As the new light rail gears up to begin regular service...

Salmagundi

April 30, 1992

As the new light rail gears up to begin regular service next month between downtown Baltimore and Mount Washington, Lutherville and Timonium, this department went paging through Robert L. Gunnarsson's new history of the Northern Central Railway. More than a century ago, this railroad pioneered the route and carved out the right-of-way for the region's newest mass-transportation wonder.

"Not surprisingly," writes Mr. Gunnarsson, "the North Central's territory north of Baltimore was the earliest to develop and became one of the region's most notable suburban areas. The topography of the Jones Falls Valley and its tributaries provided pleasant rolling hills, cool air, woods and streams, all of which were only a few miles from the city's center.

"While small milling, quarrying and agricultural communities had been established along the railroad line, the early 1850s saw a new type of settlement: the planned residential community, specifically created as both a summer retreat and a year-round home for the city's merchants and professionals

"And, of course, an integral feature of these new communities was the railroad link to the city. The town of Lutherville, created in 1852, was the first of these and, in fact, was one of the country's earliest railroad-served, purely residential communities outside a large city. Mount Washington, another Northern Central suburb first developed in 1854, was a close runner-up. . ."

So, when the light rail starts up next month, commuters will be reliving and reviving history.

Nice thought.

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