Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008


Happy New Year to all of you in Baltimore, from all of us here at Baltimore Skyline!
Hope you had a great 2008, and best wishes for a healthy 2009!
We're outta here, heading to the New Years Celebrations, but we'll catch you in '09!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Pentultimate Post of 2008

(*courtesy flickr member silentarchimedes)

As the second-to-last post of 2008, we'll recap some of the events that happened this year in Baltimore.

1.) Work finally started on the Legg Mason Tower and The Four Seasons down at Harbor East, finishing up the last of the open parcels down there. Look for more updates in 2009 as those buildings are completed and tenants move in.

2.) The DEIS was finalized for the Red Line and it looks like a light rail plan (4C) will be the one chosen. Next stop off to the Gov's office for the final say. Who knows when construction will start though

3.) Work on the Hopkins Medical Campus and East Side Redevelopment chugs along. The steel is done on the two new Hospital Towers, and one of the Bio Tech buildings is finished. Expect to see more work going on throughout 2009 and into 2010.

4.) MTA expanded its MARC schedule in January, and now a year later is reducing service to save cash. There goes any hope for weekend service on the Penn Line anytime soon.

5.) The Light Rail broke this Summer, and then was fixed, and then broke again this Fall. Even with all of that ridership is up over 15% Thanks to the patient commuter!

6.) Silo Point is complete and open to tenants. Who new a grain silo could look so good with a touch up.

7.) The Hilton Hotel was completed, and has been a major success for attracting conventions. The Zenith apartments across the street was also finished.

8.) 4 plans were presented for to the BDC for the new arena. There are a lot of promising ideas, so hopefully we'll see some construction equipment over there sometime in the future.

It's been a promising year for Baltimore, even with the financial crisis. Here's to more exciting development, sports, transportation, etc news in '09!

-Baltimore Skyline

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Festivus for the Rest of Us

Yippie!
(*courtesy of The Baltimore Sun)

Hot Diggity-Dog the Ravens are in the playoffs! That means another Ravens Festivus! Expect purple to light up City Hall, Penn Station, and the Inner Harbor in the near future, if the Ravens can make a run this postseason. The 27-7 drubbing on the Jaguars ensured a Wild-Card berth and a playoff date with the Miami Dolphins next weekend on the road. Once again everyone is Wacko for Flacco, who threw for 297 yards.

In other NFL news my hometown Iggles ransacked the Cowgirls 44-6 on their way to the playoffs as well. They'll meet up with the Vikings in Minnesota in some Wild Card action.

Hope the long weekend was good. Back to work!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Things We Love About Christmas In Baltimore

(*courtesy of jpete flickr)
* Miracle on 34th Street in Hampden

* Santa's Christmas Palace at the Inner Harbor

* Quad Lighting at Johns Hopkins

* Snowflakes along Pratt Street

* Christmas Village at St. Paul Place

* The Washington Monument Lighting

* Fells Point Christmas Trees

* Campus decorations at Loyola

* Festival of Trains at the B&O Museum

* BSO Holiday Spectacular

* Christmas Parade in Hampden

Like all Christmas related things in Baltimore, we start and stop with Hampden. It's the wintry centerpiece of our fair city.

Whatever you are doing for the Holidays we here at Baltimore Skyline wish everyone in Charm City a Blessed Christmas and Holiday Season!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Why Deadlines Are Important


Miss a deadline in college - lose a few points off your grade

Miss a deadline in the real world - lose $2 million in FTA funding

This is why deadlines are important people! The MTA missed a crucial deadline for earmarks adding up to $2 million for design and engineering program for the Red Line. Consequence? Bye-bye money. The Gov't giveth and the Gov't taketh away.

Now, in all fairness the FTA didn't make it very easy to file the necessary paperwork, but if the MTA knew it was difficult, they should have worked harder. Especially if it is central to the planning and implementation of a major piece of transit!

The Baltimore Examiner goes into a little more detail about it, which is worth taking a good look at it. I liked the Bush Bashing at the end.



Wednesday, December 17, 2008

No Teixeira for the Orioles?


It doesn't look like Mark Teixeira will be wearing the Orange and Black next year. A 7-year $150 million contract just isn't enough of an incentive to play for Baltimore, in your home state of Maryland. Word on the street is the Red Sox are out in the lead with an even bigger offer. Why go play in Beantown in front of a packed crowd of Massholes in Fenway, when you can bask in the luster of Camden Yards in front of a homier, yet just as die hard fan base in Birdland! (Hey remember when the Braves picked him up in '07 hoping he would catapult them into the playoffs, and then they finished in 3rd place?)

Call me old school, but I sure wish there was still something called "team loyalty" in baseball. We haven't had a franchise player in Baltimore since Ripken, and I would hardly call B-Rob a long hauler.

Anyways, back on track. The O's did pick up Cesar Izturis from the Cardinals for a 2-year deal. He's a career .260 hitter, which isn't bad. He's a switch hitter, which will make him valuable as the starting SS.

On a positive note, anything is possible in baseball, and anything is better than last year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Remember When Rash Field Had Ice Skating?


I do...well vaguely. It seems hard to believe that there isn't a place to ice skate at the Inner Harbor. One would think that it would be a no-brainer. You have the promenade, the water, the skyline, it's a great place to have a public out-door ice skating rink. Well there was Rash Field until 2003, when the rink closed down after 10 years. I remember going by it a few times during the winter when I was in college, but never had the chance to actually ice skate.

