Neighborhoods – Baltimore Magazine

Baltimore Magazine‘s annual Neighborhoods Issue’s Hampden section, written by Benn Ray, co-owner of Atomic Books. Insider picks collected by Baltimore Magazine.

“It happens every week. A group of folks stops in my store and says, ‘I wish we had a neighborhood like this where I live.’

But that isn’t the part that gets me. What makes me proud of Hampden are the answers I get when I ask where they are from. Answers like ‘New York.’ ‘Washington.’ ‘San Francisco.’ ‘Chicago.’

What these folks covet is Hampden’s main street. ‘The Avenue,’ which is nearly devoid of chain stores, instead favoring individually owned shops and boutiques staffed and managed by city residents who would be priced out in those other cities.

They are referring to Hampden’s unique character that comes from a micro-melting pot of lifelong residents and young artists and professionals – a mutually beneficial cohabitation of people of various socioeconomic backgrounds. They are referring to the real possibility that the person who just served them a meal or a drink at  a local bar or retaurant is, more likely than not, in a band that just got a great review on NPR or pitchfork.com.

It’s the envy of others that keeps me from taking for granted what a truly unique and precious Baltimore City neighborhood Hampden is.”