Baltimore is a city with challenges — big ones. But it’s not the hopeless place the president recently made it out to be, or the governments of Uruguay and Venezuela, which last week issued warnings against travel here. Yes, there is violence, and there is crime. There are drugs, inequity, racism and segregation. We have infrastructure issues, vacant homes, government scandals and subpar public education. We also have tight-knit communities, lush green spaces, rich history, outrageous characters, friendly neighbors, great food, creative visionaries and an unbreakable spirit.
We asked readers to share their versions of Baltimore in 150 words or less and were overwhelmed with images of the city that don’t often make the headlines. They’ve been lightly edited for length and clarity, but the sentiment and soul of each is the author’s own. And all of it is Baltimore — our Baltimore.
This is the start of an occasional series that explores the city through the lens of those who live and work here. Look for more “Our Baltimore” snippets in the weeks to come (submit yours below), as well as longer pieces from prominent Baltimoreans.
The people make Baltimore special
Baltimore is a beautiful city filled with charm, love, potential and so many opportunities. Baltimore is also a city filled by people with a lot of pain, despair, trauma and hopelessness. Like other major cities, undeniably, we have our issues, but it’s the people committed to Baltimore and preserving its rich history that makes us (or it) special.
When I think about the greatness that lies within our city and our culture, I remain hopeful. Whether it’s our youth, our elders, our grassroots organizations, our elected officials or business leaders, so many of us are passionate about this city. Not just the bricks and mortar, but the people that live here. Baltimore is a place where your dreams can be actualized and you have access to some of the greatest minds. Baltimore is me, Baltimore is you. Baltimore is home.
Nykidra Robinson, Baltimore
Birthday cakes at random bars
I have lived in five places in my 64 years: Boise, Seattle, the D.C. area, Baltimore City, and since 2017, Gettysburg, Pa. Baltimore has gotten under my skin more than anyplace else — mostly the people. A standout memory: listening to an Eastern Shore Jewish trial lawyer playing Texas honky-tonk music at an Irish bar on upper Harford Road for his process server’s father’s 80th birthday party, and sharing a table with nice folks. I have never had birthday cake at so many random bars as in Baltimore.
Bob Omberg, Gettysburg, Pa.
The ‘wonderful Baltimore of my youth’
I remember the good old days in Baltimore: visiting Lexington Street with my grandmother, shopping at Lexington Market and having lunch at the counter in Woolworth’s. I remember the Old Town Mall and Downtown Baltimore before we had an Inner Harbor. I remember “all day” church on Sunday and families sitting down to enjoy an old fashioned Sunday meal. I remember when the church was the pillar of every community and everyone not only knew one another, but they watched out for each other’s children. I remember when we respected our communities; on Saturday morning you would see most residents on their marble front stairs scrubbing away with a deck brush and a bucket of bleach and water. I remember the wonderful Baltimore of my youth and I refuse to believe that we cannot be such a city once again; I pray that I am not alone in my optimism for my beloved Baltimore!
Amahl Foster, Baltimore
Awake and alive under Baltimore’s blue sky
My husband and I moved to Baltimore two months after the death of Freddie Gray propelled many of the city’s problems to overflow their already filled cups. Bill grew up in the county and, after years away, wanted to come home. We’d visited Baltimore often as tourists. We’d stay at the Admiral Fell Inn, eat breakfast at Jimmy’s, walk the Inner Harbor, visit the Aquarium and the BMA, drive into the county and walk the Gunpowder trails, drink Bloody Mary’s at the Owl Bar, and always want to stay just one more day under Baltimore’s sweet blue sky. We could have moved anywhere, but we chose here. We now own a home in Lauraville. Yesterday, two deer grazed in our backyard at dusk. Despite the difficulties we’ve come to know well, there’s no place else we’d rather be — awake and alive under that same sweet blue sky.
