`Gold Coast' Glitters Again

Canton: East Baltimore Waterfront Community Becomes A Magnet For Yuppies, Developers.

April 21, 1997

A DEEP RECESSION stunted developers' dreams of making Canton into a "Gold Coast" in the 1980s. Now, a decade later, Canton is taking off.

East Baltimore's biggest supermarket recently opened there. The former American Can Co. complex is being converted into an upscale shopping mall and high-tech incubator. Meanwhile, the city is spending more than $43 million on infrastructure improvements which will replace the area's century-old sewers and turn Boston Street from a potholed truck route into a landscaped waterfront boulevard.

Canton's new look will become increasingly evident over the next two years, when all this work is completed. Much to some old-timers' chagrin, more yuppies are likely to move to Canton, which traditionally has been a solid blue-collar neighborhood. Yet the change is inevitable and in many ways welcome. It will prevent Canton from becoming depopulated and blighted, a trend which can be seen in many other aging blue-collar neighborhoods.

The most striking visual effect of yuppification is likely to occur on currently vacant lots between Canton and Fells Point. They will be redeveloped into marinas and luxury housing ventures. Because Boston Street will be resurfaced all the way to the I-95 interchange -- and viaducts will replace railroad grade crossings -- more area commuters may find themselves driving through the industrial area.

Canton began in the 1780s, named after the famous Far East seaport. Shipyards and smelting companies were built along the shoreline, which also became one of the nation's early canning centers. The factory of the old Tin Decorating Co. is today Tindeco Wharf apartments. There are several other examples of industrial buildings successfully converted to alternate uses. There are also new and old rowhouses.

Baltimore has so many blighted problem neighborhoods it is reassuring to see Canton throbbing with life and energy.

Pub Date: 4/21/97

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