Evelyn Tamberino fondly remembers the days when Philadelphia Road in Rosedale was a quiet thoroughfare.
"There was a time when you'd leave the kids in the street" to play without giving a second thought to safety issues, Tamberino, 67, said while sipping a Pepsi at the Rosedale Senior Center.
Concern about more motorists driving through the area is a complaint often heard among Rosedale residents.
"Traffic is unbelievable out here, especially since they reconstructed stores in place of Golden Ring Mall," said Catherine Roth, 79.
While longtime residents like Roth and Tamberino pine for a Rosedale of the past, local leaders say the area's less expensive housing is giving it renewed strength.
Nancy Leiter, vice president of the Rosedale Community Association, said Rosedale is a vast improvement from what it used to be more than a decade ago. Community leaders helped push adult entertainment from Pulaski Highway in 1997, she said. And county leaders are working to improve traffic conditions along Philadelphia Road, while the community hopes to make Rosedale's gateways more attractive.
"Rosedale is a much better place to live," Leiter said.
The community, built largely during the early 1950s, suffered a decline during the late 1980s and early 1990s as crime and vacant commercial properties became a problem along Pulaski Highway. But the area's proximity to the city - it is 7.4 miles east of downtown Baltimore - and more affordable housing prices have helped the area gain notice by buyers recently, real estate agents said.
Between 1990 and 2000, census figures show, the population grew by 36 percent to 25,414 people. Though home prices have been rising in recent years as they have for the rest of the Baltimore area, values in Rosedale have not grown as quickly.
Prospective homebuyers have a range of styles to choose from, including colonials, townhouses, cape cods and split foyers.
The average price of a home during the past six months was $163,000, according to Tina Jackman, a real estate agent for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. Homes listed now, she said, average $224,000.
"A lot of homes are older and they appreciate slower than newer properties, which are more appealing to the younger generation," Jackman said.
But new construction of single-family homes in Rosedale has helped satisfy the demand for some who want four-bedroom colonials. Construction along Rossville Boulevard and Gum Spring Road has produced homes that cost more than $350,000, said Chris Makres, a branch manager at Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.
The origin of the town's name is not certain. But the Baltimore County Public Library's Web site offers an explanation. An assignment given to a fourth-grade class in 1950 asked for students to interview family members and friends about Rosedale. According to one account, an Englishman owned a farm on Hamilton Avenue just north of Philadelphia Road that was replete with roses. Since his name was Dale and the roses were beautiful, the man felt that the fusion of the name Dale and rose would be suitable.
Driving through Rosedale today reveals the disparity between scenic residential areas and neglected property in some of its industrial parts.
Golden Ring Mall, which was built in 1974, lost customers and retailers to larger and modern malls in the vicinity during the mid-1980s. It was closed in October 2000 and was replaced by a Sam's Club and Home Depot Inc., among other stores.
Residents said they like the community's convenience but they still worry about crime.
Twenty-year resident Charles Cordwell Sr. is concerned about drug dealing near Pulaski Highway. He would like to move, but "this is where we can afford to live right now," he said.
Even with those concerns, remnants of Rosedale's 1950s classic suburbia still exist; manicured lawns decorate most streets, and for most residents, supportive neighbors are just a knock away.
"They used to have bake sales for children in the playground," said Catherine McDonough, a Rosedale resident of 42 years, who moved from Baltimore to raise her children. "I felt safer in the county than the city because we were closer to schools and churches. I feel safe here; you have a lot of neighbors that help you."
Neighborhood leaders such as Leiter intend on keeping it this way.
Leiter said Baltimore County officials are trying to revamp the portion of Pulaski Highway that runs through Rosedale to make it more attractive. Furthermore, the Rosedale Community Association is collaborating with the Maryland Department of Environment and the Baltimore County Planning and Zoning Board to alter the zoning at a former site of a soil-remediation plant from heavy industrial to light industrial.
"What we're trying to do is create a buffer between the business and residential sections so that they can coexist," Leiter said. "Rosedale is family-oriented. We have the most perfect location that we could have in Baltimore County."
ZIP code: 21237
Drive time to downtown Baltimore: 20 minutes
Public schools: Red House Run Elementary School, Shady Spring Elementary School, Golden Ring Middle School, Rosedale Center Alternative High School
Shopping: Golden Ring Plaza, Rosedale Plaza, Nottingham Square
Number of houses on the market: 42
Average list price: $159,000 *
Average sales price: $163,000 *
Average days on market: 48 *
Percentage of sales price based on list: 103%
* Based on 125 homes sold during the past six months as compiled by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.