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Old 02-18-2011, 06:35 PM
Location: Cheswolde
1,970 posts, read 5,784,124 times
Reputation: 557


The active thread on Mondawmin encourages me to launch this one focusing on Park Heights Avenue and Pimlico.
I first arrived in Baltimore in 1969, the year after the destructive riots that hit nine neighborhood shopping strips, including Park Heights. Up to that point Park Heights had been a vibrant, albeit fading, shopping destination.
Like Mondawmin, the Park Lane shopping center (I think that's the name) at Park Heights and Cold Spring Lane, was a viable shopping center. It had a variety of stores patronized by blacks and whites, including a Baltimore fabric institution -- Blanks. Seamstresses and arts and crafts people from far away came to Blanks for supplies.
Yet the Park Lane shopping center was in deep decline. During the golden days -- 1950s and early 1960s -- which Barry Levinson describes in Diner and Tin Men, Park Lane had been a hub. Hard to believe but there was, I think, a HoJo motel at the intersection of Park Heights and Cold Spring, and at the very least a Howard Johnson restaurant (I have seen a picture).
By the time I arrived the area was in the throes of racial change, which is described in Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City. Racial turnover speeded up after the 1968 riots which also hit Pimlico. Remaining Catholics (St. Ambrose's parish, 1912) were leaving and so were Jews. There were still operational synagogues (one on Rodgers Avenue would continue for another two decades), the Pimlico restaurant with its incredibly vast menu. I also remember a huge "Roumanian" deli occupying the space on Park Heights where the Jamaican club is today, "Blue" something.
There have been innumerable efforts by the city to turn things around. I don't know whether anyone remembers the short-lived Avalon hardware store near Park Heights and Garrison. The city financed a new building. I patronized the store and found it pretty good. In the end, the taxpayer-financed building was sold to some church which, as a non-profit, does not even pay property taxes.
Not in My Neighborhood makes an interesting point in tying Pimlico's racial change to Liberty Road's. Along with whites, according to the book, established middle-class homeowners also fled because Pimlico became inundated with a lower-class element of black homebuyers, lured there by HUD's new nothing down loans.
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Old 02-23-2011, 08:20 AM
5,582 posts, read 8,510,273 times
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I continue to read about how Park Heights will be "revitalized". I dont believe it can occur without the redevelopment of the Pimlico Race Track. Park Heights and Pimlico Race Tracks futures are interconnected...one cannot succeed without the other. If a new track and Casino are built downtown (RACINO) and all 140 acres are redeveloped into mixed income housing, retail, office (Sinai) and maybe a small pavillion for concerts etc.. Then I think you will see significant investement in Clyburn, Levindale, and some of the adjacent areas.
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