Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Postmodern Quest: In Search of Baltimore's Corner and Inflection Points, Past and Present

Updated 1230AM 10/23/2012: See important update with two links in Part 1 discussing city annexations.

FOREWARD: The Post-Modern Condition of Baltimore ...

Baltimore's downtown skyline rises above the city's urban residential neighborhoods on what looks to be an early autumn day in a picture that I found online a while ago but seems appropriate for this entry.

This picture was taken, I believe, from Patterson Park located northeast of downtown. To this day, Baltimore has a surprisingly low skyline for a major city. The tallest building is the Transamerica Tower at 40 stories, but long known as the USF&G and later the Legg Mason Tower. It was completed in 1973 and nothing in the intervening years has been built to surpass it, althought here are a variety of plans to do so. (Yes, I'm excluding the flagpole structure atop the William Donald Schaefer Building.)

Nevertheless, as the picture above I found online shows, Baltimore has a very eclectic set of buildings in its downtown core, some with a postmodernist sensibility. (David Harvey noted this in his seminal 1991 book The Condition of Postmodernity.)

And, of course, this is the present-day iconic look of Baltimore's downtown skyline as seen from the southeastern edge of the Inner Harbor as dusk ...

... or rather, this is how it looked circa 2006 (at tranquil dusk). I don't think it has changed that much since then.


However, here is how it looked circa 1963.


And here it is at some point in the 1940s.


But this entry is not about Baltimore's downtown core or how changes in its skyline suggest a post-modernist sensibility embodying "whimsy," "play," "rejection of meta-narratives," and "quotations for commercial purposes." Rather, this entry is about Baltimore's geographical city limits, in particular, its corner and inflection points and what markers, if any, exist at those spots.

And so without further ado ...

INTRO: Welcome to Baltimore, Hon

On Saturday, October 6, 2012, my friend Chester and I set out to find six of the seven corner and inflection points on the present day city limits of the City of Baltimore, Maryland.

In Baltimore speak (this is for you, Chris T):

We raid 'round in Chester's truck to find da bound'rees of Balmer City, Merlin, hon, includin' wif Anny Runnell Kenny and Balmer Kenny. We raid 'round wif our ayes aopen, not glazed, lookin' fur staone murkers. We faoun' free (3) plus one buried in da ground, so akchalee, we faoun' fur (4).

I have known Chester since 1997 when he and I (and Gary) were in meteorology graduate school together at the Univ. of Md., College Park.

The pictures in this entry were taken both by Chester and myself. In addition, I am posting as JPEG images some of the PowerPoint slides Chester made and printed out for our trek. These included images from Baltimore Department of Public Works surveys in 1976 and 1985* that really came in handy.

*The dates written on each of the survey sheets are small and not very legible.


PART 1: Getting Your Baltimore Bearings

For reference, here is how I am denoting the corner and inflection points of Baltimore as follows:

This is a map of the city limits of Baltimore with the corner and inflection points marked. Six of the seven are on land while the remaining one is at the mouth of the Patapsco River.

I have numbered them 1 through 7 starting with the first one we visited. They are color-coded with green indicating a marker that clearly exists at the corner or inflection point, gold indicating that a remnant marker exists, and red indicating that we were unable to find a marker or none may exist. The blue one (SE shown as #4) is the inflection point located in water.

As a definition, a corner point is just that -- a corner where the city's boundaries meet at a 90-degree angle (perpendicular) -- while an inflection point is where the boundaries meet at a some oblique angle.

Also, I have taken to referring to them as follows:

#1: South southwest 1 (SSW1)
#2: South southwest 2 (SSW2)
#3: South (S)
#4: Southeast (SE)
#5: Northeast (NE)
#6: Northwest (NW)
#7: Southwest (SW)


UPDATE 12:30AM 10/23/2012:

Last night I was exploring online additional information about the historical changes in the boundaries of Baltimore City and I found two excellent links with important historical information.

The first is a story in Baltimore magazine in 2007 on the occasion of that publication's 100th anniversary. There was a series called "100 Years: The Twelve Events That Shaped Baltimore." One of those was "100 Years: Baltimore Seals Its Borders" and it explains how a statewide voter referendum question in 1948 -- little noted at the time -- called Question 5. This ballot question amended the Maryland constitution so that any future annexations would require a special vote of approval by the residents who live in the affected area. The referendum passed -- and it effectively sealed the deal of keeping Baltimore City from expanding farther north into Baltimore County or south into Anne Arundel County.

An image of Baltimore annexations including a proposed one in 1912 that never happened as appeared in the 1978 Arnold article discussed below.

The second is a 20-page article from Maryland Historical Magazine in June 1978 (Vol. 3 No. 2) by Dr. Joseph L. Arnold, then an associate professor of history at UMBC, entitled Suburban Growth and Municipal Annexation in Baltimore, 1745 - 1918. The article describes in detail how and why the last expansion of the City of Baltimore's boundaries occurred in 1918 -- and how additional annexations became impossible because of Question 5 (although the article never mentions it by that number and only refers to the year of the referendum in footnote 54).  The last serious noises about Baltimore annexation was in 1967-'68 and it was quickly shot down by voters in Baltimore and Anne Arundel Counties. Had this not been enshrined in the state constitution, it is possible Baltimore City might have expanded well into Baltimore County -- maybe even merging in a Miami-Dade kind of arrangement that would have made Baltimore City much larger geographically and population-wise, not to mention wealthier.


PART2: The Tour

The remainder of this blog entry provides an overview of the trek that Chester and I made to find those corner and inflection points of Baltimore. The entry is divided into sections for each point as well as some (written) detours to discuss other topics that this tour brought to my mind. Each section as a header -- a marker, if you will, even when the actual physical markers did not exist.

SSW1: A Marker with a Long Memory

Here is what I am calling boundary marker "SSW1" located on the Baltimore City / Anne Arundel County line where northbound Hanover Street and southbound Potee Street merge simply into Rt. 2 Governor Ritchie Highway heading south into "the county."

On the Baltimore side is the section of the city called Brooklyn. It is a real working class, racially mixed, ultimately rather depressing area. The population is nicely summed up by the term "proletariat." That's not a judgmental term -- it just is.  

The marker in the photo above has engraved on it the words "City Line 1919" -- indicating when the stone was set as part of a general survey of the city's boundaries that year. My understanding is that Baltimore City expanded to its current boundaries the previous year in 1918.

Yours truly, Richard Todaro, at what I'm calling the "SSW1" boundary marker* of Baltimore on the Baltimore City - Anne Arundel County line where Hanover and Potee Streets (heading south) become Rt. 2 Governor Ritchie Highway.

Another picture of me at the "SSW1 marker" with Hanover Street behind me and Jack Street (Jack Street?) heading off to the east.


And here is Chester seated on this SSW1 boundary stone on our Oct. 6, 2012 trek.


Baltimore Detour #1

Dinner and (Side) Show in Baltimore: Prolefeed off Potee Street

I can't post a picture of this spot without noting that I actually lived very near it 2 months in 1981 and early 1982, specifically, at 24 Bristol Avenue (see picture below). I lived there because my stepfather, who was raised in this house, returned with my mom to Baltimore in 1982 following various Army postings -- Fort Monmouth, N.J. (where they met), SHAPE (Belgium), and Fort Hood, Texas.

Here it is: Proletariat Paradise Lost -OR- 24 Bristol Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland, 2:42PM, Oct. 6, 2012. This is where Ray grew up in the 1950s and 1960s with his family.

Truth to tell, I had not seen it in decades (at least 25 years) and it had changed so much -- it once had a screened in porch that has since been incorporated into the house -- that I simply did not recognize it.

Not only was this  the first place I lived in Maryland in late 1982 when I was 13 years old, it was also the first place I ever stayed in Maryland way back in late December 1975 (for at least one night, maybe two or three, I don't remember) when I was 6 years old.

That first visit to Maryland was during a chaotic time just a week or so before my mom and my stepfather (Ray) and I left for Belgium, where Ray was being sent after having been stationed for several years at Fort Monmouth, N.J. They were to be in Belgium for four years. There were many farewell visits occuring in Maryland and New Jersey and much driving. (A few weeks later in January 1976, we flew out of JFK International Airport on, yes, Pan American, taking off in a heavy snowfall).

As it turned out, in March 1976 my sent me back to my dad and grandparents in Long Branch, New Jersey.

