IT TOOK Baltimore quite a while to recognize the potential of the waterfront after it was abandoned by shippers and factories. Over the past three decades, though, from Locust Point to Canton, the city's shoreline has been experiencing a residential and commercial redevelopment boom.
Other long-overlooked assets -- such as the stream valleys which once accommodated sailcloth mills and other early industries -- are also attracting new uses. Work has begun to build a greenway in West Baltimore's Gwynns Falls Valley. If it is completed according to plan, the new walking, bicycling and in-line skating path will eventually stretch nearly 15 miles, connecting Dickeyville and Windsor Hills through Leakin Park to the Inner Harbor and Middle Branch.
Now comes the exciting news that a similar greenway will soon be built along the Jones Falls. The first phase, expected to be completed by the end of next year, will run from Penn Station to Druid Hill Park. Eventually, the path along the valley will stretch all the way to the trail on the old Northern Central railbed in Baltimore County, accommodating those pedaling to work as well as fun-seekers.
"Greenways provide a non-polluting mode of transportation and can easily hook up with our light rail and other mass transportation systems," says Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, who was instrumental in securing $1.3 million in federal funds for the Jones Falls project and additional money for the Gwynns Falls greenway.
As suburban congestion increases, greenways -- in conjunction with mass transit -- may well be an answer to a smoother flow of traffic. Such recreational trails, if they are safe and well-kept, also could make surrounding residential neighborhoods more desirable.
Even though it runs in the shadow of a busy expressway, the planned Jones Falls greenway passes many picturesque relics of Baltimore's early industry. Done right, it could become a popular recreational attraction in the middle of the city.
Pub Date: 9/26/98