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" 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.
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?
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:,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: