September 6, 2017 - Neighborhood Tour
On the final Friday of every month, Live Baltimore heads out of the office and into Baltimore's neighborhoods. Each month, we love what we find! August's tour was amazing, even though it took place on a Wednesday!
Even though this Final Friday tour took place on a Wednesday, we were excited to get a midweek break to venture into the core of the city and explore Central Baltimore's Harwood neighborhood.
Our tour began at the 29th Street Community Center, a gathering place for the entire neighborhood. Located adjacent to the Barclay Elementary/Middle School, the space hosts many of the neighborhood's various activities including adult fitness classes, kids programs and supportive services.
For Yvonne, who has lived in Harwood for about 20 years, the community center gives her peace of mind when it comes to what the neighborhood kids are getting into.
"It's a great place for kids to come," she said. "It's a safe place. It's well-cared for and for any community, it's important to have a space where kids can go that you know is safe for them."
We met with Yvonne and four other dedicated neighbors, both long-standing and new to the area, to find out what else they love about their neighborhood while taking a walking tour. The group agreed that the neighborhood's communal celebrations are certainly a highlight for local residents. The neighborhood makes it a point to celebrate National Night Out each year in a big way, Nick said.
"It's the first Tuesday in August," he said. "And it's a massive organizational effort that really brings people together. It's nice to see everyone getting together at an event like that."
Residents get food donated and have plenty of activities and treats for neighborhood kids to take part in. Many of the neighborhood gatherings are held at Harwood Park, a place where you might find kids having jump rope contests or where the YMCA sometimes does pop-up activities. The space boasts a fenced-in playground that is overlooked by a mural on the adjoining building. The mural is just one of many pieces of artwork displayed throughout the neighborhood.
The commitment to creativity is apparent as a theme of mosaic tile artwork is threaded throughout the neighborhood's doorsteps, signage and gardens. The pieces, mostly done or directed by native Baltimorean Tamara Payne, can be found on address plaques like the one Nick has on the front of his home. He was happy to point out other pieces of the artwork sprinkled throughout the neighborhood during our tour.
"I moved to Baltimore about 40 years ago and moved around the city a bit, but Harwood is definitely where I want to be," he said.
Cristina, who moved to the neighborhood in 2014, said she didn't expect to find Baltimore so charming but fell in love with her neighborhood's affordability and accessibility to everything around the city.
"I moved here from New York," she said. "My condo there was twice as expensive as the house I bought here. And I'm able to actually do things here because everything is close. I don't spend so much time commuting to an event and then standing in line. I really love that about this city."