It's 1893. From the foot of Broadway, Fells Point, water taxis take Europe-bound tourists to the big boats across the harbor at Locust Point. Five railroads run into town. A nickel will buy you a ride on a streetcar, and there are plenty of them around.
If you scorn streetcars, a horse-drawn cabbie will take you to anywhere in central Baltimore for 25 cents -- that's anywhere south of North Avenue and north of the inner harbor and between Broadway and Fremont Avenue. A trip beyond those limits costs 15 cents a mile.
Baltimore of 1893 is one of the world's capitals for the manufacture of men's clothing, with 125 needle-trade factories and lofts turning out $15 million in product a year. These clothing businesses are collectively the city's largest employer.
Other busy employment spots are the places where stogies (cigars) are rolled and cigarettes filled. These products are sold in 350 tobacco establishments of the town and tens of thousands beyond. In the same division of pleasure and addiction, five distilleries and 27 breweries cater to the largely male patronage for booze, lagers and Pilseners.
Patterson Park has the best harbor views in town. Here young boys gape at old, white-haired men who gather along the banks where the "Old Defenders" marshaled in 1814 to drive off the British. "The battery still remains covered with velvety verdure and surmounted by a high flagstaff," says an 1893 guidebook. Veterans of the fight totter by and "love even now on a bright sunny morning" to tell kids of how they "carried sods on their heads and helped to build these works when boys."
It is future works, rather than past ones, however, that concern this 1890s city. One Bayly K. Kirkland, civil engineer, is busy surveying and planning new subdivisions and trying to keep up with the sudden explosion of "streetcar suburbs" that have blossomed in the past decade.
If you are young and ambitious, you can go to Mount St. Joseph College out on Frederick Avenue in the west end for a semester of study that will cost $115, board included. Music lessons cost ++ extra, but you can tinkle away for free by calling on Knabe's showrooms at 22-24 E. Baltimore St. and trying out some of their glittering new models.
Though it is regarded as a bit "fast" (no lady would go there unescorted), a glamour spot for dining is the Marshall, at Calvert and German streets (German Street is called Redwood today), open until midnight with dining rooms for ladies and gentlemen.
Friends School is down on McCulloh Street at Preston. It is proud of its record of having large numbers of students "who have been admitted to Johns Hopkins University" and who have become "the most successful students thereof," the guidebook reports.
One of the sights of the town is the huge dry dock at the Columbian Iron Works & Dry Dock Co. on the harbor. Up the Falls Valley at Poole's foundry you can order shafting, pulleys, hangers, collars, couplings, bearings, brackets, sheaves and pedestals. For boilers and maritime pipe fitting, the place is the E. J. Codd Co. at 700 S. Caroline St.
Hirschberg, Hollander & Co. is a virtual empire of paints, glass and artists' supplies, with three retail stores and a factory at East Falls Avenue and Granby Street. In the 500 block of East Monument Street you can hear pleasant sounds, for this is the pipe organ showroom of Henry Niemann Co.
In 1893, Baltimore, as always, was a busy place.
Such are the tracks left by things past and revealed in J. H. Hollander's "Guide to the City of Baltimore," published by John Murphy & Co. in the year 1893. *