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!


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...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Transit Woes

What's the deal with the Red Line? After the hype about Mayor Dixon's Red Line Summit at the Convention Center back in May there seems to be a lack of reporting on the issue. The website for the project hasn't been updated since April when the proposed alignment was shifted to include Johns Hopkins Bayview and Canton Crossing. http://www.baltimoreregiontransitplan.com/

As a Fells Point resident I am deeply interested in the progress of this transit project. I think the prospect of being able to get downtown, or to Canton, by way of something other than driving, cabbing, or walking would be great. The Metro Subway can get you atleast downtown, but for us in Fells Point we have to walk up to Hopkins Hospital to grab it. For those living in Canton it's not an option.

Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of this and public transit in general, we all know Baltimore needs a fire lit under it for better, more effective, and more diverse transit option. Seriously, the MTA and the City of Baltimore need to keep us all in the loop on this one. I sent an email to their feedback email (mailto:redline@mtamaryland.com?subject=Red ), but never heard anything back. C'mon MTA get on the ball.

Recent news from Annapolis is a cut of $1.1 billion in State funding to Transportation over the next 6 years beacuse of a dramatic drop in state revenues due to the economy and people driving less because of gas prices. Who knows what this will mean for projects like the Red Line or MARC expansion, but as Maryland Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari said that the high profile projections won't be significantly set back. I guess that's anywhere from 2 to 10 years. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/politics/bal-funds0910,0,151886.story

Anyways, it's Hump Day. Heading into the home stretch for the weekend! Take advantage of Happy Hour and show up hung over for work tomorrow, nothing some coffee and advil won't fix by lunch.

O's take on the Indians at the Yard tonight.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A New Day in Baltimore

Hello Charm City!

This is a new blog dedicated to the goings on in Baltimore. The construction, the development, the new, the old, the refurbished, the proposed! Even though the economy is strugging, gas prices are high, and the real estate bubble burst, it seems that things are still chugging along in Baltimore. New condos on Key Highway (with more to come), new Hospital wings going up at Johns Hopkins, the EBDI helping to rebuild and stabilize East Baltimore, and the Legg Mason Tower and Four Seasons Residences are growing down in Harbor East. There is a lot to be proud of here, and there is a lot going on!

Now I have to give credit where credit is due. This isn't a new concept. I do take my influence froma great blog up in Philadelphia, my hometown (go phillies)! Brad Maule of phillyskyline.com has been updating the denizens of Philly for many years of what's going on up there, mostly by daily posts on construction and developments around the city. So I would like to thank B-Love for influencing me. Keep up the good work man!

Back to Baltimore. It's Tuesday, my friends, Monday's over, only three more days till the weekend! O's are fighting for 4th place in the AL East and the Ravens are 1-0 baby!

Enjoy your day before the rains come.