Sun Magazine Readers' Choice Awards [Pictures]
Arts and Attractions: Neighborhood( Sarah Pastrana, Baltimore Sun Media Group photo / April 20, 2011 )
Sean Patrick Flanagan was not surprised to learn Sun readers named Canton as the city's best neighborhood. He even wants to do one better.
"I'll take it a step further: I think it's the best neighborhood in Maryland," Flanagan, the 42-year-old president of the Canton Community Association, said recently. "I've lived in Annapolis. I was born and raised in the D.C. area, and I've chosen Canton as my home."
Flanagan moved to Canton in 1998 and has been there since. While Canton is known as a neighborhood that attracts young people with its bar scene and the bustling hub of O'Donnell Square, Flanagan said it is the people who impress him most.
"Every neighborhood has a challenge, but it feels like in Canton, they look to address those challenges to make a life a little better," he said.
In recent years, Canton residents have responded to tough times together. In 2012, hundreds met in O'Donnell Square to pay tribute to Patrick "Scunny" McCusker, the Nacho Mama's owner who died unexpectedly that summer. (The tribute image of Natty Boh crying a single tear can still be seen in windows all over Canton.)
In February, as an act of solidarity, residents and businesses put together "Count on Canton," where proceeds from the night's sales were donated to a resident's recovery fund. Jon Fogg (a Sun sports editor) may have been attacked in Canton, but it was Canton residents who took it upon themselves to help.
"[These] are people with a commitment, and they demonstrate that commitment time and time again with their activity and responsiveness to issues," Flanagan said.
With the recent addition of The Shops at Canton Crossing and the news that WTMD hopes to bring its First Thursday concert series to Canton Waterfront Park, signs point to Canton's continued growth and relevance. Flanagan knows the word "growth" will alarm some longtime residents who've watched their neighborhood change rapidly in the past 10 years, and his goal as association president will be to appease residents, young and old.
"I think the continued development is good as long as it's measured," he said. "But I think [Canton's] best days are still ahead of it. There's still plenty of opportunity for growth and improvement, and I think we're going to continue down that path."
--Wesley Case, proud Canton resident
Take note: "I am pleasantly surprised," Sean Patrick Flanagan said of the aftermath of Canton Crossing's arrival. "I was one of those that thought congestion and issues along Boston Street were going to be a significant problem, but for my experience to date, it's been managed well."