Nancy Weiss, Baltimore
Baltimore has an identity
Baltimore is about democracy. Baltimore is about neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are not about segregation but rather identification. People in Baltimore tend to get along no matter what their background. It’s true that Baltimore may not be the prettiest city although we have some beautiful spots. I love the grittiness of Baltimore and the diversity of our neighborhoods. Baltimore is a city that has an identity. We have our food, our harbor, our people, our pride.
Jeffrey Landsman, Towson
Small towns within a city
My wife’s job brought us to Baltimore. I grew up in Western Maryland and she grew up in Northern Ontario, Canada. Since our arrival here, we have filled our limited spare time with crab feats, dinners in Little Italy and Fells Point, concerts in some of the beautiful area churches and the company of new friends. We are active in the Episcopal Church and last year we joined a Christmas Caroling Choir on Federal Hill (Crabs for Christmas, hon!). I work in Montgomery County but at the end of the day when I come north on I-95 and see the Baltimore skyline pop up on the horizon, I know that I am home. The people are friendly, and I love that Baltimore seems to be a unique cluster of small towns within a city where people know each other and care about each other. We are very happy to be here and are proud to consider ourselves Baltimoreans!
Daniel Weatherholt, Kingsville
A real community in Baltimore
Nineteen months ago, my wife and I moved to Baltimore from Bethesda, and that was a choice we made. The problems of Baltimore are obvious — as are the problems of most cities in America, made worse by the malevolent spirit in the current administration — but there’s a real community in Baltimore, as well, and we are so happy to call Baltimore our home. Time and time, again, we see Baltimoreans responding to adversity by locking arms and trying to make things better. Baltimore is really a small town, and when an egomaniacal, insecure oaf took a cheap shot at our city, the response from Baltimore was unified and unmistakable. The president claims that no human being would choose to live in Baltimore. We are here to tell you that he’s as wrong as he can be.
John Warshawsky, Baltimore
An uplifting and exhilarating place to be
I have been walking my dog around Brewer’s Hill for the past 12 years. We have gotten to know the neighbors and the neighborhood, and we are very happy here. There is very little trash, and I pick up what I find and recycle much of it when I do. The people are pleasant, and I couldn’t ask to live in a better place! My mom grew up in Northwood, and her grandmother lived on Baltimore Street, near Highland Avenue. We relocated here from Reisterstown when my parents got older. I find the city an uplifting and exhilarating place to be!
Renee Tuma, Baltimore
The good men of Baltimore
I don’t think anyone would question the fact that the women of Baltimore are some of the strongest and most resolved people you could find anywhere. That being said, I don’t believe our men always get the attention they deserve for the good things they. In the course of my day, I criss-cross the city, and every day without fail, I see men of all ages shepherding their children to and from school. I see how their strength, humor and tenderness make these walks positive, safe and fun experiences for their kids. One image that sticks in my mind is of a giant football player of a man, with a giggling little girl on one arm and a pink princess backpack on the other. So, to the good men of Baltimore — the fathers, the grandfathers, the big brothers, uncles, cousins and friends — we see you. Keep up the good work. Baltimore needs you.
E.C. Knoll, Baltimore
Not perfect, but quirky
Quirky — the word my teen-aged grandchildren used to describe Baltimore. Having grown up in Baltimore City, they’ve seen quite a few ups and downs, but they appreciate their hometown for its diversity and for its access to museums, theaters (lots of them), varied cinema and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. My husband and I have lived in the city together for five decades (he grew up here), and we love the quirkiness, too. Baltimore, far from perfect, but still a great place to live, means home to us. We enjoy trips away, but we’re always happy to return to the bumpy streets of Baltimore. Life is good here!
