I woke up early on Saturday and decided right away to do absolutely no work-related tasks that day. No emails, no grading, no reading or writing, nothing. I needed a good day off, and I took it. I lazed about for a bit and then layered up for a ride down the hill and around the harbor to meet J. and her parents at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. Oh, it felt so good to be flying down the hill on empty streets, the morning fog still hanging on everything taller than a row house. It was quiet and still, and I wondered to myself, how do people who don’t ride bikes or walk around know where they are, like really know? Outside of a car you have no choice but to pay attention. But anyway. Admission to the museum was just $1, so I happily peeled off a bill (not really–I don’t actually have a roll of bills in my pocket, but I like the image) and headed inside. After a tour of Yet Another Holiday Crafts Show J. and I did a quick spin around the museum. Ok, this place is fantastic. We started in the print shop where a nerd just like me told us all about the history and industrialization of typesetting. Did you know the linotype machine was invented right here in Baltimore, and that it was the technology of choice from the late 19th century all the way to 1977, when the New York Times stopped using it? Baltimore also boasts the first umbrella factory and the first gas lighting, which happened at the first public museum in the country. So may firsts! We twirled around the rest of the place, watched that one volunteer freak out The Children with her graphic account of life before OSHA in Baltimore’s garment factories, and then headed out for a bite to eat. I checked the movie times and realized if I pedaled as hard as I could I’d make the first showing of Lincoln, so that’s what I did, enjoying a seat to myself, a beer, and a ridiculously large popcorn, not so much the movie. (I know, it’s a movie about Lincoln, but it’s also about abolition, and they left out kind of a lot. I’ll save the rest of my review for when we go out for a beer together.) After the show it was time to hop back on the bike and pedal as fast as I could back up the hill to meet friends for Yet Another Holiday Crafts Show, this one at the Bearings Bike Project site on 26th and Greenmount. I snapped this picture of the well-named Her Fantastic Cats performing with their guitar, banjo, and beat box drum, played by that large foot you see in the picture. The room was warm with good feelings and plenty of bike-related craftiness, my favorite kind. I picked up some notecards with bikes on them and a tiny wallet sewn from old tubes, tapped my feet for awhile, and then it was time to head home. It was just the sort of day I needed in just the sort of city I’m happy to live in full of people doing just the sort of art and work and music and teaching that makes my world go around.
One of Baltimore’s other nicknames is the”The City of Firsts”. Doesn’t really roll off the tongue but it’s cool just the same.
There are some lovely books on place-making and how people orient themselves in cities. This article includes an interesting example:
Also, I’m taking photos of Baltimore by Bike as well but mine are up on FB. Take a look some time.