Best of Baltimore: Hampden


“For most of its life, Hampden (the “p” is silent) was an isolated town within a city. Its main street and modest housing catered to workers in textile mills in the adjacent Jones Falls Valley. After that industry went south, Hampden found new appeal among those seeking city living without the ballooning prices of waterside neighborhoods. To put it another way, people with MBAs moved to the harborside neighborhoods; those with degrees in philosophy or art history and more tattoos than neckties ended up in Hampden.

Today Hampden has an arty mix of residents and businesses. Its commercial strip—officially 36th Street, though called “the Avenue”—has junk shops, vinyl-record sellers, artist-run craft stores, high-end houseware purveyors, and gift boutiques. Dive bars and wine bars, diners and espresso outlets are strung along it. A merchants association works hard to keep it as local as possible. So no Starbucks.”

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