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