Old Town Mall From the Parking Lot at Orleans & Forrest

Today’s ride took me over to Hampden for brunch and some time reading about the history of Hampden–trippy. It was a mill town, set apart from the rest of the city, populated by native-born rural whites who moved there to work in the mills, live in company housing, and shop at the company store. And then there was a strike, and they lost, because the mill owners just flat out refused to bargain. There’s more, about how public space is controlled as a way to control labor, for example, but then it was time to get back on the bike and ride on streets I’m not used to, hoping to end up vaguely downtown. I rode back through Charles Village, but just kept going straight on 22nd instead of taking that right on Guilford, and then everything was different. That’s what I love about riding a bike–one teensy different choice and the scenery’s entirely new. I weaved in and around the blocks of East Baltimore before popping out on Aisquith and running into this place–Old Town (Oldtown?) Mall. It felt a little like walking into our future: the empty parking lots with their dingy green meters, an electrical box with the front torn off to expose what was probably once a bunch of wires, and the broken signs welcoming me to the “mall.” The buildings, though, are largely abandoned and decaying, and I saw only a couple people wandering through the space. Is this what all our malls are eventually going to look like? This neighborhood is mere blocks from downtown, people. Blocks. And it’s just abandoned here, a victim of 1970s-era redevelopment and the continued abandonment of urban spaces. I’m new in town, so I don’t know all the ways people have used this space, but from what I can gather, folks have been excited about revitalizing it early and often. Anybody know what’s happening now? I wonder what we are going to do with our cities.

2 thoughts on “Old Town Mall From the Parking Lot at Orleans & Forrest

  1. Hey, just wanted to say that I just found your blog tonight, and it’s great! I live in Baltimore too, Hampden specifically. Looking forward to reading through your past entries. 🙂

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