Eye-opening hometown tourism

Written by on July 20, 2011 in Baltimore Voices - No comments

Who needs a grand prix when you hAve great baseball? Seeing the sights in the hometown can be a great use of your time. Photo by Jacqueline Watts

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I took a man from out-of-town to the Orioles game on Saturday. It was an unusual game for a couple of reasons:

1. The Orioles won.

2. Michael “Gonzo” Gonzalez pitched, did not give up an epic home run, and did not cough up the game.

Best of all, my guest absolutely loved Oriole Park at Camden Yards. He likes the ballpark’s location downtown, he likes the layout, he likes the view from the upper deck, he likes the Eutaw Street concourse, he likes the warehouse.

And his girlfriend read in AirTran Magazine‚one of those captive-audience mags you get in your seat-back pouch on a flight, that OPACY sells the best hot dogs in the majors.

My friends’ enthusiasm for Oriole Park at Camden Yards made me look at the place differently. I won’t say the scales fell from my eyes, but they did a little shedding from my attitude.

OPACY really is a wonderful ballpark. It’s hard to believe next April will be its 20th anniversary, because it still seems new. It still seems innovative. Copycat parks built in other cities are not nearly as cool.

All of this is leading up to saying that we need to perhaps reevaluate a few other things around town, and see the positive things in our city. For instance, the Light Street and Locust Point shopping-and-dining areas look pretty darned good. Patterson Park and Riverside Park are holding their own despite a budget that would make a shoestring look generous.

There are signs of good developments in Fells Point—the old St. Stanislaus property no longer looks like a moonscape, and work is beginning on the South Shed of the Broadway Market. At least part of the shed will be converted over to public toilets, something that is badly needed in Fells Point. And hey, it looks like eventually the road work in Little Italy and Greektown will be finished.

And we’re retaining the best of the old. Hoehn’s. Ikaros. Dan Brothers. Regi’s.

When you see our city through a newcomer’s eyes, it doesn’t look bad at all. Yes, there is crime, and people throw trash on the ground, and our city government is sometimes sketchy on the details. That is, pretty much, urban life in the United States of America.

So let’s think about our assets for a few minutes. I’ll start: Laura Lippman, who writes mysteries and novels with great depth and sensitivity, lives in South Baltimore. Go to your nearest bookstore or library and pick up “What the Dead Know” or “No Good Deeds” or “Life Sentences.” You won’t regret it. And I just reread “Charm City,” her second mystery novel starring Tess Monaghan. I had forgotten how good it is. Read it for the mystery, and for the loving tour of Baltimore that she writes.

What do you like in your neighborhood? Drop me a line at editor@baltimoreguide.com or call me at 410-732-6603.

by Jacqueline Watts

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