I remember being in that house that night in December 1975, crying in bed. (Also, I must have had some bed wetting issue because I recall a black trash bag being placed on the mattress in the nasty side room where I slept. I would later sleep in that room with Ray's brother Bobby in 1982.)

Another view of Bristol Avenue. It is actually -- if we were to use D.C. street address terminology -- the "unit block" (001 to 099) because it is just west of Potee and Hanover Streets, which form part of the north-south axis dividing "west" and "east" addresses in Baltimore. I never before made that connection.

Again, as I noted above, 24 Bristol Avenue was also my first "residence" in Maryland when I was 12 years old following Ray's return from Fort Hood, Texas. However, owing to a horrendous living situation in that squalid house (we're talking hardcore proletariat), my mom soon sent me (in Feb. 1982) to live with my dad back in New Jersey until she and Ray settled in Glen Burnie a few months later (I moved to Glen Burnie in August 1982). The Bristol Avenue house was where Ray grew up and his family (or as my late maternal grandmother aptly called them, "The Tribe") lived until 1987 when they moved.

Of note, the house was so different (even worse) looking (if that were possible) that I didn't even recognize it.


Baltimore Detour #2

"Chesapeake Born ... and Chesapeake Bound**": Thoughts on Baltimore's (Nasty) Patapsco Estuarial Waterways

The next part of our trip took us to the Curtis Bay part of Baltimore, which is less proletariat residential and more forlorn old industrial and almost outright deserted / abandoned on the weekends. It is at the very inaccessible spot created by the multi-tiered roadway confluence of Pennington Avenue and the Baltimore Beltway as both span the "neck" of Curtis Bay. This refers to the point where the Curtis Creek -- itself created by the confluence of the Marley and Furnace Branch Creeks in northern Anne Arundel County (Glen Burnie area) -- becomes Curtis Bay.

The Curtis Creek, along with the Middle and Northwest Branches, are brackish tidal tributaries of the Patapsco River as it passes through Baltimore and enters the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay.

The Google aerial map above shows the Curtis Creek (lower portion of image) as well as the Middle and Northwest Branches (not labeled, but you get the idea). The Northwest Branch includes the famous Inner Harbor with its commercial waterfront of shops, restaurants, clubs, etc. You can also see the SSW1, SSW2, and S inflection point locations.

Here is a map of the Patapsco River watershed with the "Baltimore Harbor" tidal estuaries shaded in dark blue.

It goes without saying: the Patapsco River and these Chesapeake Bay estuaries are truly filthy -- all overloaded with heavy metals and chemical and biological pollutants plus massive amounts of garbage.

The Chesapeake Bay itself was once a sprawling watershed of unparalleled ecological vibrancy. Today, for a variety of reasons too long to delve into here, and no matter how many decades of political rhetoric and interstate pacts and media coverage and Maryland Public TV specials and Chesapeake Bay Foundation calendars and fundraisers, it is still one of the most polluted large bodies of water in the United States.


SSW2: An Industrial No Man's Land with No Marker

So the actual SSW2 spot is located in a fenced off area that seems to be a hybrid junkyard and storage / parking lot for heavy road equipment. I've no idea who owns it.

Above is a 1976 survey map (click onit for a larger version). You can see how Pennington Avenue and what is formally called in this area the "Outer Harbor Crossing" -- that would also be this stretch of the Baltimore Beltway -- seem to converge. The SSW2 point is located between the two.

This is a Google aerial map showing the same location.

Chester parked on a dead end street that I think is called East Ordnance Road (which actually runs along the edge of the nearby U.S. Army Reserve Center -- Ray used to go there a lot on the weekends back in the 1980s. The road would run under Pennington Avenue, except it dead ends at a locked fence. To the left (north) is another fence beyond which is the property of something called Smith Shipyard. (It states it has a Pennington Avenue address but it really is located off this dead end side street.)

The company has been around for a very long time and describes itself (with punctuation fixed) as the "premier shipyard, barge, crane, and maritime supplier for the mid-Atlantic region."

A warning sign from the folks at Smith Shipyard letting visitors and others know they are on camera. This is the kind of sign that scintillates a certain kind of mind. You can see that originally it was "YOUR ON CAMERA" but it was corrected to "YOU'RE ON CAMERA."

If you're going to be humorous at others' expense, make sure you spell things correctly, otherwise you just look stupid.