Mary Krastel, Baltimore
Always feel at home
Baltimore, in one word, is home. I met my future wife when I was 12 — in Baltimore. I’ve lived all up and down the East Coast and I always return home — to Baltimore. Whether it’s Camden Yards, Hamdpen, the trees in the outskirts or the grit of downtown, I always feel at home. We have a checkered past and a brilliant and bright future. Now more than ever we need to unite Baltimore and make it one. We all have a responsibility to every citizen of our city. I’ve asked a lot of people why they stay in Baltimore or move from out of town and it always comes down to our city’s nickname: Charm City. The charm of the old architecture, the wonderful people and our unique geography always speak to me. P.S.: Let’s go O’s!
David Speer, Baltimore
Strong, independent core
I have lived and worked in Baltimore City for the past 34 years. I chose to live in this diverse mess of a city, with all of its warts and beauty spots. Its boarded-up row houses and beautiful church spires, its homelessness and its open heart, its corruption and its honesty. Baltimore is a quirky cauldron full of character. This is the place for me! What other place could lay claim to an Edgar Allen Poe, H.L. Mencken, Billie Holiday, Frank Zappa or a John Waters? This city with all of its hopelessness and hope, is a great catalyst for nurturing wonderfully creative minds. What gives me hope for the future of this great city, are the grassroots organizations and resolute citizens that constantly take-up the fight against the systemic poverty and crime that seem to have metastasized here. There is strong independent core to this city, a base of faith and belief in the city itself that one cannot keep down.
Christopher Winslow, Baltimore
I posted this on Facebook in 2013, shortly after I started a job in West Baltimore working with opioid-dependent youth: “In these past few weeks I have had to drive through parts of West Baltimore that I would usually avoid. I am reminded that this city is so beautiful in its own [messed] up way. It is a tragic testament to the human condition, the pain of poverty, and the perseverance of marginalized people. Grandiose architecture of what once was, reconstituted to fit what is now, shows the history of this city like the rings of a tree or layers of sandstone. At every turn is another cross section of this wretched, awe-inspiring beauty.”
Alexa Webb, Baltimore
A beautiful tapestry
I grew up in rural Baltimore County, married and settled in the city. We started in Mount Vernon, then moved to Original Northwood when a daughter, then son, came along.
City life isn’t always easy. Anything of value must be chained down. We’ve replaced countless struts and tires. The taxes are too high. But it is rewarding. My daughter just graduated from Institute of Notre Dame, Nancy Pelosi’s high school alma mater. But Ms. Pelosi wouldn’t recognize it. It’s become a beautiful tapestry of ethnicities and nationalities.
My son’s a student at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, H.L. Mencken’s alma mater. Mencken wouldn’t recognize it either. It’s still a top-performing school, but it has a majority-minority population now.
Similarly, we worship at Faith Christian Fellowship, where you are likely to sit next to someone who looks/speaks/acts differently than you. Our kids’ schools and our church feel like a mini melting pot and how I think heaven will be: people from every tribe, people, and nation. I believe Baltimore is a little foretaste of paradise.
Barnaby Wickham, Baltimore
Local and a tourist
I have lived in Baltimore all my life. I have worked at restaurants for 20 years. During that time, I’ve pointed thousands towards the beauty we have to offer in Baltimore, from the skyline view on top Federal Hill to the Divine mural in Mt. Vernon. I will always be both local and a tourist. I love Baltimore!
Becky Freeberger, Baltimore
Our resilient children
My Baltimore is Baltimore children. Baltimore children laugh and play. They smile and make friends. They read and learn. They are smart and creative. They ask questions and have some of the most profound answers. They have goals and ambitions. They dream big and aspire to do great things. They love and want to be love. My Baltimore is our resilient children. I love Baltimore!
Darlene Copeland, Baltimore
Pocket of nature
I live on the western edge of Baltimore among the pocket of nature called Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park. I spend most of my time in one of the best communities in the city, Dickeyville, and volunteer at the Maryland Historical Society in the Mt. Vernon area. I’m a native of Baltimore and love my city. I think most of it is beautiful and a lot of its problems come from the fact that it’s just an old city. Old infrastructure and lead paint are serious problems plaguing many old cities. But Baltimore has style and class to match any city in America. I’m descended from the original settlers of this area back to the mid-1600s, so the roots are very deep. We survived the Civil War, we’ll survive Donald Trump. If he truly wants to help, he can fix the water and sewer system!
