- Hampden, Baltimore
Hampden is a
neighborhoodlocated in northern Baltimore, Maryland, United States. Roughly triangular in shape, it is bounded to the east by Wyman Park, to the north by 40th and 41st Street, and to the west by the Jones Falls Expressway. The Homewood campusof the Johns Hopkins Universityis a short distance to the east.
Hampden was originally settled as a residential community for workers at the mills that sprung up along the
Jones Falls; its first residents were in place well before the area was annexed to Baltimore City in 1888. Many of its residents came to the area from the hill country of Kentucky, West Virginia, and western Pennsylvania, looking for work in the mills. This influx cemented the image of the neighborhood for the decades that followed as a white, working-class, socially conservative enclave. However, like most of Baltimore, Hampden declined somewhat during the economic troubles of the 1980s-90s.
In the 1990s the neighborhood, conveniently located vis-a-vis Johns Hopkins and downtown and relatively safe when compared to other, more blighted areas of the city, was discovered by artists and other bohemians, who began the process of
gentrification. Many of these artists were attracted by the 1987 creation of an artist studio and office space known as the [http://www.millcentre.com Mill Centre] , located in the southernmost region of Hampden between Falls Road and Mill Road. Over the past decade, housing prices in Hampden have skyrocketed, and the area's commercial center on a four block stretch of West 36th Street known as "The Avenue," has seen trendy boutiquesand restaurants occupy storefronts that had become vacant when poor economic conditions forced many of the Avenue's traditional retailers to close. Hampden contains several sub-communities: Wyman Park, along the eastern section of the area, and SoHa, the area below 34th with a concentrated community of artists working and living near the Mill Centre. Hampden is also home to Morton Street Dance Center, Atomic Books, The True Vine, and popular Mobtown Players. The Woodberry station on the Baltimore Light Railsystem is just on the other side of the Jones Falls Expressway and is within walking distance of much of the neighborhood.
Baltimore has in recent years embraced certain aspects of Hampden's traditional culture. The neighborhood is home to the annual "Hon Festival" (also called
HonFestand named after the term "Hon," a term of endearmentused by Hampdenites and Baltimoreans generally), which features attendees who tease their hair into the enormous beehive hairdos of the 1960s. The festival also features a contest to find the best "Bawlmerese," Baltimore's unique accent.
Hampden's 34th Street near the southern end of the neighborhood celebrates the
Christmasholiday every year with the " Miracle on 34th Street" where home owners on both sides of the street decorate their houses with thousands of lights and Christmas decorations, attracting visitors from all over the world to see the spectacle.
Hampden received perhaps its most prominent nationwide exposure in 1999, when Baltimore native John Waters filmed his movie "Pecker" there. Starring Hollywood actors like
Edward Furlong, Christina Ricci, Martha Plimpton, and Lili Taylor, the film celebrated Hampden's traditional culture.
Most of the housing stock in Hampden consists of modestly sized two-story rowhouses. There are very few areas amenable to further development in the neighborhood, a factor in the rising housing costs in the area. However, a very large mixed use development will begin construction in early 2008 in Hampden, at the site of the Historic
Rotundashopping center. The size and scale of this development has created some controversy for this neighborhood.
Landmarks and schools
Local Hampden landmarks include a branch of the
Enoch Pratt Free Library, Burgee Hess Funeral Home, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Hampden School #55 and Robert Poole Middle School #56, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, and Western High School.
Culture of Baltimore
* [http://www.hampdenmerchants.com/ Hampden Village Merchants Association]
* [http://www.hampdenhappenings.org/index.htm Hampden Community Council]
* [http://baltoco.org/hampden Hampden Community page on the Baltimore Collective]
* [http://www.cafehon.com/honfest.html HonFest]
* [http://www.christmasstreet.com "Miracle on 34th" Christmas Light Display]
* [http://grandrotunda.com The Rotunda Shopping Center]
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