Chester and I had to cross Pennington Avenue -- right near where it becomes a draw bridge and there is no walkway.

Here is the view from Pennington Avenue looking down onto the dead end of East Ordnance Road and the Smith Shipyard with Curtis Bay visible, Baltimore, Md., 3:06PM, Oct. 6, 2012.


We carefully crossed Pennington Avenue.

To do so, we had to climb up a small embankment overgrown with underbrush and containing -- bafflingly -- an automated weather station, pictured at left. Perhaps it's there for weather-related traffic? Shipping concerns?

Then on the other side of Pennington Avenue was another even larger and steeper embankment that dropped down to the fenced in lot where the actual SSW2 spot is located.

Here Chester walks down the tangled, overgrown embankment toward the lot in question. We never actually found the exact point because it is no longer clearly marked, if at all.


Yours truly next to the fence at the bottom of aforementioned embankment off Pennington Avenue, Curtis Bay section, Baltimore, Md., Oct. 6, 2012.

I was thinking that that actual "inflection point" in the fence was where the SSW2 point should be located, but I cannot confirm that.

What I can confirm is that those old tires had a lot of mosquitoes in them.

Chester is a little bit more adventurous than I am and found a way onto the lot -- and took this picture of old lumber. The actual SSW2 spot was somewhere right in here. (Chester has hiked parts of the Appalachian Trail and other trails in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and western Maryland.)


Here is a picture of the entire lot as seen from a perch atop a series of tires that were piled up against the half-separated fence enclosing the lot. The elevated nearby roadway is the Baltimore (McKeldin??) Beltway (I-695). The actual SSW2 spot has to be somewhere in this camera view.

The purple flags are for the Baltimore Ravens.

Here is another view of this lot showing an abandoned and dilapidated large shed (left) and a rather large house (right). This gives you a sense of just how forgotten and forlorn parts of Curtis Bay, Baltimore really are in year 2012.

Anyway, at this point, we concluded that we were not going to find an actual marker and so we headed back to the truck, which thankfully was still there waiting for us. My assumption is that any marker that once existed is gone or under too much dirt and/or debris. You would need a formal resurveying of the area to find the exact spot.

By the way, in this whole time (approximately 25 minutes), we never saw another person -- just vehicles flying by on the elevated roadways, rushing through a forgotten no-man's land.


"S" Marks the Remnant Marker Spot

The next inflection point we visited was the southernmost one ("S"). We drove down Fort Smallwood Road and turned onto Cabot Drive into an industrial park. There are three large warehouses -- two rectangular and one square -- that are actually oriented in a way that follows the very oblique angle formed by the City of Baltimore's southernmost lot.

That is a 65-acre lot owned by Constellation Energy.

Here is another Baltimore Department of Public Works survey. This one is from April 1985 and it shows the section of Baltimore in question.


Here is a Bing aerial view showing the three warehouses (or whatever they are) and the dashed lines that come to a point -- circled in yellow -- that is the geographic southernmost point of Baltimore City.

We parked -- again, no one was around -- and headed straightaway to where we thought it should be ...

... and voila, it was where it should be!

It was atop an embankment behind the middle warehouse, at the edge of two large stretches of fence that came to a meeting point, and underneath a brittle little stick with a blue and white plastic ribbon wrapped around it. The little stick snapped as soon as I touched it.

Yours truly digging to find the stone we knew should be there.


Here is another picture of me at the southernmost point of Baltimore. You can see how the fences come together. Fortunately, the marker was on the right side of the fence for us to reach.

God, my hair is getting gray. It's going to be white in a few years.


The actual stone marker itself after we removed the dirt atop it.  


Chester sits above the marker, hands cupped around it, marking the southernmost point of Baltimore City, Md., 3:34PM, Oct. 6, 2012.


"O Say Can You See?": Crossing the Francis Scott Key Bridge

It was time now to head to the NE corner marker. But first we had to cross the Francis Scott Key Bridge ...

The girders of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, also known as the Baltimore Outer Harbor Bridge, that form continous truss bridge, which according to Wikipedia, is the 3rd longest such bridge in the world. This Key Bridge should not be confused with the Key Bridge here in D.C. that spans the Potomac and connects to Arlington.


