Where we find new home depends on site of the old

JACQUES KELLY

April 19, 1993|By JACQUES KELLY

The moves of Baltimoreans are predictable. When they pick up and seek a new home and neighborhood, their route is generally along a well trod geographic course.

The original neighborhood of settlement often determines the ultimate destination.

This occurred to me one day this winter when I was shopping at the Kenilworth center alongside the Baltimore Beltway between Charles Street and York Road. I kept running into old family friends, the grandchildren of my grandparents' friends.

It seemed as if half the pews of people I'd known from my childhood days at SS. Philip and James Church in the 2800 block of N. Charles St. (Charles Village) were now living in Ruxton, Lutherville or Cockeysville, due north of their ancestral homes and neighborhood.

It can work in the reverse, too. Ask city market stall keepers if some of their old customers (today strongly anchored in the suburbs) return on the weekends. The answer will be in the affirmative. There is a sentimental side to this town that mobility -- upward and downward -- cannot stifle.

I once addressed a group at the Woman's Club of Roland Park about the history of that neighborhood. Some of the members thanked me, but they said they wished the talk had been about Charles Village, Homewood and North Avenue, where so many of these people had spent their childhoods.

The old 10th Ward, around Green Mount Cemetery and the lower Greenmount Avenue corridor, generated the northward route of upward mobility. Govans, Rodgers Forge and Towson were the residential recipients of that old city stamping ground.

Many families living today in the Glen Burnie-Severna Park area trace their roots to South Baltimore. Their people shopped at the Cross Street Market. More than a few come back to the old neighborhood to renew acquaintances and pick up a little gossip. Some just return to take a look at the old family house and gasp at Federal Hill housing prices.

The couple buying a house this spring in White Marsh or Rosedale might have roots in Fells Point, Highlandtown or Canton.

The city's black elite who live in Ashburton (Northwest Baltimore, above the Ashburton Reservoir) once lived near the Lafayette Market and resided on Druid Hill Avenue or McCulloh or Division streets. Pennsylvania Avenue was the shopping street.

Others moved on to Walbrook, Forest Park, Woodmoor or Lochearn. Reisterstown and Liberty roads are routes out of the old neighborhoods.

Parts of Arbutus, Woodlawn, Catonsville and Ellicott City are transplanted from West and Southwest Baltimore.

Consider the woman who was born on the Eastern Shore, moved to Lee Street, then Mount Street, later Poplar Grove, and onward to North Hilton Street. She died in Catonsville.

Look to old East Baltimore (Central Avenue or Aisquith Street or Collington Square) and watch families travel northeast, along Harford and Belair roads, to Hamilton, Overlea, Parkville, Fullerton and Perry Hall.

A set of moves might include addresses on Spring Street, Washington Street and Walther Avenue.

Baltimore's Jewish community began in East Baltimore, between the Shot Tower and Patterson Park. It moved across town, to the west and northwest.

Some families went to Easterwood Park, off North Avenue.

Others settled along Eutaw Place and in Reservoir Hill, south of Druid Hill Park.

The next migrations from those neighborhoods were along Park Heights Avenue and Reisterstown Road, through to Mount Washington and Cheswolde. Time pushed others on to Pikesville, Scotts Level, Randallstown, Caves Road and Owings Mills.

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