Following a recent visit to Baltimore, travel writer Nina Sovich has determined that the city has improved since famed American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald lived here in the 1930s. That’s a fine conclusion.
Sovich recently came to Charm City to walk the streets where “The Great Gatsby” author once reveled. She then wrote an equally enlightening and authentic travel piece about it for The Wall Street Journal titled, “Touring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Baltimore—Reborn and Revitalized.”
Fitzgerald, his wife, Zelda and their daughter, Frances Scott, moved here in 1932, eight years after the publication of his most famous novel. Unfortunately, these weren’t his best years. He drank constantly, Zelda’s mental health declined – though she did obtain psychiatric care here – and led a fairly quiet life, though he was productive, according to Sovich.
In the spirit of his dark history in Charm City, Sovich kicks off her story doing afternoon shots with a bartender, a Baltimore City deputy sheriff and his girlfriend at the Pinch in Mt. Vernon Marketplace. After the mid-day boozing, she quotes Fitzgerald writing in 1936, “I belong here, where everything is civilized and gay and rotted and polite.” She writes that the bartender offered her another shot of vodka and surmises, “I think it’s easy to feel like you belong here.”
Sovich’s actual tour keeps strictly to Mt. Vernon, which she says “remains a beautiful if slightly spooky neighborhood.” She accurately points out the disparities from corner to corner, with a vacant row house on street and an expensive coffee bar on another one close by. Running with the themes of drinking and literature, Sovich enjoys a gin in honor of the Fitzgeralds at the Owl Bar in the Belvedere and talks with investor Eddie Brown about the building’s many lost years of potential before it was renovated.
Ultimately, she highlights some of the new additions to the neighborhood as a welcome change from the streets her own Baltimorean relatives once called dangerous. “People were out and they were having fun. Fitzgerald would approve,” she concludes.
Click here to read the recap of her visit and see the bars, hotels and restaurants she recommends tourists visit during their stay here. Her account is a far cry from the recent spots by luxury magazines Vogue and Condé Nast Traveler.
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