Jacques Kelly: Fells Point gets a new square and a new street

A new look and new landmarks have arrived on the ancient streets of Fells Point this fall.

The city government decided that Broadway Square, or the 800 block of South Broadway, needed a different look, a replacement for the reddish marble overhaul the place got back in the 1970s. Stonemasons and bricklayers were busy over the summer and now the work is just about done.

The square, which runs from Lancaster Street to Thames Street along Broadway, is once again paved with bricks. The minimal trimming is a gray stone, and the whole place is lined with trees and beds of coneflowers at the north end. The place is lighted with lampposts with four-sided, 18th-century-style lanterns. It contrasts with the 1977 version, which was heavy on polished dark stone and the stubby-looking bollards so favored by 1970s landscape architects.

The new look complements the historic structures that line the square. It also works well with Fells Point’s newest destination, the Sagamore Pendry hotel.

Baltimoreans and tourists alike seek out the corner of Thames and Broadway, skirting the harbor. And now, with a newly installed square, they will have a place to congregate. Adjacent streets were outfitted in the granite pavers known locally as Belgian blocks. In places, the old streetbed railroad tracks were also preserved.

Fells Point also has a new street and a new park to go with the renewed Broadway Square.

The street is Point Street, and its main landmark is the Exelon Tower. About a seven-minute walk from Broadway Square, Point Street will be easier to find once a small bridge over an arm of the harbor along Lancaster Street is completed. This will enable Central Avenue to extend to what is a new part of Baltimore, Harbor Point, a place that was off-limits for years as part of the Allied Signal property. This street was once the domain of the local chemical industry and an iron foundry. Environmental remediation of this little peninsula that juts into the Patapsco River took a while.

It was worth the wait. The landscaping of Point Street mirrors that of Broadway Square: clean, simple and direct. The street is actually an elongated oval with a center greensward dotted with trees and gravel walks. Sections of the crosswalks in the grassy median are a mosaic of thin-cut stones. Along the way, a few massive granite blocks salvaged from harbor bulkheads serve as benches.

The real winner here is the view from the promenade along Point Street. Baltimore’s harbor is always majestic-looking, and there are few better places to take in that vista than from here. You can look across to Federal Hill on a bright fall day and just about see the Gen. Samuel Smith statue. The South Baltimore-Locust Point shoreline’s Domino Sugars, Anthem House and the Museum of Industry pop into clear sight.

One of the oldest parts of Baltimore, in active use since our founding in 1729, is now one of the newest — and, for a while at least, is little known. I stopped at Ceremony Coffee and asked a man who was having an espresso if he knew where he was. He wasn’t sure: “I just know how to get here.”

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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