January 30, 2017

Baltimore in the Wall Street Journal

There was a great article about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Baltimore in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend. The writer, Nina Sovich’s, family originally came from Baltimore and she returned for a visit. Although her family was worried about her coming, she found that the city is not what most people think. image

She discovered some of Baltimore’s treasures in various buildings in the Mount Vernon neighbourhood where she spent much of her visit. image

My office is in Mount Vernon, so I know the area well. Nina did a great job conveying that there are amazing parts of the city that you will never know if you only watch The Wire. image

Coincidentally, I had just finished a book last weekend which had the most beautiful description of Baltimore, from a surgeon at Hopkins who had moved here in the late 1800’s from rural Ontario and lived here for more than 50 years. He made it his home and loved it.

Charles Street in certain lights can revert. The sky clears after a storm, the day thins and recedes. Along Charles Street, Baltimore is again the Baltimore Tom Cullen knew in youth; the town whose portrait is engraved in old prints, withdrawing in mannerly perspective before the eye of the beholder, accepting with happy serenity of the well-proportioned the homage of regard. It was so, coming to Eager Street on a remembered evening.
New snow on the sills and cornices laid soft-edged accents below and above the ordered rows of lighted windows. The west was blue-green over the gas lamps of the climbing cross streets, the east pale with reflected brightness. Against it on the far hilltop a dome showed - small and dark beyond the balustrade of Mount Vernon Place and the lines of lights falling away and lifting again - the lanterned dome of Johns Hopkins. Tom Cullen broke a silence that was long for him.
"I love this old town," he said.

You can (maybe) read the entire article here. It might be behind a pay-wall.


  1. Hello Meg, Some writers have a great sense of place, and find the meaning of their lives inextricably intertwined with the area in which they live. I love coming across descriptions in old literature of my city, Cleveland, but the hometown feeling is the same no matter what the city. Often observers open my eyes to things I have never noticed. Sometimes people, like Charles Dickens, hated Cleveland, but I have enough of a sense of humor to also relish these negative reviews.

  2. Once again thank you for conveying a romantic view of Baltimore. When I was 15 I was in the "Five finger Exercise" at the old Spot lighters theater . I use to take a bus downtown to get to the theater and would frequently go early so I could wander around. The leather People shop, Louies book shop? , Mt. Vernon. Never felt as though I was in jeopardy. Fast forward a few decades and I was working at Johns Hopkins and the visiting nurses assoc. Saw a very different view of Baltimore. Wish I was a writer because those images are still vivid. I get back to Bmore every few years and I still like. The phenomenal wealth to the squalor side by side, its all part of my old town. Did the Book Thing ever recover?

  3. Couldn't read the article, but loved the excerpt you posted, Meg. How lovely it must be for you to have such deep roots in a place you love. Thanks for sharing. I'm a transplanted Washingtonian and have thought for many years that Baltimore would have been a better fit, but who knows.

  4. Yeah paywall. I discovered a workaround to WSJ's paywall when I went looking for WSJ sportswriter Jason Gay's social access points. I found him on Twitter, and now all I have to do is go to Jason Gay's Twitter account, scroll to his most recent WSJ piece, click it and voila you've got an open wall. Same goes with this writer Nina Sovich - find her on Twitter and scroll til you see her Baltimore piece and BAM, a link to an open wall to the article. It was a great article, thanks Meg - and Jason Gay is ALWAYS worth the workaround.


  5. Thanks, Meg, as always, for sharing the beautiful about Baltimore. What a lovely quote.


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