Much construction, some destruction alter city's face and figure in 1991 LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD


December 30, 1991|By Jacques Kelly

These last hours of 1991 are an apt time to review all the physical changes that swept through the city in the past 12 months.

Dominating the downtown picture was the construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The year's highest-profile construction project drew no end of curious onlookers who slipped by security guards for a closer look. Roman arches, made of light salmon bricks fired in Westernport, rose along Russell Street. There's much expectation about the "New Stadium," as it's popularly called.

Camden Street visitors couldn't help but notice the electric streetcar wire and tracks of the Central Light Rail Line. Test cars have been barreling up and down the Jones Falls Valley since late summer.

The downtown skyline got two new additions. A tower rose atop the IBM Building on Pratt Street, while Commerce Place, an office building at Baltimore and South streets, took shape.

The year saw several of the city's major historic preservation headaches get some relief.

The walls and roof of the President Street Station, with important Civil War ties, were structurally stabilized. This is the first step in the building's possible reuse as a small museum.

Initial work started at the 1887 American Brewery site in the 1700 block of N. Gay St. The Council for Equal Business Opportunity has plans to make the complex into a center for light manufacturing tenants.

And work began on a major preservation effort at Camden Station and the old brick B&O Warehouse. The station's fine cornices were replaced and the base of a tower rebuilt. The work will continue here in 1992. Three replica spires are due sometime in the summer.

The former Greyhound Bus Station, handsomely renovated, reopened at Howard and Centre streets as the home of the Council of Regional Governments.

The walls of the 29-story HarborView apartment tower shot up above Federal Hill and the historic South Baltimore skyline.

One of the harbor's visual trademarks, a shipyard crane, got a new berth at Key Highway's Museum of Industry. Just across the way, also on Key Highway, the old Mangels Herold plant, long the home of King syrup, became an "incubator" building for new businesses. And South Baltimore got a new, neighborhood-oriented shopping center at Fort Avenue and Lawrence Street.

The area around the University of Maryland got a fresh name, University Center. And one of the neighborhood's larger structures, the new Veterans Administration Hospital, was largely completed. One of its smaller landmarks, the old Pine Street Police Station, became home to the university's security department.

The City Fair moved to 33rd Street and Ellerslie Avenue. Thanks to great weather and good planning, the event was a success.

Baltimore's Korean community continued its spirited activity in the southern part of Charles Village. Members opened new shops and restaurants and renovated apartments for older residents on Maryland and North avenues, Charles, St. Paul, 20th, 21st and 22nd streets.

The 1896 tower clock began ticking accurately in the old Mount Royal Station tower, thanks to care and attention by the Maryland Institute College of Art. The station is at Mount Royal Avenue and Cathedral Street.

Johns Hopkins University undergraduates filled Wolman Hall (the old Cambridge Arms Apartments) after a lengthy rehab. Its sunken garden entrance is now lined with massive street lamps.

After years of financial upheaval, the Hotel Belvedere became an apartment condominium. New owners and their moving vans lined up on Chase Street. Another Mount Vernon neighborhood project, Waterloo Place on the block bounded by Calvert, Centre, St. Paul and Monument streets, opened as apartments.

Rave reviews went to the Walters Art Gallery's Hackerman House.

The Hollins Market district in southwest Baltimore got a new restaurant, the Gypsy Cafe. Judging by the number of neighbors who eat there, the place has met with hearty local approval.

A new Hamburg Street Bridge made its debut and continued its role as a needed shortcut in and out of South Baltimore.

Bond Street, from Thames to Fleet, is one of Fells Point's oldest and most handsome streets. It was excavated for a new street bed of brick and stone blocks during the year.

Walbrook Senior High School reopened after a lengthy period of asbestos removal. The neighborhood welcomed back its big schoolhouse.

Some 75 new homes went up in the first part of the Nehemiah Project in West Baltimore, in the Sandtown-Winchester and Penn-North neighborhoods. The first residents moved into Retreat Street during the year.

A west side landmark, the old stone St. Gregory's Roman Catholic Church, was demolished over the summer. The congregation now worships in an adjacent structure.

Berea Temple, at Madison Avenue and Robert Street, put up scaffolding to restore its magnificent home, which once housed Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.

The Indecco Apartments for elderly residents in Canton opened in the 900 block of S. Lakewood Ave. The place, built in the old Independent Can Co. factory, has its own fish pond and perennial garden.

Our Daily Bread moved back to Cathedral and Franklin streets. Next door, the much-debated garage opened. Can someone please explain why this building has a chair affixed to a metal screen on its facade?

And, for those of us who like a well-made chocolate ice cream soda, Earl's Malt Shop, which opened in 1991 in the 600 block of E. Fort Ave., dispenses some of the finest confectionary elixir in the city.

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