Annapolis marks a historic occasion

February 10, 1997|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Marcia Myers contributed to this article.

The last time a U.S. president visited Maryland's historic capital, Annapolis Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins was an 11-year-old boy who climbed atop a telephone poll to watch the motorcade.

The year was 1936. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, returning from the Eastern Shore, alighted from a ferryboat at the foot of King George Street and got into an open-top limo. "He just drove right on by," Hopkins recalled yesterday.

Since then, the mayor has shaken hands with two sitting and one former president -- two visiting the U.S. Naval Academy. But today, for the first time since before World War II, a sitting president will visit downtown Annapolis. At 11 a.m., President Clinton will address the Maryland General Assembly.

"Even though the president has been here before, he came just for an academy graduation," Hopkins said.

"And he came by helicopter from D.C. The helicopter landed in the Naval Academy. But in this case, he is coming to the heart of Annapolis and people will be able to see him," said Hopkins.

And that means several streets will be closed as a result.

One of the streets to be closed is State Circle, which loops around the State House.

"We're going to be parking in Eastport," said Cassie Pickering, a clerk at Annapolis Pottery on State Circle. That means a one-mile hike to work.

"It's probably going to be packed around here," Pickering said. "We look forward to it for the business, but it's a pain for us to park."

The streets affected from 9 a.m. to noon today are:

Closed: State Circle, Maryland Avenue, and Francis, School, North, East, Cornhill and Pinkney streets.

Possible periodic closings: St. Johns Street from College Avenue to Calvert Street; Bladen Street inbound from Calvert Street to College Avenue; and College Avenue from Church Circle to King George Street.

Parking: Spaces will not be available from 8 a.m. to noon on these streets: State Circle, Maryland Avenue, and School, North, East, Francis and St. Johns streets and the first five spaces on Cornhill Street.

But parking woes should not detract from the visit, city politicians said yesterday.

"If citizens could tolerate Main Street being torn up for better than a year, certainly they can tolerate streets being closed down for a couple hours," said Annapolis Alderman Carl O. Snowden.

Brian Calahan, 28, the owner of 49 West Coffee House on West Street, said he was looking forward to the visit. His street won't be closed, but he anticipates a jammed downtown.

For Hopkins, the president's visit is meaningful. Last month, Clinton -- whom he met two years ago at the academy -- sent him a letter congratulating him and his wife, Marion, on their 50th wedding anniversary.

"That was really wonderful," the mayor said. "I know that when a president comes and shakes hands, he doesn't have any time to converse. And I don't expect it. Just to meet him again will be nice."

Then Hopkins, a Democrat, shifted into political mode, on what Clinton's visit means for his city in practical terms.

"Hopefully a lot of people who don't live in Annapolis will come down and spend money in our restaurants and our gift shops," he said.

See the president

If you want to catch a glimpse of President Clinton and his motorcade, Annapolis authorities recommend that you go to Lawyers Mall. It is at the bottom of the State House steps at the end of Bladen Street. People may gather as early as 8 a.m. Authorities recommend that you park at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium for $3 and ride a free shuttle bus downtown.

Speech to be on TV

Maryland Public Television will broadcast President Clinton's speech to the Maryland General Assembly beginning at 11 a.m. today. The program, titled "The President in Annapolis," will be repeated on Channels 22 and 67 at 7 p.m.

Pub Date: 2/10/97

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