Crossing over the Francis Scott Key Bridge looking to the east toward the mouth of the Patapsco River and the Chesapeake Bay. The weird little island in the picture is Fort Carroll. The actual SE corner point is in the water but closer to the Anne Arundel County side and to the southwest of Fort Carroll (its location is not visible in this image).


Here we are crossing the Francis Scott Key Bridge with the view looking toward Baltimore (you can barely see the skyline in my low-resolution cellphone image), 3:42PM, Oct. 6, 2012.


Baltimore Detour #3

This Steel Sparrow Has Flown -OR- Bethlehem Steel Was Here

Here is the view toward the old Bethelhem Steel facility at Sparrows Point as seen from the edge of the F.S. Key Bridge, 3:45PM, Oct. 6, 2012.

The place was once the largest steel producer in the United States (mid-20th Century). It was an incredible facility. Its steel literally built much of America's infrastructure. I don't think that's rhetorical hyperbole.

I'm not really sure what goes on there now. I think there is some steel production. I actually took a tour of the facility back in spring 2001. I was writing my "major piece of journalism" piece and was analyzing MDE pollution data. I ended up getting to do an on-site visit. I went with my mom and Ray.

As for all that air and water pollution, and where it went and what it did, well, just don't ask. You don't want to know. As I recall on my visit, it had a certain post-apocalyptic look to the place.

Bethelehem Steel's Sparrows Point facility in January 1973 -- right at the start of the sustained decline into post-industrial oblivion, a painful showcase of the overall destruction of America's working class and its replacement with the toxic, Wall Street financialized, asset bubble-driven, outsourcing, offshoring, Bain Capital-style, corporate oligarchical economy of the early 21st Century.

To address this dire situation, Robert Rubin-style Democrats of the D.C. Beltway pundit class offer half-assed, wussified "worker retraining" bullsh!t and an extra 26 or 52 weeks of unemployment insurance along with some "Celebrating Diversity" PC horsesh!t. Republicans / the VRWC offer God, gays, and guns talk radio / Fox News ferocity.


I tried to get that piece I wrote on Bethlehem Steel -- it focused on the plant's pollution and the efforts of some local Dundalk activists to clean it up, including a housewife whose husband and father had worked at the facility for decades -- published in the Baltimore City Paper. But I was told by the Baltimore City Paper that it was an unoriginal piece of crap. That's funny, because that's what I think of the Baltimore City Paper -- like all such urban weeklies, worthless.  


What mind-numbing suburban purgatory could this place be?

Actually, I think it's Edgemere, Md., as seen from the Baltimore Beltway, 3:49PM, Oct. 6, 2012. And I should note that working middle class towns such as this were very much made possible by Bethlehem Steel. How many of its residents (mostly the fathers) worked in the steel mills over the decades??


NE: Double (C)Rock Park - No Marker, No Trespassing

We took an exit for Parkville, Maryland, driving into on the sidestreets of this unincorporated residential neighborhood of Baltimore County.

Here we are on one such street -- I think Hiss Avenue -- in Parkville, Md., 4:04PM, Oct. 6, 2012. (Hiss??)


The actual NE point is located behind one of the houses on Garnet Road in Parkville, Md. Specifically, it is 3337 Garnet Road, the fifth house in from the east side (from the park) on the curving street. However, the only way to access it (short of knocking on the door and asking the person at home for permission) is through Double Rock Park.

Double Rock Park is an approximately 103-acre park in the Parkville and Overlea sections of Baltimore County run by the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks. As the site notes, the park contains pavilions, picnic areas, playgrounds, ballfields, and wooded trails.

Here we are entering Double Rock Park off Garnet Rd., Parkville, Md., 4:06PM, Oct. 6, 2012.

The reason one must enter Double Rock Park is because the actual northeastern-most corner point of Baltimore is shown in the next set of images.

Here is another survey map showing the northeastern most corner of Baltimore City and part of Parkville, Md. This includes Parkwood Cemetery and the lots off Garnet Road on the northside of Double Rock Park.


Here is a closer survey map of the lots off Garnet Road in Parkville, Md. You can see the actual point on Lot 8A. I think the idea is that the actual spot is where Lots 8, 8A, 9, and 9A all meet. The question is where exactly is that spot.

Here is a Google aerial map image that I drew with the yellow line indicating my best guess of where the Baltimore City boundaries are located.

This image shows a close-in Bing aerial "bird's eye" view of the spot. The bright cyan blue lines are the city boundaries that Chester estimated along with the spot itself circled. The yellow lines are what I estimated with the spot circled. The north-south lines should be identical but the east-west lines differ by about 30 feet.

In short, Chester suspects that the actual NE boundary corner point is located ON Lot 8 (i.e., on the main developed / cleared out property of 3337 Garnet Road). His reasoning is that the line you see diving 8 and 9 from 8A and 9A is actually an internal fence (running on the grassy yards of the properties) rather than the fence separating it from the woods (see images below).

Front side of 3337 Garnet Rd., Parkville, Md., 6:06PM, Oct. 6, 2012.


To be clear, this homeowner owns both Lot 8 and Lot 8A, with the latter being a wooded lot outside his actual backyard fence, and thus wholly connected (no physical barriers) to Double Rock Park.

The issue though is whether the NE point is on Lot 8 or on the boundary of Lot 8A with Lot 9 and Lot 9A.

We tried to resolve this by walking through a forested stretch of Double Rock Park to the spot in question. 

This is the forested trail leading from the small parking lot at the entrance to Double Rock Park, Parkville, Md., 4:10PM, Oct. 6, 2012.

The trail slopes down steeply to the stream that runs through the park. The Sun had come out and it had gotten breezy and was noticeably cooler from an hour earlier on the southside of Baltimore. A cold front has passed through, although dry with no rainfall.

Here is another picture of the forested train that Chester took in Double Rock Park, Oct. 6, 2012. Fall colors were just beginning to infiltrate the forest's leafy green garb.


A photo of the stream located very close to the actual NE corner point of Baltimore City, but still in Double Rock Park in Parkville, Md., 4:34PM, Oct. 6, 2012.

A short distance away is a fence that marks the start of Parkwood Cemetery, which is located wholly in Baltimore City.

We traipsed through the woods. The forest floor was surprisingly muddy, considering it had been on the dry side. It was more just the "riparian" grounds along the stream itself -- it's just a naturally wet area.

As for finding the point, or at least a marker, we were unsuccessful.

This shows the fence at the back of 3337 Garnet Road. This is where I suspect the meeting points of Lots 8, 8A, 9, and 9A is located -- right at the fence corner post and that small stone wall built to stop the soil from falling down hill.

This is a closer / better quality image of the spot that Chester took. This is where I suspect the line and the meeting points -- and hence the northeastern "NE" corner point of Baltimore -- are located.

By contrast, owing to the way the line is drawn on the above survey map, Chester believes that the Lot 8 and Lot 8A property boundary is actually behind that fence on the grassy yard area because there is another fence that runs through this yard and a few others. Think of it as a fall-line down to the stream bed.

He poked around a little more than I did and took a few more pictures.

However, in the end, we did not find anything resembling a marker. Any marker of the sort we found at SSW1 or (subsequently) at SW, or remnant of which existed buried in the ground at S, is either itself wholly buried or long gone.

Of note, I had been at this spot before back in summer 1993 or 1994 (I can't recall) when I last looked for it. I was staying with my mother than summer in Glen Burnie and I took the MTA lightrail and a series of buses to get there and back.


NW: Baltimore's Corner Shtetl Stone

It was now time to try to find the northwestern corner marker of Baltimore, Md. However, this one is very easy and I've visited it a number of times.

After detouring to a Wendy's in Parkville, we drove on the Beltway over to Pikesville on the northwest side of Baltimore City. (Don't confuse "Pikesville" with "Parkville" or the "Parkwood Cemetery.")

Here is the northwestern corner point of Baltimore City, 5:44PM, Oct. 6, 2012. This marker is unlike the three others we found as it is a tall, slender, brick structure about 10 feet high with a cement ball atop it.

This marker is at the corner of Park Heights and Slade Avenues at the edge of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. This part of Baltimore City into Baltimore County has a fairly large Jewish population and there are lots of synagogues and such things.

Here is another image of it that Chester took. The grounds of Hebrew Congregation are visible stretching toward the brick buildings.

Now there is a slight chance that this is just the marker for Baltimore Hebrew Congregation and that the actual marker is elsewhere at the intersection or simply does not exist. However, I am fairly sure, based on how the city boundaries exist, that this is the actual spot.

