Construction on the Clifton Mansion in Clifton Park on St. Lo Drive

Construction on the Clifton Mansion in Clifton Park on St. Lo DriveWednesday’s windy bike ride took me up the hill and over to Clifton Park to check out progress on the Clifton Mansion, currently receiving a $7 million face lift. It was originally built as a farmhouse by a merchant who also captained an artillery during the War of 1812 and then converted into an Italianate mansion by Johns Hopkins, who used it as his summer home–if he’d ridden a bicycle, he totally could have moved his summer home farther out, just saying. Continue reading

Plants Taking Over a Blighted Building at E. Oliver & N. Durham

Plants Taking Over a Blighted Building at E. Oliver & N. DurhamThursday’s ride was one of those rides where you pedal around trying to get out of the post-first-day-of-school funk that always follows the heavy excitement of day one. I rode up the hill, ate a sandwich, and then rode down the hill, not sure of my destination. I decided to see if Pratt Street was closed for that boondoggle known as the Baltimore Grand Prix (thinking about the waste of resources makes me apoplectic–don’t get me started). I hate the thing, but if the road was closed to cars, maybe I could sneak in a bike race. No such luck, so I headed east, eventually ending up in Canton for some frozen yogurt and an hour of watching dogs tug around their owners. Continue reading

Gray Skies and a Blighted Building at Lloyd & Granby

Gray Skies and a Blighted Building at Lloyd & GranbyToday’s ride took me back down to BronyCon where I spent my day talking to people about why they’re Bronies (new friends, great show), whether girls are Bronies or Pegasisters (a more complicated debate than I expected), and who their favorite ponies are (Rainbow Dash comes up a lot). And then I got back on the bike and headed to the Patterson Park pool for my volunteer shift staring at t-shirt tags to find the smalls everyone wanted (or the extra larges–not a lot of in-between sizes at the water ballet today). Continue reading

Property For Sale on Bank Street Near Caroline

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Today’s ride started at the bike shop for a new helmet, and oh my, what a pleasure it is to have a local bike shop. I tried on some lids and had a completely lovely chat about helmet philosophies and training diets (she prefers the ice cream program over my pizza plan) before setting off for a roll down the hill. I meant to go to the Kinetic Sculpture Race, a most wondrous festival of giant floats on bicycles, racing, but in spite of the obvious pleasure of that sort of event for a person like me, I just wasn’t in the mood for crowds. Instead, I biked down through Little Italy and up Bank Street toward Patterson Park. I snapped this picture of an empty and overgrown lot for sale just before Caroline. The part where this spot can exist mere blocks from the hyperdeveloped areas of Harbor East and Fells Point blows my mind, as a newcomer to the city, anyway. I didn’t live here when they decided to build so much public housing downtown, when all the rich people were taking the new highways to the booming suburbs. I live in Baltimore now, when there’s a reversal, and downtown is being developed as live-work-tourism space. I wonder what the city will do with areas like this, Perkins Homes, as the real estate becomes more valuable. For now, this spot is offered by Fells Point Realty, perhaps a sign that that neighborhood’s creeping north. The way things look now, I will be here to watch those developments. The rest of my ride was all a marvel at wispy clouds, ridiculous blue skies, brilliant greens, and a traffic jam of bikes on the Fallswat heading home. Yep, spring is here. Lucky, lucky us.

Run-Down Mansion at Frederick & Millington in West Baltimore

Mansion at Frederick Avenue & Millington It’s March 1 and spring is in the air, so when I saw those Friday meetings on my work calendar, it just made sense to take the bike instead of driving. It has been awhile since I rode to campus, but I just followed my bike’s memory and away we went, down the hill, a right turn up the hill, and over into West Baltimore. The neighborhoods change so fast over here. Bolton Hill is so fancy pants, but crossing into Marble Hill blight comes quick. Continue reading

Blighted Row Houses at Madison & Montford

Blighted Houses at Madison & MontfordIt was still super cold out today, but the roads were dry, so I happily took the bike out for my ride down the hill and to the left, to Canton, for a swim lesson. Also, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Ravens won the Super Bowl, and Baltimore is officially The Greatest City in America, so I wanted to ride around and see what all the fuss is about. Continue reading

Two Row Houses at Chase & Barclay

Two Row Houses Between Parks on Chase & BarclayI had to work today, but not until 1:00pm, so after getting some writing done in the morning. I hopped on the bike in sunny, almost 50-degree weather and zipped down the hill for a quick swim. I make this same ride so often–it’s like the two miles on St. Charles I used to pedal every day. I did my few laps and then raced back up the hill–1:00 comes fast when it’s a lovely day like today, and I was running late. As I made my way up Fallsway I made myself slow down enough to look around and appreciate the scene. I stopped to snap this picture¬† at Chase, looking east to Barclay. There used to be a big pile of dirt in the foreground, but it got slowly moved across the street, replacing the row houses that were being torn down to make room for a new park. A couple weeks ago they started to get the red house ready for demolition, and the white one wore a couple strands of Christmas lights. The red one is getting closer to getting knocked down today, but it’s still there. D. walks her dog in this neighborhood, and she told me the woman in the white house refuses to sell. This might look like an abandoned block, but it’s not–she lives there, and she wants to stay. So she’s staying, and now she’ll live next to a park. I hope she enjoys it, and I hope D. keeps walking her dog over there and getting to know that neighbor across the way. I pledge to keep riding my bike by it, day after day after day, eyes open.

Old Town Mall on Forrest Street

I started my morning with S. and J. and our Sunday Morning Hiking Club, which is really the best thing going. I mean, what day isn’t better when it starts with a brisk walk amidst some good old fashioned natural beauty, especially when it’s followed up by a seasonal latte? After warming back up at home it was time to take the bike out for a ride. Continue reading

Houses Being Demolished on Druid Hill Park Lane & Linden

I had a long day at work today , but I planned in the morning that I’d ride my bike at some point today, so when I got home, I swapped out shoes and headed out for a short ride before turning to the last work tasks of the day. I headed back to Druid Hill Park again, this time to check on the house being demolished on the east stretch of the reservoir path. The demolition looks mostly stalled out, but plants are overgrowing the steps to nowhere growing up through brick and mortar. Continue reading

Blight Behind the Masquerade Costume Superstore at Columbus & Washington in Philadelphia

My dear old friend S. is in Philadelphia for a conference this weekend and I had the day free, so I got up early and drove up I95 to the City of Brotherly Love. Now, I hate driving, but not nearly as much as I hate parking, especially in a tourist district in an unfamiliar town. It makes me anxious, and I don’t think I’ll ever be rich enough to feel good about paying twenty bucks so I can leave a car alone for a couple of hours. Answer: toss the Brompton in the trunk, park in a residential neighborhood, and bike downtown. Continue reading