So why don't we have one anymore! We're missing on a great market here. New York has Rockefeller Center and Philadelphia has their River Rink, we need to bring it back!

There are a few ideas on the table. One is a revamped Rash Field with a garage underneath. This, I believe, is still on option. The other would be on the other side of the Harbor, apart of the Pratt Street redevelopment. Part of the plan would be to rebuilt Schaefer Plaza/Sam Smith Park into a larger public space. One of the artists renditions includes an ice rink for winter. Place right at the heart of the action would be a great place, but the Rash Field site would be more picturesque if you ask me.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Fat Lady Sings for the BOC


After 58 years the Fat Lady sings for the Baltimore Opera Company, and the Lyric will be a whole lot quieter. Sadly, they filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and canceled the last two shows of their season. Unfortunately not enough people in Baltimore like going to the Opera. It's a major blow for the High Arts for this city, though at least there is the BSO and the theatre arts (like Center Stage and the Hippodrome).

When Baltimore is trying to increase its image as an improving city, with a vibrant tourist scene, and attractive venues for its citizens, we go and let ourselves down by letting a culture scene die. Smothered like Desdemona in Othello by the pressure of the economy and other venues in the city.

Now, I can never say I've actually been to a BOC performance, or any Opera at all, although I am a big fan of Center Stage, but the loss of this performing art just encourages the dissenter's argument that Baltimoreans are "uncultured"

Here's hoping that the BOC gets back on it's feet, stretches out their diaphragms, and get some of that class back in Charm City

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Time in Baltimore

(courtesy of The Baltimore Sun)

It's my favorite time of the year, especially here in Baltimore. The lights go up on Pratt Street, the neighbors hang wreaths and trim their trees. Most importantly is the annual lighting of the Baltimore...Monument.

What a great tradition, instead of having a large city tree, we light up the most recognizable landmark in the city. So every year in early December, lights are strung up Washington's column, and are ceremoniously lit, accompanied by fireworks, music, and food.

Unfortunately, this year I couldn't make it on Thursday, I was disappointed about that. I do enjoy seeing it from a distance, or driving by while sitting on the JHU shuttle. Kudos to the city for deciding to ditch the colored lights for clear this year. Call me conservative, but I never did like colored lights outside anyways. I remember throwing fits in suburban Philadelphia, at a young age, when stringing lights on the trees with the family, and insisting that not a single light would be anything other than clear (and god forbid any of them blinked!).

If you get a chance this Holiday Season to check out Mt. Vernon Square, do so. You might also enjoy St. Paul Place that gets decked out as well. Or Fells Point with their assortment of Christmas trees in the plaza and red tape rapped light posts.

Holidays are upon us! Hope you get your shopping done.

Monday, December 1, 2008

BaltimoreCarShare Coming in 2009


As we reported on Baltimore Skyline back in October, the city is planning on it's own non-profit car sharing company, BaltimoreCarShare, to catch the market left by Zipcar, who did not want to enhance it's service in Baltimore

Well apparently BaltimoreCarShare will start service in March. According to an article in the Sun, there will be a trial period in January and February, and then everything will be open at the end of March.

No word yet on where car pods will be located, but that will probably be made public sometime in the future. If you ask me, they should definitely situate a lot of pods downtown, and at the public garages (Federal Hill and Fells Point to name two places). Penn Station, Camden Station, and BWI would also be key, to catch the commuters and visitors coming in town. Situating a few around the many college campuses (MICA, UB, Loyola, UMB, etc) would be great for letting students get around easier.

As i mentioned in the previous post, the best idea would be to put pods at the many MTA stops that have parking lots (Glen Burnie, Owings Mills, Mt. Washington, etc) to allow a seemless tranisition between transit. PhillyCarShare does this with their transit agency SEPTA, and apparently works great.

There isn't much on the website yet, but I would expect more info up there eventually. Definitely a good idea since Baltimore is trying on the whole "green" look.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Baltimore


I'm spending the holiday up in Philadelphia (go Eagles), but hope everyone in Charm City is enjoying their Thanksgiving! Eat lots of turkey and stuffing, but leave room for the pumpkin pie and football. Just think, only 33 more days until you get to see the whole famn damily again at Christmas.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Office of Transportation: No Spellcheck Needed


Saw this typo on the way to work today. Somebody over in the Office of Transportation should make sure street sign hangers should either
a.) have a spellchecker with them or
b.) a Baltimore City street name reference guide with them to make sure they spell it right.
Lest we have Packer fans coming to worship at Lombardi Street, or Belair Road really does become "Blair".

Back on Track


Woo Hoo! The light rail is back on track, but I wouldn't get too excited too quickly. There are still many trains out of service, and the MTA is still expecting crowded conditions. The problem isn't totally fixed yet (probably won't be for another few years), but a "temporary solution" has been found that should help the trains better negotiate the slippery rails. And just in time for snow and ice season! Let's all hope this is a bit better.

Here is the update from MTA:

Last updated: November 24, 5:31 AM

Effective Sunday, November 23, all Light Rail trains will operate between Hunt Valley and Cromwell Station/Glen Burnie and BWI Marshall Airport.

Trains will operate every 15 minutes between Linthicum and Hunt Valley and every 30 minutes from Cromwell Station/Glen Burnie and BWI Marshall Airport.

Shuttle buses will continue to provide service to Penn Station from the Mt. Royal/UB stop until further notice. As wheel maintenance associated with fall and winter weather conditions continues, Light Rail will operate some single-car trains which may result in crowded conditions during peak periods.

