrote a book about something not many people think about)
 
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Personally, I don't consider Maryland 'down south' at all. Before I moved here from Omaha, I always considered Baltimore and central Maryland an 'east coast' city. The 'south' doesn't begin until you get past the I-95/I-85 split south of Richmond in Petersburg, VA. Fredericksburg, VA which is north of Richmond definitely feels southern, but it has VRE commuter rail to Washington. It's funny because I thought all 'east coast' cities were the same before I moved to Baltimore. I had that crazy thought because all midwestern cities of any size are the same (think atmosphere, culture, not topography or population), with the exception of Chicago (sheer size and it's cosmopolitan nature) and St. Louis (it's age). If you've been to Omaha, then you've been to Kansas City, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Wichita, Des Moines. No matter how close the 'east coast cities' are each and every one of them has a style all its own.
 

benk928

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Virginia/MD in the Souf?

I am actually starting work on a paper in my Politics of States and Localities class about the problems with regionalism in the Norfolk, VA metro area. I came across this article in JSTOR, bear with my nerdiness:

http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0004-5608(198709)77:3<325:CUOFAR>2.0.CO;2-4

On page 4 you see a handy-dandy little map that shows the regional research results (conducted in 1987). Two tiny islands of Eastern-ness in the region designated as the South are, believe it or not, Richmond and Norfolk, VA.

I plan to read more of the article when I get further into the writing of the paper, but I definitely liked the map a lot. Thought I'd throw some scholarliness into it.

-Ben
 
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Maryland IS Southern

To not recognize that the DC/Baltimore region is culturally and historically Southern is to discount the important role the region played in shaping our nation's history. The traditional North-South boundary is the Mason-Dixon line which divides Pennsylvania and Maryland. This line helped to create and perpetuate a cultural dichotomy within our nation that persists to this day. During colonial times, Maryland was one of the "Southern Colonies" and relied on a plantation economy. Tobacco was a major crop. As in Virginia and North Carolina, the county was the primary jurisdictional device unlike the townships of the "Middle Colonies." The concept of community we associate with town life was largely absent from the Southern colonies. The "sprawling" pattern of development in the South today reflects that.

DC was located in the South as a compromise with the North over war debts, and an area of 10 square miles was cut out of Maryland and Virginia for its creation. As an industrial city, nearby Baltimore was an economic engine for the South and a city of opportunity for many prominent ex-Confederates after the Civil War. During the war it was occupied by Union forces. Baltimore's Southern heritage is indeed reflected in its three large Confederate monuments. I found a quote from the state song which I mentioned in a previous post: "The Old Line bugle, fife, and drum, Maryland! She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb-Huzza! She spurns the Northern scum! She breathes! She burns! She'll come! She'll come! Maryland! My Maryland!" You can find the song here: http://www.mdarchives.state.md.us (It's ironic how Washington, DC is surrounded by towns and cities with Confederate monuments on court house lawns--e.g. Rockville and Elicott City in suburban Maryland and Fairfax and Alexandria in Northern Virginia.)

The modern civil rights movement owes much debt to the watershed events that took place in the DC/Baltimore region. A prominent leader of the abolitionist movement, Frederick Douglass, was born into slavery in Maryland. As this year is the fiftieth anniversary of the Brown decision, it is fitting to note that the first success of the NAACP campaign to end racial segregation in education was the integration of the University of Maryland law school in 1935. Like other Southern states laws were enacted after the Civil War and Reconstruction that mandated racial segregation in education and in much of public life. "Sit-ins" were a common tactic used in DC and Baltimore long before the famous Greensboro, NC sit in. The former Hecht Co. department store building in downtown DC was recently renamed to honor Mary Church Terrell, a leader in the fight to desegregate Washington's public accommodations.

Linguistically, the dialect native to the DC/Baltimore region is Southern. Known as the Virginia Piedmont Dialect, it covers an area from northern North Carolina to the Mason-Dixon Line, which includes most of Maryland and Virginia. While prevalent in older generations, it exists to varying degrees among younger groups. Not long out of high school, I can vouch for this. Here are some of the phonological characteristics: /Warshindon/ i.e. Washington, /warter/ i.e. water,
/Bawlmer/ i.e. Baltimore, /abauoot/ i.e. about, /hauoos/ i.e. house, /rivah/ i.e. river, /fav/ i.e. five, /ah/ i.e. I, etc.... African Americans native to the area also exhibit some of these features (but the African American Vernacular is more prevalent).

The regional cuisine is Southern. As a DC native, I have enjoyed popular dishes/snacks like spoon bread, apple butter, Maryland crab cakes, Smithfield ham, fried catfish, Maryland beaten biscuits, and cream of peanut soup. Additionally, I grew up inundated with Southern symbols, names, etc. For example, many DC area public high schools are named after Confederate generals--Stonewall Jackson, JEB Stuart, R. E. Lee, etc. Local businesses often include the words South, Southland, Southern, or Dixie in their names/corporate identities. The Southern States farming cooperative has outlets in many towns throughout the DC/Baltimore region, and the Southern States logo has become somewhat ubiquitous.

Lastly, according to the Census Bureau, the World Book Encyclopedia, and the Southern Governors Association Maryland is considered a Southern state. The Washington City Paper, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, and the Baltimore City Paper have all published articles on the often overlooked, idiosyncratic Southern culture of the region.

