Walking in Annapolis

As I mentioned in my last post, work ended early and I had a late flight out of Baltimore. That meant I had the entire afternoon to entertain myself and I had been too busy that week to get into downtown Annapolis, which is much more interesting than the suburbs where the training is conducted. It’s a little over four miles walk from my hotel to the waterfront, and the scene got prettier as I went.

This scene near the hotel always compels me. It’s a piece of a cemetery, trapped in a highway median when the intersection was expanded. How often must this have happened in human existence: isolating or merely wiping out a cemetery in the name of progress?
Parts of the suburbs of Annapolis are modern with a New England flair.
Soon I was seeing more traditional New England styles. I stopped here, actually, to look at the enormous Wisteria.
I just love wisteria, but I’ll bet the tree beneath it is not a fan.
Next I appreciated this beautiful red door with the Easter-themed egg wreath.
How clever. I have never seen one like this.

Outside of the main city, Annapolis is not well suited for pedestrians. There are multiple dangerous intersections with no crosswalks. There are sections of busy streets with no sidewalks. In places where construction obscures the sidewalks, the signs just say, “You can’t be here. Go away. Good luck.” …or something similar. Thankfully, the motorists I encountered were all very helpful, paying attention, and accommodating. Closer to the tourist areas, pedestrian-friendly infrastructure abounds. As well as informational signs and monuments about the city’s fabulous history all over the place.

Constantino Brumidi, Greek-Italian-American artist known for his frescoes. The plaque says he became America’s Michaelangelo. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but he did paint a nice fresco on the ceiling of the Capitol Building in D.C.
Here we have the classic early colonies style of construction at this very old pub.

On this particular visit into town, I was struck repeatedly by the incongruous angles of adjacent buildings. Another casualty of turning a 17th century colony into a 21st century city. Plans definitely change over time and here are some examples:

It’s hard to tell in the photograph, but the building is not a rectangle, it’s a parallelogram. The angle on the right front that you are looking at is not 90 degrees, but looks more like 110 degrees. The angle on the left, with the back wall hidden, then, must be 70 degrees.
Whoop-de-loop! Look at all the angles here. Not one of these three brick buildings follows the same orientation.

The Christian Science Reading Room (white building with red awning above) was the first building I noticed with walls that were not 90 degree angles. Once that idea was in my head, I began spotting them all over the place. How interesting. The area was first settled by Puritan pilgrims from England in 1649. They and their descendants clearly were not envisioning the future layout of paved streets and how buildings would need to fit those spaces.

Whoever lives here is constantly having to explain to delivery drivers that yes, there really is a 214 1/2 Duke of Gloucester Street. “It’s hard to see, but it IS there. Keep looking.”
A street mural dedicated to Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Finally I rounded a corner and found myself at the top of the hill looking down into the center of town and the water. Describing what body of water I was looking at is tricky. Downtown Annapolis envelops a little bay on the edge of Annapolis Harbor on the side of Spa Creek, which – like all creeks and rivers around here – is a wide, lazy delta leading to a larger body of water. In this case, it’s a tributary to the Severn River (also wide and slow-moving) which empties into the northern part of the famous Chesapeake Bay, which eventually leads to the Atlantic Ocean. Whew.

Isn’t it a cute little city? I love being able to see the water from here.
A little closer.

By this time I was famished. I had spent an hour on the way over here at the exhibit of Presidents before Washington as I covered in my last post. Furthermore, I had walked nearly four miles at this point on no lunch for fuel. Luckily, a local favourite seafood restaurant was near at hand. Seafood, but more specifically, just crab cakes. I’ve been to this restaurant half a dozen times, and I have only ever ordered their crab cakes. There is no reason to order anything else.

Chick and Ruth’s Delly is about as American diner as it gets.
My view as I waited for crab cakes.
Favourite sandwiches on the menu are up on the wall of honor, named after local celebrities.
This was officially a “sandwich,” but I ordered mine without the bread. The plate is blackened from decades of use, I imagine.

So remember in my last post I used the website Atlas Obscura to find new things to see in Annapolis? It led me to the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial next. I had seen this, but it was worth a second look. There is an informational sign across the street from the sculpture, which is weird, but ok.

The sculpture to which this sign refers is across the street, hidden behind the black truck in this photo.

If you recall the book by Alex Haley, Roots, or the made for TV movie of the same name, you will have heard of Kunte Kinte. He came from the Gambia River in 1767, on a ship that landed in Annapolis. He and other Africans had been captured and sold into enslavement on arrival upon these shores. Alex Haley is a descendant of Kunte Kinte.

While Alex Haley grew up, he listened to stories told to him about his enslaved ancestor, Kunte Kinte.
Here, children listen to an elder tell them stories. In the background, across the street under the trees, you can see the information board about the memorial.

