The best Baltimore neighborhood I don't know about
February 18, 2021 9:28 PM   Subscribe

Fantasy Zillow-ing is currently my best substitute for believing in the future. What neighborhoods in Baltimore should I be making sure to check?

Baltimore is my current top contender for where to move when we leave Brooklyn, where the cost-benefit analysis is getting indefensible. (I want a balcony, and a closet, and a window in the bedroom, and maybe even my own washing machine!) I am keeping myself sane by looking at Zillow, but the homes I like go depressingly fast and they don't list new ones fast enough. Please expand my fantasy search areas and also, someday, my real search areas.

I know Baltimore tolerably well but not as intimately as Brooklyn or DC. I currently look in Federal Hill/Otterbein, Fells/Canton, Charles Village and environs, Mt. Vernon, and Hampden. I want to know what I'm missing.

Assume I have some sense of these neighborhoods' down sides. What I'm interested in is where ELSE I should add to the fantasy Zillow list. I know Baltimore public transit isn't great, so I'm assuming we'd have to get a car and use it to travel between neighborhoods, but it's vital that I be able to walk to at least one restaurant, one coffee shop, and one place to get groceries. (I'm assuming restaurants etc. will be back in play someday.) I mean proper walking, not theoretical "it's less than a mile but you wouldn't want to walk there/there's nothing in between/everybody else is in cars" walking. I'm interested in a place that has a sense of community and, if possible, that community is a little weird. More trees on the street = better but I know that's not super common.

Thank you! I don't know if this will ever end up happening, probably the world will end first, but thinking about it feels grounding in a big way so whatever you can add to my imaginary life, go wild.
posted by babelfish to Travel & Transportation around Baltimore, MD (7 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I have a relative who lives in Old Goucher and really likes it.
posted by praemunire at 9:51 PM on February 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

I lived in Bolton Hill for 10 years (until 2014), after having lived on the UWS. Walked to coffee shops, grocery, restaurants, hardware, movie theater, and the Amtrak/MARC/light rail station (I was commuting.) Needed a car to get to bigger supermarkets, but I did a lot of NYC-style walking around. The neighborhood also felt Brooklyn-ish to me. It's often a filming location, disguised as Georgetown (in House of Cards and others.)

One plus (ymmv) -- it was right smack in the middle of ArtScape, a huge summer arts festival. You had to be resigned to not being able to drive in or out over that weekend, but it was awesome to be able to just stroll out into the festival and back home again.

It's next to Mt Vernon and also near Charles Village. For quirky/weird, Hampden probably takes first prize -- but there was a strong sense of community in the neighborhood. And definitely overall Baltimore had an eccentricity which I loved.
posted by profreader at 2:49 AM on February 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Maybe consider widening your circle a little bit? We have friends who have lived in Catonsville for years.
posted by gudrun at 5:34 AM on February 19, 2021

Best answer: I love Baltimore - but I don't live there anymore. However, it hasn't been that long. Here's my list!

1. Lake-Walker, Evesham, eastern edge of Homeland. These are leafy, originally upmarket areas of the city within walking distance of Belvedere Square - a fun little market that is part food stalls, part fancy groceries. Also nearby is Senator theater, a little indy theater.

2. Evergreen. There is a little slice on the eastern edge of Roland Park with narrow fun little houses much cheaper than Roland Park proper and Homeland proper, within walking distance of the fun stuff on Cold Spring (like Miss Shirely's).

3. Similarly a neighborhood called Wyndhurst, on the northern edge of Roland Park, walking distance to library and a starbucks and a local, upmarket grocer. Evergreen and Wyndhurst are pricier options.

3. Dickeyville. It's so hard to find so here's some coordinates 39.31673974351061, -76.70418475958317. I don't know much about it - it's cute and it's along the Gwynn Falls Trail. I don't know if you can walk to anything. But it'll scratch your secret pocket of different itch and is fun to even know exists.

4. Remington. Adjacent to Hampden, so you may be in your mind lumping it in with Hampden. People do.

Ok, now some real talk - so you posted neighborhoods that are in the "White L" - where the white people live. I am not assuming you are white or that you care, but it could be if your network is white, this is why those neighborhoods are the ones you're hearing about. What is interesting about Baltimore is that it's so racist it's the white neighborhoods that got gentrified - Fells Point, Locust Point, Fed Hill, Canton - these were all ethnic (Polish, Italian, Jewish, turn-of-the-century immigrants) neighborhoods associated with shipping activities. These are the ones that got gentrified. So here are less white neighborhoods, and say you're white, I don't think even if you buy and invest you'll be pushing people of color out - in fact, you may find yourself welcomed by homeowners because you are bringing investment and stability. I don't think you'll be part of a SF/NY style wholesale wave of displacement.

5. Greenmount West. It is between Mt Vernon / Midtown and the Hopkins Bubble in a zone referred to as Station North which is kind of a marketing name. I would say this is the closest thing to a gentrification attempt in a black neighborhood that you'll find in Baltimore. I am under the impression that the community formed a group to encourage neighborhood investment, so it's arguable you could call it gentrification at all.

