Friday, June 12, 2015

What's up With the Inner Harbor?

Everything has a post riot lense right now, and looking from that perspective the problems of Baltimore's crown jewel come in even stronger focus:

Declining business because finicky tourists are afraid to set foot into a town in the news every day for riots and violence. (The slogan "come to Baltimore, it's a riot" just doesn't cut it). 
The McKeldin Fountain: Slated for demolition.

Of course, business declined before, in the pavilions and in the area around it. Retail opens and closes. Events come and go (recall the race cars?) and some have been mooching off other areas that need activity even more (think Book Festival). That tour enterprises like the red double decker buses or the Duck amphibians couldn't make it should tell us something.  Meanwhile what seems to make it gets cheesier, think "Believe it or not". 

Of course, the problem has been recognized and the Downtown Partnership had launched Harbor 2.0 for a good reason. It just seems that the general direction has been away from what is really needed: to make the Inner Harbor the commons of Baltimore. Or Baltore's Central Park as David Benn likes to say. 
Cheesy stuff is proliferating
What does that mean? Make the area a space that is nurtured, supported and used by the surrounding communities. Put activities there that are vital to residents such as the beech volleyball on Rash Field. Improve pedestrian access so folks from Otterbein, Federal Hill and downtown can leisurely stroll over to read a book, watch people or play with the kids. Have local restaurants there, beer gardens, a fish market and great ice cream. Get rid of those trinket stands, the rowdy beer barges, the anywhere USA chain restaurants and the stuff that is so not Baltimore.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA
photos: ArchPlan

Perpetual Halloween at the Inner Harbor?

BBJ Article about Natures Cafe closing at Pratt and Light Streets

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