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The glory that was once downtown shopping | READER COMMENTARY

For decades the go-to destination for Baltimore shoppers, the corner of Lexington and Howard streets was home to four department stores: Hecht's, Hochschild's, Hutzler's and Stewart's (pictured). For decades, no Christmas was complete without at least one shopping trip to this commercial nerve center. They're all gone now -- Hutzler's remained the longest, closing in 1989.
For decades the go-to destination for Baltimore shoppers, the corner of Lexington and Howard streets was home to four department stores: Hecht's, Hochschild's, Hutzler's and Stewart's (pictured). For decades, no Christmas was complete without at least one shopping trip to this commercial nerve center. They're all gone now -- Hutzler's remained the longest, closing in 1989. (William H. Mortimer, Baltimore Sun photo)

Thank you, Hallie Miller, for the article that recalled the major downtown Baltimore department stores of years past (”New development team named for mixed-use project on Baltimore’s ‘Superblock,’” Nov. 30).

Mom and I took one or two trips a year to downtown Baltimore for shopping in the 1950s and 1960s. Although Mom was not fond of driving beyond our neighborhoods just north of Mount Washington and south of Smith Avenue barely inside the city line, we both eagerly anticipated those trips. Once I turned 16 in 1965, I did the driving. Those years were the beginning of the end of that era.

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We parked in Hutzler’s garage. The entrance from there into Hutzler’s took us directly to the toy department where, when I was young, I would pick out a toy. Then we ate lunch in Hutzler’s Tea Room. Next stop at Hutzler’s was to get our Brownie and Girl Scout uniforms. Mom was a troop leader, so we both got our Scout clothing there.

I vividly remember the elevator operators at the department stores. Shoppers called out the floor or the department of destination and the elevator operator would call out the number and “going up” or “going down” and press the floor numbers.

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After Hutzler’s, Mom and I would then venture out to the other three department stores, Stewart’s, Hochschild’s and Hecht Company and select any items we needed for ourselves and for Dad. We always picked out something for Dad. We also paid a visit to Richmond Brothers’ Jewelers on Baltimore Street just to say “hi,” since the owners were close friends of Mom’s and Dad’s. Sometimes, we’d buy something there, perhaps a watch.

After making the rounds, we’d end up at Hutzler’s Bakery on the mezzanine level to choose a glorious dessert for dinner. We usually got our baked goods and just as glorious desserts from Silber’s Bakery, as Dad was their attorney. Sometimes, we’d also drive over to Lexington Market before heading home.

I went to Western High School as a member of the last class to graduate from the Howard and Centre streets campus. My girlfriends and I would go to the Flower Mart every year after school. But the four department stores and other establishments were starting to disappear from that area.

As I was typing this, all the senses of those expeditions came back to me as if it were yesterday. Ah, what beautiful memories! It is my fervent wish that the plans outlined in that wonderful article come to fruition so that future generations can experience the glory of central downtown Baltimore, perhaps, with different businesses than those I experienced growing up. Thank you again, Hallie Miller, for that article!

Patricia “Patsy” Gould Parker, Phoenix, Arizona.

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