Seely Foley, Gwynn Oak
Wonderful, complex city
My husband and I purchased our home through the Johns Hopkins “Live Near Your Work” program in the Oliver community in East Baltimore five years ago. In five years, I’ve seen community partnerships bring playgrounds (where our now 2-year-old daughter plays most evenings), community gardens, pristine parks, and economic opportunity to this historically blighted neighborhood. Our neighborhood is filled with wonderful people who strive to make it more welcoming, cleaner, and more vibrant every day. We love having so many museums, family-friendly entertainment, wonderful dining, and more so close to home! Baltimore is a wonderful and complex city whose spirit is up for the unique challenges that it faces, and I’m honored to be a part of that.
Krystle McConnell, Baltimore
I work in and love Fells Point. I rehabbed a house for my daughter in Hollis Market and sold that house when she moved to Upper Fells. She’s now raising her family near Patterson Park. The city has so much going on, it’s awesome.
Linda Riach, Baltimore
Proud to identify as a Baltimorean
I lived in Baltimore for a year and a half, after being raised in Harford County. I rented the third floor of a rowhouse in Charles Village. Baltimore city life is one of my most cherished experiences. Getting to be a daily contributor to — and consumer of — Baltimore’s culture was a privilege, especially as I’m intrigued by the city’s history. Baltimore has no shortage of local businesses and restaurants to explore, arts and culture to take in, and beautiful sights to see. Even my daily bus ride up and down St. Paul and Charles streets to and from work was a treasure; it was like a miniature tour of some of the city’s most historic districts. I’m grateful to have lived in the city and I’m proud to identify as a Baltimorean.
Scott Campo, Bel Air
Found my true love
Baltimore is best! Combining northern sophistication and speed with southern grace and hospitality, it offers world renowned educational, artistic and medical excellence in its institutions.
The weather offers the variety of four distinct seasons with few of the dire extremes experienced elsewhere. Its East Coast location makes it a transportation hub with easy access to north, south, west and Europe. Culinary variety, including steamed crabs, abounds at reasonable prices.
In addition, I found my true love in Baltimore — a Baltimore born, University of Maryland educated, Bethlehem Steel-Sparrows Point executive and Chesapeake Bay sailor. What’s not to like?
Sandra Schmidt, Catonsville
Every year we have the Russian Festival in East Baltimore, just two blocks from Johns Hopkins Medical Center Emergency Room. We also have the Ukrainian Festival and the Polish Festival and several other festivals. There are parks all over the city, including the beautiful Saint Mary’s Park in Seton Hill. We also have fantastic art museums and the Inner Harbor.
Fr. Michael Bishop, Baltimore
It’s not just ‘The Wire’
I was raised in Greektown. My wife and I live in the county but go downtown for plays, movies, concerts, and bike rides among other events. More than once while traveling we’ve heard people say they’d never go to Baltimore. We tell them it’s a fine city, see for yourself, it’s not just The Wire, Homicide, and Freddie Gray.
Eugene Gronberg, Nottingham
Grand old dame
Baltimore is that grand old dame who manages to look good without wearing makeup. Days when she takes the time to paint on her best face for visiting guests, she puts her best self on display: Inner Harbor, Harbor East, Roland Park, Johns Hopkins and more. Her daily grind nevertheless manages to keep on keeping on. Baltimore always cheers for the home teams, even with the Orioles in last place. It’s the city with an appetite for steamed crabs, Natty Boh, snowballs, Berger cookies, Utz chips, enormously decadent cakes, cookies, breads and pastries from German bakeries, hot corned beef from Lombard Street, and pasta piled high on plates in Little Italy. My Baltimore is the real deal, devoid of vanity, able to look herself in the mirror each morning, vowing to do the best she can.
