In '92, some old things go, some new things arrive

JACQUES KELLY

December 28, 1992|By JACQUES KELLY

Students of Baltimore history will mark 1992 as the year when Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened. There was excitement over its debut, stiff competition for tickets and occasional disappointment over some of the sight lines. If the park was a howling success, its promotion and selling were even more effective. It became the summer's major regional tourist attraction.

Overshadowed by the Oriole publicity was the Central Light Rail Line's debut. On April 3, Jeff Orner, an Oriole fan and York, Pa., bank employee, was the first passenger to buy a ticket and ride the line from Timonium to a nicely renovated Camden Station.

The electric streetcars stop at open-air stations with bright blue structural fixtures. In August, the line was extended to Patapsco Avenue and workers are now getting the tracks ready for an extension into Anne Arundel County. Lutherville and Woodberry residents complained about the cars' horn blasts at street grade crossings. Mass transit officials heeded the complaints and the blasts are now toot-toots.

It was a year when fear of crime shook the city and metropolitan area counties. The term carjacking entered the local vocabulary. Murder rates raced off the statistical charts. Drug transactions, convenience store holdups and bank robberies seemingly became commonplace.

While Macy's gave up on its Hunt Valley store, Nordstrom's and its Rack arrived at Towson (Towson Town Center) in September. A few months earlier, Towson Commons opened at York Road and Pennsylvania Avenue. The customers seem to like both places, but the confusing and crowded parking garages at Towson Town Center get low marks. Pedestrians don't get off any easier.

It was a year when some Baltimore institutions evaporated. Hamburger's clothing stores disappeared. Goldenberg's neighborhood variety stores went out of business. The Medical Art Pharmacy (still in business at Cathedral and Read streets) gave up its classic marble soda fountain, where generations of customers sipped chocolate sodas and milk shakes. The White Tower hamburger chain nearly disappeared. The lone White Tower remains in business on Erdman Avenue, east of Belair Road. Danny Dickman's once popular restaurant at Charles and Biddle streets was auctioned in March. It remains closed.

There was no official 1992 City Fair. But a vigorous Sunday morning flea market opened at Memorial Stadium. It did terrific business for a couple of months, but was chased across 33rd Street to another parking lot after protests from the Ednor Gardens neighborhood.

Workmen who were stabilizing Federal Hill's north slope discovered a catacomb-like network of man-made tunnels dating from sometime in the 19th century. Their origin remains unresolved. One theory says that white sand was mined here. Another has it that brewers employed this underground spot as a cooling cavern for beer. The workers closed the main opening with sandbags and left the tunnels undisturbed.

Mildred Moon, the first lady of the Sharp-Leadenhall neighborhood in South Baltimore, died July 5. From the 1960s through the early 1980s, she stood up for her community.

Mrs. Moon often won the battles for her community because she was patient and determined and had faith in people. She preached fairness and lived to see dozens of replacement, low-income houses rise in her longtime neighborhood.

TTC There is a movement afoot to rename the Hamburg Street Bridge in her honor.

The Rev. George A. Wichland, C.SS.R., who spent 35 years feeding the poor of East Baltimore, died June 23. He distributed thousands of cartons of canned goods from a basement at Valley and Eager streets.

Mother Theresa of Calcutta visited Baltimore Aug. 5 to open a convent (Collington and Ashland avenues) for four Missionary of Charity sisters she had sent here earlier to staff a hospice.

New houses began to rise in the poor Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of West Baltimore.

After years of standing vacant, the Orchard Street Church in Seton Hill was triumphantly restored. It houses the Baltimore Urban League.

Coffee houses and coffee bars sprouted in Mount Vernon (Java Blue, Montage and Donna's) and Fells Point (the Daily Grind).

And South Baltimore's old McHenry Theatre at Light and Poultney streets made a triumphant return as America's Past Time Sports Center, which features batting cages.

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