Atlas Obscura also sent me to a new memorial that I had not seen before, the Guardians of the First Amendment memorial. June 28, 2018 there was a mass shooting at The Capital gazette in Annapolis and five journalists were killed. This gutted the already-small staff, and traumatized the small city. Three years later, a memorial was erected in their honor. There is a small park beside the bay downtown, and to one side is the memorial structure containing a brick wall holding the words of the First Ammendment of the Constitution, bronze plaques telling the story, and five granite pillars, standing for the five lives: Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.

Guardians of the First Ammendment memorial.
First amendment etched in granite on the wall.
The monument was installed three years later.
Their heartbroken colleagues rallied, and published the next issue of The Capital the very next day. This is a bronze copy of the front cover.

What a sad world we live in. I cannot bring myself to comment on mass shootings in the United States. I do not understand and I do not see a way out. It makes me cry.

I was near the water, so I crossed the street from the memorial and went to take a closer look. I walked along the dock to the end.

Businesses line the tiny Annapolis bay downtown.
We eyed each other.
She humbly posed for a portrait.
View from the end of the dock at Spa Creek.
View of downtown Annapolis as I returned. If you look closely, you can see the Kunte Kinte-Alex Haley statues of storyteller and children on the left side of the photo, just above the water.

At this point, my cell phone was on 4% battery life, and though I still had hours to kill, I decided I would use the last bit of life in my phone to call the hotel for a shuttle ride back.

12 thoughts on “Walking in Annapolis

  1. Such a fine, varied, set of pictures of a splendid city walk. I was fascinated by your geometric thoughts, and loved the Kunte Kinte Alex Haley memorial. I am sorry to say that I believe there is no way back from the gun culture – and am sorry about your pain.

    1. Thank you for the constant love and support Derrick. I suspect you are right that there is no way back – at least not in the foreseeable future – but I am not yet ready to accept that. I need to cling to hope for change. But in viewing the history of humanity, my guess is that real, societal change will take another 50 years. I will not see it, but I do hope Kellen does.

      I have clear memories of a Black friend riding the bus to elementary school beside me, telling of how her family watched Roots on TV without fail. She regaled me with stories about each episode when we saw each other next. I recall a lot of violence that was hard for my 7-year-old sensibilities to accept. For that reason, I never sought out the book, and I never even thought about it till now. I am going to get this one and read it.

      I have always been intrigued by architecture, and find that buildings catch my attention for multiple reasons. Parallelogram-shaped brick buildings! It just blows my mind. ha ha.

  2. Great post! I must have missed your last post with reference to Atlas Obscura, but thanks for that recommendation! I will be using it in my upcoming travels. Have a great day!

  3. I’ve never heard of this OR Atlas Obscura! Geez, you are like my favorite teacher only better! Thanks for this. It’s worth a second read when I get home tomorrow.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Bonnie! Check out my post just before this one, too. It’s my favourite Annapolis discovery that Atlas Obscura led me to. It can be a very fun website to use, depending on how active people have been with submitting information about the city you are interested in.

    1. Thank you for the additional context about the memorial, Brian. Did you already know that Mr. Hiassen had lost his brother then? Or did you recognize the name? I am glad a memorial was placed. I like the mural too – very well done and good subjects.

  4. I immediately thought of the times we visited Annapolis when Tony was at the Naval Academy, Crystal. it is a lovely town. Your story of crab cakes reminded me of taking Tony out to dinner in town when we visited. Like you, he had a go to restaurant and a go to food. His was blue crabs. The restaurant had butcher paper on the table and it was an all you could eat establishment. You’d pile the shells up on the paper as you ate. The pile in from to Tony just grew and grew. It might have been embarrassing if it hadn’t been so amusing. That Wisteria tree was amazing. This time of the year, it would have been a full time job removing the petals as they fell. As for crooked buildings, I don’t remember them there, but I certainly remember them in Amsterdam last summer. as for the tragedy of mass shooting, all I can say is that I agree with you. Great post, my friend.
    BTW, Tony has been hired by Frontier Airlines and should be flying passenger jets by fall.

    1. Great news for Tony! This is wonderful. I have heard that right now is a good time to get into the airline industry because they are trying to expand employees in every department, particularly pilots. I’m happy to hear that Tony can take advantage of that. Amsterdam has those same kinds of crooked buildings? What a delight! I have been going to Annapolis that I have a couple of go-to places at this point, and I have been to one like the one you describe. It’s right on the water and the seafood is very fresh.

      1. He’s quite excited, to say the least, Crystal.
        I’m pretty sure I included at least one of the crooked buildings in a post. I remember being quite amused by them. Don’t remember exactly where the restaurant was. It was a while ago. But I do remember the food was good!

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