Carolyn Buck, Baltimore
Character and soul
I’m from the West Coast (most recently lived in Salt Lake and originally from rural Arizona) and moved to Baltimore three years ago. I’ve never lived anywhere so full of character and soul. I love the man walking down Fells Point belting out Tank’s “When We.” I love the vibrancy of Lexington Market, where I can get a whole box of food for $6 and watch some live performances. I love how each neighborhood has such a distinct feel that I essentially discover a new Baltimore each time I go somewhere. Yes, there are rats, there’s grime, and the glaring effects of redlining and wealth inequality are unavoidable, but Baltimore doesn’t gloss over it. The city reminds you what it is to be alive; it slaps you in the face with its problems so you can’t avoid it and makes you want to do/be better.
Chanapa Tantibanchachai, Baltimore
The ‘dogs get adored’
We went from playing with children on the front lawn, sharing a glass of wine with neighbors on the front porch, progressive dinners on New Years’ Eve and everyone pitching in to shovel deep snow from a little one-way street, to 20 years in the suburbs in order to ease a commute. We rarely saw our neighbors; everyone came and went with anonymity. We’re now back in the city, where we greet neighbors, have the dogs get adored by other walkers and watch fireworks from our roof deck. The local watering hole knows your name, and your preferred beverage here. The circulator takes us on trips to the ballpark, and we can walk to restaurants.
Janet Boss, Baltimore
You can go anywhere in public and within 20 minutes start having conversations with people. The atmosphere is electric and exploding with new faces, ideas, food and love. When I’m driving in on I-95, I still get giddy at just the sight of the skyline. It’s like a breath of fresh air. It’s home.
Lauren Lamon, Baltimore
My Baltimore Pride: Federal Hill engagement. Sinai Hospital babies. Maryland Zoo. Science Center. Olympian Michael Phelps and Mount Washington’s Meadowbrook pool. National Aquarium. DiPietro’s Ice Rink in Patterson Park. Eddie’s Lemon Sticks and Berger Cookies. “Hairspray’s” John Waters. Roland Park Baseball under the lights in Druid Hill and Swann Hill Park. Baltimore City College’s undefeated season. Park Heights Jewish Community Center. Preakness. Camden Yards, Attman’s coddies, rainbow cake and corned beef. Baltimore School for the Arts TWIGS classes. Water Taxi from Fells Point to Fort McHenry (Star Spangled Banner). Hampden, Miracle on 34th Street. Arabbers. Mount Vernon’s Christmas monument lighting. Sherwood Gardens tulips. Babe Ruth’s birthplace, a national shrine. Little Italy’s Sabitinos. Artscape, the hottest summer weekend. Farmer’s Markets under the 83 ramp and Waverly. Beehives and HonFest. Inner Harbor paddle boats. Lexington Market’s Faidley’s crab cakes. Barry Levinson’s Baltimore trilogy: Diner, Avalon and Tin Men. More to BaltiMORE.
Robyn Brody, Baltimore
A typical day in Baltimore
On a typical day in Baltimore, I drop my kids off at a preschool where they are loved and supported. I grab lunch or coffee at one of the many independently owned restaurants and cafes in walking distance from my office. On a typical day in Baltimore, my older daughter rides her bike along the sidewalks of our neighborhood while we greet our diverse neighbors, who range from retirees to young families. On a typical day in Baltimore, we might go to a world-class aquarium, a beautiful zoo or a children’s museum. We might get together with friends for playdates at a park or pool. On a typical day in Baltimore, we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Tina Leaderman, Baltimore
Cheers to the alley guys
Let me sing the praises of the men who work in my alley. To the garbage guys and the recycling crews, of course, and all their fellow sanitation workers, who go above the fences and walls to ferret out bags and cans. To the bulk-trash pickup truckers (and their supervisors who respond to our 3-1-1 texts), to haul loads to the dump. To the sweet fellow who carefully picks out aluminum cans after Hopkins students’ parties, eking extra income for himself and diminishing the unsightly overflow for us. Cheers to my alley guys — who wear Santa hats and beep out ‘Jingle Bells’ during the holidays. A round of cold sodas to them all!
