September 2016 Archives

Spoiled by DC History- Mari does Baltimore

Baltimore 1901 Vol 1.jpg
So you may have seen my somewhat out of date site where you can find maps of the NW Truxton Circle neighborhood dating back to 1887 and census information for every resident who lived in the TC from 1888 to 1940.
Silly me figured this could be replicated for another large city. I tried doing what I did for the TC to do a house history for a tiny property I bought in Baltimore*. So I headed to the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. They pointed me towards resources they had copies of but I realized the University of Maryland...... College Park back in the DC Metro area had what I needed.
I hoped there would be something on the UMCP Library Catalog. Somethings are digitized, and a lot of stuff isn't. They've got digitized maps, but none of them are the ones I wanted or had the detail I needed. So I had to make a trip up the green line.
Since I have a personal connection at UMCP (got my MLS there) I was able to talk to the librarian who was the architecture/land expert in the Maryland Room. He grabbed a bunch of atlases and we looked for one that captured the street where my property sat, with an outline of my property. We were able to find what I needed in the Sanborn 1901 insurance map atlas.
I was disappointed because the property dated to the 19th Century and I could not find a detailed map going back that far showing my property. If I found detailed maps that outlined buildings, they did not cover my area. When I found my area, it lacked detail.
DC has spoiled me. The DC Public Library and the Library of Congress has free plat maps showing properties. Even map sellers who sell online have their own digital copies of the District going back to the 1870s.
Even looking at the census has been disappointing. I did find residents in 1940. However, looking in previous censuses using Dr. Steven Morse's Census tool for large cities, I haven't found anyone prior to 1940, yet.
It is possible the house was a company property used to house workers. I'll have to dig into the land records to confirm this. The librarian who helped me earlier suggested I do that, but at the time I wanted to concentrate on maps. If it was housing for workers, the interesting story (and easier one) is the relationship the company had with its workers, Baltimore as an industrial city, and not the individuals who happened to rest their head in my house.

*Don't be impressed. You too could buy a property in West Baltimore that needs (lots of) work for a mere $7,500. The cost of fixing it up is way more than the place would be worth.

Florida Market/ Union Market

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Union Terminal Market

So we ventured over to Union Market last weekend. It has been a while since I've spent any quality time at the market, and when I say the market, I mean the raggedy international part, not the clean cool hipster part. I blame my marriage. I no longer harbor the desire to wake up early and bike over to pick up possibly CAFO meat and veggies in various states. When I used it, the market, Florida Market/ Union Market was a treasure. Now I treasure sleeping in with my beloved.

So I hear there are efforts to preserve Union Market, but that's preserving buildings, not history.

I remember the old building, before the fire, that now houses a bunch of eateries, and a butcher or two. The vibe is 180degrees different that what was there before. The clientele is different. The types of shops are different. The building, sort of the same, but with nicer bathrooms. So if that is a guide, even if the buildings are "preserved" and rehabbed to HPRB standards, the new tenants would have to be the kind that can afford that kind of preservation.

And that preservation will have a 21st century accent. Above is a photo is (I'd been searching for it for a while) of an outdoor stand in the Union Market area at Neal Pl & 5th St NE. There are other pictures, I have yet to run those down. That image, is never coming back and never going to get resurrected in any living form. It seems the authorities of that time had a problem with it then. Thing I love about pictures, you can see the trash in the street, the weeds around the abandoned police box, and the shoddiness of the structure. It de-romanticizes the past. Preserved history (if you ignore the brutalist structures) tends to be the pretty stuff or prettied up for the eyes of the people of the present. 

I've mourned the loss already. Sort of like a great-aunt who has dementia and a zillion heath issues. You know the end will come, and the woman you knew is gone, just got to wait on G-d to finish the job.

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