The rear alleys in the communities surrounding Broadway in Southeast Baltimore typically conjure up images of rats, litter or worse — not of a playground for children.
Yet on a recent summer night, 3-year-old Stevie Benchoff hit a wiffle ball off a tee on his family's back patio into the open alley, then climbed a jungle gym that runs from their property to the one next door. His parents' biggest concern is the possibility of a skinned knee.
Down the alley, older girls played basketball. And neighbors streamed through J.D. and Molly Bowen's refinished carriage house to grab a drink and catch up on the day.
A decade ago, longtime residents say, this alley...