The MTA apologizes for the inconvenience.


Now if they had only spent that 4 million measly dollars on a solution back in 2000, we wouldn't have had this problem.

How have people been fairing on their commutes?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New UB School of Law

(courtesy of The Baltimore Sun)
Just posting a link here from The Baltimore Sun article about the design for the new University of Baltimore's Law School. The winning architect is Behnisch Architekten from Stuttgart, Germany who partnered with Baltimore's Ayers/Saint/Gross. Construction is expected to start in 2010 and be completed by 2012.
It would be interesting to see if they are planning on reworking the off-ramp from the JFX. Has anyone heard anything about that? Let me know!

Bail Out Chrysler and Ford, but Screw GM


If you are familiar with the Great American Streetcar Scandal, then you'll understand why the government should just let GM go bankrupt. Why you ask? Because you could say they (among with Firestone and Standard Oil) are the reason why you have to drive to work everyday and that Baltimore transit is lacking.


Baltimore used to have one of the most extensive streetcar systems in the United States, up until the mid 1940s when GM conspired with Standard Oil and Firestone to buy up streetcar lines across the country, dismantle them, and replace them with buses. The conspiracy was brought before the US Supreme Court in 1947, GM was fined $5,000 and the heads of each company a whopping $1 each! I hope that didn't hurt them too much. By this time, many of Baltimore's streetcar lines were scrapped, and by 1963 they were all gone.


Why blame GM then? Now we don't have a great, integrated, clean, and smooth transit system anymore. Today many people complain that buses are dirty, noisy, rough riding, and don't come as frequently, but there are few alternatives. For visitors (and residents) it's difficult when much of the mass transit isn't fixed, at least you can see the rails. Cities like Baltimore - in a time where green initiatives and eco-friendly thinking drives people toward rail transit - have to struggle to replace many of these lines. Unfortunately, now it's expensive and funding is hard to come by.


City residents are now complaining that they don't want to see a streetcar or light rail going through their neighborhoods, arguing that buses will be just fine. But these same people generally don't ride the bus, and also complain that gas prices are too high, and traffic is a nightmare.


All of this wouldn't have been a problem if we still had some of our streetcar lines left. So go ahead bail out Chrysler and Ford, but you can let GM sink for screwing up our public transit.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Slight Rail


With the major foul up with the Light Rail because of "slippery season" and broken wheels here are a few slight chances:

- you'll make it to work under an hour late.

- you'll see service continued above North Ave. in the next month.

- you'll find a seat on a train.

- that this problem will be fixed anytime soon.

- that the overnight power washing will keep the leaves at bay

- you won't see a Light Rail train packed to the gills passing you by.

- you'll keep your patience with MTA.

- they'll get this right when the trains are overhauled in 2011.

- you won't be driving to work for a while.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

O's Bring Baltimore Back

(Nick Markakis and Adam Jones - Courtesy of The Baltimore Sun)
Hey Orioles, you're looking snazzy in your new set of clothes! Today at the Gallery at Harborplace the Baltimore Orioles displayed their new uniforms for 2009. Maybe now, they'll have the same success as the Rays after they dropped "Devil"....eh we'll see.
There are a lot of subtle changes including the addition of an orange stripe on the sleeves, a new patch on the left sleeve that incorporates the Maryland flag design (altough I do like the swinging bird better), and a revamped oriole bird on the hat. The biggest and most noticeable change is on the road uniform where it now says "Baltimore" in the usual O's script. Fancy that! The road uniform hasn't mentioned the name of the city since the second Washington Senators moved to Texas. They figured without the city designation on the uniform they could draw the Washington crowd. Now with the Nationals down there in D.C. the O's can bring back Baltimore. Who needs to worry anyway, it's not like the Nationals are stealing our fans.
I like it. Most of the teams in the MLB (save the Phillies, Rays, Brewers, Cardinals, and Angels) have the city name on the road uniform. Although I would like to see the Angels try to fit "Los Angeles of Anaheim" on theirs, do it, I dare you. Good job O's! Thanks for bringing back some nostalgia. Now will you please bring back some good baseball?

Friday, November 7, 2008

BSO Celebrates Poe


Yes, I was very happy with myself for coming up with that title.

Anyway, if you're into the Finer Arts, you should check out the The Raven, tonight or tomorrow at the Meyerhoff at 8pm. Guest conductor Leonard Slatkin, and the BSO, are performing The Raven, a musical accompaniment to Edgar Allan Poe's poetry. The performance also includes narration of five of Poe's poems by legendary actor, and Baltimore native, John Astin (you know Gomez Addams).

Sounds like a great time. Tickets range between $20-$60, which you can order online. http://www.bsomusic.org/
If you are looking for something to do outside of Baltimore this weekend, you know spice it up a bit, the National Portrait Gallery is opening a new exhibit on Lincoln called, One Life: The Mask of Lincoln. They have over 30 portraits and photographs including Alexander Gardner's cracked plate photograph that was the last photo ever taken of Lincoln before his death. The crack cuts across his head, coincidence? http://www.npg.si.edu/
Enjoy your weekend Baltimore. As for me, I'll be checking out the Loyola vs Catholic men's b-ball game tonight, let's go 'Hounds.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble...Not In Baltimore



You have go to be kidding me. Up in Charles Village last night 16 people were arrested by the BCPD after election celebrations carried over into the streets. Overreaction reigned supreme in something that was nothing more than a showing of support for the candidate they were glad to see elected. I can see why the BCPD asked the crowds to move along, and understandably people got too enthusiastic, but arrests and tasers in response? It made for a sorrowful juxtaposition.