It is possible that this marker replaced an earlier one that was more like the SSW1 and SW markers.


SW: The Little Sidewalk Marker along Historic Frederick Rd.

Finally, it was time to find the last corner / inflection point on this trip. This would be the southwest (SW) one located on the Baltimore City - Catonsville line along Maryland Rt. 144 - Frederick Road, itself something of a historic route.

Here is the southwest corcner marker of Baltimore City located along Frederick Rd., 6:16PM, Oct. 6, 2012. It is very similar to the one at SSW1 and the one I believe is buried at S. As in the case of SSW1, it says "City Line 1919" on it, referring to the city boundary survey done in that year following the expansion of Baltimore to its present-day limits.

Getting here required a drive on the Baltimore Beltway, plus a detour, but Chester already knew the way.

Yours truly with the SW corner marker of Baltimore on the sidewalk along Frederick Rd., Oct. 6, 2012.


Thereafter, we actually drove to Millersville and stopped -- unannounced, although she said she had a feeling I was coming -- to my mother and Ray's place. We stayed about a half hour and left after Ray started talking about police arguing with each other about jurisdiction over dead bodies on city boundaries and baseball game violent fan melees.

We headed back to the D.C. area via I-95. Chester dropped me off at Greenbelt Metro and he headed back to his home in Ellicott City.

And that was our Baltimore City boundary inflection and corner point tour.


Meanwhile, back in Washington, D.C., this weekend

That's all for now. My next planned update will be on Tuesday or Wednesday night of this week. I have to get this computer checked out by our IT guy in the Landover office tomorrow as it may have an issue.

Pleasant enough fall day as seen in the 2000 block of 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C., 3:00PM, Oct. 20, 2012 right near my apartment.

As for today, it's another sunny day in Washington, D.C., fall day, temps. around 64F. And 75F warmth is forecasted by Wednesday. These would be lovely if they were followed by actual winter weather but you know that's not going to happen this year.

One more image just to bring this entry's tally to a record-shattering 60 61 images ...

A red maple with its leaves at autumnal deep orange peak, Ontario Rd., Washington, D.C., 3:05PM, Oct. 20, 2012.


Also, at this point, I think I just better get used to the idea of a President Romney and hearing about "the special role of Tagg Romney" and Ann Romney's White House decorating touch. I just have a feeling of the inevitability of this.

OK, that's all. Again, my next planned update will be on Tuesday or Wednesday night.



Elliott said...

Thanks for the blog post. I've been wondering if the northeast corner is accessible. There is an SHA plat for the Outer Crossing that shows the SSW1 more clearly. It actually looks like it should be on public land. You can find that plat on, here.

An additional bit of knowledge for you is that there is yet another corner that many people seem to be unaware of. The line between SSW1 and SW is not actually a single line! There is a very tiny angle around point where the line crosses Wilkens Ave.

Regulus said...

Hi Elliott,

Thank you for visiting my blog and taking an interest in this entry. It was a fun day with my friend Chester. And thank you for that incredible link showing the plats. So where exactly on it is the corner point (what I am calling, for lack of a better term, SSW2)? Is it right at the edge of Pennington Avenue? I can't tell the orientation on that map.

As for another inflection point, are there are there any high resolution maps that would show this? I've never in all my years in the Baltimore/Washington area and staring at maps had any idea such a minor inflection point existed. It would seem to upend this entire entry!

Regulus said...

Oh, and sorry for the comment moderation ... I have that on because I get extremely few actual comments (one every few months), and instead, far more frequently "comments" from (to borrow a phrase from Paul Krugman) either robots trying to sell Viagra or people in India trying to get me to visit their advertisement links.

Jeff Wagner said...

I have some info for you on the northeast corner of the city that you were looking for. I lived at 3337 Garnet Road for three years (1982-1984). One day while playing ball in the backyard, my ball went down the hill and came to rest on an odd marker. I thought it was the corner marker for the city, but after some investigating by the city, it turned out to be a marker pointing to the true marker. The actual marker was one foot away buried in a box two feet underground and somewhat ornate in style. It was located in the bottom step of the stairs down the hill. The newspaper, Parkville Reporter, did an article on this roughly in the spring of 1983. I hope this information is useful to you.
Jeff Wagner

Regulus said...

