Boarded-Up Building at Argyle & Lanvale

I didn’t have to go in to campus today, so I made the most of it, doing some reading and writing at home before setting out on my bike on this shockingly warm spring–I mean fall–afternoon. I pedaled the short way down the hill for a lunch date with myself and my book, and afterward went for a ride around West Baltimore with the vague plan to go to the B&O Railroad Museum to do a little research. Continue reading

Keep Baltimore Beautiful at Amity & Fayette

Today’s ride took me to Mt. Vernon to meet E. for coffee and a review of last weekend’s bike tour. I’m new to public history, and he’s new to biking everywhere all the time; we talked for an hour, probably could have talked for an hour more, but then it was time for him to get back to work and me to get back on the bike. I followed my memory and then some misleading signs to the Poe House on Amity. Continue reading

Box For John Brown at the Baltimore Civil War Museum on President & Fleet

After a quick ride Wyman Park for lunch with C. I headed downtown for a little research trip to the Baltimore Civil War Museum in the old President Street Station down in Harbor East. Increasingly museums are going after tourist dollars, so they have tourist things, like touch screens and interactive displays and games and flashbang. That old object/placard thing just doesn’t do it for Kids Today, apparently. And then there’s this museum, tiny, telling three interrelated stories in one tiny little space and then sprinkling it with random stuff from the 1940s, and you don’t expect to see that stuff. Continue reading

Afro Newsie on a Bike on the Doors at the Lewis Museum at Pratt & President

Today’s ride took me down the hill to the Star-Spangled Flag House and Museum of Star-Spangledness for a little research for this thing I’m writing. It was an easy coast down the hill, but I have a request to make of cars: please don’t pull out into the crosswalk at such speeds? You’re close to pulling out into my lane, but you’re most definitely in the pedestrian’s lane, and that’s dangerous. You’re also blocking the curb cut I need to go up if I”m to stay on the officially marked trail; this is why my utopia is all vehicular cycling. But I digress. Continue reading

Maryland Science Center at Light Street and Key Highway

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It was gray and rainy out, but I was in no mood to drive a car over to Federal Hill, so I broke the “don’t start a ride in the rain” rule and pedaled down the hill, around the harbor, and up the hill on the other side. I spent part of my morning reading about Federal Hill, and once you know a little bit of history about the place you’re in, well, if you’re me, it doesn’t look the same. Take the Maryland Science Center, for example. Before today it was to me just a big behemoth of brick that marks the end or start of the bike path, depending on where I’m headed. According to David Harvey, though, it’s a windowless citadel guarding the “rebirthed” Inner Harbor, a cash cow for developers, from the “angry” poor whites and African Americans who used to live just up from here. The surrounding neighborhoods are now mostly comprised of young white professionals, but the Science Center is still there, blocking their view and complicating access, and i’d never know it’s history without the fine folks who remind us that our built environment and who’s in it is no accident. I rode up to Fort Avenue and down to the new McHenry Row. So many empty properties, but we’re still making new developments like this one, which was an empty lot today. Time will tell, I suppose, whether all this new housing will fill, but it seems like so much boondoggle to me. One thing’s for sure, though~these waterproof panniers are awesome on days like this one, because it was an awfully misty ride home.

Maryland Families Rest at the Heart of the State’s History at the Maryland Historical Society in Mt. Vernon

Today’s bike ride took me up the hill through Hampden and then over to Roland Park to meet V. for lunch and some reading and writing. Roland Park is so fancypants, what with its Greek-columned mansions hidden behind personal forests and Tuxedo pharmacies and complicated cul de sacs that are hard to figure out unless you live there. It’s like an entirely different city, that place. Continue reading

Adding Herstory to History at 39 Lexington on the Westside

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Today’s bike ride took me down the hill to meet L. for breakfast in Fells Point and then some reading at the coffee shoppe. 10am is apparently very early for Baltimore City, because I just zoomed straight down the hill, passing just a couple of cars and a few people, but mostly I felt like the only person in town, and the street were mine. It was awesome. Afterward, I pedaled over to the Westside and past the busy crowds pouring out of Mariner Arena where the circus is in town~not my favorite event at all. I dodged pink-jacketed girls and sticky boys before taking a right on Lexington to the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center for my scheduled tour–nothing like a little civic history on a lazy Saturday afternoon. The Center is small right now, but the plans are big. There was a mix up, so the tour was self-guided. Folks lined up to read about Great Women of Maryland Science and Space and Education and Health Care, but I have to admit that I wasn’t much in the mood for individual success stories. There’s only so much recuperative history this cat can take, and secretly I want museums to raise questions rather than tell me these individual stories, though I know how important those are too. I left early, promising myselfto return, and got myself a front row seat for the roller ballet. Best laid plans indeed, but since all I really want to do is ride my bike around, I’d say it’s a win.

A Gentleman’s Room at the Maryland Historical Society at W. Monument & Tyson

I’ve been spending an awful lot of time over the past few months reading about museums and historical societies and historical parks and monuments and such, so today I figured it was time to visit one of those places to see what I might see now, after all that. I hopped on my bike in the much cooler and much windier weather and headed down the hill. I settled on the Maryland Historical Society, which I thought a lot about this week while reading about Fred Wilson and his work, Mining the Museum. Continue reading

Plexiglass Flag On The Star-Spangled Flag House at Pratt & Albemarle

Well, it wasn’t all sunshine and blue skies like yesterday, but I was still excited to hop on the bike this morning for a ride around town. I headed to Hampden for brunch and some light reading and then to the Jones Falls Trail to snake my way downtown for a visit to the Lewis Museum and their new Dandy Lion exhibit. Continue reading

Pedestrian Underpass at Bank Street & Eastern Avenue

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Today’s afternoon ride took me to Harbor East to catch a couple of closing exhibits at the Lewis Museum–Roberto Clemente was an awesome dude lost too soon, and there’s an important and often invisible history of African American/Native American relationships (though I think telling those histories is important for reasons beyond recognizing people’s identities, but that’s a different blog). The exhibits were of that new-fangled pop-up museum style, so hopefully they are travelling to a museum near you next. The day was unseasonably warm, so afterward I headed out for a ride with no plan; it had been far too long since I did that. I pedaled along, following the signs first to Patterson Park, where I watched a whole bunch of people feed a whole bunch of pigeons, and then toward Greektown by way of Highlandtown. I snapped this picture half way across the pedestrian underpass on Eastern Avenue. Now *this* is an underpass–spacious, covered in art, brightly-painted bridges above, carrying a train and framing yet another abandoned factory, but I’m guessing that just can’t be helped. I zipped through and around, did a quick turn on some Bayview side streets, and then headed back, hoping to be somewhere familiar by dusk. I passed through Brewer’s Hill, marvelled at the speed by which neighborhoods change and how a blighted warehouse district can become expensive lofts in virtually every city I have ever been in, stopped by Canton Waterfront Park for a photo of the sky on fire with sunset, and took myself to Fells Point for a cocktail and some fancy tapas to toast myself out of 2011, a day early. It has been a banner year for me, and I’m looking forward to my first bike ride of 2012, January 1. Oh, I do so like riding a bike around Baltimore.