Susan Walther, Baltimore
A charming city
The average Baltimorean is genuinely kind and friendly, willing to chat amiably with nearly everyone. If advice is sought, they offer to provide it, going out of their way to help. The people make Baltimore special. I loved to shop at the Lexington Market and rub elbows with everyone, regardless of race or social class.
The ambiance of the city, its great seafood, its great beer, the Birds, the Ravens, the clubs, our crazy accents, our obsession with "hon," all make this a charming city. If we could deal with drugs and poverty better, our crime rate would be greatly lessened and we would be an even better place to live.
Tom Howard, Lombard, Ill.
I fell in love
My family did not come willingly to Baltimore. Several of my mom’s relatives migrated here from rural Virginia during WWII when jobs were scarce and Bethlehem Steel was booming, but she never wanted to come. In 1971, my aunt described the crime in Baltimore as the kind where you had to hide your money in your bra when going to the bank. Six months later, my dad received a job advancement in Baltimore — downtown. The horrors! We found a place to live just outside of the city limits, but downtown became where they both worked, shopped and ate. After college, my only offer for a teaching job was Baltimore City. I thought I’d do it for a year or two and then find a teaching job in the county, but I fell in love with my job, the school at which I taught, my children’s parents, the city’s homes (bought one), the restaurants, the entertainment (the Senator, BSO, Harbor Place). I had no problem becoming a Baltimorean, marrying and living here, and I feel very proud of my city!
Myra Wagner, Baltimore
71 years in Baltimore
The people: Unitas, Berry, Moore, Parker, Gino, Big Daddy, the Lewises, Brooks and Frank, Boog. Palmer, Unseld, the Honeycomb and the Pearl. The places: the zoo with Arthur Watson, Druid Hill, Patterson and Herring Run parks, Park Lane and Park Circle, Lake Montebello and Memorial Stadium. The politicians and characters — Abe Sherman, Hyman Pressman, Little Melvin, Verda Welcome, Kurt Schmoke, Perran Mitchell, Gilbert Sandler and the crew of “Homicide.” The food: Jimmy’s, Pancho’s, Haussner’s, Cohen’s coddies, Jack’s and Attman’s. The stores: Hecht’s, Stewart’s, Reads, Blank’s. The movie theaters: the Avalon, Crest, Uptown, Ambassador, Little, Mayfair and the Boulevard. The schools: the Talmudical Academy, School #59, Pimlico Junior High School, City College and Johns Hopkins University. The Port, welcome, Pride of Baltimore; the streetcars and #5, #7 and #22 buses. These and all the other wonderful people and places — that’s what 71 years of living in Baltimore mean to me.
Steve Luckman, Baltimore
A great fire
Baltimore is where my husband and I were born and raised, went to school, had our children and worked our careers. All four of our parents grew up here, and all eight of our grandparents lived here. Baltimore was the final destination in the United States that my maternal grandfather listed for the immigration authorities when he landed on Ellis Island in 1903. He then worked for two years to bring my grandmother over from Eastern Europe, taking any work he could find. During her long separation from my grandfather, coming to Baltimore was the focus of all my grandmother’s hopes and aspirations. So when she did not get a letter from my grandfather for a long time, she went to a local fortune teller. The fortune teller told her that there had been a great fire, but that her husband was all right. This was accurate: One of my grandfather’s first jobs when he arrived here was cleaning up after the great Baltimore fire that destroyed the downtown in February 1904.
