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The artist Juliet Ames has always loved salt boxes because she has always loved snow. She says she looks forward to the day every fall when the boxes appear on street corners because she thinks “it means that a snow day could be around the corner.”
She’d always wanted to decorate one, especially the boxes that lacked even the stenciled words “salt box.”
“They looked sad,” she said. “A naked salt box needs a dress.”
Fearful of getting into trouble for damaging city property, she restrained herself — until the day in mid-December when she found herself contemplating a criminally unadorned salt box in Hampden. Snow was in the forecast.
“I knew it had to be this box,” she said. “That night, I Tweeted the picture of the decorated box out ... and said, ‘Somebody vandalized the salt box.”
The next day, she received an email from the city’s Department of Transportation.
“We told her that we loved the salt boxes and that we looked forward to seeing more as long as they have a salt theme or highlight something special in the surrounding neighborhood," said German Vigil, communications manager for the DOT. Ames didn’t need more encouragement.
“That was the best possible outcome,” she said. “At that point, I figured it was ‘Game on.’
In the past two months, more than 100 of the decorated salt boxes have appeared around Baltimore, including more than 25 adorned by Ames herself. The boxes celebrate such iconic Baltimore figures as the filmmaker John Waters, the Natty Boh logo and the googly-eyed Mr. Trash Wheel.
Below is a guide to a dozen salt boxes that are making city residents smile.