Yes, tear down Hamburgers

Michael P. McCarthy

August 14, 1992|By Michael P. McCarthy

IN A recent editorial noting the demise of the downtown Hamburgers, you suggested tearing down the department store, which makes a bridge over Fayette Street.

This is a good idea. The store was supposed to serve as a connection between the north and south sections of Charles Center, but the idea never really worked.

With Hamburgers razed, pedestrians on Charles Street will have a better view of Center Plaza (behind One Charles Center), and more might make use of this impressive open space.

The view eastward also will be improved, particularly of the Blaustein Building, which is across the street from Hamburgers at the southeast corner of Charles and Fayette streets. This 30-story structure was finished in 1963. Later that year, zTC Hamburgers went up, and since then the lower part of the Blaustein building has been blocked from view from the plaza area.

As the rendering above shows, architect Vincent G. Kling designed the Blaustein Building to be a good neighbor to the B&O Building and One Charles Center, just across Charles to the north. The porcelain enamel panels between the windows on the Blaustein Building are a gray-tan that is close to the color of the stone on the B&O Building. The moldings around the panels on the Blaustein Building are a dark bronze that matches the aluminum curtain wall of One Charles Center. Mr. Kling sought a unified architectural statement along that part of Charles Street.

One Charles Center opened shortly before the Blaustein Building. Planners worried that it might be difficult to fill two new office towers. But both were successful, and they marked the beginning of a new era for downtown Baltimore.

One Charles Center is on the site of O'Neill's department store, ++ and the Blaustein Building is where the Hecht's Hub store once stood. It is sad to see the demise of another downtown department store with the closing of Hamburgers.

But it would be good to have the vistas along Fayette Street open again.

Michael P. McCarthy, director of the Baltimore History Project at the Yale Gordon College of Liberal Arts, University of Baltimore, teaches a course on "The Modern City" at UB.

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