What I Will Miss Most About Baltimore

Jun 7th, 2002, 08:59 AM
Daniel Williams
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What I Will Miss Most About Baltimore

After 2 1/2 years of working and living in Baltimore City, I have accepted a position with a biotech company in Montreal. In many ways, I'm thrilled about the move, as I do love Montreal and have many friends there since that's where I went to graduate school. But as I've been walking around Baltimore these past few days, I've been thinking about what I will miss, what makes the city special and unique.

The first thing that I know I'll miss are the markets: from the Lexington Market to the Cross Street Market to the Northeast Market, I know that the earthy, spirited, working-class ambience of these places is just marvelous; I always smile when I'm there. Sure there are markets in Montreal and other cities, but the "vibe" of the three I mention is uniquely Baltimore. (And I do appreciate the Jean Talon Market in MTL, the Reading Terminal and Italian Markets in Philly, the Strip in PGH and the Eastern Market in DC, to name a few.) I will also miss the worn-around-the edges, unpretentious sound of the Bawl'mer accent, unrecognizable to most outside the region.

Of the neighborhoods, I find oddly enough I will miss Hampden the most, followed by the Lexington Market area. Hampden I will miss for its early-John-Waters wacked-out mix of good ol' Bawl'mer working class, 1950s small-town and artistic peace-and-love types. Any community that has a public bus called Hampden Neighborhood Shuttle Bug with a ladybug painted on it and with stops that say "the Bug Stops Here" must be kind of cool.

There were certainly things that drove me crazy in Baltimore (i.e., somewhat erratic public transit, boarded-up rowhouses, nearly deserted streets on pleasant weekends--although this is changing), things that I liked but will not miss particularly (i.e., some good restaurants but I think Montreal has a better selection of top-notch restaurants; the architecture of beautiful historic neighborhoods but Montreal has great architecture/history also) and things I was indifferent toward (i.e., the Inner Harbor: a mall and a tourist trap really).

Lastly, one thing I enjoyed living in Baltimore is I felt I was a participant in urban renewal, trying to breathe life in a place that many abandoned. Montreal in contrast has a solid urban presence, so there's not the same sense of shaping its future: you're just one in a large crowd.

I'm so excited that I found a job in Montreal, but I wish Baltimore all the best for the future.

Jun 7th, 2002, 09:03 AM
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Hi Dan, I read your post on the Canada forum and was happy for you.Montreal is a lovely city, and while you will be living in another country,you are right next door to the US and your old friends,etc.
I wish you luck in Montreal and Congratulations on getting a great job!
Jun 7th, 2002, 09:48 AM
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Balamer will miss you, Hon. Don't forget about them O's, and if you can, come on downeyoshun to OC or up Blair Road an eat some crabs next year.
Jun 7th, 2002, 09:53 AM
rollin numbers
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I wish the people in Baltimore would start polishing their front stoops again.
Jun 7th, 2002, 12:58 PM
Daniel Williams
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JohnLW LOL, that's some of the best written Bawlmerese I ever did see...and thanks to you and KC for all your kind words.
Jun 22nd, 2002, 10:16 AM
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A little belated, but:

I wish you all the best in Montreal, Dan. You've always been one of my favorite posters on here. I hope that a move to Canada won't take you away from the US board. In my opinion, Montreal is probably the most vibrant diverse and interesting city in North America today. It's still relatively cheap, without having gone through all those horrible urban renewal projects so many US cities did. I think if i could live anywhere in North America, Montreal would be among my top five choices (along with NYC, Toronto, SF Bay Area and maybe Chicago or DC)

I definitely share your appreciation for the things that make cities great. I think Baltimore would be a great city to spend a few years in. Anytime we fly into BW, even if we're heading to DC or Philly, we always have breakfast in Baltimore on Mt. Vernon, either at Donna's or City Cafe. I just adore the architecture and the "small town-city" feel.

Montreal is one of those cities that I think is completely underrated. It's such a joy to explore. The Old City is quaint and the closest thing to Europe in North America. But it's the rest of the city, and it's cafe culture and patio dining and bars that define the city. And is the rubber-tyred metro the most interesting metro system you've ever been on or what? People get freaked out about the language, but truthfully, everything with the city center is bilingual (the people are, not the signs).

Enjoy, I'm somewhat jealous. I want to hear some of your insights into Montreal things to do that I might have missed in the past. May I ask what area you'll be living in?

Good luck
Jun 22nd, 2002, 10:22 AM
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Just when I'm about to give up on Fodors because of the pettiness and trolls and brawling, I read something like this and it restores my "faith."

Thanks, Daniel -- if you stay too long in Balmer, hon, yer lobble d'stay.
Jun 22nd, 2002, 11:08 AM
Stephanie P.
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I lived in Baltimore in the late 80s. I would have missed the Inner Harbor. I have been to Lexington Market and it was a really neat place. Never been to the new stadium, thought Memorial Stadium was better because it was in a nice neighborhood with a grocery store you could hit and get some cheap food before heading to the game.
Jun 22nd, 2002, 06:26 PM
Daniel Williams
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JJ, James, thanks for your kind words. Incidentally, James, I agree with you 100% about Montreal; I love the city too, with a passion. It was my top choice of place to live; I feel blessed that I found a good job there.

I'll be living in the Snowdon/Cote des Neiges area, which really (speaking of your great Interesting Neighborhoods post)is a pleasant area for visitors to explore. My place is pretty modest (but luckily only a five minute walk from Snowdon Metro), but there are some gorgeous old homes in the area. And of course, l'Oratoire St. Joseph is there, an architectural wonder I always admire each time I see it (from the outside).

As my weeks in Baltimore dwindle down, I still discover new places to love. Went to Bonaparte, a pastry/sandwich place on the water in Fell's Point. Their apricot and blueberry tarts were simply divine! I've realized I will also miss the architecture of Fell's Point, Federal Hill and Mount Vernon. And speaking of those stoops: watching people chatting with one another on the stoops is something I will miss too!

All the best to everyone!

Jul 18th, 2002, 07:01 PM
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I grew up and still live in the Baltimore area. A few years back, I was in Columbia, Missouri and a waiter recognized the Balmer accent. He was a relocated native of Baltimore who claimed the thing he missed most was "Berger" chocolate top cookies. They'd be high on my list if I moved away.

Jul 19th, 2002, 12:17 AM
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Thanks, Daniel, for that lovely tribute. A great piece of writing and and a well-deserved homage.
Jul 19th, 2002, 04:23 AM
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It is such a change of pace to hear the good things about my home town. I have lived here for 54 years and spent 20 of those years in Hampden. All of your observations are very accurate. I have done quite a bit of traveling for business and I found Montreal to be a very diverse and exciting city. I wish you the best of luck and thanks for the kind words about "Balmer".
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