BALTIMORE, U.S.A. Nicknamed “Charm City” for its remarkable ability to enchant visitors with its rich history, artistic treasures, and distinctive culture, Baltimore, Maryland is the quintessential summer destination for those looking to delve into a modern multicultural urban setting built upon the brilliant aesthetic remnants of its past.
Located along an arm of the Chesapeake Bay in the Mid-Atlantic United States, Baltimore is one of the region’s largest seaports, historically making it one of the country’s primary points of entry for European immigrants in the nineteenth century. The historical importance of Baltimore’s ports—notably Fell’s Point and Inner Harbor—has contributed to the city’s maritime ambiance, seafood cuisine, and ethnic diversity.
Young travelers can delight in these distinct cultural features through the many activities awaiting them at Baltimore’s seaports. During the day, numerous restaurants at Inner Harbor, notably the Rusty Scupper, offer visitors the perfect combination of Baltimore’s signature crab cakes and spectacular waterside views. The tourism-oriented Inner Harbor is also home to the National Aquarium and the American Visionary Art Museum, which houses works by independent contemporary artists seeking to reject traditional academic conceptions of art history by encouraging viewers to form their own subjective understandings of the unorthodox pieces.
For a more energetic local cultural experience, the historic seaport neighborhood of Fell’s Point offers younger travelers a snapshot of some of Baltimore’s most historic architectural remnants, various restaurants and pubs with upbeat atmospheres, and some of the city’s best nightclubs and bars. Baltimore’s distinctive red brick row houses, built in the eighteenth-century, line the bustling seaport featuring shops, small art galleries, and restaurant-bars with eclectic European cuisine influenced by the area’s ethnically diverse population.
At night, daytime restaurants and lounges at Fell’s Point come to life with young energetic locals, dancing, and live DJs. Club Anastasia, located on 1636 Thames St., features electronic music in a posh and vibrant ambiance, complete with classic lounge décor and a portrait of the Italian film icon, Sophia Loren overlooking the dancing area. Next door, The Horse You Came In On Saloon provides a strikingly different but equally as satisfying setting for younger crowds. Established in 1775, it is America’s oldest continually operating saloon, and the last location where the American Romantic poet Edgar Allen Poe was seen before his death. “The Horse” saloon is a must-see destination for night owls looking to interact with Baltimore’s younger local crowds, enjoy a live band playing music as diverse as Salsa and Country, and soak in the establishment’s mysterious history.
Further north, the historic district of Mount Vernon offers travelers the perfect opportunity for historical, cultural, artistic, and architectural exploration. Located at the center of the neighborhood is the 178 ft. tall Washington Monument, built in 1815, which overlooks four radiating parks teeming with beautiful greenery and neoclassical-style bronze sculptures. Around this central point, architectural wonders such as the Norman-Gothic style Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, built in 1870 upon the site of Francis Scott Key’s death place, proliferate.
Adding to Mount Vernon’s remarkable sense of culture and aesthetic sophistication is the presence of one of the region’s finest art collections, The Walters Art Museum, located at 600 N. Charles Street. The permanent collection, originally gathered by William and Henry Walters in the late nineteenth century, most notably features an extensive ancient art collection including Roman portrait heads and marble sarcophagi, early Cycladic figurines, and Egyptian block statues. Equally as impressive are the museum’s Renaissance and Baroque collections, featuring works by some of the great masters of the High Renaissance, such as Raphael’s Madonna of the Candelabra (c. 1513). Wrapping up the collection is a remarkable French nineteenth-century amalgamation of both Academic and Impressionist paintings. From Jean-Léon Gérôme’s figurative study, A Roman Slave Market (1884),to Edouard Manet’s At the Café (1879) and Claude Monet’s Springtime (1872), the nineteenth century’s revolutionary artistic transition from the academic to the avante-garde is visually present within the collection.
Further highlighting the importance of modern art to Baltimore’s major historical collectors are the extensive nineteenth- and twentieth-century collections at the Baltimore Museum of Art, located at 10 Art Museum Drive. The BMA’s major feature is its world renowned Cone Collection, including major post-Impressionist paintings such as Matisse’s Blue Nude (1907) and Paul Cézanne’s Mont Sainte-Victoire Seen from the Bibémus Quarry (c. 1897). Additionally, the BMA also houses a spectacular Contemporary wing spotlightingpop art, conceptual art, readymades, and installation art from both local and international artists.
Like the magnificent bricolage of ancient and contemporary art found in these premier art institutions, Baltimore’s ability to reconcile its traditional values with its modern progressiveness and multiculturalism gives young travelers the opportunity to experience the cultural heights that can be attained through building the new not upon the old, but amongst the old.