My hotel was just a short walk away from heart of the Mount Vernon neighborhood so I spent the first part of Friday morning strolling through it. I had already been to the excellent Walters Museum, make sure you include a stop here and try to allot several hours, 2 hours wasn't nearly enough.
My first stop was the Peabody Library to check out the architecture, a real gem. Be sure to stop at the front desk and ask what there is to see.
You can't miss the Washington Monument, the country's first monument to, George Washington, it's first President. It differs from the Washington Monument in Washington DC in that it has a statue of him at the top, the one in DC is an Obelisk. You can walk 228 steps up to the top of it for a view over Baltimore but I passed.
Ok. I've never been in here, churches are not quite my thing...but I see it all the time because I go to the library across the street.
The Basicila was the first Roman Catholic Cathedral in the U.S. It's fitting that it's in Baltimore, since Maryland is often to thought to be founded as a Catholic colony. (It wasn't; but there was a great deal of Catholic leadership in the colonial days....)
Anyway, the Basicila is not just historically interesting, it has been described as "North America's most beautiful church." It was designed by Latrobe, who later became the architect of the U.S. Capitol.
It's currently going under renovation...with federal money, no less. So much for the separation of church and state....but I digress....
And, a word about the library across the street. It's somewhat notable that it was the first library to break with the older tradition of having the library at the end of a long flight of stairs, with a grand entranceway....
Baltimore's Washington Monument, on Charles St. in Mt. Vernon, can claim to be the first ever monument honoring George Washington, America's first president. While I was in Baltimore, I didn't walk all the way to the base of the monument, though I viewed it from a distance.
This is the place I go when I really want to feel of another place and time, and not be more than a few miles from my home.
The museum is one of the largest originally private collections of art found in the U.S. It's scope is huge, ranging from the "ancient" world, to late 19th Century art. I don't think the collection is highly unusual, compared to say larger museums, like the Metropolitian in NYC, or the National Gallery in Washington, DC, what what makes it stand out is the almost intimate feel of the galleries...with their dark walls, and low lightings. And, it's usually fairly quiet here.
For some reason that I've never quite figured out, I always need to go to The Knights Hall and view the Islamic armour.
Another standout is the large Asian art collection in the Hackerman House, which is connected through a "link" to the main buildiing. Not only is the art enchanting, the house itself, a stately Mt. Vernon Square mansion, is incredible.
An added bonus are the great views of the square from the "link" and the Hackeman house itself.
Even before it's completion in 1829, Baltimore's Washington Monument was recognized as the preeminent symbol of the city. Nationally, it ranked as the country's first major architectural monument and the first civic memorial to George Washington. Yet few people today are aware of it's historical importance and the profound meaning it held for 19th century Americans.
Baltimore's 178 foot monument was designed by Robert Mills who called himself the first architect professionally trained in America. Most people are probably more familiear with another of Mills' tributes to Washington; the Washington Monument in our Nation's capital. Begun in 1848, the sister monument was finally dedicated in 1884.
An artsy district about 10 blocks North of the Inner Harbor, centered along N. Charles Street.
Here's you'll find the original Washington Monument, built before the big one in Washington DC.
Plenty of eclectic and upscale restaurants and bars in this area. Most of them are ethnic: Afganistan, Indian, Nepalese, Japanese and such...... See my restaurant tips.
Baltimore has lots of monuments. They built the first monument to George Washington - 19 years before the one was built in Washington DC. It was completed on July 4, 1829.
The square base is constructed of marble donated by Gen. Charles Ridgely of Hampton, and is inscribed with Washington's Revolutionary War victories. The monument is surrounded by an ornate circular iron fence, and topped by a 30-ton statue of Washington.
It was built way out in the country on a vacant field donated by Col. John Eager Howard, so if it fell over, it wouldn't hurt anyone. (The city has since surrounded it) The money to build the Doric column memorial was raised by popular subscription, lottery proceeds, and by a final appropriation from the State of Maryland.
There is a small fee to climb the 228 steps to the top. The top has bars on the windows. A son of a friend of my parents once climbed the monument on the outside.
The ground-floor museum offers information about the construction of the monument (begun in 1815 and finished in 1829), as well as about the life and times of George Washington and early America.
Every winter, Baltimore's Washington Monument is host to "A Monumental Occasion," when the monument is decorated with lights to celebrate the holiday season
Hours: Wed-Sun 10:00AM-4:00PM
This picture was taken looking down Charles Street. Charles street is the main city street (named after Charles Carroll the signer of the Declaration of Independence) which divides the west side of Baltimore from the east side.
The only time you ever see Charles street completely empty of traffic like this is just about dawn - that's when this picture was taken. My mom had picked us up from the airport after we flew back from California, and I asked her to stop for the picture.
Probably one of the most beautiful squares in the U.S., at least the most beautiful one that I've seen.
The Washington Monument stands right in the center. See John Water's movie "Pecker," if you want to see just how suggestive the monument really is. But, seriously, this was the first Washington monument, predating the one more famous one about 40 miles south in Washington, DC.
Mt. Vernon is the cultural hub of the city. The square also includes the Peabody Institute, the famous music school, with its library filled with wrought iron balconies.
Also on the square, is the Walters Art Museum, with its fine collection of Asian art, and antiquities.
There are also numerous galleries and restaurants in the area. (Some of which are mentioned in the restaurant section.)
At George Washington's monument in Baltimore, you get the feeling that the monument was built for Washington and not for making money from Washington. What do I mean? Well, there are no souviner stands, there are no vendors, in fact there are very few tourist. The monument is just there for the people.
If your fit, I recommend that you climb the 400 some odd steps to the top and have a look out to the city.
This is another monument is the park surrounding the Washington Monument. There are two streets in Baltimore named after this famous Marylander. Howard Street which used to be one of Baltimore's major shopping districts has fallen into decay over the years. Currently there is a major renovation project going on in this area to bring the Howard Street corridor back to life. The other street named after him is Eager Street which runs through the heart of Mt. Vernon.
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