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People traveling up and down the East Coast from metropolis to metropolis often pass Baltimore by on their way to brighter lights and bigger employment opportunities. But despite its reputation in the national consciousness consisting largely of the seamy underworld depicted on the HBO show The Wire, much of Charm City does earn its name, thanks to its gorgeous architecture, distinctive culture, and thriving music and arts scenes, not to mention the A+ crab cakes and National Bohemian beer, an iconic (and highly affordable) local brew.
Summer is when Baltimore comes alive, thanks in part to two key festivals: Honfest in June, and Artscape in July. The former, held in Baltimore's quirky Hampden neighborhood, celebrates some of the city's working-class stereotypes, such as beehive hairdos and makeup befitting a John Waters film (Waters is a Baltimore native). The latter is the nation's largest free arts festival, featuring craft fairs, art exhibitions, film programming, and musical performances. Both are incredibly fun.
Plus, with a median home listing price of $149,500, Baltimore is still relatively affordable, though you can find glitz if you're looking for it. For the New Yorker with Baltimore ties, or the city-phile just curious about what a slower pace and more open space might look like, here's an idea of what's out there.
502 Somerset Rd., Roland Park
Located in Baltimore's ritzy Roland Park neighborhood, this expansive six-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath house, also pictured at top, features elegant columns, a marble-floored sunroom, high ceilings, and a grand staircase. Other highlights include original fixtures, a wood-burning fireplace, and a level backyard. The neighborhood is technically in Baltimore City despite having been planned, in part by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., as a suburban community. It's home to the Baltimore Country Club and the brunch standby Miss Shirley's Cafe. The asking price is $799,500.
1410 Union Ave., Hampden
Hampden is one of Baltimore's more recognizable neighborhoods, having been featured prominently in a number of John Waters films, including Hairspray. The historically working-class neighborhood has popular thrift stores and restaurants along the main strip, the Avenue (36th Street), including the brunch destination and music venue Golden West Cafe and the iconic Cafe Hon. This four-bedroom, two-bath townhouse was built in 1870 and is about a five-minute walk from the Avenue. It features beautiful bay windows, a modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances, a jetted tub in the master bathroom, and a beautiful ornamental fireplace. It's listed for $345,000.
1213 S Ellwood Ave., Canton
This two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath Federal-style townhouse has exposed brick walls, central air, and an unfinished basement for storage. It also has a back patio and a roof deck with a view of the Natty Boh Tower on Brewers Hill. The house is located in Canton, a neighborhood along the city's outer harbor, where you can find a bunch of bars and restaurants (with crabs!), a waterfront park, and verdant Patterson Park. The asking price is $260,000.
12 East Mount Vernon Pl., #5, Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon is more or less the heart of Baltimore, located about halfway between the touristy Inner Harbor and Johns Hopkins University's main campus at Homewood. The neighborhood is rich with history. Work on its Washington Monument commenced in 1815, several decades before Washington, D.C.'s. The neighborhood is home to the free Walters Art Museum and the central branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, and it's one of the few areas of the city with accessible public transit. This two-bedroom, two-bath condo is located around the corner from the monument and the surrounding park. It features high ceilings, central air, lots of closet space, and big windows with courtyard views. It's listed for $299,000.
1802 Saint Paul St., Station North
Station North, dubbed Baltimore's Arts District, has been rapidly gentrifying over the last few decades, prompting fears that longtime residents will get pushed out. Still, there's a lot to love about this neighborhood, including its proximity to popular venues such as the Charles Theatre, the Metro Gallery, and Charm City Art Space, as well as bars and restaurants including Club Charles and the pizza joint Joe Squared. This four-bedroom, three-bath colonial measures 3,600 square feet. It was built in 1890 and redone "from the studs" in 2005. It has hardwood floors and gets plenty of light. There's striking exposed brick, a massive, marble-tiled shower in the master bathroom, a big half-finished basement, and a deck. The house is just a few blocks from Baltimore's Penn Station, where you can catch the MARC commuter train to Washington, D.C. The owner is looking for $499,000.
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