One of the long-time subjects of several urban renewal projects is Park Heights, situated in the northwest corner of the city. The area most famously known for that big horse race every year and a lot of synagogues is now, after years of strife and struggle with crime and divided communities, an up-and-coming neighborhood with an array of ethnic flavors and a sharpened image.
Historically and presently, the neighborhood has housed a large Orthodox Jewish population as well as a considerable African-American demographic, mainly of Jamaican ancestry. Many immigrants and their families also call the neighborhood home. With all of these ethnic groups converging in this small area, Park Heights is divided into smaller pockets of different cultures, often occupying the same block. This patchwork lends the area its innate charm and uniqueness.
Locals can identify two different Park Heights, an upper and a lower, with the line of demarcation being Northern Parkway. South of this border is "Lower" Park Heights, an area mostly inhabited by the town's immigrant and African-American population. To the north lies "Upper" Park Heights, which is mostly white and Jewish. However, as the previously mentioned urban renewal projects have seen success there, increased mingling across this unofficial dividing line has fortunately boosted community togetherness and diversity.
Also, thanks to the attention revival efforts have given the neighborhood, Park Heights has risen from the ashes of poverty and climbed the economic ladder. Inhabitants are mostly of the middle-income bracket and housing is reflective of that; there are numerous single-family homes with spacious yards and attractive architecture in the residential parts of the town. The commercial strips lining the busy stretches of Reisterstown Road and Park Heights Avenue also cater to the mix of tastes centered in Park Heights, with both Jewish kosher and African-American specialty shops and eateries proffering the cultures' finest.
The annual Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Northern Parkway, of course, cannot go unmentioned. The horse race is the second leg of the Triple Crown, horse racing's equivalent of the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup. The race has been running since 1873, three years after the track opened for the first time, and brings a big party to Park Heights the third Saturday of every May.
It's true that in the past Park Heights has been a place beleaguered by poverty and crime. Yet, as the 21st century deepens, the future's brightness is definitely shining through in this section of Baltimore.
Location: Northwest Baltimore City
Boundaries: Slade Avenue to the north, Park Circle to the south, Greenspring Avenue to the east, and Wabash Avenue to the west
Landmarks/Highlights: Pimlico Race Course, Little Kingston, Cylburn Arboretum, Sinai Hospital
Schools: Baltimore Hebrew University, Baltimore City Community College, Park Heights Academy, Waldorf School, Yeshiva Rambam School, Northwestern Senior High, Greenspring Middle, Pimlico Middle, Arlington Elementary, Cross Country Edgecombe Circle Elementary, Langston Hughes Elementary, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, Park Heights Elementary, Pimlico Elementary
Trivia: The Pimlico Race Course, opened in 1870, is home to the Preakness Stakes, a horse race that is part of the annual Triple Crown. The racetrack is also the venue for the historic November 1, 1938, race between legendary thoroughbreds Seabiscuit and War Admiral.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun