Good looking Where to see the city spread out before you

UP FRONT

July 25, 1996|By Karin Remesch | Karin Remesch,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

To get the lowdown on Baltimore, just walk, climb or ride to the top.

Whether you're searching for a bird's-eye glimpse of a more modern Baltimore or days gone by, the city offers plenty of choices for a view from the top.

You can enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner at a restaurant overlooking the city's skyline and then burn off the calories by walking to Federal Hill for a spectacular sight of the Inner Harbor.

If you're up to a more strenuous workout and narrow, winding staircases don't make your head spin, climb all 228 steps to the top of the Washington Monument in the heart of historic Mount Vernon Place.

For the quickest way to a panoramic view of the city and one that will leave you less footsore, just push the elevator button and ride to the top of the World Trade Center.

And even those afraid of heights don't need to feel left out. Visitors to the Shot Tower can view the city from above without ever leaving the ground floor. A video mounted on the landmark's flagpole feeds the view to a monitor in the ground-level exhibit area.

World Trade Center

401 E. Pratt St. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5: 30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. Admission: $2.50 adults, $1.50 seniors and children 5-15. (401) 837-4515.

For a breathtaking 360-degree view of Baltimore and beyond, start at the "Top of the World" observation level and museum, on the 27th floor of the Inner Harbor's World Trade Center -- the tallest pentagonal building in the world.

Not only will you be able to admire the surrounding city through expansive floor-to-ceiling windows, you also can discover Baltimore's history through permanent exhibits and hands-on displays.

For instance, Manfred Reischl of Montreal was surprised to learn that the first monument to Columbus in the United States was dedicated in Baltimore in 1792.

And Reischl's travel companions, Celene Francoeur and Yacine Haddad, learned that in 1839, Baltimore became home to the first dental college in the world.

The three visitors agreed that the view from "the Top of World" was dazzling.

"I like the mixture of the architecture. . . . old, historic buildings blend nicely with high-risers," said Francoeur.

Joy America Cafe

501 Key Highway

(410) 244-6500.

For a crescent-shaped panorama of harbor views, follow Harborplace's promenade to the American Visionary Art Museum and its ultra-modern rooftop restaurant, the Joy America Cafe, at the foot of Federal Hill and Key Highway.

If you're lucky, you'll be seated at the giant crescent-shaped window framing the Patapsco River with pleasure boats on their way to the Inner Harbor, the popular "Domino Sugar" neon sign, the working port, Little Italy, Fells Point and beyond. The only distraction from the spectacular view will be the food -- Southwestern delicacies artistically prepared by chef Peter Zimmer.

Federal Hill

Bounded by Key Highway, Battery and Warren avenues, and Covington Street.

The public park provides a magnificent view of the downtown skyline and Harborplace with its popular sights -- the National Aquarium, the World Trade Center, Pratt and Light Street pavilions, the Maryland Science Center and expensive yachts docked at the marina.

Cannons at the hill's edge recall that the site was a military fortress and was occupied by Union troops during the Civil War.

Washington Monument

Washington Place (Charles Street) at Mount Vernon Place (Monument Street). Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays and to 8 p.m. the first Thursday of the month. (410) 396-0929.

If you love adventure, climb an interior winding staircase of 228 steps to the top of the Washington Monument. It's easy to lose count of the steps -- the closer you get to the top, the more you'll have to concentrate on breathing. But the climb is worth it -- the view from the marble column topped by a statue of the country's first president is still considered one of the best in Baltimore.

Just below is Mount Vernon Place, home to the city's elite in the 19th century and reminiscent of grand city squares in Europe. To the south there's a clear view of historic mansions blending nicely with the vertical and horizontal lines of the city's modern high-rises. To the north the city spreads into suburbia.

The monument's gate keeper, George Mills, said nine of 10 visitors brave the climb to the top. Those who stay behind can trace the architectural history through the exhibit, "The Making of a Monument," in the square base.

Begun in 1815, the 178-foot monument -- the country's first architectural tribute to George Washington -- was completed in 1829. The memorial was created by Robert Mills, who also designed the Washington Monument in the nation's capital.

Belvedere's 13th floor lounge

Charles and Chase streets. Open at 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays with live music, primarily blues, staring at 9: 30 p.m. (410) 347-0888.

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