Alluring communities grace area

Charm: Even if you can't afford a waterfront residence or a historic home, you can still find home, sweet home in smaller Arundel communities.

May 16, 2004|By Lisa Wiseman | Lisa Wiseman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Anne Arundel County has always been a desirable place to live. Located in proximity to Baltimore and Washington, the county offers miles of beautiful shorelines and an area rich in history and culture.

Lobbyists, movers-and-shakers in the business world, Navy personnel and cadets and, of course, the governor of Maryland all live in Anne Arundel's most well-known city of Annapolis.

But not everyone can afford a waterfront property or a home on the National Historic Register, and there is plenty of charm to be found in smaller communities elsewhere in the county.

Pasadena

Located on the Chesapeake Bay between Baltimore and Annapolis, Pasadena is a town of about 12,000 residents that counts as its greatest asset its many marinas, moorings and waterfront properties, both public and private. Probably the most notable shipyard in town belongs to the Coast Guard, located off Hawkins Point Road.

The shipyard began in 1899 as a station for the U.S. Cutter Service and became the U.S. Coast Guard Yard in 1915, expanding its operations to include shipbuilding and repair. Before World War II, it was the leader in wooden ship production. Because of its significant role in maritime and military history, the Yard was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. It remains a working shipyard and is the Coast Guard's sole shipbuilding and major repair facility.

As a waterfront town, Pasadena caters to the seafaring crowd. Restaurants such as the Cheshire Crab at Pleasure Cove Marina are accessible by car and boat.

The home ownership rate is 85 percent, which is notably higher than the nationwide average of 66 percent and 76 percent for the county. The area offers several upscale, planned communities such as Farmington Village and Old Saybrooke, along with the exclusive Gibson Island, a gated waterfront community in the southeast corner of town. While there are homes in Pasadena that can go for as much as $2 million, the average price for a single-family home is about $175,000. There are a few condominiums and townhouses available in town, ranging from $75,000 to more than $200,000.

Brooklyn Park

Brooklyn Park is one of the oldest communities in Anne Arundel County. With its proximity to the Patapsco River, Curtis Bay and the Chesapeake Bay, the area was a favorite spot for Native Americans who were drawn to the region's abundant fish, wildlife and fresh water nearly 13,000 years ago. Archaeologists digging just south of the area near Baltimore-Washington International Airport found evidence of the first Brooklyn Park residents dating to 11,000 B.C. The discovery remains one of the earliest known Indian sites in Maryland.

More modern history cites Brooklyn Park as one of Baltimore's first suburbs in 1856 with the construction of the Light Street Bridge, which connected south Baltimore and Brooklyn Park across the Patapsco River and Middle Branch. The wooden bridge, known as the Long Bridge or the Brooklyn Bridge, provided a direct route from northern Anne Arundel County to Baltimore City and soon became the preferred passage for farmers taking their produce to Baltimore markets.

Commuters to Baltimore, Washington and Annapolis continue to be drawn to Brooklyn Park, which is home to about 11,000 people.

Brooklyn Park has a higher proportion of owner-occupied housing units than the county as a whole. In addition, the area has been targeted for redevelopment and revitalization through the Anne Arundel County General Development Plan.

Brooklyn Park is slightly less diverse in terms of race and ethnicity than the rest of Anne Arundel and is 87 percent white. However, the Brooklyn Park area of Cedar Hill near the Cedar Hill Cemetery and Mount Calvary Church remains home to a prominent African-American community that dates to the post-Civil War era. Descendants of Cedar Hill's first residents remain in the small community.

Like the neighboring, historic African-American community of Pumphrey, Cedar Hill was the site of a Rosenwald School. Named after Julius Rosenwald, the president of Sears, Roebuck and Co., the Rosenwald schools were built in the 1920s to provide better educational opportunities for African-American children in rural areas. The building program ended in 1932.

Crofton

The area that is now known as Crofton lies in the central-western region of Anne Arundel County near the Little Patuxent River. The region was once a large agricultural area known for farming, particularly tobacco. Evidence of 18th-century plantations remain today and include Linthicum Walks near Crofton Middle School, Rosehill Plantation on Bell Branch Road, Hall's Grove and Middle Plantation on Route 424, and Whites Hall, the birthplace of Johns Hopkins on Johns Hopkins Road.

The area remained farmland until its development as a planned community by the Crofton Corp. in the early 1960s. The corporation owned 1,272 acres within what is commonly referred to as the "triangle" formed by routes 3, 450 and 424.

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