Completed in 2002, with a brick facade with scripted letter P's and careful landscaping, the bridge over the beltway on Reisterstown Road welcomes you to Pikesville, and gives you a little bit of a clue about what you'll find there.
Continuing down Reisterstown Road, the main retail thoroughfare in the Northwest Baltimore County suburb, more revitalization is evident. Smaller local merchants mix harmoniously with big box stores or chain groceries, which most in the area see as a way to draw in more customers rather than threaten to put the little guy out of business. It seems to work, as stores that have passed through generations of owners as well as customers line the stretch of road from the beltway to the city line.
Downtown Pikesville got a face lift with a streetscape project in the early 2000s. That, combined with the targeted revitalization of the area that began in the late 1990s, aimed to create a main street feel to Reisterstown Road. Though parking problems persist, the mission has been a success. Businesses are attracted to the area because of the affluent population; in fact, the Giant at Old Court Road has long been known as the "Gucci Giant" because of its high-end clientele.
Among the shops are an inordinate number of kosher eateries and Judaica stores, catering to the area's large Jewish population. Park Heights Avenue, another main artery through the area, is home to a number of synagogues, and there's a particularly large Orthodox component. Studies in the late 1990s showed Baltimore had a higher percentage of Orthodox Jews than any other city in the country.
Despite the influx of business, not a lot else has changed in one of Baltimore's oldest suburbs. The Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company has been serving the community since 1897, and the Maryland State Police Museum displays artifacts from the 1920s. Much of the housing dates back to the 1950s and '60s, as do many of the families, and though recent years have seen a rise in the Asian, Hispanic and Russian populations, it's still considered a mainly Jewish area.
Location: Northwest Baltimore County
Highlights/Landmarks: Maryland State Police Museum, Pikesville Farmers' Market
Schools: Pikesville High School, Milford Mill High School, Pikesville Middle School, Old Court Middle School, Sudbrook Magnet Middle School, Woodholme Elementary School, Winand Elementary School, Fort Garrison Elementary School, Summit Park Elementary School, Wellwood Elementary School, Bedford Elementary School, Milbrook Elementary School, Campfield Early Childhood Center, Beth Tfiloh, Talmudical Academy, Park School
Trivia: Former chairman of the Republican National Committee Ken Mehlman is a Pikesville native.
Pikesville is named for Gen. Zebulon Pike, an early 19th century explorer who was killed during the War of 1812.