Harborside path goes extra mile Extensions: Recently completed Fells Point and Federal Hill sections give pedestrians more to walk on.

November 21, 1998|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Joggers, urban walkers and sightseers are realizing that their exercise tracks have been expanded along the city's popular harbor pedestrian footpath, a paved ribbon that follows the contours of watery old Baltimore.

The newest sections -- which add about a mile to the 4.5-mile circuit -- opened last week at Fells Point (linking to Canton) and Federal Hill (joining the Inner Harbor with the HarborView-Key Highway property).

"It's one of the hidden treasures of the city," said James Piper Bond, director of the Living Classrooms Foundation. "It's kind of like the Freedom Trail in Boston."

Without fanfare, contractors completed sections of the paths that parallel two busy thoroughfares -- Boston Street and Key Highway -- this month. After a 40-foot bridge is dropped into place this winter, it will be possible to walk alongside the water from a spot near the American Visionary Arts Museum, around the Inner Harbor, to Fells Point's Lancaster Street. There are no automobile crossings along the route.

"It's our goal to have the path completed by the year 2000 from the Museum of Industry to the Korean War Memorial in Canton," Bond said.

The newest stretches of walkway are graded blacktop paths that might be improved with bricks and plantings when the sites they border are developed.

One section begins adjacent to Lancaster and Wolfe streets in Fells Point and runs to the Anchorage townhouses along Boston Street in Canton.

Canneries, packinghouses and wharves once lined that part of the waterfront, known as Oyster Cove. It was there, immediately east of Fells Point, that Chesapeake Bay oystering skipjacks once unloaded their harvests.

A second paved section, also completed recently, runs parallel to Key Highway at the eastern base of Federal Hill Park. That part of the extended promenade runs through what had been a busy shipyard.

It will become more accessible to the public when the bridge connects it with the large harbor promenade near the Rusty Scupper restaurant.

"Sometimes we don't realize what we have in the harbor. We look at the Hard Rock Cafe and not the water," said promenade walker Ian Neuman, who lives on Battery Avenue in Federal Hill.

The first section of the Baltimore Waterfront Promenade opened 23 years ago, when a wide brick-paved walk opened along Light Street five years before Harborplace was constructed.

Over the years, the promenade grew by chunks and sections. It is now about five miles long, stretching from the base of Federal Hill, around the Inner Harbor and through Little Italy, Fells Point (where there are several interruptions) and Canton.

When completed, the walk will be 7.5 miles long. In the meantime, walkers and joggers must double back from unfinished sections to city sidewalks and weave in and out of buildings to pick up the promenade.

"When you leave the water, you know it," said Robert Quilter, an architect for the city's planning department.

The city's latest chunk of money for the project, $350,000, came from the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Enhancement Act.

Quilter said the 8-foot-wide, 40-foot-long bridge will be installed at the Rusty Scupper. It will connect walkers to the former Bethlehem Steel Key Highway Shipyard property.

Quilter said he would like to see the walk continue to Fort McHenry.

Pub Date: 11/21/98

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