The Darkroom

Baltimore steam pipes get a new look

Lloyd Fox
The Baltimore Sun

Hidden below the streets of Baltimore is a steam system that provides hot water, steam and chilled water to over 255 businesses in downtown Baltimore. In a collaborative effort between the Downtown Partnership and Veolia, the company that operates the network, three of the many steam pipes or “stacks” associated with the underground system are being painted.

Artist Kerry Cesen has been commissioned to paint three of the many stacks that protrude out of the ground and rise to almost 12 feet tall. Most would consider them an eye sore, but the beautification project is to bring cheer and conversation to what goes on below the surface of everyday life.

One of the stacks is in the 700 block of E. Pratt Street and the other two are at Charles and Lombard and St. Paul and Saratoga. Cesen spends between 15-18 hours to paint each stack and has mixed over 30 color variations to complete the paintings. Each pipe also has an anti-graffiti coating made of silicone to help protect the pipes.

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