Baltimore Shiver

How cold was it in Baltimore? It was this cold.
Birds fluff up their feathers because it creates tiny air pockets against their bodies. When their body heat warms up the air pockets, it’s like a tiny pigeon-shaped blanket.

Our day in Baltimore seemed cold, but I’m from a place where winters are mild, so I assumed it was all in my head till I spotted the pigeons. The pigeons looked cold and they validated my shivering.

Will and I parked on the waterfront near the first site on our agenda: Mr. Trash Wheel. Actually, that’s the nickname for the Inner Harbor Water Wheel, a water- and solar-powered trash collector. All the trash that gets washed down the Jones Falls Watershed on its way into the Chesapeake Bay gets trapped and dumped onto this trash barge beneath the tarp.

The Inner Harbor Trash Wheel collects trash from the water and prevents it from going into the bay, and into the sea. The eyes I’m guessing are to make it more approachable and to get it talked about.

After that we headed to Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park for a walking tour. I was hoping the walking would get my blood flowing and warm me up! On the way we passed the National Katyń Memorial that is hard to ignore with its golden flames reaching into the sky. I read the information boards and learned of a mass murder of Polish officers by the Soviet secret police during the winter of 1939-40. The monument is honoring the men who died.

The remarkable National Katyń Memorial.
Close up of the Katyń Memorial.

When we arrived at the Living Classroom site on the waterfront, we found a message posted that stated due to a last-minute emergency, the walking tour was canceled. We were still interested in the history of famous American Frederick Douglass however, so we stayed and looked at the installations outside. After multiple failed attempts, Douglass escaped slavery in Baltimore and made it to New York City. He is famous as an activist and abolitionist. Because of his skills of writing and oratory, he was held up as a counter-example to those who said enslaved people were not intelligent enough to be independent. Later in his life he built houses for African-Americans in the Baltimore community of Fells Point where he had lived.

I learned for the first time about Isaac Myers, who established a union for black shipyard workers in Baltimore Harbor and also mobilized workers to establish the first all-black co-operative shipyard and railway in the US.

The dominant outdoor installation is this statue of the face of Frederick Douglass by Marc Andre Robinson.
The Living Classroom site is on the docks which ties in with the history of Myers’ involvement in the shipyards.
After Will and I left the Douglass-Myers living classroom, we continued along the waterfront and found this Brazilian ship docked in the harbor. A sign out front said they would be offering tours, but not for several hours, so we moved on.
Emblem on the Brazilian U-27.
We got a chuckle out of this truck parked beside the ship. It may look like a milk truck, but it ain’t, as the sign on the right clearly states.
I was charmed by the old town Baltimore city streets.
It was hard to take a photo that matched what my eyes saw, but these were darling neighborhoods.
Brightly coloured homes along a Baltimore street.
This block of houses was just as captivating to me as the darling homes, however. I am fascinated by how people live authentically.
Often we saw that scenes of the city of Baltimore reflect older days.
These forgotten buildings today were built with such optimism yesterday. It makes me sad.

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Old advertisement on an old building.
This was my favourite wall ad of the day. Will pointed this one out to me. Can you read what it says? “Vote against prohibition.”
We walked down this block to find The Horse You Came In On Saloon, established in 1775. It’s the grey place in the middle of the block.

The Horse You Came In On Saloon is the oldest bar in Baltimore but is also famous for being the last place Edgar Allen Poe had a drink. Legend has it that he was staggering home from this very saloon in 1849 when he fell dead. They served us a hot breakfast with hot coffee and we warmed up a little while we pondered the solemn Poe history.

I confess I landed at the Poe House. All contributions are welcome. ha ha!

It seemed a good time to visit the gravesite of American writer Edgar Allen Poe. It’s in a tiny cemetery haphazardly smashed around a church and packed in by other buildings. Part of the church itself does not touch the ground and is instead built onto a low bridge that is a few feet above some more graves. We found out that the monument beside the sidewalk is not the original burial site of Poe. His family could only afford put him into an unmarked grave (with a stone bearing the number “80”) behind the church. But Baltimore loved her poet, and money was eventually raised to build a proper monument and move him to the front of the cemetery so people could more easily see it. He was buried with Maria Clemm in 1875, and Virginia Poe was also buried there in 1885.

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Our next stop was to see the magnificent Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Located on Cathedral Street, obviously.

Built from 1806-1821, the Baltimore Basilica was the first great metropolitan cathedral constructed in the United States after the adoption of the Constitution. Though the main basilica was astonishingly beautiful, I was more fascinated with its foundations. In 2001 the Basilica of the Assumption Historic Trust launched a campaign to restore the neglected Basilica. The restoration included providing public access to the Archbishop’s crypt and the construction of a Chapel in the undercroft. A lovely job has been done down there. Most captivating to me was the exposure of the upside-down arches below the nave chancel that help distribute weight. They carry the entire main dome of the Basilica.

Inside the Baltimore Basilica.
The chapel in the undercroft.
This inverted arch is also a doorway to some hidden place.
Here is a better angle to view the typical and inverted arches working together.

At the end of the day we left the city and headed out to a small town called Laurel, and attended a free concert at the Montpelier Arts Center that is part of the Department of Parks and Recreation. We enjoyed three pieces by the Polaris Piano Trio that included a violinist, pianist, and cellist. After the show in the gathering dusk we wandered the grounds of the historic Montpelier Mansion until it was almost too dark to see anymore, and we called it a day.

Montpelier Arts Center in Laurel, Maryland.
Montpelier Mansion is now part of the Maryland Parks Department.

5 thoughts on “Baltimore Shiver

    1. I’m glad you liked that gallery of basilica photos. I loved the way they turned out. I’m going to remember that combination: 5 landscape photos. It also works well because of the common subject, colours and patterns. Yes, Baltimore looked wonderful to me too. It has a bad reputation with some, because there are clearly areas that need some investment and revitalization. But to me, the city feels real, and raw, and not fake and polished like too many American towns.

    1. Those houses are SO beautiful! I love the dramatic changes from house to house, and how each door is a distinctly different colour. They are wonderful together all on one street. Thank you for walking along with me. I have been to Baltimore a few times, and I always love the character of the city.

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