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From attending festivals at Patterson Park to eating at the latest ethnic eatery to open on Eastern Avenue, Highlandtown residents have so many reasons to love city life. The Southeast Baltimore neighborhood has welcomed immigrants since 1866 and remains a welcoming neighborhood for new residents today. Originally settled by Irish, German, Polish and Italian immigrants, the area now hosts a mix of ethnicities, including longtime residents and a recent wave of Hispanic and African residents. The neighborhood is also home to the largest arts district in Maryland—the Highlandtown Arts & Entertainment District — and boasts its fair share of galleries, artist studios, murals and arts and cultural activities.
Residents of the neighborhood enjoy its walkability, access to amenities — including notable dining options and expansive parks — and the community’s vibe. “We have such great neighbors,” said resident Vanessa Bennett, who has lived in the neighborhood for five years and now lives with her boyfriend, Travis, and their lab/shepherd mix Boomhauer. “One of them mulched our tree pit without us asking. There is also an active community association and so many things to do. Between art galleries, the Creative Alliance, the park, restaurants and Roll Ice Cream, there is something for everyone.”
The Creative Alliance is a neighborhood favorite and city-wide attraction. The community arts nonprofit operates two galleries for contemporary art, a 200-seat flexible theater, a classroom, media lab, live/work studios for eight artists and a Marquee Lounge, where neighbors and audience members can meet for drinks (and occasionally food) before and after shows — all inside of a beautifully renovated, early 1900’s theatre building.
Annual community events, including the Great Halloween Lantern Parade through Patterson Park, thrill kids and adults of all ages while an ongoing lineup of visual, digital and performance arts programming supports the arts and community at large. “You come for the food and art and you stay for the people,” said Southeast Community Development Corporation’s Amanda Smit-Peters, Highlandtown Main Street manager. “At its core, Highlandtown is a neighborhood of people who care. We have great food, and we’re starting to build up a core of fabulous shops and amenities. We’re really a neighborhood of makers working together.”
Hoehn’s Bakery, DiPasquales Italian Market and the G & A Restaurant continue to thrive alongside newer establishments like Man vs. Pho, Roll Ice Cream and Snake Hill Tavern. Visitors often walk around the neighborhood and stumble across the world’s most literal bus stop — a 14-foot-tall, 7-foot-wide, three-letter group of bus stop benches that spell out the word BUS. Located on East Avenue, the creative stop is accompanied by a number of colorful murals in the immediate area. “For a long time Highlandtown and Southeast Baltimore were aging communities, but we’ve had a really wonderful influx of people who want to raise their families here now,” Smit-Peters said. “Many of those are Hispanic families. We are a melting pot of people and it’s really exciting. Anyone can come and try their hand here in Highlandtown.”
If you want to explore the neighborhood and meet neighbors from this part of the city, join the Live Baltimore team at our next happy hour held during Highlandtown’s First Friday Art Walk. The event will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 5 at The Creative Alliance and will feature custom I Heart City Life pint glasses designed in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month. A $10 ticket will get you a pint glass to take home, your first beer and the chance to meet other city lovers. To get your ticket visit www.LiveBaltimore.com/events.
About the author: Margarita Cambest is a Communications Coordinator at Live Baltimore. Live Baltimore is a nationally recognized, independent nonprofit organization committed to promoting the benefits of Baltimore City living. Each year, Live Baltimore provides thousands of individuals with information on the city’s 250+ neighborhoods, rental living options, home buying incentive programs, historic tax credits and more. For more information, visit LiveBaltimore.com.