The Baltimore Sun had an article today about the incident. Hopkins students talked about getting tased, being shoved by officers, and camera phones being tossed. One student reported that a girl, after mentioning to a police officer that she had the right to assemble peaceably, was promptly thrown to the ground and arrested. Those arrested were not charged with any crimes, but spent the night in Central Booking

Their crowd control policies should seriously be reviewed. I am extremely ashamed of the BCPD for this one. They were college students, not rioters.

Sun article: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation/politics/bal-arrests1105,0,2394038.story

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day, Don't Forget to Bring Your Baby!

(courtesy of The Baltimore Sun*)
Dad: "That's a long line"
Baby: "I just pooped"

Woah, the polling places are packed! Even with future voters. I went out to my polling place at Commodore Rodgers Elementary at 7:30am and i stood in line for an hour and a half! An HOUR AND A HALF! just to cast my vote. I knew I probably should have showed up earlier, but I like my sleep. We all know it slows down around 10am unil 4pm, and then picks up after that because all of the work force, but apparently the lines are longer than ever this year.

Maybe it's because you want change, or doing your civic duty, you just like chatting it up wih the nice sweet old Election Judges, or you are sick and tired of hearing Yes or No on Question 2 and want to get it over with, people are out there at the polls.

Luckily I got it done early today, because I would not want to be standing in line there now after spending all day at work.

Let's hope for no hanging chads this year!

Don't Forget to Vote!


Get out there and VOTE Baltimore!
You have until 8pm to get to the polls.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Thames Street Wharf Coming Along Nicely


It's November, so a new months bring us some new building updates at Baltimore Skyline. Down in the spot of the Baltimore waterfront between Harbor East and Fells Point, aptly named Harbor Point by the developers (luckily they didn't go with Harbor Fells), the first building in what is supposed to be a large venture is going up. The Thames Street Wharf, designed by Ayers Saint Gross, is a $22.8 million, 240,000 square foot mixed use office/retail building that is going up at the far end of Thames Street. Scheduled to be open sometime late in 2009, one of the major tenants, according to the Baltimore Business Journal, is Morgan Stanley. They already have offices in the Bond Street Wharf Building (convenient for happy hour at DuClaw), and are interested in expanding to the new Thames Street offices.


The Harbor Point development will be the final connection along the waterfront between the offices and condos of Harbor East and quaint historic rowhomes of Fells Point. Hopefully it will be a gradual shift, because nothing can ruin a feel in a neighborhood like out-of-place architecture. So far, so good, though. The Thames Street Wharf building is only going to be 7 stories, not much taller than the building that line the rest of the street. The mix of brick along with the glass should also help to tie the structure into its surroundings, and emulating the warehouses that used to sit on the wharfs years ago. (call me nostalgic, but don't you miss those some days?)


The Harbor Point project is also supposed to feature a large waterfront park, lovely, at a time where public access to the waterfront is shrinking (see Key Highway development). I snapped the above picture while walking around a few weekends ago. If you're interested to learn more i would suggest going to the project site here: http://www.sber.com/baltimore/harbor_point.php

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good News for the Gateway at Washington Hill


(*courtesy CB Richard Ellis)

There was an article a while back about the Gateway at Washington Hill project, I think it was in the Baltimore Sun, but I can't be for certain. It mentioned that the property was sold and a new developer was looking to revitalize the program, albeit in a modified version. I was curious about the new project so I sent an email over to Kristina Kossolis at CBRE, the owner of the property, to see what the deal was. This is what she said:
"Phase 1 of the project is supposed to break ground fall of 2009 and will take 1.5 years to develop and phase two will break ground as the first phase finishes. It is the hope of the developer to bring great retail amenities along with residential units to the community."
If you are unfamiliar with the project it is bounded by Baltimore, Wolfe, Washington, and Fayette Streets. Phase 2 extends up to the next block up to Orleans St. There will be a mix of apartments and townhouses, but the best part is retail along Fayette and all in the Phase 2 section, and a grocery store anchor. Finally I will be able to grocery shop without having to go to Canton.
I don't know about you, but I am excited about this one. The ground has been bare for a while, and to see something go in there will be great. The retail is key for this area, especially with Hopkins Hospital up the street with its staff, not to mention Nursing, Medicine, and Public Health students. It should also be a good draw for residents! Let's just hope we get some good stores up there. I'm guessing at least one Starbucks.

Hometown Update - Champs at Last!

(*courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer)

The Philadelphia Phillies are the 2008 World Series Champions!
Thanks guys for ending the 28-year drought for the Phillies and the 25-year drought for the city of Brotherly Love. PHINALLY!



Saturday, October 25, 2008

Baltimore Skyline Roadtrip - St. Louis

The joy of travelling to different places, especially those you have never been to, is taking the time to take in the local attractions. So, when I found myself in St. Louis for work, I decided to check out the one thing that comes to mind when someone says St. Louis (no, not Busch Stadium) the Gateway Arch!

Nothing says "Celebration of Western Expansion" like a giant, stainless steel arch. I think it would be more impressive if it spanned the Mississippi, but it is a striking feat of engineering. It was designed by Finnish architectural genius Eero Saarinen in 1947, the same man who brought us the terminal at Dulles Airport and TWA's at JFK. The man really knew how to make steel and concrete curve gracefully. A large inverted catenary curve, it is 630 feet at its keystone piece, and 630 feet across at it's base. Two trams take passengers up either leg to the observation deck at the top. It was completed in 1965 after two years of construction.