Hi Jeff,

Thank you so much for your comment -- it is truly an awesome bit of information for this entry. (I posted your comment earlier but could not respond to it until now. As I mentioned, I have comment moderation turned on for this blog.)

For starters, it sounds like you were already aware that your property touched that northeastern tip of the city.

What happened to the marker? Was it dug up and removed? I assume it looked like the other ones placed in 1919 (photos of two of which are included in this entry).

Also, is the spot where you found the marker included in any of my images? It is all an overgrown tangle there, in addition to which people in those houses (including No. 3337) can see you traipsing around on or along their property. Thus, I didn't want to stay too long.

I would love to find that Parkville Reporter article.

Thank you so much for your comments and info!

Jeff Wagner said...

With your pictures, you were close but the marker is inside the fenced in area. When I lived there it was a wooden fence at the bottom of the hill but from the distance to the back porch, it looked like the same footprint. You need to go inside the fenced in area and it is at the bottom of the hill at roughly the center point of the property. At the time it was a rough set of stairs in the hill. The two markers that were above ground were the north and east lines that when you drew a line, pointed to the actual marker that was buried. Of the two that were above ground, the easterly one was the only one I saw. The northern one was to the left of the stairs under some dirt. The city survey team dug under the stairs and found the box that contained the actual survey mark of the north east corner of the city. They were not as tall as the 1919 example, only 2x2x2 in size ish. I guess they thought it was in the woods and it would stay that way, who would have known. I am in the Air Force stationed in Wisconsin and my next visit to the area would be this summer. Maybe I could secure the property owners permission and I could show you. It was not that fancy, but to a 13 year old kid it was kind of cool finding it.

Regulus said...

Again, thank you for that information. I had a feeling it might be on the property.

And that would be wonderful if you could do that next summer. I imagine that the house has changed hands more than once since you sold it, though.

Jeff Wagner said...

We rented it for three years. I will try to touch base with the new owner when I am in the area next summer.

Regulus said...

That would be terrific. I would have to invite my Baltimore corner-and-inflection-point fellow explorer Chester (featured in this entry) along for such a trip.

Unknown said...

We actually own the home at 3337 Garnet Road Parkville, MD. Please contact me via email if you would like to check our the property

Unknown said...

Also, the home is currently condemned, there was earth movement here and the footers of the home were shifted some how. Our contact number is 7178554447

Regulus said...

Hi Megan,

Thank you for your comment and your offer. I may take you up on that offer. I would do it with my friend Chester, though, in the spring or summer and on a weekend afternoon.

Just out of curiosity -- are you aware of any corner boundary marker for the city? I'm still not entirely sure where the exact point is located.

Unknown said...

Sure! Just email me, my brother actually knows where the marker is on the property. This house belonged to his father Michael Greene who passed a few years back and we inherited it as well as the property next door. If you would like to check it out just let us know! He actually has two deeds to the home because of the boundary marker.

micrip said...

I just came across your very interesting blog about Baltimore's boundary markers. I am now 70, and have lived near the Brooklyn marker all that time. I've watched it deteriorate over the years.

Consider this about the NW marker...the brick one. In the background you can clearly see a difference in the pavement on Park Heights. These usually occur right at the line where maintenance of a road changes from one jurisdiction to another. So it's possible the actual point is next to that, and, as you said, the post could have something to do with the property it is on...maybe even erroneously placed by them.

Regulus said...

Hello Micrip,

Thank you for your nice comment. I did this admittedly odd day-long trek with a good friend over 8 years ago. In that time, I have discovered that I made a few mistakes -- as the comments above indicate -- including the fact that I might have missing / been unaware of certain facts. Among these:

(1) There could be another "inflection" point along the boundary between what I'm calling SW1 and SSW1.

(2) What I'm calling the "NE" boundary point actually exists in the private property yard of the person who lives at the address in question on Garnet Rd rather than at his southeast corner point in Double Rock Park.

As for the what I'm calling the NW corner point, it could just be the property marker of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation and not the actual, true geographic point, but given its prominence (at least 8 years ago!), I assumed that it is the point.

The only city boundary points I know are for sure are the 1919 points ones that are so engraved -- and that I've labeled "SW" and "SSW1."

Anyway, thank you for reading and enjoying the entry. I do appreciate it.