A recent University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) graduate, Ashley Jones, has slowly come to appreciate the understated beauty of living in a city like Baltimore. As an American Studies major at UMBC, Ashley is no stranger to the complexities and challenging dynamics that urban life presents for many people. While attending UMBC, she found it surprising how few of her classmates journeyed beyond the usual bar and nightclub establishments to explore the city's neighborhoods.
Topics including gentrification and urban development were popular in most of her American Studies classes and she saw firsthand how life in the city can take on exciting dimensions in the hands of eager young students. As more students from Baltimore City's surrounding counties began to interact with those from urban campuses including Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and Johns Hopkins, Jones watched communities of people work together to create a different type of urban environment. Station North is one such neighborhood that utilizes the arts to bring many types of people together which is why Jones chose to be a part of the district.
Her love of the performing arts is just one thing that makes Station North the neighborhood for her. The arts scene in Station North is popping every night of the week and Jones devotes a substantial amount of her schedule to taking in all the neighborhood has to offer.
"There is nothing better than sitting down at Tapas Teatro after seeing the latest indie flick at The Charles movie theater," she says. Adjacent to the movie theater, the restaurant is the perfect spot for a small plate-themed meal with friends- before or after a movie. The Charles, widely considered Baltimore's premiere independent movie theater, hosts a variety of events including much of the annual Maryland Film Festival activities.
Neighborhood jam session
The entertainment scene in Station North is not limited to films and food. Jones suggests checking out a production at the Single Carrot Theatre or the Everyman Theatre. After taking in a play, she insists on grabbing a thin crust pizza from Joe Squared to top off the evening.
Live music is another neighborhood mainstay with no shortage of places to watch a local band or two…or even three at a time.
Lovers of indie rock and underground music may think they've found Nirvana with many neighborhood venues rocking those music scenes. Many of the music venues including The Metro Gallery and The Hexagon offer visitors a twofer featuring art galleries showing a variety of exhibitions throughout the year as well.
"What more can you ask for in an arts district?" she asks. It is truly a rare neighborhood where one can wander into a movie theater to see a series of older noir films, grab some tapaa on the way out, walk across the street to support a local art student's exhibition opening and later dance the night away next door to hits from the 1980's. It is precisely this type of night that makes Station North one of Baltimore's most exciting neighborhoods.
Tara George, who lives in the Baltimore metro area, has written extensively about Baltimore history and cultural musicology for the past four years. Her research has been presented across the United States and has been fully funded by the University of Maryland. She is also a guitarist and was a proud member of the Baltimore Ravens Marching Band Drumline.