The Arch is the centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial which opened in 1935. It sits mainly on the old portion of St. Louis, which by the early 1930s was so decrepit (not to mention too close to the flood prone Mississippi) that the buildings were torn down and replaced with a grand park. Nearby is the Old Court House, which saw the beginnings of the Dred Scott case in 1847 and 1850, which eventually led to the famous Supreme Court case in 1857.

Here at Baltimore Skyline, we do enjoy not only the architecture of our city, but those unique things we find all over, so we'll continue to bring you some great stuff from all over.

Hope you're enjoying your wet and windy Saturday night!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

World Series Starts Tonight!

The Fall Classic starts tonight at 8pm on Fox. Philadelphia Phillies vs Tampa Bay Rays. It's Hump Day in Baltimore, so go out and enjoy some happy hour, and then stay out to watch some baseball!

Let's Go Phightin' Phils!


Commuters Looking for New Plans Come January



Unfortunate news coming out of MTA for Maryland Commuters, because of the budget cuts and souring economy, MTA is going to be making some cuts of their own starting in January. The MTA plan to cut 6 Commuter Bus routes and a few trains on the MARC Penn and Brunswick lines are coming at a time where mass transit is seeing one of the largest spikes in its usage. Last January the MTA announced that they would add four later MARC trips, to take advantage of later riders. Now, a year later, two of them, the 447 to DC and the 448 to Baltimore, are planning on being cut.

In August, Gov. O'Malley announced that he wanted to expand the Commuter Bus service to encourage more rides because of high gas prices, now it seems that this will be taking a step back.

The MTA had already planned to initiate weekend service on the MARC Penn Line, but this, too, seems like more of a dream than a reality at this time.

It's really disappointing that service is being cut when gas prices are still high, and all people want to do is get to work or play without having to rely on their cars every day. I would hope that our delegates in Annapolis can work out some way to fix the budget short falls in Maryland, so they won't have to keep cutting services. We need the alternatives!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Photo Essay - Harbor East

Saturday was such a wonderful day, so I decided to walk around Harbor East and shoot some pictures of the construction projects going on down there. Two large towers are rising at the end of President St at Lancaster St, in the last two lots left down there. The redevelopment has been a huge success with the addition of apartments, condos, and some great retail spots. Not to mention the Landmark Theaters, the only movie theater in downtown Baltimore (the bar is a great perk too). Now we have the 24 story Legg Mason Tower, where the new headquarters will move to from downtown, and the 44 story Four Seasons Hotel and Residences. Without further prose here are the pictures:

Four Seasons Hotel & Residences






Legg Mason Tower

Friday, October 17, 2008

Take that Zipcar

Now since it seems that Zipcar won't expand it's market in Baltimore beyond Johns Hopkins University and Goucher College, Bmore is going to just go around Zipcar and create it's on car sharing organization. Take that! Seeing as Zipcar has been a great success in markets like Washington DC and Philadelphia, why wouldn't they want to start up more pods here? Especially in a city whose public and rapid transit system is far less suited for people looking to get around. Car sharing would be a great option here, and it definitely is a loss for Zipcar.

On the good side of this is that Baltimore gets to create its own non-profit car sharing system on the lines of PhillyCarShare (http://www.phillycarshare.org/). The start up date hasn't been set yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if this was something in the not-to-distant future. We definitely need another option here in Bmore, and this will fill a great void. Baltimore is a city where you need a car to get to practically anything, and a car sharing system will help us do without. For those people who don't want to have the hassle of owning a car, with insurance, payments, and gas on top of it, this will be a great alternative.

Imagine being able to pick up a car for a few hours, go to the supermarket and do some errands, then return the car at a pod. If they are spaced frequently around neighborhoods and downtown the walk would be easy to get one. If they focus some pods around Metro, Light Rail, and Bus transportation centers, then we got something good going on. Plus they want to get a lot of hybrids, so environmentally they will be better, and hopefully get more individual cars off the street.

Let's hope they can get this up and running soon. We all could use a better alternative these days! (Maybe a bike sharing program in the future?)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday Afternoon Profile: Washington Memorial

I know this isn't the best of pictures of the Washington Memorial, but this is apparently the only photo I have taken of it. This is from St. Patrick's Day, I don't recall taking any pictures around Mount Vernon, so guess it was a great St. Patty's Day!

It's hard not to see the Washington Memorial when you are out and about in the city. It sits on the highest point in Baltimore, and is 178 feet tall, so you can't miss it. Interestingly enough, it was conceived and construction began well before it's more famous cousin in Washington DC. Construction started in 1815, but wouldn't be completed for fourteen years.

The memorial is made up of three basic parts: Pedestal, Column, and George. The pedestal recounts the date that Washington took command and when he resigned is commission after the American Revolution, as well as his victories as Commander-in-Chief (all FOUR of them!) The tall marble Doric column stands atop the pedestal and standing on top is the 16-foot tall statue of GW.

The Memorial was, in 1829, the second tallest structure in the city (behind the Shot Tower), and even though that has long been eclipsed it is still a striking fixture on the skyline. It sits literally at the heart of the city in Mount Vernon, surrounded by Lafayette, Taney, and Howard. Although the hustle and bustle of the city goes on below, the good General still watches over from his perch.

