I was in the Union Square-Hollins Market Historic District mainly because I was attending a networking event that was held at Lithuanian Hall on Hollins Street. This area is notable for the fact that the famous writer H.L. Mencken once lived there. My mother also came from that area. She grew up on Stricker Street. So I decided to arrive in the area a little bit earlier so I could explore the area while it was still daylight outside.
I took the light rail from the North Linthicum stop until I reached the city then I took the Charm City Circulator bus to the Hollins Market stop. While I was traveling I kept on remembering the stories that both my mother, grandmother, and aunt used to tell about their days when they lived on Stricker Street. It was a time where most stores and other places were within walking distance and the neighbors used to watch out for each other. Imagine the shock when I got off of the bus on West Baltimore Street.
Hollins Street wasn’t much better. It was very common to see boarded up shops and row houses.
There were times when I found it hard to believe that H.L. Mencken once lived on this very street. It’s obvious that this area has seen better days.
Here’s the intersection of Hollins Street and South Stricker Street. My mother and late aunt grew up on South Stricker Street.
The next photograph shows one of the few blocks of row houses on South Stricker Street where it looks like people are still occupying them and they also look pretty nice and well-kept. Unfortunately most of the row houses I saw on that street had just as many boarded up buildings as the ones on Hollins Street and West Baltimore Street.
Here’s the intersection of South Stricker Street and West Baltimore Street.
The weather was too rainy for me to do much exploring (which is why all the photos in this post are cloudy and gray). I stopped by the historic Hollins Market.
The outside walls are adorned with mosaics featuring Edgar Allan Poe, the Inner Harbor, and the various Baltimore sports teams.
I’ve been to Lexington Market several times before. Hollins Market is small and narrow compared to Lexington Market. I stopped by an hour before closing and I saw that half of the stalls were either empty or they were already closed for the day.
The back of the market had this mural featuring famous Baltimoreans Babe Ruth, Edgar Allan Poe, and H.L. Mencken.
I had originally planned on eating dinner at Hollins Market but since it was close to closing down, I ended up going to Mi Ranchito, a Mexican restaurant that was located across the street from Hollins Market. I found the food pretty affordable and tasty. I loved the Frida Kahlo illustrations that lined the restaurant.
On my way to Lithuanian Hall for the networking event, I saw something that looked like a TARDIS from Doctor Who. On closer inspection it looked like one of those Little Free Libraries but there were no signs indicating that it was an official Little Free Library. The middle shelf looks like it could hold books but it was empty when I was there that day. The yellow words said “A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket. Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
My mother would be very sad if she knew what happened to her old neighborhood. A few days after I was in the area I saw this video on the BBC News site that was about Baltimore that brought me to tears mainly because I was born in that city and I grew up near there. It’s really upsetting to see Baltimore rotting with its residents barely surviving in poverty, especially since the United States is supposed to be the richest nation in the world. It’s no wonder people became violent after Freddie Gray was killed by the police.