6. Resevoir Hill. Huge, amazing old houses one neighborhood over from Bolton Hill. Just striking housing stock. I think there was a lot of buy & renovate activity in the 2000's prior to the bursting of the housing bubble, and that ended that, and I don't think it ever got going again. Because of the more ornate style of housing, and the size, it is probably price prohibitive to renovate at all, and you certainly should not expect to get even a nickel back if you want to renovate and sell.

7. Ashburton. I don't know much about this neighborhood, but I think of it as Black middle class locus point in the city.

8. Ednor-Gardens - Lakeside. Really sweet row-houses between 36th and Chestnut. Can walk to Waverly grocery store, Ace Hardware, Pete's Grill, couple other things. Also Waverly!

9. Mayfield. A little slice between Harford Road and Lake Montebello (one of my favorite places to stroll!). Cool little houses, can't walk to much.

10. Lauraville/Hamilton. I think this is considered Gen-Xer back-to-the-city area. Lots of big houses and a commercial center, walkable. There used to be a great restaurant on Harford Road, Clementine, but it closed and the feel of the area seems to be less like it's attracting investment and more that the party's over. Just my opinion.

11. Woodberry. A cool, very small neighborhood adjacent to Hampden with a newer condo/rowhome development, but a lot of older rowhousing stock and some quite different stone housing stock. Adjacent to Jones Falls Trail and a huge community garden. Also a light-rail stop which is pretty useless except for O's games. One of my favorite neighborhoods, really cool feel. The bike trail is fantastic.

12. Suburbs. Baltimore City is expensive. Most public schools are awful and the property taxes are twice the surrounding area - this will be a couple thousand a year, at least, which goes who knows where. Racist Cops? Criminal Mayors? You get the idea. Baltimore in terms of people and feel and culture and uniqueness is awesome, Baltimore the institution is far harder to like. For suburbs, you just cannot beat Rogers Forge. Full of kids, full of Hopkins folks, walkable to real grocery stores and two Ice Cream stands. Not expensive, easily resell. It is really really really hard to rack-and-stack options, especially as a future homeowner, and not really think about Rogers Forge.

Good luck, there's prob more, but I'm out of time!
posted by everythings_interrelated at 5:42 AM on February 19, 2021 [14 favorites]

Best answer: +1 for Greenmount West! It's a five-minute walk to great restaurants (for when we can go to restaurants again), two indie movie cinemas, and Penn Station. There is also a 3/4 acre garden/farm run on a co-op model with chickens and a community compost program, a huge new craft brewery opening up soon, and lots of new street trees planted by the city.

Two new affordable apartment buildings for artists were built within the last ten years ($981 for a two-bedroom). There are also art galleries, a tool library, and a maker space.

There's been a lot of investment in the neighborhood in the last ten years, mostly due to its proximity to Penn Station. The DC housing market has been so ridiculous that it's pushed many workers there to look to Baltimore (it's a 45 minute train ride to Union Station in DC). A new $90 million dollar plan to renovate Penn Station will undoubtedly only increase that trend. But the community association is aware of that gentrifying pressure and working to keep legacy residents.
posted by Dalton at 6:39 AM on February 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you everythings_interrelated—I am white and it definitely limits my scope, and "these places are way too white" was actually one of the down sides I was thinking of! (I love Hampden but it's WEIRD how white it is and I know there's some racist history to boot.) So "less white neighborhoods where you wouldn't be making the community worse as a gentrifier" is exactly the kind of information I need.
posted by babelfish at 7:20 AM on February 19, 2021

Best answer: I'm from Baltimore, and still (well, before COVID) visit regularly.

+1 for Remington and also what Real Estate agents are calling "Station North" - the latter might have better blocks v. less good blocks (it started to revive 5-10ish years ago, can't say I've followed it). They have also improved bike lanes in this area in the past 10 years.

+1 for Mayfield/Lauraville/Hamilton (and to these add Walther/Moravia/Arcadia/Beverly Hills): This is the area where I grew up and my parents still live. I somewhat disagree with everythings_interrelated's description - I mean, it's not as white as say Homeland (and not nearly as fancy), but it's mostly white and has been for decades. You will not be gentrifying here in the least. (Once you cross Belair Rd, it becomes mostly Black - Baltimore's segregation style is very abrupt) It's a lot of families, and yes, a small commercial strip on Harford Rd near the Safeway. You will end up needing to drive more if you live here, but the houses are a great value, and it's really not that far from much of the city. Herring Run Park and Lake Montebello are great for various exercise.

+Bolton Hill/Resevoir Hill - very cool old properties

Others that haven't been mentioned:

Greektown - just past Canton - tons of Greek restaurants (surprise).

The area around Patterson Park: technically not one neighborhood, but the generally area around the park has seen revitalization of late - the Creative Alliance is based just off the park and does various shows there.

Waverly - next to Charles Village, but cheaper property values - less to walk to in Waverly proper (but they do have a good farmer's market), and there are some more derelict blocks. But much of it is lovely and neighborly.

Finally: the first three neighborhoods mentioned by everythings_interrelated are lovely and leafy, but so racist. This is the heart of the white part of Baltimore that truly does not leave its white bubble and has no interest in doing so. Very WASP, uptight. It's where a lot of private schools are based. From what you've written, likely not the vibe you're looking for.
posted by coffeecat at 7:24 AM on February 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

« Older Another flight question - (cabin) baggage...   |   2AM Wake-up call Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.