Julie Janofsky, Baltimore
City helped raise me
After 62 years here, there’s a deep love. The places keep folding in on themselves. Mount Vernon was where our Bohemian aunt lived. Then it was the place where I had my first job. I ate lunch on a bench in the park and went out with work friends in my carefree 20s. Now it’s my favorite downtown neighborhood, with some of my favorite restaurants. I have similar feelings about other neighborhoods — Charles Village, where I had my first apartment, Mount Washington, where I live now. These places become touchstones for our lives. It’s a privilege to feel like a Baltimorean through and through, to know this kind of unconditional love for a city that helped raise me.
Pamela Tanton, Baltimore
Best life experiences
I moved to Baltimore 2.5 years ago. I found a great job, I found an amazing girlfriend, and tons and of friends. Baltimore has given me some of the best experiences of my life.
Every year my girlfriends, who live all over the country, gather in someone’s city. Last year was my turn. We had so much fun touring around and I got to show off my town. There’s a lot that needs improvement, but I love calling Baltimore home.
Jenni McCabe, Baltimore
A member of the family
I’ve said it before: Baltimore is my city.
I didn’t live there; I actually grew up about an hour away in Calvert County. But my dad was born there. It was the first place my mom lived after immigrating to the U.S. It was where both sets of my grandparents lived and worked and are now buried. It was where I spent almost every single weekend of my life growing up. I played in its parks. I worshiped there (St. Michael's Ukrainian Catholic Church). I root for its sports teams through thick and thin, for no reason other than the fact their uniforms say “Baltimore” across their chest.
I consider Baltimore to be as much a part of me as a literal member of my extended family. And if you insult it, you insult me. That’s how it goes.
Pete Ulanowicz, Boca Raton, Fla.
A great home city
I grew up in north Baltimore, graduated from Stanford University in California and then University of Pennsylvania Law School, and then I owned a house and worked for a large law firm in Washington, D.C. When my wife and I had kids, we chose to return to Baltimore in 2001 and raise them in the Mount Washington neighborhood of the city. We and our daughters regularly contribute our time, efforts and funds to uplift less fortunate Baltimoreans. I could have lived and probably succeeded anywhere, but Baltimore, flaws and all, is a great home city.
David Cahn, Baltimore
Plenty of Kindness
I routinely run out of my house in Charles Village and drive away without my wallet. Heading up Loch Raven Boulevard recently, I realized my tank was virtually empty, so I pulled into a gas station, walked into the store and asked the attendant, who appeared to be from the Middle East, if I could pay by check. He said “no.” I replied that I cannot make it home to get my wallet. He opened the cash drawer and gave me $2 and kindly said “pay me when you get your wallet.” While pumping the gas, a black man came out and said to me, “Hey, I added $5 to your pump, that should help you out.” I was stunned. I thanked him and offered to return the $5, and he just blew it off. Wow! This is an example that there is plenty of kindness here in Baltimore.
Stephen Demczuk, Baltimore
‘All this for us?’
My son attended pre-K at Dallas F. Nicholas Sr. Elementary School. The superintendent invited the kids to extend the Halloween parade to the administration building behind the school. When the kids showed up in their costumes, you would think Elvis just entered the building. The adults were squealing, waving and jumping around the atrium in their power suits and pencil skirts. They practically threw candy as the kids marched through a gauntlet of adoring fans. The kids looked confused — like, “All this for us?”
Erica Dezman, Baltimore
A chorus of ‘good mornings’
Quiet morning, cool air, hop on my bicycle for a morning commute from Medfield to Locust Point. Down the hill right at Union, left at Clipper Mill with the sun at my back, headed to the trees. Wind around by the Mills’ red brick, dark green, shade and sun. Birds chirping, drivers being kind. Waterfalls sounding through the morning air. Through to the bustle of Maryland Avenue, but I keep going, past the Charles Theatre, the train station. “Good morning,” I say as I approach the commuters; “good morning,” they answer back. Across Guilford through the north end of the arts district to the track that takes me past Catholic Relief, folks outside, my buddy Gregory, a relationship cultivated one brief pass at a time. “Good morning, fellas!” I shout as I go by, a chorus of good mornings greets me. I love this city.
