Around town, you can just feel the flow of hope, energy

January 03, 2004|By JACQUES KELLY

I OFTEN lapse into a glowing feeling this time of the year, the one I like to call the season of hope. It's a time of beginnings, of thoughts of what can be accomplished, perhaps accentuated on my winter walks around our old city. My sense of the promise that the fresh new year holds is confirmed and strengthened as I observe Baltimore's orderly physical transformation.

Just this week, while returning home from a Linthicum supper, I observed a dazzling show of light and felt the energy as the Ravens were defeating Pittsburgh on Russell Street. Who would have thought, say 20 years ago, that this side of downtown would become our sports zone, and, better yet, it would all be successful?

And, let us not forget the promise of 33rd Street, site of the old Memorial Stadium. It was a wrenching experience to watch this spot of so many memories be yanked apart, but, over the past months, a new use has risen on the site. And, on a cold January night, isn't it wonderful to see the lights of the old Eastern High School glowing once again?

Fast rising is the new grocery store at Old York Road and Gorsuch Avenue in Waverly. Who would have thought that the very address where my great Aunt Cora bought her weekly dose of A&P pineapple preserves would be renewed and rebuilt? And, speaking of hope, I often have to remind myself that the Greenmount Avenue shopping district remains busy and filled with the old-fashioned-style shops I knew as a child.

And, if I ever had a wish fulfilled, it was that the old drug store I knew as a child, now a Copy Cat print shop, at 25th and Charles, be as delicately restored as it was. Who would have known it had lustrous, copper windows?

About a year ago, while walking down Howard Street, I spotted scaffolding up around the old Brexton, a falling-in Victorian apartment hotel that seemed to be the most doomed building in all of Mount Vernon. A year later, it is on the mend, with new windows and a fresh spirit. And what about that new marquee, the window frames, stained glass, cornice and 1914-style light fixtures on the Hippodrome?

Not so long ago I wrote of a downtown mess, when the old Sun Life and Merchants and Miners buildings on Redwood Street were leveled for some sort of hotel we were promised would be built. Well, after a two-year wait, there is a construction crane on the site. So, maybe this year we'll see something new.

I often take a morning walk down Charles Street to Penn Station, where I often delay going to work by watching the trains for a few minutes. Finally, this past year, our Charles Street bridge was opened to traffic after what seemed like a decade of rebuilding. The bridge seems like it's a portal to the neighborhoods on either side of it. There's a lot of potential energy to be tapped at Charles and Lafayette, as there is at Charles and Preston.

And do I see abandoned houses, piles of trash and galloping rats? Of course. But in the season of hope, they disappear.

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