Other cities’ waterfronts get kayaking outposts, parkland, piers for strolling, or baseball diamonds. In Baltimore, we have… a mall. But that may soon change, thanks to a $120,000 study which led to an inspirational visit to New York. That’s where the president of Baltimore’s Waterfront Partnership was amazed to see a “mix of large open spaces available for just concerts or events or picnicking, Frisbee throwing.” Picnics and frisbees seemed like a nice enough idea that plans for Inner Harbor 2.0 (yes, that’s what they’re calling it) may just include cutting-edge amenities like “concessions” and “public access to the water.”
Seriously, though, a Harbor-centric upgrade sounds lovely, especially since the area hasn’t been seriously reconfigured since Harborplace and the Inner Harbor promenade were created more than a quarter-century ago.
According to some, a truly 21st century waterfront demands actually using the water (which often means making sure that water is clean enough to be used first). Other cities are actually moving away from the parkland model that so impressed the Waterfront Partnership: “Most of the waterfronts I’m working on—Cleveland, Buffalo, Toronto—the trend is definitely moving away from parks and open spaces and returning the city to the water’s edge,” Stan Eckstut, of development company EE&K, told Atlantic Cities last year. “Returning them to the way they were when they were first founded, as mercantile wharfs, with merchants unloading or loading up goods. Real cities grew up at the water’s edge.”
Maybe Baltimore will have a chance to try both open-space and wharf-style development. Intriguingly, the Waterfront Partnership has indicated that its plans go much further than just a reimagining of the Inner Harbor; although upgrades will begin there, they’ll eventually stretch from Locust Point to Canton, according to the Daily Record.
What would your ideal Baltimore waterfront look like?