It's hard to think of anything on the shores of the Inner Harbor as underused, especially on a crisp, sunny weekend afternoon. But Baltimore development officials think there's room for more activities, to supplement such magnets as the National Aquarium, Harborplace and the Science Center. Not intensive uses, necessarily, and certainly not more buildings. But open spaces can remain open while providing visitors something to entertain or inform them.
For years city planners have had in the back of their minds getting rid of the parking lot between the Light Street Pavilion and the Maryland Science Center and making better use of that land. Aside from a police post and several undistinguished kiosks catering to tourists, the expanse is unused. Why not put something there that would fill in the time while waiting to get into the Aquarium or Science Center? Or something that would stretch out a tourist's day here, perhaps prolonging the visit overnight?
Rash Field, on the southern bank of the harbor, is even less utilized. Once the athletic field for Southern High, it is rarely used now for public events. Adjoining it to the east is one of the prettiest and least frequented spots along the harbor, a small formal garden and the moving memorial to the four sailors who went down with the first Pride of Baltimore. This spot provides a lovely vista for patrons of the Rusty Scupper and Inner Harbor Marina, but hardly anyone else.
So the Baltimore Development Corp., a quasi-public arm of the city government, is seeking ideas from architects, landscape designers, urban planners and artists. There are no pre-conceived notions as to what they should suggest.
The west shore area could be used to please the eye, the ear, the dexterity or the brain of a visitor. Perhaps the Science Center and similar educational institutions could mount outdoor exhibits. Perhaps visitors could relax in more conducive surroundings with something to help while away time. Or try something more energetic after touring exhibitions nearby.
Rash Field offers more of an opportunity and challenge. The attraction there would have to be strong enough to draw visitors in that direction, away from the main cluster of Inner Harbor activities. But it's a large rectangle of open space, big enough to constitute a destination all its own. The city had a moderately successful skating rink there a few years ago. The site is ideal for energetic activities, if the facility were well equipped and adequately promoted.