Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Get To the Point…Fell's Point in Baltimore

After several days of high heat and creeping humidity, the weather broke and brought warm, cheerful skies. It was absolutely perfect for wandering about the cobblestone streets of Fell's Point. This historic waterfront community, east of Baltimore's Inner Harbor, is sprinkled with shops, restaurants, and lively pubs.

Fell's Point is a National Register Historic District dating back to the Colonial era. Englishman William Fell bought the land in 1726 and saw the potential for shipbuilding in colonial America. Later, his son and widow divided the land and sold lots beginning in 1763 as others recognized the potential of the deepwater port. Before long, Fell's Point grew into a bustling seaport with docks, warehouses, shipyards, homes, and stores. The USS Constellation, the last Civil War vessel still afloat, was built here in 1854, and today is berthed in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

The oldest house in Baltimore has stood here since 1765 and is now a museum. There are many houses and commercial buildings that date to the 18th and 19th centuries – Historic District Plaques on properties abound here. Small row houses share space with large town home developments, specialty shops, and familiar TV and film sites. There are theaters, art galleries, museums, book and antiques stores, and ghost tours for those who like their history on the spooky side. The historic Broadway Market is worth a trip for fresh produce, meats, seafood, dairy, and baked goods. For several years, the whole country knew the City Pier as Baltimore Police Headquarters, thanks to the filming of Homicide: Life On the Street here.

Festivals are a Fell's Point specialty – the annual Fell's Point Fun Festival draws some 300,000 people. There is a Privateer Day (can you say "Aargh"?), Halloween, winter holiday festivities including the Miracle on Main Street and the Parade of Lighted Boats, plus fireworks on the 4th of July and New Year's Eve.

Snowballs and saloons, both mainstays of the area, adjoin city gardens and eco-friendly buildings like the Mikulski Workforce Development Center with its green roof. U. S. Senator Barbara Mikulski is an advocate for Baltimore and especially Fell's Point; long before the area became popular, she helped lead the fight against an extension of Interstate 95 that would have destroyed Fell's Point and much of Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

But on our visit we weren't thinking about history or Homicide. We simply enjoyed the wandering, people watching, and being near the water in this eclectic part of Baltimore.

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