One of the most unique Baltimore traditions (and by far my favorite) involves the Memorial, at Christmas time. New York has it's tree in Rockefeller Center and DC has their National Tree, but we do it a little differently here in Bmore: we just light up George. Lights are strung up the column, and in the most secular of ways we celebrate the holidays!

For a $1 you can walk up the monument, so next time you find yourself in Mount Vernon take a walk up (only 228 steps) to the top, but beware the railing is very low, people were shorter in 1829.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Charles Village: A Great Neighborhood

Good news for all of you residents of Charles Village, you live in a great neighborhood! The American Planning Association named the North Baltimore section of the city as one of its 10 Great Neighborhoods for 2008.
Charles Village stretches mostly from North Ave to 33rd Street along the N. Charles Street corridor. It's a great mix of townhouses and small apartment buildings, most with small front yards and tree lined stretch, a far cry from some of the more urban neighborhoods to the South. It is anchored and influenced by Johns Hopkins University to the North and Station North to the South. Students, young professionals, and families alike call it home.

It was laid out mostly at the beginning of the 20th century when Baltimore extended its borders North to its present locations. The neighborhoods of Charles Village, Guilford and Roland Park were all designed and laid out around the same time. The Olmstead brothers laid out the latter two in the early 1920s, and they have a more suburban fell with winding streets and individual hows instead of rows. However, Charles Village has a similar feel. It was one of the first "streetcar" communities. A streetcar line that went up Charles Street connected here with downtown. The line also went North through Guilford and also along University Parkway, allowing residents to live in comfort but easily get downtown to work. Now the streetcars are long gone, but some vestiges still remain. There is even talk of resurrecting the streetcar line, that has been a hot and debated topic. (I for one am in favor of it).

Still, without the streetcars, Charles Village remains one of the most picturesque and quaint neighborhoods of the city. You can check out more on the APA's website: http://www.planning.org/greatplaces/index.htm

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Phelps on Access Hollywood

Too bad the other Maryland Olympians were overshadowed by Phelps. Katie Hoff won 2 Bronze and 1 Silver medal in Beijing, and Jessica Long won 4 Gold, 1 Silver and 1 Bronze swimming in Paralympics aswell. There were a lot of great athletes coming out of Maryland, spread the love a bit.

Monday, October 6, 2008

New Look for Mount Royal Ave?

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/baltimore_city/bal-md.ci.royal06oct06,0,5493860.story

The Baltimore Sun reported today that MICA and UB are looking to revamp the stretch of Mount Royal Avenue between the two campuses. In an area that has thousands of students, not to mention the Myerhoff, Lyric, and Penn Station, the streetscape is not very desirable. The initiative hopes to attract retail and aesthetic improvemets to the area. Repaving Mount Royal, adding trees, reworking sidewalks, and encouraging business. UB will also use this as an opportunity to better tag its campus. In an urban setting it is difficult to tell where a school starts and ends. UB hopes to solve this problem with better signage.

With MICA opening up its new Residence Hall this year and UB planning a new Law School building on a parking lot at Charles and Mount Royal, this could create a great renaissance up there. With the successes of Station North and the ongoing renewal of the Charles Street streetscape between Madison and Mount Royal, this could generate a lot of positives. In such a densely populated area, one would think there would be more, but that isn't the case. A more pedestrian and shopper friendly area will be a key.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Your Baltimore Weekend Update: Phelps Phest


This weekend Baltimore is celebrating its Maryland athletes with two events on Saturday. First up is a parade in Michael Phelps' old stomping grounds of Towson. Most of the Towson streets will be shut down for the procession. The parade steps off at 3pm along York Rd at Burke Ave.

The parade is then to be followed by a Star Spangled Extravaganza at Fort McHenry. There will be a ceremonious reenacting of Phelps receiving his Gold Medals...Hey, like Defenders Day but without the British. I really like this part, reenactment of receiving Gold Medals, seriously? Didn't this just happen back in August. I'm sure it's on YouTube. Anyway, the connection is clear: American wins a Gold Medal, they play the Star Spangled Banner, the Star Spangled Banner was written in Baltimore during the attack on Fort McHenry, Phelps is from Baltimore, therefore have the Phelps celebration at Fort McHenry...brilliant!

The festivities start at 3pm at the Fort with food and entertainment. The main event starts at 7pm with fireworks at 7:50pm. National Park Service Ranger Jim Bailey told Baltimore Skyline that the NPS is expecting 18,000 people on Saturday. They haven't had this many people in one day since the Bicentennial! The parking will be shut down, so I would suggest taking MTA they have a heads up on the website: http://www.mtamaryland.com/

Alright get out there and take on the weekend. Fells Fest starts tomorrow down at the Point at 11am. That means head on over to the Big Beer Garden, get yourself some suds, and enjoy the music and fun!

Take her easy Bmore.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

GBC says Light Rail


Finally we have some major support for the LRT alternative for the Red Line. The Baltimore Sun reported today that The Greater Baltimore Committee, a regional action group made up of Baltimore business and civic leaders, is backing light rail option because they see it as the best option. Donald Fry the president of GBC said in a post on their website that this is exactly what Baltimore needs: “A quality east-west light rail route that connects with our existing Metro, MARC, and light rail would transform Baltimore’s current transit hodge-podge into an integrated regional rail system.”


The GBC is specifically backing the 4C alternative (details at http://www.baltimoreredline.com/), which would include a tunnel under Cooks Lane in West Baltimore and a tunnel under downtown and Fells Point. It would be integrated to the Light Rail at Lexington Market and the Metro Subway at Charles Center.


