A few more Baltimore sites worth a snoop

October 29, 2005|By JACQUES KELLY

A clergyman I know likes to tell the story about the people who only attend church services when it snows. Call it the power of heavy weather; I observe a version of the same draw in my neighborhood.

Over the summer, when the Johns Hopkins students are scarce, the locals come out of self-imposed hiding and enjoy the restaurants and bars they avoid when the backpack and cell phone crowd dominates.

I subscribe to this behavior. This is the time of the year when the summer's tourists have vanished, and we can take over Baltimore again.

A few weeks ago, I was exiting the newly restored Ross Winans Mansion on St. Paul Street (now a branch of Agora Publishing) and observed a traffic knot in the general direction of Meyerhoff Hall and the Lyric.

Hmm, I thought. It's dress rehearsal night for La Traviata. Baltimore, never much for a show of nighttime dazzle, was showing some pulse. A good omen.

I began my own resolve to restart some serious Baltimore snooping this past Sunday, where I ignored the signs that said Falls Road is closed and --- watch out for numerous bicyclists -dropped by the Streetcar Museum. My friends there have acquired a haul of amazing stuff from a mammoth sale of ex-Philadelphia trolleys.

Tucked into a storage building is a gray monster, a rail snow sweeper of the type I recall seeing operate on Greenmount Avenue on wicked January nights. I wonder, once it gets operating, if it will attract sightseers who only come out in a blizzard.

I also heard the museum is getting ready for a 75th anniversary tribute Nov. 20 to one of Baltimore's most beautiful traction possessions, yellow-and-red car No. 6119, which as a child, I might have seen gliding along Clifton Park.

On my fall agenda is a stop at the new Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. I also mean to also give a full hour to Sports Legends at Camden Station, always one of my favorite Baltimore addresses, if for no other reason than it's where I first boarded a train. The sports memorabilia here will make your head spin.

Baltimore's harbor neighborhoods require constant sleuthing. The other day, while passing through Penn Station, I nearly ran into an advertising pylon for something called The Vue at 800 Aliceanna St., described as being in one of "the fastest growing urban centers in the East." This is not an exaggeration. In a wink, stuff changes there. The last time I thought about this address, it seemed to be a lumber or rail yard.

I've read that the Walters Art Museum has repackaged itself, but despite passing this institution daily, its galleries remain curiously hard for me to penetrate. I, too, behave like the people who only appear in snows. Late this past spring, I tore through the Stubbs equestrian painting show as the guards were ready to lock the doors. I wasn't alone; there were plenty of other procrastinators.

I've also got to master the Gwynns Falls Trail's southern leg near Russell Street and the bus station I've never really seen. And speaking of this, the last thing for me to do is tackle the new MTA bus routes.


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