Friday, December 2, 2016

Monument Lighting - the only party left

Mount Vernon has seen a steady decrease of community gathering functions that seemed to be so common there. The first Thursday concerts went to Canton, the Flower Mart and the Book market went to the Inner Harbor. Even the monthly bike party gathering has moved to Seton Hill. This leaves the annual Holiday Monument Lighting as the last event that draws people from across the area to convene, meet and enjoy themselves on Washington Place in Mount Vernon.
Monument Lighting 2016 (photo Philipsen)

This is unfortunate since citizens need to use public spaces to feel ownership. With the Washington Monument meticulously restored, the four-sided park is once again the most beautiful urban space Baltimore has to offer, even before those much contested park restorations have taken place.

Mount Vernon has seen great rejuvenation and a number of new and exciting projects. The area absolutely needs a space that can be its "living room". No good living room without some good parties!

The annual Monument Lighting provides the much needed community spirit. With local food and a smattering of booths that are reminiscent of the famous European Christmas Markets, private folks stepped up with their own parties surrounding the area. Agora, the publishing company, has probably the biggest by-invitation-only party, the interior and architecture design firm Rohrer Studio has another annual holiday bash on the evening of the Monument Lighting and so does the Engineers Club. Public institutions such as the Walters and the Peabody open their doors to the public for music, cookies and hot drinks. The Peabody offered an excellent rendition of Beethoven's 5th Piano Concert (Concerto Emperor) presented by two students that played for their doctorate.
It isn't all about the fireworks

Of course, Baltimore's infrastructure and sinkhole crisis has virtually surrounded Washington Place with the most mundane: with surface sewer lines. One can imagine the port-a-potties sitting right on top for easier discharge. Because of this, the west-park access was somewhat limited and the food trucks that have usually gathered along the west end of the park now sat in the north park. This is actually a better solution anyway, except for the circulation between the south, north and west parks that is choked off when the fire-works are sat in place. I wonder of this can't be fixed with moving the discharge location slightly east.

Below a few photo impressions from yesterday's event. If you haven't made this a part of your annual holiday routine, do so next year. There is something for everybody. And do it before somebody has the glorious idea to move this party also out of the area!

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

For an update on another important public space see the breaking news about plans to demolish the Lexington Market as reported by the SUN this noon.




Brass at the Walters (photo Philipsen)

flashing wearables (photo Philipsen)

Rohrer Studio: annual party (photo Philipsen)

Food trucks in the north park (photo Philipsen)

antic and modern heads at the Walters (photo Philipsen)

Beethoven at the Peabody (photo Philipsen)

Beer and sculptures: west square (photo Philipsen)