Misty Letts, Baltimore
Doing the best they can
I did not grow up in Baltimore, but I have now lived here longer than I did my original hometown in Pennsylvania. I came here for graduate school, and I made the decision to stay, and I love my life here. I met my spouse here, and my best friends live here. My neighbors are kind and caring, and we look out for each other. I have positive relationships with so many people — the dry cleaning lady, the pharmacist tech, our handyman, our auto mechanic, my hair stylist. All good, hardworking people who care about this city and work hard every day to make it better. I work in West Baltimore schools as a social worker, and I see all the good people there who are doing the best they can to make their lives better, too.
Betsy Schindler, Baltimore
Happy and secure in Sandtown
I was born and raised in Sandtown. As a child, life was very happy and secure, because of loving family and neighbors. Each year we participated in the Clean Block. We swept the street, painted flower boxes. Our lives were very safe, people in our neighborhood (men) never had problems with police and crime. As a child, I never realized how segregated life in Baltimore was (I think my parents shielded me), although I knew when my mother and grandmother took me “downtown” to Lexington Market, we never were allowed to shop in the large department stores along Lexington Street. Baltimore is still a great city. Like most, it has its so called “bad” areas. Why? I really think once poor blacks started to get educations beyond high school, they and their families left the inner city for better housing, etc.
Marguerite Horne, Pikesville
Warmth and humanity
I am handicapped and unable to walk. I get around in the downtown area on an electric wheelchair and travel from the Inner Harbor to Johns Hopkins Hospital to my office. Everywhere I go, people are good to me. When my scooter’s battery has died, people push me home; people heading to work wait to hold the door; homeless men wish me a happy Valentine’s Day and tell me when it’s their birthday; others joke and ask me for a ride. I have come to love the warmth and humanity of the people of Baltimore.
Lucy Cardwell, Baltimore
‘Give it all you got’
I set the alarm for 5 a.m. We meet at the track at 5:30. The runners are on their way home to take a shower and get to work by 7. We range in age from our 30s to our 70s. We are at the track for mid-week speed work. Our fearless leader starts us off with a quarter mile, then “a half, a half,” to 1,200. Finally, another quarter, “give it all you got.” Now for the push-ups and stretches. Our Latina member counts out the numbers in her native language. To get us through the planks, our architect always has a joke for us. Before we leave, our master gardener invites us to take some of his tender squash and cucumbers.
Charles Brenton, Baltimore
Swelling and sleeping
One night coming home from a party, I witnessed a scene I don’t think I will ever forget. It was a the first hours of the new day after a summer night. I rested my head in the car and watched the little brick row homes hum by. I wondered who was tucked behind the dark windows asleep and dreaming. On the front stoop of her house, a women sat, a baby in her arms, whom she was no doubt persuading back to sleep. Mother and child were awash in the yellow porch light; nestled behind the weighted green foliage of the city street. This is Baltimore. The city is swelling and sleeping. There is a lullaby I can’t hear, but which I feel every time I come home. In Baltimore, there is a mother cooing to her child. There is the night which will pass over our city.
Rachel St. Ours, Owings Mills
Greatest city in America
An outdoor statue depicting John Eager Howard’s bayonet charge at Howard’s Park has led me to innumerable hours of enjoyment. Five years later, I continue to trace his legacy and Baltimore’s history. I stop at every statue and monument I see. It has led me to a tour of the Baltimore Basilica, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Lexington Market and The Belvedere Hotel. I’ve gone on tangents such as a tour of the Pompeiian Olive Oil factory, Johns Hopkins’ Clifton Mansion, the Pagoda at Patterson Park, the Greenmount Cemetery and the Baltimore City Fire Museum in historic Oldtown. I have documented each visit through photos. I am truly Baltimore and proudly post all I have learned. My hope is others are inspired to explore this Greatest City in America where we live.
Caroline Brady, Baltimore