I've been promoting this idea for a long time now, ever since I first heard about the Red Line (to the annoyance of most of my friends). This would mean that traffic would not be even more congested downtown, the Fells Point neighborhood wouldn't lost it's quaintly historical feel, but most of all the trains wouldn't be subject to traffic lights for all of downtown. With the two tunnels, the Red Line will be able to travel unobstructed and faster for a good portion of the line, making trips from West to East shorter. This has been the biggest criticism of the Central Light Rail ever since it was opened.


Even better this could help to end the Bus Rapid Transit alternative argument. In this bloggers opinion BRT is the worst excuse for "rapid transit". Boston learned with it's Silver Line that after spending millions of dollars to implement the system, it operated just the same as the normal buses....whoops. Plus in a world of eco-friendly transportation, LRT is emission free.


The toal cost of this alternative is around $1.6 billion and construction wouldn't begin until 2013 and take about 2-3 years to complete. The final decision comes from the big man in Annapolis, the Gov, sometime early next year.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bird Season is Over


Good Grief. Thus ends another depressing season of Orioles baseball. A 10-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays brought the official season total to 68-93, a winning percentage of .422. That was good enough for 28.5 games behind and the second-worst team in the American League (thank you Seattle). That makes 11 consecutive losing seasons for the Birds, how much longer can this go?

Once again there was a disappointing end to a season that started off with a lot of promise. As a rebuilding season the O's dumped Miguel Tejada and Eric Bedard, while picking up Luke Scott (and his dynamite bat) and George Sherrill. However, the one pitched the O's hoped would be the back bone of the rotation, Adam Loewen, ended his career as a pitcher because of injury.

The Orioles had a lot of electricity and enthusiasm, but that will only carry you so much when the powers that be in the front office won't spend the dough to bolster the roster. While the team batting average was 8th in the AL (and 10th in the Majors) with a .267, their team ERA was a dismal 5.13. This was not only good enough for second worst in the AL, but also in the entire Major League. The pitching staff gave up 184 Home Runs, walked 687 batters while only striking out 922. After hanging around .500 most of the season the Birds dropped their last 28 of 34 and wound up at the bottom of the Al East for the first time since 1988.

Let's hope the off-season can bring some positive prospects, but seriously, Peter Angelos has got to do something or he's go to go!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Baltimore Skyline Hometown Post

Phillies are the 2008 NL East Division Champions!

Wow, what a crazy home stretch in the National League East. The Phillies pulled off their second NL East Division championship in as many years. The last time the Phillies went to the playoffs two years in a row Ronald Reagan was in his first year of office, and the last time they won the Divison back to back was 1976-1977 (and won a third in '78) Wow. It got dicey at the end of the game, and I thought it would go down to the last game of the season once again, but we pulled it off! Top of the 9th, 1 out, bases loaded, with Brad Lidge on the mound. Lidge, who has been perfect in save attempts this year, gave a low slider to Ryan Zimmerman who rocketed it up the infield. A diving Jimmy Rollings stopped it, flipped it to Chase Utley who launched it to Ryan Howard for the 6-4-3 Double Play...In...the...bag.

Bring on some October baseball! Watching the results of the Mets and Brewers today to see who we get to play in the NLDS.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Baltimore Skyline Roadtrip - New Haven


The first of probably many Baltimore Skyline Roadtrips brings us to New Haven, CT. Just a quick 4 hour Amtrak trip up the NorthEast Corridor and here we are. Nothing like catching a 5:45am train out of Baltimore in the rain, in the dark, to travel up North, on a Friday...for work.

Ah, New Haven, Home of Yale University, and our focal point of this blog- New Haven Union Station. Union Station was built in 1918 and officially opened in 1920. It was designed by Cass Gilbert, a pioneering architect from the early 20th century, he is most well known for the Woolworth Building in New York, but hey, he designed a pretty nice train station here in New Haven. Saved from the wrecking ball in the 1970s it was revamped and reopened by Amtrak and Metro North. The most striking feature of the building has to be the Main Hall. It's coffer ceiling is reminiscent of Philadelphia's 30th Street, but is more the size of our own Baltimore Penn Station (the Tiffany glass and sky lights of Bmore beats New Haven any day)

An interesting addition from the 1970s renovation are the tunnels leading to the train platforms. Travellers pass through twin stainless steel tear drop corridors on their way out to the trains, preparing riders for their rides on the steel clad trains that will take them to their destinations...possibly 20-40 minutes late. The nice thing about it is that it doesn't take away from the old structure, kudos preservationists!

Well back in Baltimore, just a quick day trip, lots to do this weekend, Book Festival up in Mount Vernon, check it out and read some literature. Bring on the weekend Bmore.



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

So Long Summer


Welcome to Autumn my friends, or as we like to call here in Balmer, Winter: Part 1. So far the meteorologists over at the Weather Channel are predicting pleasant temperatures through the beginning of October, but it's only a matter of time until it gets cold!


Continuing on the Free theme here at Baltimore Skyline, Fall brings another great thing to mind...Free Fall Baltimore! Now in its 3rd year, Free Fall Baltimore brings you great arts and cultural activities and events for free during the entire month of October, so starting next Wednesday put your wallets away and prepare to enjoy some free stuff. There are events for everyone, as well as some tailored just for children and families. The BMA will be doing workshops, MICA will be hosting its Maryland Film Festival on Tuesdays, and Center Stage will have a showing of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?


