After falling in love with Pigtown in Southwest Baltimore, Diante Edwards won’t be re-enlisting in the U.S. Navy. Edwards, who serves as vice president of Citizens of Pigtown, has decided to stay because he’d like to focus on volunteer work in the neighborhood.
Edwards has been in the Navy for a decade and is based in Fort Meade, where he is an analyst. He previously lived in downtown Baltimore, but he was looking for a close-knit, friendly neighborhood. He picked Pigtown because it reminds him of his hometown Kalamazoo, Mich.
But as much as he likes Pigtown, where he’s lived since 2019, he acknowledges some of the area’s issues, such as the need for more businesses on Washington Boulevard — the neighborhood’s commercial strip — homelessness, homicides and trash dumping.
“We experience the same problems that the rest of the city experiences,” said Edwards.
Founded in the 1840s, Pigtown became a popular place for railroad workers to live, according to historical information on Baltimore City’s website. Its boundaries include Carroll Camden Industrial area to the south, Martin Luther King Boulevard and Barre Circle to the east, Pratt Street to the north and Carey Street, Carroll Park and Bush Street to the west, according to the Southwest Partnership, a collection of neighborhood associations.
The area’s name derived from the one-time thriving industry that had pigs being transported to and slaughtered in the neighborhood.
In addition, Pigtown was historically a redlined community, said Edwards, meaning Blacks were denied home loans.
Historic landmarks include the Mount Clare Museum House and B&O Railroad Museum, which both showcase parts of the neighborhood’s history, said Edwards. Other landmarks are Carroll Park and Paul’s Place, which provides services such as after-school programs and health care to low-income families in Pigtown.
Perhaps the most famous landmark is a sculpture by Rodney Carroll of a pig weather vane on Bayard Street and Washington Boulevard on the northeast corner of Carroll Park, said Edwards. Churches include Wayman Memorial A.M.E Church on Washington Boulevard, Southern Friendship Baptist Church on West Cross Street and Pleasant Rock Baptist Church on Scott Street.
Area schools include Charles Carroll Barrister Elementary School, George Washington Elementary School, both pre-K through 5 schools, and Southwest Baltimore Charter School, pre-K through 8.
Things to do
The 19th annual Pigtown Festival, held on Washington Boulevard, has been canceled due to the pandemic, Edwards said. Organizers hope to bring it back next year.
Washington Boulevard boasts several businesses including the hair salon Hello Bonita, City Tobacco, Fadiga African Hair Braiding, Mr. Cigar and Sunny Chinese Food.
Price Rite Marketplace of West Pratt Street and Culinary Architecture are the neighborhood’s full grocery stores. Bars and restaurants include Friends Grille on Carroll Street and Suspended Brewing Company on Washington Boulevard.
Pigtown’s population has fallen, according to the Baltimore Planning Department, from 5,410 in 2000 to 5,116 in 2010. In 2011, the population was about half Black and about half white. In 2019, more than half of the population was Black, about 40 percent white and about 10% Latino.
The neighborhood unemployment rate was 12% in 2011, compared to the city’s 13%. In 2019, Pigtown and Baltimore both had 8% unemployment.
The neighborhood boasts condominiums and rowhouses. In 2019, the median household income was $58,496, according to Baltimore’s Planning Department. Median home sales prices were $64,000 from 2014 to 2016, compared to the city at $70,000; and $92,700 from 2017 to 2019, compared to the city at $79,500.
Transit and walkability
Walkability for Pigtown scored 91 out of 100, 78 for bike and 69 for transit, according to Live Baltimore.
Pigtown transit includes The City Link Yellow bus routes, which include Washington Boulevard & Scott Street Westbound, Washington Boulevard & Cross Street Southbound and Washington Boulevard & Bayard Street Southbound, among others.
Bus 26 routes include Pulaski Street & Windsor Avenue Southbound, South Baltimore Park and Ride and Bentalou Street & Lafayette Avenue Southbound.
Crosswalks have been repainted near the schools to increase children’s safety, said Edwards. In addition, bike shared lanes have been added. More bike markings will be completed by the end of the year, Edwards said, leading from Washington Boulevard through Bayard Street to Martin Luther King Boulevard.
Domonic Carter owns Ripp’d Canvas Tattoo Shop, Chopping Block Barbershop and Canvas Cartel Clothing and Printing in Pigtown.
Carter said he’d like more businesses on Washington Boulevard because they’ll be able to piggyback on each other, saying the area needs bars, restaurants and big chain stores, among others, to provide a bustling main street. To attract businesses, he recommends the city give potential business owners tax breaks to start businesses.
Carter, who is Black, said while he’d like to see minority-owned businesses what he’d really like to see is a diversity of businesses: “I’d like to see more [investments]” he said. “I want to see businesses grow in Pigtown.”
Owner of TheZe HandZ Braiding Studio Shakiara Johnson agreed, saying “There could be more businesses here. It’s always a good thing.”
Richard Parker was the president of Citizens of Pigtown from 2014 to 2016. Today he’s president of the Pigtown Community Association and advocates for a diversity of retail shops, crime reduction, beautification projects and a community and recreation center.
Like other city neighborhoods, Pigtown has had its share of crime. Three homicides were reported in 2019 and two in 2020, according to Baltimore Open Data. Councilwoman Phylicia Porter said her goal is to ensure the community has adequate public safety, economic growth and better schools.
The city has worked to address residents’ concerns, like homelessness, trash and illegal dumping, support for businesses and public safety, wrote Stefanie Mavronis, a spokesperson for the city. Public safety is a top priority for the Baltimore Police Department, she added.
“Following the quadruple shooting in Carroll Park in May 2021, [Mayor Brandon Scott] and top administration officials met with community leaders to discuss safety concerns in the area,” she said.
Carter said he’s aware of the crimes in Pigtown. But he doesn’t focus on it. “That’s everywhere. If you focus on that, you’ll never get nowhere in life,” he said.
Representatives of Pigtown include Porter, State Sen. Antonio L. Hayes and William C. Ferguson and State Delegate Melissa Wells — all Democrats. Kelleigh Eastman and Edwards are president and vice president of Citizens of Pigtown, respectively. Parker is president of the Pigtown Community Association.