UNITED STATES  |  Baltimore, Maryland Travel Guide
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Baltimore's Neighborhoods

The Neighborhoods

Baltimore’s neighborhoods are among its several unique features, residential enclaves that grew to house groups with close economic or ethnic ties, and that to this day retain their distinct flavors. These residential neighborhoods have maintained their commercial cores, with shops and restaurants. Ethnic neighborhoods have maintained heir churches – three Polish parishes are located in Canton, for example. These local meeting places help neighborhoods retain their sense of community and their individual character.

Little Italy

Closest to the Inner Harbor is Little Italy, whose commercial life is limited almost entirely to eating places, but whose culture is unmistakable in the homes and frequent religious festivals of its two parish churches. Its origins are from the era when the Port of Baltimore was second to Ellis Island n the number of immigrants it admitted. Many Italians came bound for he Gold Rush in California, but on arriving in Baltimore discovered just how far it was across the continent and stayed. To reach Little Italy, walk east on Pratt St., straight past the harbor. When you come to the wide resident St. you’ll see a painted brick wall welcoming you to Little Italy.

Fells Point

Fells Point is a rare maritime neighborhood of homes built close to the docks by the merchants, shipwrights, carpenters and others whose livelihood depended on the busy harbor. The modest row houses that line its treets have seen several waves of immigrants since the first of them was built in the 1700s.

Very few of these urban maritime neighborhoods remain in America, and this one nearly went the way of the rest before a preservation group intervened to save it. But they have not tidied it up into a museum village; Fells Point is very much alive, a weekend favorite of young people and students nd a self-contained neighborhood with two of Baltimore’s city markets on Broadway. Shops, antique stores, pubs and restaurants line waterfront hames (usually pronounced phonetically, not Britishly) and other streets radiating from Broadway, its park-divided main street. Take the water taxi from Inner Harbor or walk south from Little Italy on Caroline St.

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon was the center of high society for early Baltimore, and is still the prestigious in-town neighborhood. A thriving center for the arts and culture, it features fine shops, “Restaurant Row” and several museums. It centers around the gracious park-filled intersection of Charles Street and Mount Vernon Place, with the Washington Monument at its center. The neighborhood’s name derives from the Monument.

Bolton Hill

Northwest of Mount Vernon are the quiet streets of Bolton Hill, lined with sedate brownstone and brick homes. Here stands the former home of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and the Victorian cottage-style residence of Wallis Simpson’s aunt. Few businesses other than the shops of Antiques Row invade the quietude, but two of the city’s rare B&Bs are here, along with some restaurants and cafés favored by concert-goers at nearby Myerhof Symphony Hall.

Federal Hill

Federal Hill, a National Historic District across the Inner Harbor from the World Trade Center and Constellation Pier, includes streets of gentrified old row houses, along with antique shops and restaurants. Cross Street Market, at its center, is a boisterous melange of eateries and meat and produce stalls. At its northern edge, just before it drops suddenly to the harbor, is a park with a beautiful view of Baltimore’s harbor and downtown skyline. It’s also the place to catch a breeze on hot summer days.


Hampden, north of Bolton Hill, is far enough from the center of the city to have its own beat – or to have retained the air of the Baltimore of two or three decades ago. It’s just a little full of its own “image,” and bills itself as home to the classic Baltimore “Hon” – big hair, chewing gum and all, but you could never accuse this free-wheeling neighborhood of taking itself too seriously. You must see the Christmas decorations that cover homes on 34th St. to fully understand Hampden, but you get a pretty good idea of it at Café Hon.


Beyond Fells Point to the east is Canton, once the estate of a merchant who named it for the Chinese port. Later it became the center for Baltimore’s considerable oyster and vegetable canning industry, as boats brought Chesapeake shellfish and produce from the Eastern Shore farms straight to its canneries. Even the cans were made here. More recently, it has been home to the city’s Polish immigrants, and has three Polish parish churches. Its main cannery has become a commercial center with Maryland’s
largest independent bookstore, Bibelot, complete with café. Canton is the easternmost stop for the Water Taxi.

Last updated November 8, 2007
Posted in   United States  |  Baltimore
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