Right up the alley for all of you aspiring city planners and urban historical, Baltimore Heritage will be giving a free lecture entitled The Green Movement & Historic Preservation. See we can preserve spaces and be green at the same time! Who would've thunk it.


Check out the web for more ideas: http://www.freefallbaltimore.com/ With the economy this bad we need free stuff ASAP! A lot of these places are MTA accessible, so save gas (and the bay apparently), take transit.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Your Baltimore Weekend Update for 9/19


T-minus 3 hours until we can unshackle ourselves from the Prison that is work! There is much to do in Baltimore this weekend.

A great resource is Baltimore for Less. Get the news on what's exciting in Baltimore, but won't break the bank! http://www.baltimore.org/moreforless/
Check out the Fresh Farm Market on Lancaster Street in Harbor East on Saturday from 9am-1pm. It's running until October 25th, so you still have plenty of time to stock up on fresh veggies and fruits.

The Maryland Renaissance Festival continues in Annapolis at the Crownsville Fairgrounds. See some josting, eat some mutton, drink some beer, and don't forget Hilby - the German Juggle Boy...whatever that means. http://www.rennfest.com/

Sunday the Ravens take on the Browns at home at 4:15pm. Start your tailgatin'

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wednesday Afternoon Profile - Bank of America Building

When most Baltimoreons look at the Baltimore Skyline they invariably see the second tallest, but in my opinion, the most striking building in this city - the Bank of America Building. Its golden cap radiates in the the daytime and glows at night, as a beacon of light drawing your view into downtown. When walking on the street one can't help but look up as its brick facade gives way to white motif pilasters and arches on the setback upper floors. A green shingle and polished copper temple caps the mighty work of 1920s architecture.

Once the largest building in Baltimore, the Baltimore Trust Building, as it was first known, was finished in 1929 on the eve of the Great Depression. Designed by the architectural firms of Taylor & Fisher and Smith & May, it was Baltimore's first modern setback skyscraper. Standing high above the corner of Light and Baltimore Streets, it reaches 509 feet into the air. A mix of Art-Deco and Gothic elements make for a strikingly unique building. Constructed at a time when form superseded function, the exterior has bold ornamentation and sculpture. The interior lobby showcases murals depicting the Great Fire of 1904 and the Battle of Baltimore.

It remainded the talk of the town until 1973 when the more modern (and bland!) Legg Mason Tower was constructed. Even though it now plays second fiddle, the old man of the city still catches the eye quicker and strains the neck longer than it's younger neighbor.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday Update


Another wonderful day in Baltimore. Keeping it a short post today, just a quick update to tickle your fancy and keep you wanting for more.


Quick recap of the weekend: Defenders Day, some rain, some sun, lot's of fireworks, the Gov, the Mayor, reenactors, cannon fire, music, food, and fun! If you missed the action at Fort McHenry you'll have to wait another year. Let's try to make this city holiday thrive again!


We have glass at Hopkins! That's right after 2 years of steel, and now brick, we have glass going up! The front facade of the Children's Tower is going to be a 12-story curving wall of multi-coloroed glass panels. Looks very interesting, it should be nice to see when it's all done. Not sure if the rest of the hospital building will carry this motif, but it's a nice addition for the kids.
Enjoy your night Baltimore! Let's go O's! Hump day tomorrow.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Your Baltimore Weekend Update

Seriously there is only one thing you should all do this weekend and it's the Star-Spangled Weekend at Fort McHenry. It is the celebration of Defenders Day, the (sadly) little known state holiday in Maryland that commemorates the successful defense of Baltimore and Fort McHenry from a British attack on September 12,13,14, 1814. What the Brits attacked Baltimore? YES! Read your history books people!

Anyways, starting Friday there will be a parade from Little Italy to the Flag House and then to the Inner Harbor. Afterwards the parade will move through Tide Point to Locust Point and ending at Fort McHenry. There will be events all day Saturday with living historians (reenactors) and then a large concert and fireworks display at dusk.

So head down to the Fort and bring your copy of the Star Spangled Banner, and an umbrella since there is a chance of showers, and help bring back an old holiday!

http://www.nps.gov/fomc/parknews/loader.cfm?url=/commonspot/security/getfile.cfm&PageID=170721

The Mechanic Needs a Tune Up


The Committee on Historical and Architectural Preservation is meeting today to discuss the fate of the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre at Charles Center. Preservationists seek to put the architecturally unique (yet unaesthetically pleasing) structure on the Baltimore City Landmark list. Developers David S. Brown Enterprises LTD seeks to renovated and incorporate the theatre into a new 30-story mixed used facilities with retail on the lower levels. They hope to utilize much of the existing structure without damaging it or hurting the significance of it. Preservationists don’t fully agree and hope to stop the proposal in its tracks.

Now, I’m all up for preserving historic buildings, but it may start a bad precedent. Blocking this proposal could feasible kill any future attempt to do anything at that site. The Mechanic sits on some prime real estate at Charles Center, smack in the middle of the Central BD. The Mechanic is no Hippodrome, neither in capacity or looks. Sure the Mechanic is unique as it represents late 1960s/70s brutalism (the name fits the appearance), and it isn’t the only structure of its kind in Baltimore (see Loyola/Notre Dame Library at Loyola College). However, many see the building as an eyesore, as a lump of concrete rectangles in the middle of an otherwise nice plaza.

David S. Brown’s team brings in a great compromise: recycle the Mechanic into something that is needed (sustainable retail) while not wasting a good piece of ground. Hopefully CHAP will see it this way. Seriously, it's not that bad of a building, c'mon we've seen worse...