Looking West from the Patterson Park Pagoda

Looking West from the Patterson Park PagodaI woke up early, drank a quick coffee and ate a quick piece of toast, and then hopped on my bike for a quick ride from Butcher’s Hill to Fort McHenry to meet up with the rest of the (relatively) early risers for this year’s Defender’s Day historical bicycle tour with Baltimore Heritage. I got to do part of the narrating this year, and we had A. along to change flat tires, something he is really good at. I talked about what started the war, when we started memorializing it, why we memorialize some parts and not others, and E. talked about how privateers are just pirates with government contracts, why you might not want to build row houses out of wood, and the other forts in the city that aren’t Fort McHenry. We took our longest stop at Hampstead Hill–er, Patterson Park–and guess what I got to do? Climb the Patterson Park Pagoda! I’ve ridden by this thing a gazillion times, but I’d never climbed up to the top. I lugged my tired legs around the spiral stairs to the top and looked off into every distance, including this one, and oh boy, I got to climb to the top of the pagoda. I was feeling the fatigue of a busy weekend, but there was still the rest of the ride–some of my favorite. There was the Peale Museum, the first purpose-built museum in the western hemisphere, and Battle Monument, the first monument in the country to honor the common soldier. They put the monument there to mark the northern limit of intended urban development–public history’s been shaping development for a long time. We split up, and I led the group back to Fort McHenry before inhaling lunch and speeding back down and up the hill to home, another weekend of bicycling in the books.

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