I doubt this will be the conclusive post on this issue (it's a fun topic for debate). Much of my argument is based on research as an undergrad history major at the College of William and Mary as well as personal experience as a DC native. For my major, I focused on Southern history. It's very interesting how defensive people (like myself) become when the culture of their hometown is at stake.
 

jresta

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All i'm saying is that MD may very well have a lot of southern attributes and be historically southern . . . just try telling that to someone from SC or Alabama.


but hey, like they say in north jersey - "the South starts in South Jersey."
 
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pete-rock

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rmulrew, you didn't need all that to prove that Baltimore is Southern. I think most here would acknowledge that from a historical standpoint Baltimore has been solidly Southern. But the fact is, since the Civil War Baltimore has become less and less Southern in its identity, as it became more cosmopolitan and more closely linked, economically and culturally, with the Northeast metropolises.

Besides, I think there is a general intuition (among Northerners and Southerners) that, if you had to choose, Georgia would be considered "more" Southern than Maryland, in the same way that Mississippi would be considered "more" Southern than Kentucky.
 
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I generally agree with pete-rock, but the discussion on Baltimore became one on whether or not Baltimore and even Virginia is Southern. Hence, my long post. I hoped to clear up some common misconceptions. Baltimore is obviously more Northern in its outlook and attitude than say Charleston, which remained a small city in the Deep South. But culturally, one can still get a sense of its Southern roots. The city does capitalize on its cultural heritage. For example, the annual Honfest in Hampden holds a competition that tests mastery of the Baltimore dialect, culture, etc. Such events are big tourist attractions.

I like the diversity of the east coast cities. The trip from Boston to Richmond minus significant traffic tie-ups is only a little over 9 hours, yet culturally, both cities are a world apart.

On a different subject, does anyone know if that high speed rail line between Baltimore and DC is still in the works? I think it was part of the failed Olympic bid.
 

GRID

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It is interesting that your from Omaha and have moved to Baltimore -- that is the same route my best friend (from Omaha) took. I am also from Omaha.

When I visited Baltimore a couple of years back, I found that it was quite a cute, charming city. I liked how downtown was built around a geometric-cut harbor. There is this Oxford-type, yet down-to-earth feeling I got there. It is not a city I would probably thrive in, but I think it was nice. Personally, I am more attracted to the intense energy swirling around nearby D.C.
 

B'lieve

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GRID said:
It is interesting that your from Omaha and have moved to Baltimore -- that is the same route my best friend (from Omaha) took. I am also from Omaha.

When I visited Baltimore a couple of years back, I found that it was quite a cute, charming city. I liked how downtown was built around a geometric-cut harbor. There is this Oxford-type, yet down-to-earth feeling I got there. It is not a city I would probably thrive in, but I think it was nice. Personally, I am more attracted to the intense energy swirling around nearby D.C.
"cute"? Hhhrrmmm, I've heard Baltimore called a lot of things, but cute is a new one. And welcome to the happy bedlam that is Cyburbia. Joining the SSP invasion, eh?
 

ChevyChaseDC

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190
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Best spots in Baltimore to show a potential student?

I have a friend who has been admitted to Johns Hopkins Medical School. While the school's international prestige, and the acheivement of being admitted to one of the most selective programs in the country should be enough to convince her to go, she has never been to Baltimore before and is a bit intimidated by the idea of living there.

So we're going to go there for a day trip. She's pretty into art and funky neighborhoods, and I'm convinced Baltimore will suit her just fine. Besides the Inner Harbor, the Aquarium, and Orioles games, can any of the natives recommend places to walk around, drive around, eat, etc.? I have a few ideas, like Hampden, but could use some inspiration...
 

Repo Man

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If your friend likes eclectic funky neighborhoods, a visit to Fells Point is definitly in order. A short walk from Inner Harbor, Fells Point is filled with interesting bars, art galleries, etc. Definitly something that a potential Medical College student would like.
 
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It is interesting that your from Omaha and have moved to Baltimore -- that is the same route my best friend (from Omaha) took. I am also from Omaha.

Grid,

What part of Omaha did you grow up in. I grew up in the Florence. Specifically, the 30th St. and Martin Ave. area. Technically, it's not Florence but it's close enough.
 
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Your friend should also check out the Canton neighborhood (east of Fells Popint). There are plenty of trendy shops and restaurants. In the adjacent Highlandtown area an old moviehouse (the Patterson) just reopened. There are plenty of old rowhouses here with the famous marble steps. And one of the last remaining Little Tavern hamburger shops is still open here. These neighborhoods are south and east of the Johns Hopkins Medical School campus and are still largely white and blue-collar, but the area is quickly gentrifying. The area surrounding the medical school is a bit sketchy though.

Further east of Highlandtown is Greektown--a lot of restaurants here. Little Italy is just east of the inner harbor. Federal Hill and South Baltimore is a lively area. There is a large public market and plenty of bars/restaurants. Hampden is an old mill town within the city, and although gentrifying the area still has a Southern vibe. There are plenty of restaurants/shops/bars here. The Olmsted Jr. planned suburb of Roland Park is just north of Hampden. There are a few interesting commercial areas here, including America's first shopping center (there is an historical marker).

Baltimore's main drag is Charles Street, and you will find plenty of shops, restaurants, bars and apartments to rent along this street. It runs from downtown north to the outskirts of Towson, an interesting suburban town. It passes through Bolton Hill, an area often compared to DC's Georgetown. Falls Road runs roughly parallel to Charles Street and passes through Mount Washington which has plenty of old and inexpensive large Victorian mansions. There is a light rail stop here and a small commercial area of restaurants and shops. Nearby Robert E. Lee park is the best area for outdoor recreation in the city and is the city's largest park.

Hope this helps.
 
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